Knicks 87, Pistons 77
|Kurt Thomas, PF 4 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 0 PTS | 0
I’m not going to be that guy who goes out there and says “MAN, I COULD HAVE PLAYED BETTER THAN THAT!” Because I’m 5’8” and the highest level of basketball I play is intramural—but I will say that I couldn’t have done much worse than Thomas did in his start. In his four minutes of action, he turned it over twice (both on J.R. Smith-esque passes) and aborted a trademark pick and pop jumper that wasn’t even close. Do his feet even leave the ground when he launches one? Asking for a friend.
|Iman Shumpert, SF 19 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 9 PTS | -10
Shump led all players this evening with 14:26 of undivided Woodson disdainful death-stare. In fact—I’ll need to do some more research here—but it may have been his career high in that department. Shumpert’s poor night was a bit surprising considering he started off 3/3 from behind the arc, but his ball handling/decision making looked tentative to say the least.
To Shump’s credit, he was crashing the boards and whatnot but between some painfully poor switches and goofy, unforced fouls Woodson was entirely justified in pinning his hide to the pine.
But those elongated Woodson stares of disapproval, mannnnn, I wouldn’t wish those on my worst enemies.
|Tyson Chandler, C 30 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-2 FT | 11 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | -9
Those who actually have real lives: family, job, etc, may think Chandler had a poor evening from looking at the box score. This wasn’t exactly the case. Chandler did a good job fighting for rebounds when he had to, and didn’t need to create offensively since Felton and STAT were both locked in, and J.R. was doing something or other.
|Raymond Felton, PG 37 MIN | 10-15 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 7 TO | 26 PTS | +8
Yes, the turnovers were terrible, but Felton’s saving grace this evening was that he was scorchingly automatic from the field. Whatever coach Woodson said to Felton in the locker room at halftime (perhaps it was, “Hey Ray, please stop turning it over so much”) it clearly had an effect on his play in the second half.
There was one point in the third quarter when Felton took an ill-advised shot that was rebounded and brought up court by Brandon Knight (who is a very good three-point shooter BTW). Felton initially tried to swipe the ball from Knight’s hands but missed. Clearly perturbed by the type of game he was having, he accosted Knight the full length of the court until eventually coming up with a big steal.
Felton also had a reverse lay-in—that don’t happen erryday.
|James White, SG 8 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -4
know it says he started and played eight minutes, but man does White play some quiet minutes. It also claims he had 3(!?) assists; I don’t remember those either. I’m sure they were sublime.
|Amar’e Stoudemire, PF 31 MIN | 8-12 FG | 6-7 FT | 9 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 22 PTS | +12
Oh man, can we please start him Coach!? Please please pretty please!?!?!
In the first half alone, STAT was 6/7 for 19 points, so Woodson of course sat him down to cool off for a little bit (perhaps out of fear that he would try to find a fire extinguisher or something). But Luckily STAT kept up the hustle plays in the second half and even gave the appearance that he was playing hard-nosed defense (was it a mirage? Maybe, but it looked good damnit). STAT was definitely aware that he needed to fill the scoring void left by the injured Carmelo, and he gave a performance that may have reignited the debate for him to be a starter (insert 2nd fire extinguisher joke here).
|Steve Novak, SF 16 MIN | 0-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | -2
As far as learning about games by looking at box scores, Novak’s night can indeed be understood from the stats. He shot five times. He missed five times.
|Marcus Camby, C 6 MIN | 0-1 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +2
Camby was the big that Woodson put on the court with his new-look ALL GUARDS lineup consisting of Smith, Prigs, Kidd and Felton. I’m not sure we’ll ever see those five out there again together, but I definitely liked the look.
|Pablo Prigioni, PG 17 MIN | 0-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | +15
Prigs is a player that I always want to get more minutes, but based on his style of play, Woody might actually be using him to perfection. He conserves Prigs for late in the game when everyone else is fatigued, and then, the Argentine strikes. His only steal in this game resulted in a quick three-pointer. Prigioni continues to play defense like that one guy who you hate playing pickup basketball with because he takes it way too seriously. Although, since it’s the NBA, I’LL ALLOW IT!
|Jason Kidd, PG 32 MIN | 2-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 6 AST | 3 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | +24
I really liked the way Kidd played tonight. He brought his trademark old man patience to the offense every time he possessed the ball. I thought the 32 minutes might have been a little much, especially considering he may about to be involved in The Battle for the Retirement Home, if he gets matched up against Derek Fisher in tomorrow nights test against the Thunder—their combined age is 79-years-old if you were wondering.
