Knicks 121, Pistons 100
|Carmelo Anthony, SF 32 MIN | 10-18 FG | 5-5 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 29 PTS | +20
Another day, another cartoonishly explosive (and efficient) opening quarter for Anthony, who managed to weather a full 48 without goading a zebra into T-baggin’ him for the third consecutive game. Melo wasn’t just hitting his shots; they never so much as grazed the rim, instead sending again and again the net snapping up with a lion-tamer’s lash.
In what can only be seen as an encouraging development, Melo managed to pump the breaks nicely the proceeding stanzas, bypassing what would’ve been totally logical heat checks in lieu of better looks from teammates at wing and corner. The isolation D was noticeably more fleet-footed, although a handful of switches found Melo slackjawed and tardy. The turnovers (seven tonight, 20 in the last three games) are becoming something of a concern – surprising given Melo’s reasonable career rate and above-average handle. Many of them are coming on tin takes, which I suppose is the give to his aggressive takes of late. But the fort’s holding is the greater narrative here, and Melo’s out-the-gate stampeded has been nothing short of a marvel to behold. It seems even Anthony himself is starting to buy into the hype, telling Tina Cervasio before heading into the locker room at half time that he was “just getting started.” Holy hell is that scary and wow do I hope so.
|Ronnie Brewer, SF 14 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -13
Brew’s minutes – and resulting production – have been on a steady decline the past five games, meaning either his knee’s bothering him or he keeps lifting Woody’s eyebrow wax to make locker room Christmas candles. It’s reasonable to assume Coach is looking to keep Ronnie fresh ahead of tonight’s showdown in Brooklyn, where our stopgap wing will have his hands full with Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace, MarShon Brooks, and the reast of the guard-heavy Nettes. Johnson in particular promises to be a delicious tilt for Brewer, mostly because they’re both from Arkansas and I assume they’ll have some sort of handshake bet where the loser has to wear a tiara to the Little Rock Waffle House next summer.
|Tyson Chandler, C 32 MIN | 3-4 FG | 7-8 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 13 PTS | +11
You all see what we’re talking about vis-à-vis Tyson perhaps / possibly / maybe / damnit please no / seriously I’ll drown myself / maybe being hurt, right? The not jumping for rebounds; the slow as snailshit rotations; the deep fried hands on entry passes – this just isn’t the same “I’mma beat you stupid then make you braid my beard and tassle it with your teeth” Chandler to which we’ve grown so comfortably accustomed. Love seeing his living being made at the rim, however, and Tyson doubtless did a nice job keeping Bob Lanier reincarnate – Greg Monroe (12 points, five bounds) – in reasonable check. Lately it’s been more a matter of starting slow than any conceivable wire-to-wire sluggishness, which I guess is reason enough to temper the tantrums, at least for the moment.
|Jason Kidd, PG 25 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 6 PTS | +10
Kidd’s hands (heretofore Weapons of Mass Deflection) were all over the joint, slapping afoul would-be shots, nabbin’ boards, ricocheting the ball to its intended destination, and – thank God – not hitting things or people or steering SUVs into CableVision telephone poles. It’s a Midas touch seldom seen amongst even the best of the best NBA ballers – let alone those closing in on birthday cards and hats and shirts and coffee mugs and colostomy bags with terrible jokes on them – and which has its outlet in shot clock-beating threes that touch every inch of the rim twice before touching twine’s bottom. He’s often a liability in defensive isolation (off quick cuts, on post-ups, etc.), but his uncannily active presence on both the offensive and defensive wings continues to defy both logic and at least three seasons worth of evidence. His minutes might take a bit of a dive once Shump suits up and starts whittling toothpicks out of dudes, but hopefully that just means fresher springs down the season’s stretch.
|Raymond Felton, PG 32 MIN | 6-14 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 10 AST | 14 PTS | +20
Some early lift-less shanks and unfortunate off-ball mismatches on D looked like they’d make for a shaky Sunday outing for Ray Ray, but damnit if The Bulldog didn’t bite back, churning out an otherwise steadfast matinee showing most folly-free. The timely threes are becoming clockwork calling cards – staving off Detroit’s early second half run was just the latest example – which amounts to about as much clutch as we’re asking of our burly quarterback.
|Rasheed Wallace, PF 22 MIN | 5-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 15 PTS | +17
I know it’s only been one game, but damn it we missed you, Sheed. Yes, even the off-the-top-left corner first shot. And the nursing home rotations. And the technical for yelling during a free throw. And the Saran wrap over the visiting locker room toilets.
