|Kenyon Martin, PF 26 MIN | 2-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | +10
A rather quiet night for the Knicks’ best big (That still feels uncommonly disconcerting to type.), mainly due to a flurry of ticky-tack and/or silly early 3rd quarter fouls (Don’t worry—we’ll talk about the arbiters in a jiffy). That said, when he did get to spin in the 1st stanza, he wholly throttled Zach Randolph, who probably outweighed him by a good Nate Robinson pounds or so, jamming every tattoo he had into Z-Bo’s rolling mounds of voluminous, hyperadiposic flesh, pushing him further and further away from the hoop and using all of his 78.65 years of experience to keep him from gobbling up rebounds. Being a sadistic, vicious ogre m’self, I most enjoyed Kenyon’s interpretation of the “no layups” rule.
It’s like one of those overly-masculine/macho, way-too-aggressive embraces where you can just tell that there’s a closeted, homoerotic impulse buried deep inside, like this is how the hugger gets to touch men and be punished for it at the same time. I LOVE YOU, MAN. NO I REALLY LOVE YOU. I MIGHT BE CHOKING YOU, BUT IT’S ONLY BECAUSE I REALLY, REALLY LOVE YOU MANNNNNNNNNNNNNN.
|Carmelo Anthony, SF 40 MIN | 8-20 FG | 6-6 FT | 7 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 22 PTS | -2
I was chatting with a few wise Knick wags about Melo’s shot last night. Honestly, I’m not well versed enough in basketball shooting mechanics to say either way, but the general opinion was/is that he’s bricking jumpers because he’s not following through on his shot and/or getting enough lift. They also opined that even with the leeches that MSG’s crack medical team used to remove the synovial goo from his balky joint, he’s probably still not back to his pre-Howard garroting best. (SIDE NOTE: All of Melo’s injury woes this year date back to a cheap foul by that Pez-gobbling fart aroma-connoisseur. I remain gobsmacked that Knick Knation, which collectively has the tendency to get the dial veering wildly to the right on the victimization/perpetual-outrage-at-the-basic-unfairness-of-the-universe-o-meter, has let D12 off the hook for this transgression. In sum, go sit on a tack, Dwight.)
In any case, tonight I tried to screw on my best Red on Roundball face and see if I could determine if there was any merit to the notion that there’s something discernable in Melo’s form that would account for his post-injury trip to Brick City. In the first, he was so set on facilitating for the rest of his ‘mates and/or taking the rock to the rack that I couldn’t tell. In the 2nd half, which was filled with fadeaway jumpers and ball massaging, it seemed like it wasn’t a question of form as much as it was bad decisions, though his shot was a little flat. He did a swell job dealing with Gasol or whichever brute he was forced to guard, and the two shots nailed in the fourth were clutch, but I remain worried. You guys are smart—is this just a stretch of poor shooting or is there something more there?
|Iman Shumpert, SF 21 MIN | 6-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 16 PTS | +9
I can’t state strongly enough how important Shump banging home those three early treys was to discombobulating the Gracelanders 2nd ranked D. It opened the whole floor up and was the catalyst for the ping-pong, precision passes that were soon to follow. Being guarded by a sofa-denter like Z-bo certainly helped his confidence. I don’t know about you, but Shump’s shot looks textbook-pretty, even when it’s clanging off iron, so it was even more eye candy-ish to see those first four bombs splash the net (12-25 overall during this recent six game winning streak). And that gorgeous one-man fast break, frosted with a deft fake and lay in? Yummy yummers.
|Raymond Felton, PG 32 MIN | 5-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 13 PTS | -4
‘Member those shrewd village elders I mentioned two players ago? We were also discussing the rather paltry stat lines that our portly, penguin-y point has been putting up (We don’t get this alliterative when we chat. That’d be super annoying.), and it seemed as if Raymond wasn’t driving the ball as authoritatively as we’ve come to expect, especially considering the last five opponents haven’t been rife with shotblockers. I’m generally of the opinion that, like a teething, sugar-addled toddler, he’s better when he’s seen and not heard but he definitely penetrated decisively tonight and nailed a few of those, “No, no, no, no…YES” triples. Solid game.
|Pablo Prigioni, PG 19 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +6
If we forged an official, Vatican-stamped decree from the new Argentine Pope, do you think that’d make Pablo shoot more? I think it’s come to that. His defense on all manner of guards and wings was lovely and he’s been a wondrous revelation as a starter, positively interring all of those atrocious 1st quarters that we’ve grown sadly accustomed to, but I get Woodson yanking him after he passed up a trey that led directly to a fast break opportunity. And if he’s feeling dodgy about his shot, we’ve seen him convert a couple of Nash-like floaters/runners. Shoot more, Pablo. We’ll only love you with greater fervor, even if you miss. Pinky swear.
