Damon Stoudamire killed the Knicks by blowing past Stephon Marbury, and Curry offered no help. Meanwhile Mike Miller was lighting it up on the outside. Francis is forcing up shots. The Knicks are down by 5 at the end of the quarter
The Knicks start off the quarter with their small lineup. David Lee is the center, accompanied by Balkman at PF, with a 3 guard lineup of Crawford, Marbury, and Robinson. It’s obvious the Knicks want to run against the slow paced Grizzlies, but to do so New York must force stops on the defensive ends. When they grab a defensive rebound, they are able to run the court well. Unfortunately they’re only able to prevent Memphis from scoring about half the time.
Nate Robinson earned a technical under the new league rules on outbursts. Unless Robinson is a quick learner, expect to see more of this as he’s the most demonstative Knick.
With Curry back in, the Grizzlies are still penetrating the lane with their smaller guys. Eddy is too slow to help out. To my astonishment, the Knick announcers Gus Johnson & Walt Frazier state that Eddy Curry isn’t in foul trouble because the Grizzlies aren’t an interior team to challenge Curry. True they don’t have a post presence, but they’ve created a lot of plays by getting past the Knick guards into the paint and Curry hasn’t been there to help out.
On a Memphis possession, the Knick announcers say “a Gay turnaround jumper.” Chuckles heard in the KnickerBlogger household.
Quentin Richardson is on fire. Forget what I said about his shooting yesterday, at least for tonight. At the end of the half, he has 13 points on a perfect 5-5 shooting. Counting the 3-3 from the field, and I have his eFG at a remarkable 130%. Curry has quiet 10 points at the half as well, but also has picked up his 3rd foul. The Knicks are up 51-46 at the half.
One promising tidbit from the MSG announcers, they state that Isiah Thomas doesn’t care about how many points the Knicks give up per game. All he is concerned with is opponent FG% and the point differential. Although I would have been happier with eFG% and points/possesion, I’m satisfied that Isiah Thomas understands that pace can affect per game averages.
During this quarter he has two goaltending calls. Up until this point Eddy Curry is just about useless on defense, until now. His first block of the game is a vicious rejection of a Roberts attempted dunk. Curry’s big size allows him to land standing. Marbury lets 10 seconds run off the 24 second clock for Curry to make it up court. The replay shows Eddy just standing there after the block. Maybe Eddy is just as shocked with the block as the rest of us. It’s not all bad for Curry as he has grabbed a bunch of boards, and is the Knicks second leading scorer at this point. He has a double-double on the stat sheet. With a moderate defensive game, he’d be an All Star.
Rookie Renaldo Balkman looks nervous. Off a steal, Balkman has a few steps on the rest of the Grizzly team, but attempts to pass the ball to a trailing teammate. The ball sails out of bounds.
By the end of the quarter, the Knicks are up by 11.
The Knicks looking to keep their lead come out charging. Unfortunately charging is illegal in the NBA. New York’s offense is all charges and forced shots. Curry earns his fifth foul, which sends him to the bench. Before he does, one of the Memphis forwards spins around right past him and dunks. It happened so fast I wasn’t sure if it was Warrick or Gay.
Almost unbelievably, the Knicks blow the lead and the game is tied at 89. David Lee preserves the tie by blocking a shot with 20 seconds left to give New York one last possession. Crawford has the ball for the last shot. He lets the clock down to a couple of seconds before attempting a three point shot. Walt Clyde Frazier hits the nail on the head when he calls the play “stupid.” Let me count the reasons. First, why not move the ball around to find an easy shot? Second, why not give it to Curry who was back in the game for the final 20 seconds? Third why not drive to the hoop & hope a double team opens a teammate or draw a foul? Finally, why a three point shot when you only need 1 point to win?
Memphis outscores the Knicks 29-18 in this quarter.
Curry is back in and helps turn the tides for New York with his defense. With 3 minutes left, Eddy blocks a Lowry drive with authority. The block leads to a Knick fast break that Marbury finishes up by spinning past a defender and draining an open jumper. If Eddy could just do that more often…
Francis fouls out, and the Knicks replace him with David Lee. Lee is obviously rewarded for his blocked shot in the fourth quarter. Lee has an up & down quarter, as most of the action surrounds him. He commits a charge on the offensive end, but then a rebound and a quick outlet pass leads to another Marbury fast break. Lee’s contrasting quarter continues when he gets his shot blocked by Rudy Gay, forcing a shot clock violation. However Lee tips in a Crawford miss to give New York a 1 point lead.