With respect to the interior D, I know it’s unrealistic to expect Chandler-like rotations and help in the paint, and despite some anchor-drawn feet, Wallace has been pretty good about making up for it with some truly splendid limb flailing. Part of the problem is a matter of overconfidence, particularly with respect to bigs (i.e. Monroe) with superior quicks but rather average jumpers, to whom Sheed is getting way too close, making him vulnerable to drives. The late barrage of threes more than made up for the old fogey fails, of course, but what’s this about wearing a Detroit jacket to the game? I’ve cut people for less.
|Steve Novak, SF 27 MIN | 5-11 FG | 3-3 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 18 PTS | +15
Stevak’s cares nothing for your Protestant moderation! He doesn’t just bounce back from a truly woeful grip of games where each bottom-destined shot appeared to be plucked at the last possible second by invisible string – he buries five of seven (it would’ve been six of eight had it not been for a bogus offensive foul call on Melo), AND registers a swipe of journeyman Corey Maggette – he’s somehow played for 49 of the league 30 teams – and a block on rookie Kim English in the game’s waning moments. More importantly, the shot look less hurried, the follow-through tried and true. A momentum-shifter, to be sure.
|Chris Copeland, SF 5 MIN | 1-3 FG | 1-2 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 3 PTS | +2
DNP RECAPPER DOESN’T CARE
|Marcus Camby, C 5 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | +5
With no injuries, family illnesses or court dates to speak of, Woody’s assertions that not playing Camby was merely a matter of “conditioning” was becoming increasingly untenable. Over the preceeding few games, I’d actually come up with my own list of potential reasons why our Prodigal Son wasn’t getting more burn:
1) Lifted Sheed’s “can of Altoids”
|Pablo Prigioni, PG 10 MIN | 1-2 FG | 1-1 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 3 PTS | -1
It was said that inhabitants of late 18th century Konigsberg, Germany used to set their watches to when famed philosopher Immanuel Kant would walk by their house or storefront…..
… I totally forget where I was going with this. Oh right! I’m starting to set my cell phone clock or whatever to Prigs’ first attempted swipe – typically off an in-bound play along the opponent’s baseline. It’s remarkable, really, especially considering this age of panoptical data; it’s as if these teams really don’t watch game tape, and don’t know that at first opportunity Twiggy Prigs is going to hook around your would-be inbound recipient like a goddam boa constrictor and inhale the ball.
Anyway, that’s about the extent of Pabs’s contributions today, which was otherwise quite unremarkable. He’s still letting smaller, stouter guards push him well off the preferred point of attack, forcing the diminutive Argentine to start the play late and make quick, seldom ideal reads. It’s beyond respite that the future holds a much more limited role for him, but it’ll be interesting to see what he can do with a big as skilled and dynamic as Stat setting picks and freeing up space and probably calling him Boblo.
|James White, SG 5 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 3 PTS | +1
LESS THREES AND MORE ILL-ADVISED DANGEROUS DUNKS FROM HALF-COURT PLZ
|J.R. Smith, SG 31 MIN | 3-8 FG | 8-8 FT | 10 REB | 5 AST | 15 PTS | +18
It’s no accident that Earl’s played like fermented dogshit in every one of the Knicks’ losses thus far, so it was nice to see him pump the breaks a bit and settle in to a jack-of-all-trades mojo he’d probably be really good at, if only he’d embrace it. He took it to the tin (and was rewarded with throws in the process), beasted the boards, and was a goddam plague on the defensive end, in the process erasing the nightmarish memories of three games spent wading in his own crestfallen ego. I for one think tomorrow night will cull a signature game from our Spirographed scion – and some really tremendous casual sex, too, probably.
Five Things We Saw
- I’d originally planned on attending and covering the game, which would’ve been my first taste of a Sunday Garden matinee. And I’m kind of glad I didn’t, to be honest (though I missed nachos with Mike Kurylo), because Sunday crowds are either 1) way too drunk from the night before or 2) not drunk enough on an early Sunday afternoon to carry much in the way of energetic clout….. What’s that? Three-quarters of those in attendance were underaged children? Do they not serve Arbor Mist in the garden? Nyquil?…. Laudanum?
- The Bockers’ bout with the turnover bug proved a quick setback, as Melo’s game-high six cough-ups were the rare exceptions to an otherwise mistake-free affair (11). There must be something about watching Woodson and Jim Todd and Herb Williams waddling through their requisite sprints that really keeps our guys focused. It’s probably the trail of coachin’ gravy they make Cope mop up or something.
- The defensive intensity and rotations, though slightly improved, did so for one reason and one reason alone: the Pistons run a pretty terrible offense. Which makes getting burned back door – something that happened on at least ten occasions throughout the contest – that much more maddening. We pull this shit tomorrow, Brooklyn’s liable to hang a buck fifty on us, and maybe more. I think it’s foolish to have expected us to reign supreme in defensive efficiency wire to wire, but I have a hard time believing we’re as bad in that department as we’ve showed the last handful of outings.
- Apparently there was a child dunk contest at half time. I don’t know, I wasn’t there – this is just what Mike tells me. Nate Robinson snuck in with a McCaulay Culkin mask and won.
- Boy, we needed that like a hooker needs a friend — “home cookin’” doesn’t do near the proverbial justice, especially considering we have yet to figure out what the hell Marcus Camby was feeding this team Thursday afternoon (undercooked crab cakes? Fried cat food? Sonic?). This would’ve been a classic trap game in years past — the kind of must-win weekend tilt we’d routinely delude ourselves into notching a surefire W, only to watch our troops trip over their own clubbed-out dicks for 48 minutes. ‘Twas only a matter of time before Woody’s unbroken streak of ZERO back-to-back losses was upended, and sure enough we’ll likely see our boys tank three straight at some point over the few years. Still, we regrouped, re-loaded, and took it to a bad team for a win we had to have. It’s not a game-changer, and it sure as shit isn’t a panacea for large-looming wrenches (defense, rebounding, and techs, in that order). But it wasn’t a loss, damnit. It wasn’t a loss. I think Julius Caesar said that.
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.