|Andrea Bargnani, PF 28 MIN | 5-12 FG | 3-3 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 13 PTS | -6
If I didn’t know better, I’d swear Andrea Bargnani was created in some twisted, macabre, Island of Dr. Moreau-esque lab with the specific purpose of causing endless spats among Knicker-backers. Our own Kevinicus McElroysius did a dandy job unpacking this paradox before, but this game is such a perfect example.
On the one hand, you have the 2nd quarter, in which the Knicks went to a small-ball lineup, and pummeled the Magic into a substance that probably best resembles an inedible pile of oxidized guacamole via deft perimeter passing while simultaneously hounding the Disneys on defense by, you know, being fast enough to make Son of Wood’s unnecessary doubling/switching system kinda/sorta work. In a related story, Bargnani wasn’t in the game.
When he was on the floor, you got the same brand of defense in space and on the boards we’ve seen in the prior 26 games—you know, the execrably bad kind that feels as if you’re trying to remove your own spleen with a warm, rusty spoon whilst simultaneously wondering, “Why the fuck am I trying to perform home surgery [insert Obamacare joke here]? Can’t I just leave my spleen where it is?”
Then there’s the two clutch (mid-range, natch) buckets off pick and pops he canned to keep the Knicks in front by the absolute hair of their chinny-chin-chins. No snark, those were money.
So those who call the Bargs trade the Knicks’ worst (and it’s quite the extensive list to delve into) trade since whichever Layden/Isiah/Walsh/Grunwald makes you most want to drink enough home cleaning products that you can barely remember your own name, let alone the Knicks’ sordid history when getting all swap meet-y, get to once again pine for lost picks and those who think he’s a solid piece (if properly utilized) have tools to cobble together a reasonable argument. Regardless, please don’t get hurt.
|Carmelo Anthony, SF 24 MIN | 7-14 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 19 PTS | +14
The fact that he was destroying the Florida Men as a secondary option off pick and roll action/dribble penetration doesn’t matter. The fact that he smartly passed out of doubles doesn’t matter. The fact that he was tickling the twine on the regular out of isolation doesn’t matter. The totality of what was shaping up to be yet another in a series of boffo outings—all the more impressive for occurring within this bedraggled, zombie apocalypse of a season—has been sadly reduced to one swollen body part.
Of course, in typical Knicks self-medicating/diagnosing fashion (See spleen parable above), he’s more or less decided he’s playing in the Baby Jesus Bowl on Wednesday.
Which, yay! Warrior fighting spirit! Of course, there can be unexpected side effects when rushing back from a boo-boo. Which naturally brings us to…
|Raymond Felton, PG 25 MIN | 4-11 FG | 3-4 FT | 2 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 13 PTS | -8
Bye Ray :(
There’s no way of knowing if the byzantine knots that Raymond’s tummy’s been twisted into are a direct result of rushing back from his gammy hammy, but… Eff it. Dr. Bob sez he’s hurt again because he came back early. It’s awful, because he was doing a splendid job running the offense when healthy, getting to the tin, feeding the bigs and wings, and hitting his shots when whichever Androgyne (You know, Orlando. Like the Virginia Wolff novel where the lead changes gender, hence…Let’s move on.) went under the screen.
I’d get into his incessant kvetching about calls, but honestly, I just hope he takes the time to rest up before coming back, as vital as he is to the team’s success. Take your time, Ray. Read a nice book. Maybe the 19th century semi-autobiographical tome I just referenced. But whatever you do, no matter what demands to play regardless of injury that your Bulldog religion dictates, do. Not. Come. Back. Until. You. Are. Freaking. Healthy. Really healthy, not “Rub some spit n’tabaccky n’ gut one out fer the team” healthy. Grantland Rice is dead. The fact that he’d like the cut of your jib isn’t helping right now.
|Tyson Chandler, C 40 MIN | 5-9 FG | 0-2 FT | 13 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 10 PTS | +11
After a listless outing v. Memphis, it sure was grand to see Tyson back to his red-eyed, rage-filled, order-barking self; hunting alley oops, draining the occasional 15-footer and covering up for the various gaffes in perimeter D like a human whack-a-mole mallet. Peep this quote from HC Jacque “I really should have an S there” Vaughn: “I think the first play of the game, our draw-up, Tyson Chandler has us pushed out to the half-court line where we can’t even execute the first play of the game.”
That’s our Tyson. Please don’t get hurt.
|Iman Shumpert, SG 27 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 9 PTS | +8
I don’t know if any of you have ever worked with children, but there’s always one kid in the class (regardless of whether you’re teaching AP Calculus or Canine Theriogenology for Dog Enthusiasts) that tries so damn hard, but can’t seem to get out of his own way; that is constantly is crashing into himself, his ever-increasing effort and mounting disgust at his own failure crashing into one another like over-caffeinated Sumo wrestlers, such that harder he tries, the worse he does and, like a snake eating its own tail, builds upon itself ad infinitum, going nowhere. Enter Shump. There were a more than few glorious moments—specifically the steal of Jameer Nelson at midcourt leading to a breakaway layup with 1:39 to go and strip of Big Baby (Ew!) a few seconds later. But the evening was still punctuated by swag-less hesitation, purpose-free drives and needless over-pursuing/unnecessarily hands-y defense.
And each time something goes wrong, the agony is writ large all over his flat-top free mug. I want him to pull it together, to return to the cat he was in game six oh-so badly, yet my or your desire must pale in comparison to his own.