On Memphis’ last possession there is a Kelvin Cato sighting. Cato replaces Curry as a defensive specialist, but the Knicks still end up fouling Memphis. Miller proceeds to miss both free throws, however New York allows Warrick to get the rebound, and fouls him with a couple of ticks left on the clock. Warrick hits one of two, and the game goes into double overtime.
Quentin Richardson is keeping the team afloat. Curry tips in a missed Nate Robinson shot. I’ve said some negative things about Curry, but it’s been about his defense not offense. Eddy Curry has been out there for over a quarter now with 5 fouls, but the Knicks are ignoring him on offense. And it’s a damn shame. Marbury & Francis are both relegated to the bench with 6 fouls. Instead of forcing the ball in to the Knicks best option, the guards are taking shot after shot from outside. A few times Curry has decent position in the post, but the Knick guards either ignore him, or swing the ball to the other side. Both Crawford and Nate ignore Curry time after time.
Everyone is tired, including bloggers following the game. KnickerBlogger puts his pen and notepad aside with his cramped hand, and instead of keeping notes he reserves his energy for yelling at the tv.
Despite having the lead for nearly 4 minutes in the quarter, Memphis ties the game with less than half a minute. The game goes into triple overtime.
Good news for New York, the Grizzlies start off the 7th quarter by missing their first three shots. The bad news is that the Grizzlies start off with 3 offensive boards, and end the possession by having Eddy Curry foul out. Channing Frye, the prodigal son, re-enters the game. Crawford finally hits a shot to make him 4 of 21. Maybe John Starks needed 3 more shots in 1994?
Unlike the last quarter, the Knicks spend most of the 7th trailing the Grizzlies. Crawford begins to redeem himself for a poor shooting night and blocks a shot. In a wild series, Frye nervously passes the ball off a referee & in the confusion David Lee is left free under the hoop. The Knicks retain the ball, and find Lee for an easy bucket.
With less than a minute left, Nate Robinson forces shot with 3 guys on him. It’s blocked, but Robinsons ends up with the ball and calls a time out. Again Nate drive to the hoop with 3 defenders trailing. However he’s fouled, but only hits one of two to leave the Knicks down by one.
Again Crawford comes up with a defensive play by stealing the ball. Crawford hits Richardson on the ensuing break, and Richardson is fouled. Despite the positive results, I’m not happy with the play. Crawford gave the ball up way too early, causing Richardson to leave his feet further from the hoop. Every basketball player learns not to give up the ball too early when you have a 2 on 1 advantage.
Richardson sinks both, and the Knicks have to make a big defensive stand to keep their one point lead. Like Cato three quarters ago, there is a Mardy Collins sighting. New York plays smart on the last possession, and it saves them the game. First they used up half the clock before committing their last team foul. Second was the fabulous defensive effort by Richardson on Mike Miller. The Grizzlies inbounded the ball to Miller on the extended elbow. Miller dribbled towards the paint, and Richardson stayed right with him, even when Miller showed an elbow on a turn around dribble. When the Grizzlies forward attempted the final shot of the game Richardson held his ground, never leaving his feet. It was a textbook defensive play, and gave the Knicks the game.
Post Game Thoughts
New York’s problem was going away from the offense. It served them well for 3 quarters, but they abandoned it shortly afterwards. Instead of moving the ball, the last 4 quarters consisted of one guard either settling for a jumper or driving madly to the basket. I’ll say it again, it was a serious mistake for the Knicks to ignore Curry in the extra quarters.
Channing Frye was the forgotten man. He didn’t look comfortable, only shot 2 of 10, and almost fumbled away the ball in the second overtime. Fortunately Lee looked fabulous. His rebounding was sorely needed, and while he had his bad moments, he made a lot of plays that led to the Knicks’ win. He’d be the player of the game, if it wasn’t for Quentin Richardson.
Richardson played phenomenally well. I won’t expect him to hit 10 of 13 every night, including a perfect 5 of 5 from downtown. However if tonight is any indication, it’s possible that Richardson is back to his productive self. Quentin also played tough defense and hit those clutch free throws to give the Knicks the game for good.