Kidd threw himself into traffic which led to steals and rebounds on multiple occasions throughout the game and although the contest was out of reach at the time, he recorded the final steal and seal.
|J.R. Smith, SG 40 MIN | 7-22 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 5 AST | 4 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 20 PTS | +14
What player could better exemplify the type of game it was tonight than J.R. Smith. Yes, his stat line was yet another ill-efficient 7-22 from the field, but if you’re a believer in clutch—which clearly Mike Woodson is—than you gotta give it up to J.R.. Just when you were ready to fly to Detroit to yell in Woodson’s ear that it just wasn’t Smith’s night, he rattled off four consecutive three-pointers late in the game after starting off 0/5 from deep; you also probably remembered Detroit is a boring city and not worth spending your frequent flyer miles on.
Also worth noting—J.R. was 1/3 from his sweet spot shot—you know, the one where he’s fading away into the oblivion of the baseline for a deep two while being tightly guarded. I realize that Smith won two games (Charlotte and Phoenix) for the Knicks using that exact location on the floor, but what player would ever want that to be their go-to location on the court? As usual, the more questions you ask about J.R., the more you receive.
Typically, I try to think of a metaphor to embody the mercurial Smith every game; tonight, I equated his shot selection to an onside kick following halftime. When it works, the fans are in awe at the sheer marbles it took to roll the dice like that, and when it doesn’t, the fans collectively shake their heads at what breathtakingly stupid idea it was. And that, ladies and gents, is J.R. Smith’s shot selection.
Back in the 80′s there was a cartoon strip from David Lynch (yes, that David Lynch) that ran in the NY Press and a slew of other Division II free weeklies. It was called “The Angriest Dog in the World”. It was the exact same four drawings in each panel every single time. The text would vary slightly. Here’s an example.
If any of you are handy with the photoshop, and would care to replace “Dog” with “Coach” and superimpose a scowling, goateed animation for the canine in question, it would be greatly appreciated ’round these parts. A+ for Woody, just because I’m scared to think what he might do if we didn’t reward/validate his hate.
Five Things We Saw
- Pure ethereal relief. This was a game that the Knicks HAD to have as they open up a slate of games against strong Western Conference competition. However, the ‘Bockers looked utterly indifferent at several times tonight and played down to their opponent (haven’t we seen this movie before?).
In the first half, the Knicks were up 15, and then proceeded to not just blow the lead, but allow the Pistons open up a 10-point lead of their own. Yet even with this up-and-down performance, the Knicks ended up winning by 10-points, getting key contributions from Smith, Felton and STAT down the stretch.
Anytime you’re a fan of a team, you want them to constantly play as hard possible night-in and night-out—but the Knicks have a lot of old guys who obviously looked at the schedule and saw the Mordor-like Western Conference challenge ahead. They took their greenhorn opponents ever so lightly, especially without the threat of Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, and luckily for the Knicks it didn’t backfire horribly. Not this time at least.
- Woodson wasn’t just mad at Shumpert, he was straight up livid. Shump suffered a huge setback in this game despite some nice shooting to start things off. What was even more troublesome was how badly he was blowing his pick-and-roll assignments. Anytime the 6’8” Jason Maxielle’s testacles are consistently hanging in the face of your Defensive Player of the Year, YOU KNOW YOU GOT A PROBLEM! The Knicks certainly haven’t been deft—or even capable really—at defending the pick-and-roll of late, and tonight was no exception. I’ve been pretty vocal that Shump’s offensive deficiencies aren’t worrisome because of what he brings to the other side of the ball. But if he’s defending poorly and playing offense poorly, what exactly is he? James White with a cooler haircut?
- Woody put in a pretty interesting lineup that was clearly tailored to exploit Detroit’s weaknesses (although there are just so many of them). Felton, Kidd, Prigs, Smith and Camby, all on the floor at once. The uber-small-borderline-microscopic lineup created ball movement that was reminiscent of their early season success (subsequently bringing tears to my face). I would like to see this unit, or a similar amalgamation of it in the future, even once ‘Melo returns to action.
- Can we just do away with STAT’s minute limit please? Amar’e has exceeded his 30-minute cap in each of the past two games—both of which he has been heavily responsible for the Knicks’ wins. If Woodson wants to say that he’s saving STAT for this perilous impending road trip, fine, say what you will Woody, but at least give the man the start that he deserves. Starting Kurt Thomas for four minutes when your first player off the bench is playing in another stratosphere is completely nonsensical. If Woodson had started STAT and played him more than 11 minutes in the first half, I would imagine that the Knicks would have carried a lead of 20-points or greater into halftime. But hey, they probably would have blown that lead too.
- Buckle up everyone, we ‘bout to get Western up in these parts. Thunder, Jazz, Golden State, Denver, Portland, L.A. Clips and Jazz (Portland is presently the only one of these teams not in a playoff spot). Definitely frightening, although, imagine a band named the Golden State Thunder Jazz? I’d give it a listen.