Knicks 118, Celtics 110
|Carmelo Anthony, SF 40 MIN | 13-24 FG | 7-8 FT | 12 REB | 10 AST | 35 PTS | +3
Despite a pair of franchise-burdened shoulder muscles that probably wouldn’t even appear on an MRI – last I checked, the scanners don’t register vapor – Melo continued on his beast of burden rampage with his first triple double in over five years. Hitting from anywhere and everywhere and getting to the stripe when he needed to, Melo feasted on Brandon Bass and an ankle-hobbled Paul Pierce in equal measure, refraining from forcing the issue and almost always making the right pass out of the many first half traps sent his way.
But while Melo managed to match Pierce bucket for blistering bucket down the stretch, it was his trip-dub-sealing dishes to Novak – both threes, both nylon-singing hits – that proved the true daggers. It’s safe to say that Anthony’s enjoying the finest stretch of his career; one that’s quickly beginning to resemble that of another Knick legend, and Anthony’s boyhood idol. Some dude named Nard or something.
|Landry Fields, G 19 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 2 PTS | -4
After confiding in reporters earlier today that he “wasn’t sure” whether Landry or Shumpert would remain in the starting lineup upon Amar’e Stoudemire’s now imminent return, Mike Woodson’s diplomacy was met with a combination of laughs and and pants-pissing laughs in the Twitterverse. And for good reason: Fields just looks lost and / or outmatched out there most of the time. He did make a couple very nice feeds to Chandler, but mostly he spent his time getting crop-dusted by Paul Pierce, who oddly enough was farting out the gas created after eating Landry Fields.
Someone would call these a “well-rounded game,” in the same way that USA Today is a “well-rounded” newspaper. Me? I’m just hoping Landry’s sophomore slump doesn’t degenerate into something more acute.
|Tyson Chandler, C 42 MIN | 9-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 20 PTS | -1
Opponents of late seemed to have had the Tyson Rubik’s Cube figured out, emphasizing having their bigs draw Chandler away from the orange-clad slaughterhouse he calls home. Entering tonight’s series finale against the C’s, it seemed obvious that the Celtics – forced by true center-less circumstances to roll with KG at the five – would do just that. KG mostly had his way from mid-range, and Tyson finished with fewer than 10 rebounds for the second straight game. But his 20 points — almost all of them on thunderous throw-downs, and on NINE OF TEN FROM THE FIELD — were as timely and momentous as could be.
By far my favorite Tyson tidbit of the night came towards the end of the third quarter. During a stretch in which the referees managed to inflate the foul disparity to 17-8 in favor of the Celtics, Chandler was called for an offensive foul after Greg Stiemsma had the misfortune of running straight into TC’s flying scissor kick. So tough, and so, so awkward.
|Baron Davis, PG 18 MIN | 0-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 PTS | -9
After a few dozen games of positively pooptastic performances, exactly three of which he managed to finish in double figures scoring, it was understandable that the Knicks would want to put Baron under the knife to have his headband – worn since birth – surgically removed. Little did they know that the thin film on the inside of the headband was actually Baron’s brain. The result? A point guard that looked like a goat being lowered into a raptor cage, why with Avery Bradley having been sicced on him. Thank God Mike Bibby was there to I’m starting to feel lightheaded….
|Iman Shumpert, G 25 MIN | 1-4 FG | 3-4 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | 0
With all the ink being gushingly spilled over Shumpert’s meteoric rise to the upper echelon of wing defenders, you have to expect something in the way of zebra backlash. Danny Crawford and company put the handcuffs on #21 early and often, preventing the precocious rook from getting far enough into Pierce or Rondo’s shorts to wreak any kind of havoc. He found ways to contribute here and there, but his four turnovers helped make this largely a night to forget.