|Chris Copeland, SF 6 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | -5
After a positively miserable outing in Beantown, it looked early on like Cope had returned to permanent exile at his Elba, the end of the bench. When Camby was allowed to leave early to attend his weekly book club meeting, Cope got the call and converted a couple of tough interior buckets. Given that the Knicks only needed to exchange baskets to salt this game away, I would have liked to see him get a little more floor time.
|Steve Novak, SF 16 MIN | 3-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 9 PTS | +6
For all you Manhattan natives, Steve Novak will be at the McDonalds on 641 6th Ave tomorrow between 12-2 to try the new Premium McWrap. No joke. This is a real thing. I’m seriously considering going and presenting him with my drawing of him. Whaddaya think? Funny? Creepy? Both? Anyhoo…something I’ve noticed the last few games is that Steve’s been staying an extra foot or so more behind the three point line. I assume this is to give him a sliver of space to launch. In the first half, (like all things Knickly tonight) it worked like a charm. Afterwards, not so much.
|Marcus Camby, C 8 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | +5
Marcus, Marcus, Marcus…good job as the defensive anchor for the Prigs/Kidd/Smith/Novak group that went absolutely bat guano crazy in the 2nd. Woulda been nice to see if you could have done the same thing later on. That would’ve helped. So you’re getting an F. I’m trying to teach you a lesson here. This hurts me more than it does you.
|Jason Kidd, PG 29 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-1 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 4 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | +4
Here are my more or less unedited notes: “I know he’s started grumbling about retirement, but there’s really nothing stopping him from playing effectively for the next two years of his deal—he sure ain’t gonna get any dumber / The hands, dear God(s), the hands! That behind the back, no look pass to Novak in the corner…aside from Rubio, who does that? A look-away 30’ alley-oop to J.R? That’s just uh-may-zing!” Even before Jason Kidd banged home the bomb at the 1:15 mark that more or less stuck a fork in Memphis’ hairy backside, I realized that watching Jason made me grin so wide my face hurt. Back in the day, when he was on the Jersey Shore, I was so busy loathing him, I’m sure I underappreciated his talents. Imagine all this wisdom with a nitrous oxide burst of actual speed. Lawdy. I’ve certainly said this before, but it bears repeating. He’s the smartest player I’ve ever rooted for. Period. If anything in your life has you feeling blue, just watch this a few times.
|J.R. Smith, SG 42 MIN | 10-18 FG | 12-13 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 4 TO | 35 PTS | +8
Here’s a fun bit of statistical noise: In his last two games, J.R. Smith has scored 67 points on 23-for-42 shooting. That’s good right? Yeah it is. More impressive than his continued insistence upon using his contortionist-like athleticism to bob, dance, and weave through a flurry of rim protectors/finish with aplomb is the fact that Tony Allen, a Bowenian irritator of the first order, was digging deep into his dirty bag of dirty tricks to try to goad Earl into losing his cool or becoming shot-happy. I know what you’re thinking: “J.R. can’t lose his composure. He never had any to lose to begin with.” (rim shot) Amazingly, improbably, he appears to have leased some cool with an option to buy, all due to the tough-love/kindly hand of Son of Wood. Peep this quote:
Hey, whatever works. Stick then carrot or carrot then stick. “Carrot and Pipe” is probably more accurate. Anyway, J.R.’s 4 offensive ‘bounds were a serious bonus too. He’s playing great. Not much more to say.
Why all the ISO-Melo in the fourth? It’s not like his j was sopping wet or anything. Seriously, I’m asking. The schizophrenia was a team-wide issue, but certain our fearless leader can see what’s working and what isn’t, right? I know I’ve ripped the Goateed one a new…one…before, but it’s because I cannot tell whether he’s a good coach or a bad coach or both. Often I go back and forth in the same game, like tonight, f’rinstance. It seemed like every good move was wedded with a counter that brings my head forcefully down upon my desk. It’s a perfect microcosm for the team as a whole, if a maddeningly frustrating one.
Five Things We Saw
- Massive exhale. Dickensian game, amirite? Best of times and worst of times. When we heard the news that Marc Gasol, who’d been out with a shredded midsection (Which hurts like a mofo FYI, if you’ve never had the pleasure. If you’re not the type that’s prone to Pilates-ing your core into a glorious washboard of core-muscle-y goodness, a torn abdomen’s a wonderful introduction into all the ways in which you might used that part of your body that you don’t even realize; sitting, standing, breathing—basically anything that involves moving outside of batting your lashes at a particularly comely lass of virtue true.), would in fact be suiting up, I was powerful afeared of yet another thuggish whomping from Memphis’ beastly, bruin-like frontline; similar to what we experienced way back the first time these two teams clashed. Considering Tyson’s neck was preventing him from looking up, (That’s an important skill to possess when toiling in professional hoops, methinks.), I was girding my loins for a knock, down, drag-out, low-scoring game in which the Knickerbockers not only lost, but were pounded so mercilessly they’d be left a bloody, staggering pulp, dumped in a Hefty bag by the Sbarro’s outside MSG by the time the final buzzer sounded.
