Knicks 100, Wolves 94
Editor’s note: Yes, I know the stats are wrong. The recap generator is broken. I think Bob peed on it. Yell at him.
|Carmelo Anthony, SF 44 MIN | 10-23 FG | 7-8 FT | 9 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 5 TO | 31 PTS | -9
Rumor has it Melo walked into Novak’s hotel room last night just as Steve was finishing up with Fargo – just as that big Swedish goon was giving Mrs. Lundegaard her… uh… last rites.
“That’s what I’m gonna do to the Wolves tomorrow, Steve.”
“…You’re gonna… feed basketball players head first into a woodchipper… And use a log to jam in the rest of their legs and shoes?”
“Yeah. You know, theoretically speaking.”
“Right. Say, do my arms look toned to you?”
This whole scene is funnier if you just imagine both of them drinking chocolate milk.
Melo’s 16 first half points came every which way – silky smooth Js, aggressive drives, and a couple of uber-timely threes, most of which came at the expense of Derrick Williams. There were peppered throughout a few nice kick-outs, too, though to minimal resulting avail, and the defense was generally lacking in fleet-footed switches and paint-conscious rotations.
Dogpoo. His defense was dogpoo, alright? There, I said it. Yeah the late-game block was impressive, but numerous late helps were not. Luckily, Melo’s offense was proportionally indispensable; whenever the Knicks needed a bucket, Melo tracked it down like doomed game, even if it meant a few ill-advised heat checks in the process. The game’s final stretch – in which the orange and blue went on a 24-7 tear – featured Melo at his closer finest: He turned both Derrick Williams and Dante Cunningham into failure statues, churning out a poetic parade of boisterously delicate moves, including a sweeping one-handed flip shot straight out of Hoosiers central casting. There remain in Melo’s game plenty of pocks for the picking, but clutch ain’t one of them. Which, I don’t know if I told you, but I came up with a formula for clutch: Games you would’ve lost without a clutch player / Carmelo Anthony x 2013 Knicks road games against the Wolves. Told you. CLUTCH.
|Tyson Chandler, C 36 MIN | 3-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 13 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | -5
Nikola Pekovic — the Twin Cities’ most famous neck armor model whose diet conists solely of egg yolks and concrete slurry — must’ve seen Chandler as some kind of fancy-ass East Coast delicacy. This was evidenced by a few bullying early buckets and offensive rebounds that turned otherwise haphazard Wolves possessions into found money. Not wanting to pick up his second foul too early, Chandler let the diminutive Ricky Rubio slither his way to the bucket unencumbered…. before picking up the aforementioned second foul, like, thirty seconds later. Meanwhile, his second quarter stint was marred by an elbow stinger rendering three of his next four free throw attempts about a league too long.
The second half amounted to much of the same, with Chandler at once a chief culprit and innocent bystander on many a Wolf paint foray. But, as with Melo, the heroics were best served late – he re-routed a would-be Rubio game-knotter through the earth’s mantle, and got his grubby mitts on a couple of late-game loose balls. Someone (I can’t remember who but you can claim your prize by stopping my house and shoveling the eight feet of snow off my driveway while I’m out shopping for your prize at the CVS) ascertained that Chandler and Kidd – by virtue of having hauled in a Chip already, I guess – are simply saving fifth gear for springtime. Which is why they’ll kind of zone in and out, depending on the stakes at hand. Then again, he just tied the Knick record for consecutive 20-rebound games, so… I give up.
|Jason Kidd, PG 18 MIN | 0-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -11
Our cager sage must’ve read the three dozen or so critical press dispatches, each baring more epitaphic dirt than the last. Because dude was pretty huge tonight – backing down Ridnour for a classic 50-plus rec league turnaround in the lane, nailing a corner three, and general being a nuisance at the most opportune times on D. He was as guilty as the rest on snuffing out the P&R, but at least there was a palpable sense of urgency from tip to final whistle.
|Raymond Felton, PG 40 MIN | 6-13 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 17 PTS | +1
Just a pretty awful outing from Ray – over-dribbling without purpose, leaving enough room distance him and his man over screens to go tubing behind a speedboat on defense, letting J.J. Barea post him up on the block like Karl Malone. To make matters worse, Ray started overcompensating wildly while D-ing up Rubio – the one guy he should’ve been giving room – and committing a couple of really atrocious turnovers at the other end. Like many of his Bocker brethren, Ray’s was a performance best left for frostbite.
|Iman Shumpert, PG 22 MIN | 2-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 5 PTS | -6
The sentiment has been espoused by pundits couch-bound and courtside alike, and I completely agree: Shump is trying just a bit TOO hard to make his presence known so soon after such a potentially career-altering injury. Tonight the defense, both on-ball on on-rotation, was particularly woeful, resulting in two quick fouls and a Woodson chain-yank so violent gumballs started spitting out of Shump’s shoes.
