Knicks 116, Lakers 107
|Carmelo Anthony, SF 23 MIN | 10-15 FG | 7-8 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 30 PTS | +11
I’ve said it before and I pray to all that is holy and good and noble and decent that I’ll have the opportunity to say it again and again, but right now, Melo’s doing as good a job of replicating an in-his-prime Bernard King as we’ve seen in the NBA, with the added bonus of the deadly shot from downtown that Bernard never possessed. Alas, the comparison is so apt (How apt is it?), that once again, Knick Knation is in a combination semi-comatose/total panic awaiting the results of tests on his mangled knee/ankle, like Bernard, an injury suffered a drive to the tin. As of this writing, they’re calling the injury “mild” and tossing around the way too well-worn phrase ‘round these parts, “day-to-day.” Then again, if Chris Copeland suffered a debilitating brain aneurysm and needed a team of therapists just to teach him to eat with cutlery again, I’m sure the Knick hierarchy would call his incapacitation “day-to-day” too. So all our hopes and dreams rest in the ham-fisted, medieval mitts of good ‘old kindly Doc Roger Hinds. Outstanding. Friends, please sacrifice a virgin or a goat or even a virgin goat at the alter of whatever God or Gods suit your fancy.
|Ronnie Brewer, SF 26 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 6 PTS | -2
After a stretch of games where his wonky shot looked more fractured than normal, Brew brewed up (sorry) some swell defense during the first half when it looked like this game was going to be a laffer and provided a bucket or two when called upon.
|Tyson Chandler, C 36 MIN | 5-5 FG | 8-14 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 18 PTS | +11
Tyson’s impact on the boards, if one scans the box score, might appear minimal/sub-par, but he did an unreal job blocking out/defending against Dwight Howard (P.S. Seriously, FUCK YOU DWIGHT.) even if more than a few non-D12 forum blue and gold’ers snaggled too many o-boards for my liking and during a critical stretch when Hollywood had managed to whittle a 26-point advantage down to a mere 6 with 1:27 remaining after two straight missed jumpers, Tyson Chandler dominated the offensive glass with two consecutive trademark soul-crushing backtaps to allow New York to control the ball for a game-sealing 1:09 of play. Combine that with his deadly finishes on the pick and roll and you get an affect-the-tides-sized, ginormous sack of beautiful. Just make the freebies, ‘kay Tyson. Please?
|Jason Kidd, PG 39 MIN | 1-2 FG | 2-2 FT | 9 REB | 5 AST | 5 PTS | +10
Not too many killer treys from Jason Kidd, deadly outside marksman (Think about that for a moment. This is a cat who for years was dubbed, “Ason,” cause, you know, he had no J. Tee-hee.). But some yeoman work on the boards/defending his Kobe-ness and his zen-like calm in the face of a rapidly deteriorating lead are pretty much par for the course. Then again, if he’s going to be forced to log nearly 40 minutes a game, he’ll be ground to a pile of dust and bleeding head wounds and ill-fitting headbands and veteran leadership/mentoring by early February. That’s partly due to the fact that our next contestant…
|Raymond Felton, PG 36 MIN | 9-26 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 8 AST | 19 PTS | +9
…played like a warmed-over, day old shit chalupa.
There’s a phrase that was popularized by Blazer-backers who enjoyed a full year of an in-less-than-optimal-physical-condition Felt last season: “Feltdown.” It’s when our man Ray would continue chucking contested mid-range shots and hurling off-balance layup attempts rimward no matter how many of his forays had failed over the course of the game and you find yourself bellowing, “DEAR GOD STOP SHOOTING, RAY!” at no one in particular. Welp, once Melo left, you could toddle down to a Social Club somewhere on Mulberry Street and place a wager with an Italianate fellow who’s menacingly sipping a finely-crafted espresso, insisting on a 100% vig and/or the breaking of femurs and whatnot and yet remain wholly confident of your chances of winning a bet that we’d get a Chernobyl-level collapse from our somewhat-less portly point (More on this later). It’s also a true fact that Felt has now attempted more shots than points scored this season. Gah. Eight dimes and only one turnover notwithstanding, any game where he fires more frequently than Kobe Bryant = Not good. Not good at all.
|Rasheed Wallace, PF 12 MIN | 3-4 FG | 0-2 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 8 PTS | -2
‘Sheed got swept up in the tidal wave of overall brilliance of the first half, providing some stout rim-protecting in Tyson’s absence and even going so far as to nail a wrong-footed, step back, corner trey. He was far less effective in after intermission, but still, a solid outing in total.
|J.R. Smith, SG 27 MIN | 7-14 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 18 PTS | +8
I guess all it took was a few sharp whacks of the lower lumbar to get Earl’s dickey shot back in proper working order. There were a couple of off-kilter, fadeaway heaves early in the shot clock, but for the most part, the last two games have seen the most-pleasant, massively-necessary return of “Good J.R.”
|Steve Novak, SF 26 MIN | 4-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 12 PTS | +8
There’s a longer dissertation yet to be penned about the development from last year to this w/r/t Stevak’s shot. It’s geared, obvi, toward the playoffs, but even in an early season/relatively meaningless game such as this, you can see he’s still tinkering with a much quicker release. Tonight, he was dead-red, which was purty and everything, but the Angelenos posively vivisected him on the defensive end during their late run, sending Ebanks, World Peace, and pretty much whichever purple-clad baller right at him, to great effect.
