|Andrea Bargnani, PF
42 MIN | 9-13 FG | 1-1 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 19 PTS | +4
HOW HE PLAYED: For a guy who purportedly “forgot” the Knicks were playing the Heat tonight, Bargs was spectacularly efficient in the half-court, leveraging his mid-range game with timely aplomb – even if he’s often so homed-in that he misses wide open cutter(s). The defense was, once again, a stew of spoiled dog meat and New Coke. Still, the nerves seemed just stable enough to put to rest any concerns of a Playoff pants shitting.
HOW HE HONORED J.R.: Told STAT that his friend, Jackie Mason, wanted to meet him after the game at the corner of Broadway and West 254th Street. But that he’d better have a table saw ready to go, or no jokes. He’s still standing there.
|Carmelo Anthony, SF
42 MIN | 12-24 FG | 2-3 FT | 8 REB | 5 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 29 PTS | +6
HOW HE PLAYED: It took a bit to brush off the rust, but once he did, Melo was masterful: hitting shots in rhythm, finding cutting and spacing teammates at opportune times, boarding like a beast, and generally exerting his will onto a narrative he somehow knew had gotten away from him. Did a good job on LeBron — who had a great game in his own right — but I’ve long-wondered: Why is it that James pumps the breaks a bit whenever he has Melo one-on-one? Is it an abundance of respect? Deficit of respect? Neither?
Anyway, cut and paste this performance for the remainder – even on average – and there’s no reason why this team can’t be a three-seed.
HOW HE HONORED J.R.: Filled Cole Aldrich’s locker with extremely venomous King Cobras. Reports later surfaced of a Manhattan cabbie picking up a “very tall, polite white man with snakes on his face,” who requested that the driver “Please take me to a doctor. Please. Thank you. Please drive faster, I’m blind. Thank you.”
|Kenyon Martin, PF
24 MIN | 3-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 7 PTS | 0
HOW HE PLAYED: The very day Mike Woodson justified his use of big lineups to reporters with “The East is big, man,” Kenyon Martin used a severed finger to circle this game on his Yoga Kitty calendar. The numbers don’t jump off the screen, but the moments – a veteran shove here, a stealth swipe and deft possession-saving hook there – were indispensible.
HOW HE HONORED J.R.: Hit Bargnani in the face as hard as he could with a floor buffer – just picked the whole thing up and knocked him out cold. Melo had to pull K-Mart aside and explain what a “prank” is.
|Raymond Felton, PG
39 MIN | 6-14 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 14 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 13 PTS | +3
HOW HE PLAYED: Let’s get the foibles out of the way first: Ray wasted no fewer than seven possessions jackhammering the ball on the perimeter late in the shotclock only to initiate the offense in time to fly towards the rim like a condor that’s been shot out of the sky. On the flip side, came up with some huge buckets, and spearheaded a bevy of beautiful possessions out of the pick and roll. Fourteen dimes? Yes’m.
HOW HE HONORED J.R.: During pregame shootaround, shot a spitball right into the eyeball of Jim Todd, who immediately had flashbacks to ‘Nam. As in Putnam, Oklahoma, where Todd was once attacked by a band of meth-addled truck drivers at the local Waffle House.
|Iman Shumpert, SG
43 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 9 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 12 PTS | +14
HOW HE PLAYED: Looked in danger of disappearing to the periphery for much of the first, before a third-quarter three-point explosion ignited him and 18,000 screaming souls around him. Had a few bonhead bites on defense, but made up for it with some beastly work on the boards. By the end, he didn’t just look like he belonged – he was acting like it.
HOW HE HONORED J.R.: Covered a five-square-foot parcel in front of Woodson’s office with Crisco and thumbtacks, doused the band-aids in the first aid kit with acetone, replaced the Bactine with a small flame-thrower, switched the emergency button on the office phone to connect to 1-800-SHE-HIMS.
|Amar’e Stoudemire, PF
27 MIN | 7-12 FG | 0-2 FT | 11 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 14 PTS | +19
HOW HE PLAYED: Spent waaaaaaaaaay too much effort and energy going after Birdman Anderson – heretofore known as Indian Mystic Grizzly Adams. But even that’s a minor quip in what was, on the whole, a remarkably steady offensive performance. And yet another example of how, for all his lingering limitations on defense, Stat will be a useful commodity if and when Woody finally comes to grips with how righteously fucking absurd his “EAST BIG” mantra really is.
