Knicks 120, Cavs 103
|Carmelo Anthony, SF 34 MIN | 9-16 FG | 3-5 FT | 5 REB | 4 AST | 22 PTS | +12
I wish I could just copy this stat line and use my internet time machine to paste it into every box score from now until the end of Melo’s Knick career in 2039 – maybe doctor it with a couple more ‘bounds, dimes, and steals, but that’s it. With a few, fairly minor exceptions (at this point, you figure it’s going to take minor neck paralysis for him to realize that dribbling with your head down into 60% of the team’s defense isn’t a strategy for success), Melo let his offense come to him. His most underrated play: Finding Steve Novak on the right wing early in the third for the first of five threes from the SAXON SNIPER… I’ll just go ahead and let myself out…
|Amare Stoudemire, PF 28 MIN | 4-11 FG | 6-7 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 14 PTS | -1
While answering recent questions about his crap-fest of a first semester and what it means for the home stretch, Stat told us all to “stay tuned.” To what, exactly? PBS documentaries on the life of the garden slug? Biographies on mayonnaise moguls? Static that doesn’t even really move?
Here’s the funny thing: After a putrid three quarters, Stat actually looked somewhat explosive towards the end. New rule: Before every game, Make Stat run six or seven miles wearing 13th century armor on a 45-degree treadmill. Cuz this doesn’t seem to be working.
|Tyson Chandler, C 31 MIN | 4-7 FG | 5-10 FT | 15 REB | 0 AST | 13 PTS | +5
After it was reported that the injury to Chandler’s left mase hinge – wrist? We’ll just call it a wrist — was in fact a deep bone bruise, there was talk of his sitting this one out and letting it recoup. That might’ve been bad. The Cavs asserted themselves in the paint early, but Chandler’s omnipresent help D — to say nothing of his monster stat line and otherworldly hustle at both ends of the floor — kept the tide stemmed. Right now, Chandler’s using Jerome Jordan to pick pieces of Semih Erden out of his molars.
|Landry Fields, G 20 MIN | 1-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 2 PTS | -4
Having played a hearty dose of minutes during the Schick Rising Stars Rookie Squareoff Challenge or whatever, it looked like Fields was one of the few Knicks for whom rest wasn’t an emergency priority. Now? Knick Knation can probably count many in its midst looking at Fields — and then at J.R. Smith… and then at Iman Shumpert…. and then back at Fields — and wondering whether his days as the starting two are numbered. Whatever happens, though, he’ll still have this 4ever.
|Jeremy Lin, PG 33 MIN | 6-12 FG | 7-9 FT | 5 REB | 13 AST | 19 PTS | +13
Kyrie Irving straight up punked him on a few first quarter possessions, and you could see Lin’s will hunker down as stoutly as his grimace thereafter. It took a while for him to build something of a head of downhill steam, but once he did, Lin looked as decisive and aggressively crisp as ever. Whether he secretly sees his veteran backup as a potential usurper, or merely a trusted mage, Davis’ enthusiasm and improved play is starting to rub off on Lin.
|Baron Davis, PG 15 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 8 AST | 4 PTS | +4
For a guy whose spine had supposedly turned into sawdust, Davis looked awfully explosive, albeit in herky-jerky spurts. Absent were the step-back threes with 26 seconds on the shot clock, the freelance lobs and over-excited paint forays. Present — and welcome — were the pinpoint passes, vocal leadership, and controlled drives.
|Jared Jeffries, PF 20 MIN | 3-3 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 8 PTS | +14
Recalling JJ’s role last year for what it was — spackle in the Titanic‘s hull, basically — it’s hard to believe the Garden Boo Birds’ favorite poop target has come this far, in terms of confidence, production, leadership, all of it.
With a quick show of torches and pitchforks, how many of you would mutinee if Jeffries was starting over Amar’e for the rest of the season?…. Amar’e, take off the banana disguise — we know it’s you.
|Steve Novak, SF 17 MIN | 6-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 17 PTS | +13
Someone needs to tell ol’ Steve that ever time he misses an open three, a baby puffin gets thrown in a blender. Clearly someone passed this message along at halftime, because Novakaine was straight up incendiary in the second, hitting from every conceivable spot along the arc. Anchoring the scoring load for a second unit fast becoming one of the league’s most effective, Novak was – during the game’s waning moments – lavished with chants for his return by a Garden Crowd run ragged through the emotional gamut.
That happened to me once, in a past life, in an arena – the name-chanting thing. I was eaten by a lion two minutes later.
|J.R. Smith, SG 20 MIN | 3-7 FG | 3-6 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 9 PTS | +15
For the most part, Smith’s managed to stay in his lane. The range wasn’t there tonight, but I’m assuming that’s because his tattoos starting giving themselves tattoos and that really bothered him.
|Iman Shumpert, G 22 MIN | 5-10 FG | 2-3 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 12 PTS | +14
Like fellow rookie Harrellson — a late scratch with nagging fart pains — Shumpert was something of a game time decision for this one. He had to knock off a few flakes of rust early, but once Shump got going, he terrorized the Cavs’ back court in a manner that’s become wonderfully custom. I’m also hearing reports that his third quarter, lane-driving tomahawk violated the Geneva Conventions.
Five Things We Saw
- What is it about the Knicks and sub-.500 teams on the tail end of a back-to-back? it’s like if Krypton was, like, I don’t know, Cleveland or something. I mean yeah, It all ended well enough I suppose. But to think that the Cavs and Bucks (currently 9th and 10th in the East) are going to just lie down and swing the lottery — to say nothing of the 8th place Celtics, whom you know would love nothing more than to watch us fall face-first onto shark teeth — is the kind of thinking that loses you a Playoff berth. We have to start crushing the bad teams.
- Boy, I thought I’d seen it all in the world of Color Commentators Whose Job Could Have Easily Gone to Hundreds of Other Former Players – the bad, the worse, the stroke-inducing – listening to Stacey King last night. But Austin Carr? Yikes. Whether he was chiding the Knicks with statements like “they aren’t good defensive-thinking people” or “getthatweakstuffoutaHEEEAH,” or simply gyrating between incoherent cackles, I find it hard to believe that no one — Craig Ehlo, Mike Sanders, Larry Nance, Albert Belle — was better qualified for this job.
- They’re not Caviar Throws. They’re not Monte Carlo Mansion Throws. They’re not Oberlin Tuition Throws. They’re not U.S. Senate Seat Throws. They’re not Whole Foods Throws. They’re FREE Throws. Shoot them accordingly.
- BEING #4, THIS BULLET — LIKE AMAR’E STOUDEMIRE’S SOUL, APPARENTLY — BELONGS TO ANTAWN JAMISON.
- This realistically could’ve been the entire writeup. If it weren’t for their bench, the Knicks could easily still be trying to dig themselves out of the Garden through their locker room using nothing but spoons, while Jorts barricades the doors and waits to unload buckshot on the raging mob. Fact: Tonight, the second unit looked hungrier and more energized than the first — at least until the tail end, the game all but in hand. Hopefully the three days of practice between now and Sunday’s matinee showdown with the Celtics will give the Knick starting five some time to tap into their backups’ infectiousness.
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.