The second half was more of the same, punctuated by this early sequence: Shumpert saves the ball under his own basket to an opposing player, who dashes back down the court; Shumpert recovers, only to let Luke Ridnour sneak by him for an offense rebound and put-back; Shumpert retreats to bench, where Woodson commands him to thatch together a doghouse using nothing but empty Gatorade cups toenail clippings. There’s nothing we can do beyond chalking shitshows like this up to setbacks, so that’s exactly what we’ll do. Go get ‘em next time, Tigerchampsport.
|Amar’e Stoudemire, PF 28 MIN | 6-11 FG | 7-9 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 3 BLK | 1 TO | 19 PTS | -3
It’s become maddeningly commonplace for STAT to just be completely ignored rolling off the pick – Felton missed him twice on what should’ve been pretty routine feeds in the early going – which makes his bourgeoning low post game all the more indispensable. A vicious one-handed hoop-plus-harm got things going, but Amar’e disappeared from the offense as quickly as he arrived. A nifty leaning baby hook led off the third, and his abuse of Minny folk hero Chris Johnson – a left-fake to baseline drive cooked up faster than Ramen served raw – made it seem like the second half might be STAT’s act. But a dumbass technical and lost defensive concentration earned him a stage hook down the stretch. So long as he keeps sneaking that efficiency through the airport metal detectors, we’ll take the occasional “episode.”
|Steve Novak, SF 10 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -4
By hitting on two of his first three hoists from deep, hings started off mighty swell for ol’ Steve, whose participation in All-Star Weekend was both welcomed with aplomb by Bocker Nation and questioned for its long-term wisdom. I’ll personally reserve judgment until after Steve makes good on his pre-contest “Which one of you bitches is playing for second?” proclamation (I think that was Vashon Leonard) but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a hair worried about his prospects going forward.
|Pablo Prigioni, PG 8 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 3 PTS | -11
All I really remember of Pablo’s performance happened at the start of the fourth quarter, when he followed up an ’82 Fred Brown assist to Derrick Williams by blowing a wide open layup at the other end just seconds later. Seriously, you could’ve parked a Buick in the space between Prigs and the next closest defender. Whatever.
|J.R. Smith, SG 35 MIN | 6-14 FG | 1-2 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 13 PTS | -2
Only J.R. Smith can follow up hitting the side of the backboard on his first jumper by nailing a corner three two seconds later…. and then follow THAT up by eating Alexy Shved’s kicked-up court grime on a pair of possessions. His shot was a bit long most of the evening, but Earl interspersed a number of feeds – highlighted by a huge, run-bolstering oop to Chandler in the fourth – as impressive as they were timely. Save for the aforementioned Shved ankle-breaks, he’s also quickly becoming the most capable on-ball defender the Knicks have, which is both encouraging and pant-shittingly terrifying.
Five Things We Saw
- I don’t know if any of y’all caught a glimpse of Clyde’s getup tonight, but I think it might’ve been my favorite of the season so far. I call it “Sandoz Elk Hunt.”
- Perhaps no motif has been more caustically dissected than the inability of the Knicks backcourt to contain any guard faster than a Rascal. Jrue Holiday, Jameer Nelson, John Wall – these guys have all made mincemeat of the Knicks’ “switch like it’s a 70s key party” ethos. But when a team touts the slew of quick perimeter players wielded by the Wolves, ish can get especially ugly. Not surprisingly, the Knicks struggled mightily to stop Rubio, Ridnour, Barea and Shved from bending the defense to its pale patina’d will, spearheading 42 paint points (most of those coming in the first half), and finding cutters and spot-up shooters late in the shot clock like every other fucking time down the floor. Luckily the clamps came down in the game’s waning moments, but that doesn’t make Woodson’s Thursday comments – something to the effect of keeping Ray on the team’s opposing point to teach him “responsibility” – any easier to swallow.
- Thank Thor the Wolves only hits on 1-13 from beyond the arc. Aside from that one stat, this game eerily mirrored Wednesday’s D.C. meltdown – the same lackadaisical approach on D, the same lunges at late-game heroics, etc.
- After surrendering 31 in the third, the Knicks returned the favor by blitzing the Wolves 30-18 in the final frame and playing by far their finest defense in at least eight quarters – in stretches, anyway. Chalk the finish up in part to Minnesota’s heavy regression to the mean – there are just so many weird jumpers that Luke Ridnour and Dante Cunningham can really hit – and in part to a steadfast desire to not lose to two sub-.500 teams in a row.
- Weird how the world works. Twenty-four hours after kvetching emotive about losing my second rec league game in as many nights (and fouling out of last night’s), and the Knicks losing while the Pacers, Heat, Celtics, and Nets all waltzed away with Ws, Fortuna — that saucy trollop — rewarded us with pretty much the exact opposite: The Knicks win, Nets and Pacers lose, and I get to be snowed in with a furnace full of heat, good beer, and a white chocolate raspberry scone that’s been sitting in the cupboard for about a week but is still probably pretty good. Probably. Actually it’s the last edible thing in my house and I can’t see outside because of the 40-foot snow drifts so this is the last thing I’ll be eating for days. Wish me luck.
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.