HOW HE HONORED J.R.: Told Bargs that his friend, Pope Francis, wanted to meet him after the game at the corner of Broadway and West 254th Street. But that he’d better have a table saw ready to go, or no elaborate birdhouses. He’s still standing there.
|Toure’ Murry, SG
10 MIN | 1-1 FG | 1-2 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | +5
HOW HE PLAYED: If there was one guy I half-expected to spend most of his minutes sliding around the court on pools of his own pee, it was Murry. Color me corrected. Even in limited burn, Toure’ yielded some glorious glimpses: splitting a double team, snatching a transition steal, even hitting a beautiful mid-range jumper. With Felton back in the fold, it’s difficult to say what Murry’s role should be, though we probably all agree it should be more than whatever Woodson says it should be.
HOW HE HONRED J.R.: Gave J.R. a 60-block piggy-back ride back to his apartment, probably.
|Tim Hardaway Jr., SG
14 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 5 PTS | -1
HOW HE PLAYED: If anyone’s going to be less affected by the Knicks-Heat history, it’s the son of the dude who SERIOUSLY $%#& TIM HARDAWAY. Got things going with a huge corner three seconds after stepping in, and gave the crowd much-needed life with a freakish put-back slam made all the more incredible by the fact that he looked like he was putting at most 75% effort into jumping.
HOW HE HONORED J.R.: Successfully convinced Felton that the Chris Copeland Honorary Pink Barbie Bag was actually a jetpack that could be activated by telling Yo Mamma jokes to Kenyon Martin. Followed this up by convincing Felton that the Chris Copeland Honorary Pink Barbie Bag replaces blood platelets if eaten.
|J.R. Smith, SG DNP COACH’S DECISION MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | STL | BLK | TO | PTS |
HOW HE PLAYED: Switched out Melo’s inhaler with a can of mace. Jammed a crowbar into the gears of the handicapped elevator. Dropped a bucket full of live lobsters into Darrel Walker’s hot tub. Switched out Tyson’s flu medicine for rubbed-down blue Transformers. Downloaded four gigabytes worth of snuff films onto Felton’s computer. Bought Pablo a round trip ticket to Argentina; the flight went to Pakistan. Planted a spring-loaded grip of heroin needles in Toure’s mailbox. Loosened all the bolts on K-Mart’s Power Ranger Huffy. Bought Felton a $500 gift certificate to the Cheesecake Factory; expired in 2009. Taped over Shump’s most recent demos with sounds of dying pigs and live recordings of Hoobastank. Replaced Beno’s hair gel with melted hot glue sticks. Paid an usher to deliver a note to Paul Simon reading “I think Simon & Garfield and all music from the 90s is hot <3 Kate”. Convinced James Dolan to invest $18 million in a for-profit clown college.
HOW HE HONORED J.R.: Learned how to tie his own shoes.
HOW HE COACHED: He was fine.
HOW HE HONRED J.R.: Crop-dusted J.R.
Five Things We Saw
- After three early possessions ended in horrendous late-shot clock heaves, cresting the 60-point mark seemed like a reasonable goal. But the Knicks managed to find just enough cracks in Miami’s façade – Melo passing out of the double-team, Felton initiating the P&R, Shump going straight HAM in spite of all logic – to turn the pressure back on the Heat. The end result: 54% shooting against a defense with one of the most devastating on-off switches in recent NBA history. A template to follow, to be sure.
- Speaking of which, the Knicks only turned the ball over 10 times. You take that 100 times out of 10. Better still, the Heat only managed 14 points off said cough-ups.
- I lost track of all the celebrities in attendance tonight. I remember Kate Upton. And Kate Upton. I think Kate Upton was there. And Paul Upton. Kate Simon. Upton Lee was there. Duchovny Upton. Woody Kate. Mary Kate and Ashley Upton. Upton Holmes. Former President Kate Clevaland. Kate Caeasar. Jesus Upton. Kate Upton was there. Kate Upton. Hi Kate.
- We weren’t lights-out from distance by any means, but 9-24 against a team as taut on their rotations as the Heat is found money for sure.
- LeBron and Wade were great, and the rest of the Heat were anywhere from pedestrian to downright liabilities. But even Wade — he of 11-15 from the floor — found his own Kryptonite, missing all SIX of his free throw attempts. SIX! ZERO FOR SIX! Miami was 11-21 overall, which is decidedly not good, according to this copy of Nancy Sinatra’s biography I’m holding in my hand.
- “Signature win” is one of those loathsome things that gets thrown around, but damn if my sentimentality isn’t getting the best of me tonight. There were injuries on both sides, sure. It’s mid-January in a season measured as much in men down as it is in months, sure. The Heat are playing chess while we’re re-learning to master checkers, fine. But even if this was just managing to move the pawn, that the pain has gone away – even for a night – makes it easier to dream of dawn. And that’s a Knicks prank I can live with.