|Kenyon Martin, PF 20 MIN | 1-3 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | +6
It ain’t easy being the only help defender on a team that isn’t exactly the best at staying in front of ballhandlers or cutters in the first place. He filled that role nicely tonight but his run of puzzlingly mediocre rebounding on a team that has so few other plus rebounders also continued. Becoming clearer and clearer that he’s not quite the player he was in the second half of last season any longer but they need to get 20 steady defensive minutes a night from him. So far, they have been.
|Andrea Bargnani, PF 28 MIN | 6-16 FG | 3-4 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 17 PTS | +11
When he gets catch-and-shoot threes in the flow of the offense, he’s a serious asset. Possibly the single biggest beneficiary (or second behind JR) of the type of ball movement we saw tonight. Even though the shooting numbers weren’t there tonight he got good looks and didn’t force it too much. We should still be using him as a screener more but tonight the Knicks didn’t need the pick and roll what with the results they were getting from much simpler drive-and-kick action and generally excellent passing around the perimeter.
Bargs was also incredibly active on the offensive glass tonight, grabbing a few of his 6 offensive boards in the cushion between the interior and perimeter players. Boards in that range require some luck by nature but Bargs was opportunistic in putting himself in the right place at the right time and the numbers bear it out.
His help defense was not just bad but apparently disinterested, which is why he only gets a B-. But this is the type of offense in which he will very likely be able to thrive in the long run.
|Carmelo Anthony, SF 30 MIN | 6-10 FG | 8-9 FT | 11 REB | 4 AST | 3 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 20 PTS | +11
That would be a 76.9% true shooting percentage. Active in his on-ball defense, a pest in the passing lanes, eager to pass out of double teams (especially from the post), and a menace on the glass. His sole block was a vicious thing and in my head it was the bubbling over of weeks of simmering anger and frustration at everything — teammates, fans, refs, self — that had made him seem so beaten, so petty, so entirely the opposite of how he wants to see himself. That it led to a lovely outlet pass and an early dagger three by the rejuvenated JR Smith was just icing on the cake. There’s nothing bad to say here except that it’s games like this — where he shows just how complete of a package he can be — that make the grumpier among us a bit ornery on the nights when we don’t see it. But that’s not a conversation to have right now. He pitched a perfect game.
|Raymond Felton, PG 27 MIN | 6-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 14 PTS | +4
Tonight the Knicks had a fastbreak. They had a slash-and-kick game. They had excellent ball movement, ball security, and spacing. They didn’t stand still, they were tough to defend, and they scored 121 points on (by my count) 93 possessions.
Put simply: tonight, the Knicks had a point guard again.
|Iman Shumpert, SG 25 MIN | 4-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | +4
For 25 minutes and 94 feet, Shumpert laid waste to the Orlando Magic like Visigoths at the gates of Rome. But more than that, there’s now a hole in the floor of MSG. It’s under the eastern basket and it’s in the exact shape of Moe Harkless’ dignity:
|Metta World Peace, SF 25 MIN | 4-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 12 PTS | +39
He’s a feast or famine player and it was Metta World Feast tonight (count it!). Should really never be anywhere besides standing still in the corner extending the defense and waiting to hit open catch-and-shoot threes. He did plenty of that tonight but he also attacked the rim (once finishing a pretty reverse) and defended well everywhere between the rim and the three point line. My crazy idea to play him at center a bit until Chandler comes back was put into practice tonight and oh boy did it work out nicely. The uber-small lineup put a ton of distance between our trunk and Orlando’s hood and if it’s something that can work for 10 minutes a night between now and when Chandler comes back it could be the evening’s most important development. He was PLUS-39 tonight.
|Cole Aldrich, C 7 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +8
|Pablo Prigioni, PG 15 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 6 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 3 PTS | +26
What he did tonight was reminiscent of the very best games Jason Kidd had last year. The secondary passes, the no-doubt corner 3 on his sole shot attempt, the pesky defense, the almost conductorial influence over the way the ball went around the perimeter. I know you guys think I grade him too easily but he was freaking sublime tonight: his +26 in 15 minutes should serve as a reminder that having one supremely intelligent player on the court at a given time just makes good things happen for everybody else.
|Beno Udrih, PG 7 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | +8
If he averages 12/6/18 per 36 mins all year, I’m good.
|Toure’ Murry, SG 7 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 6 PTS | +8
|Tim Hardaway Jr., SG 23 MIN | 5-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 15 PTS | +32
He has a job. He does that job. He does that job well. And as the American philosopher Ron Swanson once said: “Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.”
|J.R. Smith, SG 28 MIN | 6-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 17 PTS | +33
ACTIVE. Active on defense, active running the break, active in the halfcourt looking to get into position for catch-and-shoots. Didn’t initiate the inside-out style of offense that keyed the Knicks 17-for-34 performance from downtown, but through a combination of talent and effort and desire and plain and simple hot shooting, took full advantage of it. It’s great to have you back. Please be real.
I’m giving him an A+ only for the swing pass drill they did pre-game and then the brilliant perimeter passing we saw in-game. I have no idea if these things were related but they did both happen and I’m in a good mood. Who says I’m hard to please?
Four Things We Saw
- How real is this? What does it mean? When you lose 9 games in a row and then sweep a back-to-back by a combined 68 points, it’s reasonable for your fans to have no idea what the hell to think. Obviously, Brooklyn and Orlando don’t represent the best of what the NBA has to offer but I think we can say that when the Knicks compete defensively and generate good looks from deep, they aren’t going to be mind-numbingly awful. At this point, that passes for progress.
- The best part about this win, though, is that it was so reminiscent of the best Knicks wins from last year. Variance is a fact of life for three-point-shooting teams but it can be minimized when the threes come off of movement — whether that means ball screens or forced defensive sags or good old fashioned swing passing — and not isolation. Running that kind of an offense effectively is relatively difficult but REALIZING that the offense has to operate that way is easy and it’s frustrating that we dug this deep of a hole by ignoring it before we went back to the thing that has worked for Woodson’s whole tenure in New York. If this is just a blip it will be really, really annoying.
- Old man game in the booth tonight:
Clyde doesn’t know what the word “download” means.
Mike Breen, when the MSG cameras showed One Direction: “That is the band One Direction. I do not know their names.”
- Take us home, Lou Brown:
It Has. Happened. Before.