- But glory be! We did travel back to a simpler, nay, more innocent time—the halcyon days of November, Twen’y-Twelve. There was a table laid with the finest cured meats and well-aged cheeses; the ball whipped around the perimeter until it nestled in the mitts of a wide open three point shooter, like the borderline Platonic perfection of a sequence in which Prigs drove the lane, kicked to Kidd in the corner, who immediately jump passed to Novak, who kissed the ball to J.R. at the top of the key. Orgasmic; Children were skipping, giggling and gallivanting about with nary a morsel dribbled onto their best finery; the defense rotated with vigor, closed out on shooters, team-rebounded with gusto, and artfully deflected/snaggled many a wayward pass or ill-conceived drive into paint; father lit his pipe, leaned back in his chair and regaled us with tales of fighting alongside the Republican forces to take down that scurrilous tyrant, Generalissimo Francisco Franco; the Knicks combatted their lack of size by forcing a bigger, more physical team to go small/match up to them; and even Uncle Telemachus’ drunken lechery was greeted with a kindly eye.
- Life was but a dream. The first half was a massive chorus singing, “November Rain,” but not like Axl Rose intended—the sad tale of the misery of a former multi-platinum blues-influenced rock star, now so drunk and drug-addled he never knows what day it is, who reminisces over an on-and-off-again relationship—but a bombastic ode to basketball joy. The Knicks banked a season-high 69 points, hit 61% from the field, led by 28 (!) and all seemed right with the world. And then…gah. Look, we all expected the Elvises to make a run, but in an annoying, eerie repeat of the first time these two clashed, a few sketchy whistles and all of a sudden, we found ourselves in the midst of a bad remake of Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Iso, as they forgot about the all the wondrous things that had given them a 30-point bulge in the first place. And the refs…double gah. It was a terribly, stupidly officiated game on both sides, but the aggrieved kvetching positively has to stop. Take Marcus Camby (please). Yes, that was a poor call. He was without a doubt mugged by Gasol the Younger. But considering Martin and Shumpert were already glued to the pine for the duration of the third with four fouls apiece, and at that moment, our side was still up 24, he cannot begin shrieking and wailing like a bereaved, bent Italian crone/Fellini stock character, leaving the Knicks to feebly insert Novakland at center. Dumb. So dumb. It’s happened before, and it’s going to happen again, possibly as soon as the 1st round of the playoffs. If the standings remain unchanged, you can betcha bottom dollar that Kevin and Paul and all those wily, dastardly Celtics will do everything this side of munching a certain breakfast cereal during the game to get our guys to lose their bits.
- And the Ursines just kept creeping closer and closer, aided in no small part by a seemingly-endless parade to the charity stripe (14 freebies in the 3rd alone) and suddenly, what looked for all intents and purposes to be a care-free jaunt through extended gahr-BAHZ time (as Marv is wont to say) turned into the grindhouse affair we all expected prior to tip off. If the Grizzlies had one or two more non-Jerryd Bayless long range marksmen, the ‘Bockers would have been in a heap of trouble. Speaking of which, eff Jerryd Bayless. It’s not just that he looks like a botched clone of Carlos Boozer. It’s not just the way he sticks a foot/hop at a shooter when he’s in the air. It’s not just that when the Knick D faltered and he began to torch them from inside and out the yappy sumbitch just would not shut up. There’s just something about Bayless that fills me with an unrelenting, nails-on-the-blackboard, chewing tinfoil-type venom. I have a feeling many a Knick feels the same way. After Jerryd picked up his sixth foul, Melo said something that made me wish I were a trained lip-reader. I’ll assume it was a Nelson Muntz-esque, “Ha-HA!” or possibly, “Take your Slick Watts-style cocked headband and git the eff outta our house, you annoying lil’ motherscratcher.” Either works for me.
- But hey, they won. They won a hard-fought game against a good team on a night where a loss was certainly in the offing. Their best player had another off shooting night, they were without the reigning DPOY and, after all the ejections and foul woes, they were so vertically challenged they’d have a hard time dealing with Britney Griner down low. This is a good thing. Six in a row – the longest streak in the league now that LeBron et al have finally (finally!) dropped one – is a very good thing. The pesky RobertCats come into town to kick off the weekend. Friday night portents of doom notwithstanding, they’ve got a good shot to hit lucky number seven. Excelsior!