If he did come to me for some friendly advice, I’d turn to the seminal DeNiro-Snipes cinematic opus, The Fan. (NOTE: It is not a good movie.) and suggest that maybe things would improve if he cared a little less. That may sound like crazypants talk, but I think his overwhelming need is getting in the way of accomplishing what he wants to on the court. He really should follow in JR’s carefree footsteps and not give a crap. If you fail, so be it. Woodson’s gonna scream? So what. Smile. Don’t play with anger (and it’s horrid twin brother, fear); play with joy. Smile even in the face of certain doom. Don’t try to do the right thing, do your thing.
Thus endeth the lesson. Please don’t get hurt
|Amar’e Stoudemire, PF 18 MIN | 3-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 6 PTS | -9
Um, what the hell happened to STAT’s hands? I could prattle on about his defense, but I don’t think I’ve seen him cough up the rock so easily before. Yes, we’re well aware of his propensity to get butter-fingered when dribble-driving, but there were just tons of moments tonight where he treated the ball like a particularly slippery greased sow. Weird. Stop that. Please don’t get hurt (again).
|Beno Udrih, PG 23 MIN | 2-3 FG | 6-6 FT | 1 REB | 6 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | +13
Welp, looks like we’ve got a whole lot more Beno to look forward to. Let’s see who’s up next on the old handy-dandy pocket schedule. Hm. Oklahoma City, eh? I wonder if they have a point guard that… OH GOD, NO. NOT WESTBROOK. THE BLOOD. WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT THE OLD MAN TO HAVE SO MUCH BLOOD IN HIM. The thane of Fife had a wife: where is she now?–What, will these hands ne’er be clean?–No more o’ that, my lord, no more o’ that: you mar all with this starting BENO FREAKING UDRIH AT POINT GUARD. WESTBROOK GONNA USE HIM LIKE A FREAKING WET NAP.
Please don’t get hurt.
|Tim Hardaway Jr., SG 18 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | -9
A quiet outing for Timmy Jr. A couple of deadly shots and some badly missed rotations. Coach yelled. Another weird by-product of tonight’s Battle of Stalingrad-level casualties was that it was hard to find time for Rook², what with JR’s presence being so vital and Shump required to check Afflalo. Please don’t get hurt.
|J.R. Smith, SG 37 MIN | 7-17 FG | 1-2 FT | 10 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 18 PTS | +11
When Melo was not amongst the (not) walking wounded, JR was having a swell game. His work on the glass was more than solid, he twice stuffed Tobias Harris at the rim and in general played solid defense, he made a few nifty dishes after driving into the tall trees, and he mostly limited his heaves to spot ups. That’s all well and good. Of course, post-injury, his eyes lit up like he’d just landed at the VIP room at 1Oak and found Rhianna’s Amex Black card lying on the floor, and began ordering up bottle after bottle of La Ley del Diamante Tequila. It’d be hilariously awful/awfully hilarious to see what a world where JR is the primary option might look like. On Christmas, we may just get to see our darkest, most sadistically perverse desires come true. It’s an evil miracle! Please don’t get hurt.
Five Things We Saw
- The Knicks are a wonderful primer in the balance of nature. If you’re not familiar, it’s a theory that proposes that ecological systems usually seek out and remain in a stable equilibrium. That is to say, a small change in some particular parameter will be corrected by some negative feedback that will bring the parameter back to its original “point of balance” with the rest of the system. In this case, the out of balance state occurred during the 25-point lead the Knickerbockers secured in the beginning of the 3rd, with an offense that was such a glorious throwback to 2013-14. There were threes dropping off snap-quick passes around the horn. Melo scored without having to exert the absolute maximum energy required. The pick and roll, with Felton and Chandler as the lynchpin of everything they want to do, was positively delightful. The defense was only intermittently effective, (and they still do an atrocious job of getting back to prevent fast breaks), but it was enough, what with the 63-point first half they unleashed.
- And then, there was a change in the system that restored the natural order of this particular system. I.e. Melo (and then Felt) got hurt and, like your annoying brother/sister who jerks out the absolutely crucial piece in a game of Jenga because he/she takes perverse delight in seeing all the blocks come tumbling down, and the ‘Bockers returned to the shitstorm from whence they were born. The fact that they were able to pull out the win can’t obscure the fact that those two pieces (like Chandler before them) are absolutely essential to making this trey-happy offense work. Without them, well… it’s not good.
- Of course, the fact that they have owes isn’t idiopathic. I.e. no known cause. Melo’s been playing an unsustainable 40mpg and Felton clearly wasn’t fully hale and hearty before pulling on his orange and blue togs. Was it THE reason they pulled up lame? There’s no way to say with 100% accuracy, but I’m sure it didn’t help. Of course, Melo wouldn’t be ridden like Secretariat and Felton wouldn’t be spitting in the faces of various medical professionals were the situation not so dire. That is to say, were they winning the games they should have (or even 2-3 of the ones they’ve blown) perhaps a more small-c conservative course would’ve been taken. And now the situation is more dire, so they’ll have to take more risks (like playing Melo on Wednesday) and pushing Tyson up to 5,672mpg even though he’s just off the IR, which means he might get hurt, which means more general panic and possibly panicked trades and sacrificing what remains of the future for a dubious present and more cap hell and no draft picks and on and on and on and on and on and the wheel spins ‘round and ‘round, never to stop.
That’s why we can’t have nice things.
- Speaking of things that are actually nice, during a promo spot for MSG’s X-Mas day broadcast, 24 hours of Knicksmas, Clyde donned a jaunty red cap and informed us that he’ll be hosting from his home in St. Croix where, “Santa wears shorts and not much else.” That’s awesome.
- Despite all that, on Christmas eve, the Knicks (the 9-18 Knicks) are 2.5 games out of first place. So, in closing:
"Pray for us," Raymond Felton said. "I'm serious."
— Scott Cacciola (@ScottCacciola) December 24, 2013
You got it. Go Knicks!