Knicks 102, Bucks 88
|Kurt Thomas, PF 4 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -4
I for one am in full support of these four-minute honorary starts, even if Kurt hasn’t made a shot since the Polk administration. It’s almost comical, really, waiting to hear what a slightly short-handed Woodson’s going to do lineup-wise, only to hear him burp out something about “waiting to see what the other team’s gonna do,” when we all know perfectly well he’s going to start Kurt Thomas and then yank him within half-a-quarter for being a slightly more mobile version of a taxidermied sperm whale.
|Carmelo Anthony, SF 30 MIN | 9-18 FG | 8-9 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 29 PTS | +13
Who knows how much longer Melo can keep this shit up, but another 95 or so games would be tit. Once again the opposition took a “let’s throw similarly sized bodies at Anthony and hope something works” with Tobias Harris and Marquis Daniels being the most oft doom-summoned. To which Melo responded with measured murder – treys, takes, and trips to the strip as regular reward.
Really the most encouraging number on the ledger was 30, as in minutes played – something that will hopefully become more of the norm as we hit a relatively smooth patch of season stretch over the next few games.
|Tyson Chandler, C 27 MIN | 4-4 FG | 9-10 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 17 PTS | +16
Emboldened once again with a shot chart vaguely resembling a clump of popcorn chicken breading, Tyson’s 17 points on FOUR field goal attempts paced the ‘Bockers beautifully – particularly during the late second and early third quarters. That makes 32 of his last 35, for those of you keeping score at home (I’ll wait here and knit you some new drawers while you read that again). Through 14 games, Tyson is on track to smash last year’s record breaking clip of 68% from the field, and solidify his legacy as one of peerlessly freakish efficiency. The low-post rotations were much quicker; the hands lathered in tar; the energy palpable. On his way out of the stadium, Tyson could be found eating the feebler, more helpless attendees without chewing, which in all honesty is about as close as you can get to a salad in Milwaukee.
|Raymond Felton, PG 32 MIN | 5-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 7 AST | 12 PTS | +12
How exactly does one bounce back from 40-plus minutes of running around the house like a child sticking quarters into electrical sockets? By the homeowners putting plastic plugs in all the outlets, basically. After an opening sequence punctuated by an early shot-clock brick followed by Jennings beating him down the other end for an easy chip, it looked like Ray was headed for an evening ending with being tagged and donated to a local dairy farm. As feed.
Instead, Felton dialed it back the perfect number of notches, taking what the defense was giving while doing an admirable job – particularly in the second half – of keeping Jennings from going through with his usual put-our-faces-in-a-blender routine. Of most encouraging import were the four steals, three of which (by my count, anyway) came by way of plundered passing lanes. All told, Ray did what most professionals – regardless of trade – should be expected to do: Forget about the bad game or failed sale or missed shipment or accidentally sending a porn link in a mass email to clients and fight back, damnit.
|Ronnie Brewer, SG 31 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 2 PTS | +4
Getting your fingers stapled together doesn’t sound very pleasant, but big ups to Ronnie for fighting through it anyway. The jumper was a hair flat, and he got caught and beat on a few early mismatches, but Brew’s 31 minutes – the most in quite some time – were eminently encouraging if for no other reason that it means his knees probably aren’t on the verge of melting.
|Rasheed Wallace, PF 15 MIN | 2-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 5 PTS | 0
So long as we’re solidly above .500, we’ll probably force ourselves to tolerate these mostly defense-free, 2-for-some-number-greater-than-ten outings, because sooner or later you know Sheed’s going to do something incredibly stupid or funny — or both. Like, say, catching a pass on a cut and trying to dunk from the free throw line. To his credit, even Sheed himself seemed to realize what he’d just done, immediately demanding to be taken out and re-retiring from the N.B.A. for the next 35 minutes. We just have to come to grips with the fact that Wallace will be an adventure every time he’s out on the floor, and that – like most adventures – timely heroics will seldom come free of slips off the cliff.
|Steve Novak, SF 40 MIN | 7-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 19 PTS | +13
Oh man, I’m almost too giddy to even type this. First, remember that our Marquette-whelped marksmen made his name on this very court. That, coupled with the requisite parental presence (Steve’s dad, Mike, wore this sweater, with which I’m determined to swathe my firstborn), meant this had all the makings for a breakout performance. Nineteen points (including five triples), a handful of solid defensive stints, and one steal-into-fast-break-layup-with-no-one-near-him-he’s-almost-seven-feet-that’s-ridiculous later, it’s sure seems like Steve’s latched himself back to the tracks.