|Pablo Prigioni, PG 12 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 PTS | 0
Did Prigs play? He did, right? I remember one swell pass to the corner and a couple of pesky, Pest™-y steals, but not much else. An eerily similar, equally invisible outing/line as Tuesday’s school trip to Kings County.
|James White, SG 4 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 PTS | -8|
Five Things We Saw
- It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of the wisdom of Jason Kidd and Rasheed Wallace, it was the age of the foolishness of Ray Felton and J.R. Smith, it was the epoch of belief that no matter what, Melo’s ungodly play would carry this team to the promised land, it was the epoch of incredulity that the unselfish play and unreal efficiency could last forever, it was the season of Light, as the Knickerbockers emerged from a decade of Despair, it was the season of Darkness as we prayed that the tendons in Melo’s ankle would be composed of pure adamantium, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only. PLEASE BE OKAY, MELO
- Okay, I stole that from Dickens (Yes, Charles is worried about Melo, too. He’s fretting so much he’s gone through five tins of Gawith Hoggarth brand snuff), but tonight’s game was just as filled with contradictions as his famous opening paragraph to A Tale of Two Cities. For the first 30 minutes, the Knicks looked utterly unbeatable, forcing myriad turnovers, slinging the ball on a string to open three point shooters and throttling a back-spasming Mamba. Then, like Icarus, the Gods decided we were flying wayyyyyy too close to the sun and slashed our hubristic glee to shreds when, on a drive to the tin, that foul, giggling, churlish swine Dwight Howard hacked our savior and I really haven’t been able to get this acid-drenched knot out of my stomach ever since. PLEASE BE OKAY, MELO.
- Why did they semi-nearly (not really) blow this game? Aside from losing what is inarguably a top-three MVP candidate (And for once, those asinine chants of post-season hardware that inevitably rain down in a home team’s arena didn’t seem wholly premature.), a huge chunk of the blame has to fall on Felton’s shoulders. Even if the Lakers start switching on pick and rolls and downright presenting a laminated, calligraphic on like really good paper with a watermark and everything-type invitation to shoot, he can’t settle for mid range shots like he was throughout the fourth quarter. It’s exactly what happened in the first Brooklyn bout and the 2nd Miami game and the Chicago game and presumably will happen v. the Erie Knights on Saturday. Once Ray-Ray went off, the offense got stagnant, the defense stopped forcing turnovers (and, to be honest, LA was scoring at a decent clip even when Knicks were running on all cylinders on the offensive end.) and LA was able to chip away, slowly but surely. I want to grab a CIA/Darpa secret microchip that says “DRIVE” and install it in Ray’s brain. Maybe some snacks will distract him from my attempt at meatball/sci-fi surgery. Barring that, Woodson needs plant his ample tuchus to the pine and go with Prigs/Kidd at the point. There’s a stubbornness that seems to be hard-wired to this team’s DNA that is both a good and a bad thing. Son of Wood’s “Keep shooting” sage advice to J.R. is another prime example. It’s swell when they’re able to muster the intestinal fortitude to grind out victories in games they have no business winning, but when logic and boatloads of empirical evidence demand a change, I worry that they’re genetically incapable of adapting. To be continued. PLEASE BE OKAY, MELO.
- So much of the pre-game hype was about the return of Mike D’Antoni and his struggling squad and revenge and what level of “Two Minutes Hate” the denizens of MSG would rain down upon his mustachioed head, but not to sound like a bad breakup-er, it’s not about you, Mike. I’d only seen drips and drabs of the Lake Show until now, but hoo-boy, are they a mess. They can’t defend the pick and roll, get back in transition, close out on three-point shooters or stop dribble penetration. For all the anecdotal and mainly false historical narratives about D’Antoni’s teams’ lack of resistance, the Lakers’ lack of speed, size and general effort would make it hard for a Mensa-level defensive savant like Tom Thibodeau to cobble together an effective unit. Plus, that’s no Seven Seconds or Less. I know Seven Seconds or Less, I’ve served in Congress with Seven Seconds or Less, and you, Sir, are no Lloyd Bentsen. Granted, we saw how atrocious an offense that revolves around superlative point guard play can be in the hands of Toney Douglas, Mike Bibby and now Chris Duhon (Hi Chris!). Nash will resolve a lot of these issues but there’s no one on that team that thrives either in transition or in an uptempo attack. It’s going to be a loooong season in Cali. PLEASE BE OKAY, MELO.
- In other forms of performed entertainment, there’s a general rule that in the midst of a devastating bit of tragedy, it’s good to insert one or two dashes of comedy (and vice-versa). The thought being that the levity increases the profundity of one’s misery, like digging an even deeper valley to increase the perceived height of a mountain. With that in mind, in closing, here’s STAT playing peekaboo with a nattily-dressed Steve Nash and in honor of our lads’ continued shooting prowess, here’s the photo that hung in my room above my bed from 1988-1991. Nobody beats the Wiz (as opposed to the Wizards).
PLEASE BE OKAY, MELO.
Hey, did you know that in addition to banging the keys here and occasionally for the NY Times, Robert is a playwright, an actor and a wand'ring mendicant/gadfly? He also once wrestled a bear...and lost.