|Mike Bibby, PG 26 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 6 AST | 3 PTS | +16
Let’s be honest: Watching Bibby get in on the first half three-point action was super charming. On a night when Baron Davis was as useful as a plastic bag full of toenail clippings, Bibby managed a fairly decent ballgame, dishing a few vintage dimes while committing no turnovers. Prior to the game, Woodson indicated he might need to give TD “another look” before the season’s end. But if Bibby can give what he gave tonight, I see no reason to hedge on resurrections.
|Jared Jeffries, PF 6 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | +9
Not a whole hell of a lot to write home about for JJ, who hasn’t exactly had the greatest of career moments opposite the shamrock green. But his pair of steals and solid defense on Garnnett meant tonight’s burn wasn’t a total wash.
|Steve Novak, SF 28 MIN | 8-10 FG | 1-1 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 25 PTS | +9
Hearing Charles Barkley refer to Novak at halftime as “the best shooter in the NBA” marked not only the nicest thing Chuck has ever mumbled semi-coherently about our beloved ‘Bockers; the frequencies actually made their way through time and space and into the sharpshooting forward’s ears, propelling him to an equally torrid second half that very nearly shook the Garden roof to sand. In the wake of a stretch where the savant-like marksmen seemed hesitant to hoist, tonight’s outburst — his 25 points were a career high — was just as important as Melo’s in helping keep foot to Celtic throat. As SI’s Zach Lowe joked on Twitter, during Novak’s final two throws, you wouldn’t have been surprised if the Garden scorekeepers had just tacked on the three points — Frank Drebin style — before the ball even hit it’s apex.
|J.R. Smith, SG 36 MIN | 8-16 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 6 AST | 25 PTS | +17
In the first half, it was Smith whose lights-out bombs helped balloon the Knicks’ lead. In fact, heading into the locker room, Smith was on pace to break the NBA record for treys in a game by two. But — in what was a microcosm of J.R.’s general M.O. — Smith tailed off in the second half. Still, his stat-stuffing ways, solid perimeter D, and timely fall-away jumper with the Celtics down only six should help move Earl’s performance out of Melo and Novak’s shadows, and into a shared spotlight.
Five Things We Saw
- During the Knicks’ ridiculous first half three point shooting barrage, I felt about as close as I ever will to an all-out orgy — everyone got a piece. Spearheaded by J.R. Smith (7-9 from deep in the first half, 7-10 overall) and Steve Novak (4-6 in the first half, 8-10 on the night), the Knicks bludgeoned their foe’s corpse so hard that even the perpetually zombie-like Celtics couldn’t overcome it. Being that we’re unlikely to see that kind of display again this season – and maybe ever – let’s all huddle up and give thanks. For that amazing orgy.
- After being hammered on the boards by both the Bulls and the Heat in recent games, it was imperative that the Knicks – doomed as they are to tussle with one of those two – came out ready to punish the glass-challenged Celtics. With both teams shooting lights out for extended periods, the Knicks ended the night with a 36-26 rebounding advantage — progress, to be sure.
- I know it’s bad bueno to bitch about the refs, particularly when you’re proves victorious. But the crew of Danny Crawford, Pat Fraher, and Tony Brown were out of their $%@^&* skulls for extended stretches tonight. Aided by a third quarter stretch in which the Knicks were whistled for seven fouls in three and a half minutes — while Greg Stiemsma got away with literally shoving Tyson Chandler out of bounds, and very nearly took the big guy’s head off with a would-be flagrant moments later — the Celtics finished with a 26-17 foul advantage, getting to the line 34 times to the Knicks’ 17. Just sayin’.
- The Knicks 118 points in regulation mark the most given up by the Celtics this season, and only the second time in the last 22 games that the C’s — still tops in the league in terms of defensive efficiency — have given up a hundo (the other being to the Heat, whom they beat 115-107). That’s impressive. More impressive still was how horribly the Knick bench bested that of their green-clad foes: 55-2. Fifty-five to two!
- This probably should’ve been auto-corrected.
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.