|Amar’e Stoudemire, PF 30 MIN | 9-10 FG | 5-8 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 23 PTS | +21Let’s get the bad news that isn’t really news at all out of the way first: Amar’e Stoudemire is not someone who can offer even a remotely passable performance on the defensive end when he is the center in an otherwise small lineup. And his defense was atrocious tonight: his rotations were slow and sloppy, his help uncertain and lazy. Henry Sims, Arnett Moultrie, and Jarvis Varnado went a combined 9 for 11 in leading Philly to a whopping 52 points in the paint. The Sixers rebounded 14 of an available 39 misses (36%; they average 25% for the season) and STAT grabbed a pathetic 3 on the defensive end in his 30 minutes.
It is hard to do enough on the offensive end to paper over that kind of a defensive performance. But damned if that isn’t exactly what STAT did; his combination of explosion on the move and quickness and guile in the post racked up points and fouls aplenty. He was the key figure in the Knicks’ comeback from an early 12 point deficit and he helped bring it home in the part of the second half that has proven so treacherous for the Knicks all season. His on-paper value on a night like this is hard to pin down and will remain so until a better means of teasing out an individual’s impact on team defense is discovered. But this FELT big and it was one of those performances where the feeling ripples and swells and infects and ends up meaning as much in the end as it felt like it meant at the start. Bravo.
|Carmelo Anthony, SF 32 MIN | 9-24 FG | 4-4 FT | 9 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 22 PTS | +13A weird one from Melo, his makes were gorgeous (three acrobatic finishes stand out in particular and, despite the ugly 0/7 from deep, the arc on his jumper looked pretty all night) but the were sporadic and his peripherals (9 boards, 5 assists, a steal) slightly overstate his overall impact on the game. Got hot at the right time in the second half and in a win that carries him to a B- but this was a generally forgettable, if by no means bad, evening.|
|Raymond Felton, PG 27 MIN | 4-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 13 PTS | +1A really great game, better even than the numbers suggest (and 13 points on 5 shots suggests quite a bit to begin with). The bagel in the turnover column was indispensable in a game that could have gotten away from the Knicks in the first half had their brutal defense been paired with sloppy offense. Two assists doesn’t do justice to his command over the offense, he matched Philly’s intensity by pushing the break harder than usual and he moved the ball exceedingly well. It may not show up in his line of the box score but it sure as hell shows up in the FG% and 3-point shooting columns.
To my eyes, Felton was also one of the Knicks’ better defenders tonight, his switches were tight and his hustle was consistent. This says more about how lost New York was on that end than it does about Felton but he was passable defensively and excellent on offense.
|J.R. Smith, SG 39 MIN | 8-18 FG | 2-4 FT | 3 REB | 5 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 22 PTS | +21In the words of Stringer Bell, JR’s been giving us a lot more 40 degree days lately. Appropriately, as we (hopefully) near the end of what has been a vicious winter, 40 degrees doesn’t seem half bad. Smith has kept the fireworks to a minimum — both the good kind and the bad — while shooting a solid percentage and contributing all over the stat sheet. Against the better teams, the Knicks need to catch the better side of his volatility but on nights like this against teams like the Sixers, all he really has to do is avoid imploding. Implosion avoided.|
|Iman Shumpert, SG 31 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +13Blech. Do you even lift, bro?|
|Jeremy Tyler, PF 18 MIN | 2-4 FG | 2-4 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 6 PTS | -6He is a bright, shiny, colorful puzzle whose pieces are strewn all over the old ping pong table in the half-finished basement and I’m just praying to God that there is somebody in this organization who has some conception of how to put him together.|
|Earl Clark, SF 7 MIN | 0-1 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -810 blocks per 36? Meh.|
|Pablo Prigioni, PG 15 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 4 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 3 PTS | +18Increasingly invisible but that’s not even a bad thing. He was +18 in just 15 minutes tonight. Good things happen around him whether or not he appears to have anything to do with him. You don’t give awards to rabbit’s feet but you still keep them around.|
|Tim Hardaway Jr., SG 29 MIN | 9-13 FG | 5-6 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 28 PTS | +8How thoroughly has this season broken me? I spent portions of today defending Isiah Thomas, Phil Jackson, and Tim Hardaway’s son on Twitter and none of that seems odd to me right now. It really can’t end soon enough.
Bombs away from Junior tonight, though. A nice oasis in a month-long desert of crappy shooting. May his canteen be ever full and his camel’s humps provide only the softest of upholstery.
Called a timeout after Tyler dove for a loose ball in the second quarter that was the fastest I’ve ever seen him react to everything. Two competing theories:1) This winning streak has spurred Woodson to a higher level of consciousness and attentiveness; from this point forward his adjustments will be spot-on, his strategic decisions well-placed, his personnel management unimpeachable, his clock management pristine. He needed a whiff of success to allow him to become the coach we thought he was after last year and the coach he’s always known he could be.
2) Before the season he thought “Hmm, at some point if somebody dives for a loose ball and gets it, I should call timeout right away” and has been waiting for this situation to develop all year. Aside from his quick trigger in that moment, this would frankly explain his the majority of his in-game decisions and post-game comments all year, to say nothing of the “Fuuuuuck….my car isn’t parked on this level, is it?” look that is permanently…
Yeah, it’s Number 2.
Two Things We Saw
- Yes, the Sixers are awful. We can only win the ones we play. And more importantly, we can lose ANY of the ones we play. Some nights it’s nice to just watch basketball and not have to contemplate the emptiness of life and shit.
- Nothing from me on Phil tonight because 1) Chase Thomas already hit that hard today; 2) Who knows? ; and 3) I’m writing something specifically on that later. I’m sure that will take over the comment board right quick, though, and frankly it’s ‘much more interesting than this game anyway.