|Chris Copeland, SF 11 MIN | 2-5 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 5 PTS | +3
CHRIS COPELAND ANAGRAM FUN: PILCHARD SCONE
|Pablo Prigioni, PG 28 MIN | 4-5 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 7 AST | 11 PTS | +11
It seemed like Pablo hadn’t hit a three since the ’04 Olympics, so what a relief to watch his two early tries from deep fall true. Prigs’ first half play was so solid, in fact, that he was actually tapped for the halftime interview with Tina Beervase (Cervasio in English?). Which, I mean, I’d listen to Pablo talk all day, every day – even if his interpretory struggle face is that of a man being explained in detail how he owes $450,000 in back taxes. Priggy continued his excellent second unit orchestration during the final frames, in the process regaining a confidence that seemed to be lately waning. A career-high seven assists (that still sounds really funny) later, Woody might yet have a stopgap solution for when Ray decides to drop acid right before tipoff.
|J.R. Smith, SG 18 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | +2
@netw3rk was the first to point this out, but it sure as shit seems like there’s a direct correlation between Earl tweeting post 2AM and the next day’s game beginning with three fouls in less than two minutes of court time. Plus, dude just can’t hit the broad side of a thong these days — this after arguably the greatest stretch of his eight year career (this still weirds me out to no end). But give J.R. props for not forcing the issue; five shots in 18 minutes does not a chucker make, and his fresh legs down the stretch (more on this later) helped thwart a number of Milwaukee possessions at a time when a couple more buckets could’ve made this one a barnburner.
|James White, SG 4 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | 0
garbage time burn > burn garbage time
Five Things We Saw
- So the three point shooting was pretty effective (11 of 21 for the orange and blue vs. 5 of 13 for the Yucks). More importantly, they were generated– with few exceptions – within the flow of the offense, with only a handful of hoists coming at the tail end of the shot clock. Obviously anything north of 40% is probably not sustainable in the long term. But the discerning approach most certainly is, which in many ways is the product of the kind of spacing that’s been lately forgotten in the face of tempting old habits. Not tonight, however – almost all of our looks were clean, and so too was the snap of the nets.
- The word’s long since gotten out that the Knicks are really into anal (sorry), and the early bushels of backdoor buckets only hammered (sorry!) this point home. BUTT (SORRY!) The Knicks finally said “no mas,” denying many a Buck cut during the third quarter run. Now, “always see the ball” is, like, the second thing they teach you in youth basketball right after “Velcro your shoes” and “stop sucking your finger,” but that’s precisely where the Knicks have gotten burned these past few tilts. Tonight, by comparison, the ‘Bockers finally had their heads on swivels and their arms and hands outstretched, which led to a number of poke-aways, outright swipes, and killed possessions.
- For as maligned as he’s been during the recent 3-4 swoon, Woodson orchestrated some pretty stellar in-game adjustments tonight. First, he took Thomas out after four minutes, which, I mean, give the man a roast beef sandwich for that one. Whether by design or blind-ass luck, Woody’s second quarter unit of Prigs, Brewer, Novak, Cope, and Sheed was surprisingly effective. Then – and this one was probably the strangest / most pleasantly surprising of all – Coach decided to start Novak at three for the third quarter, a brilliant move meant to capitalize on Novak’s solid start and home floor feel. We’ll have to see whether this kind of creative flexibility holds going forward, but I for one think much of the criticism heaped on Woodson thus far has been a bit misguided, if only because he – like every other coach – needs to figure out how to sketch a still life before he can go all Picasso with lineups and matchups.
- LOL so the Nets and the Celtics totally got into a fight tonight. I still haven’t seen anything beyond this 40-second video clip, but it sure looked to me like KG and Rondo were the real instigators in this one. Obviously when I first saw this on Twitter I was all like “EVEYRONE FIGHT PICK UP A CHAIR GO FIND SCALPALS IN THE TRAINING ROOM GOUGE OUT EYEBALLS!” – though sadly it doesn’t look like anyone will get anything more than a five game suspension. Still, not sure how I feel about the Celtics stealing our rivalry thunder like this.
- I won’t lie, I thought we were doomed in this one – Jennings always seems to have our number, and the Bucks look pretty fleet-footed out of the gate. But getting back to first principals – defense, discerning shot selections, and generally not pissing ourselves at the first sign of trouble – ultimately won out. With three eminently winnable games (Buzzards, Suns, and Robertcats) ahead of our next tough stretch, nabbing our first road win in four tries, combined with the ‘Zards winning their first game of the season at home against Portland earlier tonight, hopefully means less of a chance for a Friday letdown…. Oh, right, about that: the Knicks went and scoured the city subways and found a bucket drummer named Randolph Robert to do the song. So we’re all set.
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.