Knicks 100, Timberwolves 98
|Jared Jeffries, PF 30 MIN | 3-5 FG | 2-4 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 8 PTS | -2
When Kevin Love’s hungry, Kevin Love eats. When Kevin Love just wants an evening snack, Kevin Love eats Jared Jeffries. Or tries to, anyway. JJ didn’t escape this one without a couple hundred bite marks, but his timely rebounds and steals — not to mention a pair of deep twos that almost have me believing it’s become some sort of trend — kept it from being a complete front line massacre.
|Bill Walker, SG 24 MIN | 0-5 FG | 3-4 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 3 PTS | -4
United Airlines or whoever should probably check the overhead storage compartments of last night’s New York-to-Minneapolis flight for a loose brain. Whereas most everyone else in the regular Knick rotation has found in Linsanity a season spark, Walker continues to flop around aimlessly at both ends of the floor. Like the dreds, let’s hope it’s just a phase.
|Tyson Chandler, C 37 MIN | 6-10 FG | 0-2 FT | 7 REB | 3 AST | 12 PTS | -2
When Chandler looked at the schedule a month or two ago, he probably — and understandably — saw playing in Minnesota on the second night of a back to back after bangin’ bodies with Gasol and Bynum as something of a night off. After all, Chandler’s silk pajamas are probably more physically burdensome than 40 minutes of Darko Milicic. But with the recent emergence of Non — I have no idea where the Wolves found this guy, and quite frankly I don’t want to know — Tyson’s Saturday night was about as fun as a playing in a Fargo wood chipper. At the end of the day, I’m just glad he resisted the urge to smash Haywood Workman’s head like a cantaloupe.
|Landry Fields, G 35 MIN | 8-10 FG | 3-4 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 19 PTS | +8
Landry once again continued with his cutting and slashing ways, taking advantage of numerous mismatches, and even posting up Luke Ridnour and J.J. Barea on the low block on a couple of occasions. Having tweeted the other day that he’d “never had this much fun playing basketball,” Landry’s aggressiveness certainly indicates as much. As for the five turnovers? Guess who’s crashing on the couch now.
|Jeremy Lin, PG 39 MIN | 8-24 FG | 4-7 FT | 6 REB | 8 AST | 20 PTS | +5
It was either watch this game, or head down to the mall pet store and watch twin puppies romp through sawdust and bite each others’ faces. All things considered, I’m glad I chose the game, which pitted two young, narrative-changing point guards in front of a rabid Minnesota crowd that apparently was the fourth largest in Target Center history. With both teams capping off a back-to-back, neither floor general was spectacular, save in flashes. Not surprisingly, Lin looked completely gassed by mid-way through the third quarter, at one point making but one of 14 second half shots. Still, eight assists, six rebounds, and three steals are nothing to shake a stick at — and nor is the increasingly common repertoire of scowls, towel-throws, and barks helping lend some semblance of an edge to a guy we’ve lazily taken to painting as happy-go-lucky.
With a full two days before the Bockers’ date with the Craptors, Lin will soon become the most deserving napper in world history.
|Mike Bibby, PG 16 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 3 PTS | -4
Expecting Mike Bibby to stay in front of any of Minnesota’s guards is a little like expecting concrete to float. Bibby did connect on a corner three, which is nice, considering he was doing that at a 27% clip entering tonight’s game.
|Steve Novak, SF 29 MIN | 5-10 FG | 1-1 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 15 PTS | +5
After one of his pump fakes nearly shredded Michael Beasley’s ankles, I was already prepared to give Novakaine an A (I love how this just immediately became his nickname, no questions asked). As it turns out, if anyone can be said to have won this game for us, it was the Marquette Marksmen, whose new found confidence – to say nothing of his seemingly limitless range – has emerged as a true rotation game-changer. Novak is likely fornicating with an airline stewardess at 30,000 feet as we speak.
|Iman Shumpert, G 29 MIN | 9-16 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 20 PTS | +4
Following the lead of his fellow neophytes, Shump stepped up with arguably the signature game of his young career off the bench. The idea that this kid can reliably and consistently play the point may have long since sailed, but he is quite frightening when put in isolation against players routinely a step or twelve slower. And his clutch cool – like that of Novak – was invaluable on a night when the pain and fatigue and Minnesota chill would have been excuse enough to pack in the Linderalla tale for just one night. The four steals didn’t hurt, either.
Five Things We Saw
- You’d half expect a team playing the second night of a back-to-back halfway across the country to come out basically playing in leg braces. The Knicks looked anything but sluggish early on, relishing as they must have the challenge of keeping up with an equally burgeoning, maestro-marshaled Timberwolves. As the wolves steadily built a lead, the Knicks looked at points like the were a couple bad bounces from packing it in completely. Instead, they hung around, kept it close, got stops and rebounds when they absolutely needed them, and sneaked out of the Twin Cities with one of the young NBA season’s signature stolen victories.
- I don’t know if the refs took advantage of the Target Center’s Free Acid Night or what, but Haywood Workman, Sean Wright, and Michael Smith looked completely lost in a number of instances. Once again the Knicks found themselves on the short end of a mystifying whistle, when a technical foul call on Tyson Chandler somehow precluded Jeremy Lin from shooting free throws, even though Lin had been fouled on the same play. Jerks.
- Both teams combined for 41 turnovers tonight — most of those in the second half — turning what started out looking like a beautiful barn burner of a basketball game into an actual barn burning to the ground. The Knicks’ in particular were especially careless, at one point coughing up the rock on five consecutive possessions.
- Pekovic is the real deal. I’d caught glimpses of the 7-foot Serb on League Pass from time to time, but it wasn’t until tonight’s game that the dude’ sheer size, strength, and surprising quickness became abundantly apparent. A front line of Pek and Love is going to give a lot of teams a lot of problems, and provides further proof that the long languishing Timberpups really are poised for a breakthrough.
- Whitney Houston died tonight. She was 48. I know it’s not much of a tribute, but anyone who owned this VHS will understand where I’m coming from.
Beyond his work for KnickerBlogger, Jim is a contributor to the New York Times Off the Dribble NBA blog, ESPN.com, and The Classical. He is currently working on a biography of Robert Silverman, titled "Clownin' and Astoundin.'" Follow him on Twitter @JPCavan.