Knicks 89, Mike Dunleavy 26, Other Bucks 54
|Carmelo Anthony, SF 35 MIN | 8-20 FG | 12-12 FT | 12 REB | 1 AST | 28 PTS | +10
If ever there was a time for Melo to “get his,” as the young whippersnappers say, it was tonight. Save for his requisite, inexplicable bunny botches, Melo was pretty effective, particularly at drawing contact and getting to the line. He beasted the boards, looked more than accountable on D, and — if his teammates were anywhere near competent shooting a basketball — might’ve had a few dimes to go along with his double-double.
We’ll hope against hope that his late third quarter groin tweak (teehee!) was just that, which seems reasonable given that he was able to come back out in the fourth and LITERALLY GRAB MIKE DUNLEAVY’S FACE ON D AND NOT GET CALLED FOR IT!
|Landry Fields, G 24 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 8 REB | 2 AST | 2 PTS | +1
Landry’s three-point shooting this year has dropped more than fourteen hundred percentage points from last year’s. I’m no Jaime Escalante, but methinks a statistical dropoff of a thousand of anything – in any sport – points to something far more complex than mere mean regressions. Like shot mechanics, for example, which in Landry’s case have come to mimic some kind of primitive Sumerian catapult. Like Melo, Landry managed to contribute mightily on the glass, but the rest of his game is just a hot mess right now.
|Tyson Chandler, C 34 MIN | 3-7 FG | 7-9 FT | 9 REB | 1 AST | 13 PTS | +17
From blocking a late Brandon Jennings drive to his innumerable possession-saving tap-outs, Chandler accounted for just about every crucial Knick play down the stretch. He even busted out a sleeve ace on O, hitting a pretty jump hook late in the second quarter to help stave a Bucks mini-run. In short, if it weren’t for Tyson Chandler, the Knicks would likely be thinking of ways to magnetize a ping pong ball and actively peddling the hashtag #losenowforunibrow.
|Baron Davis, PG 34 MIN | 3-12 FG | 6-6 FT | 5 REB | 7 AST | 13 PTS | +16
We’ll forgive for a moment the fact that his first shot attempt – a potential continuation wherein he hit both throws anyway – was a layup he careened off the BOTTOM of the rim. For those who spent their pre-Linsanity days wondering aloud whether Davis could be the savvy savior capable of rocketing our beloved ‘Bockers into contention, Boom-Dizzle’s nine turnovers and bevy of boneheaded plays should give those memories pause. Dude looked like he needed a lung transplant mid way through the fourth and, despite a handful of nice dishes, time and again resorted to awful fade-aways or pull-up threes with plenty of time left on the shot clock. He’s still “capable,” in the same way I’m technically “capable” of hanging up my clothes. He / I just choose not to most of the time.
|Iman Shumpert, G 35 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 3 AST | 11 PTS | +13
By now I think we’ve all figured out – and can thoroughly appreciate – that Iman Shumpert is a capital defender. Here’s the problem, though: I’ve lost track of how many times he’s sprinted into a passing lane or to closing out a defender, and ended up 20 feet beyond where he’s supposed to be. That’s the difference between good defender and great defender: The ability to time your movements all savvy like, to be at once controlled and chaos-wreaking, and to not look like a catnip-addled alley cat trying to catch a drifting straw wrapper.
That aside, this was easily Shump’s best game in ages, a night punctuated by his huge three-pointer to extend the Knick lead to seven, followed by a dastardly, game-clinching swipe of Jennings late in the fourth.
|Mike Bibby, PG 12 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 3 PTS | -9
Bibby somehow managed to shoehorn in a three-pointer, but did little beyond that aside from losing a skull bolt.
|Steve Novak, SF 24 MIN | 2-4 FG | 2-4 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 7 PTS | 0
If Novak hadn’t hit that first three — taken in the midst of Mike Dunleavy’s impossible second quarter twine orgy — I probably would’ve lost my shit. But ‘Kaine nailed it, and would later play some decent D on the aforementioned Dunsleazy. Yes, that’s the best I can do.
|J.R. Smith, SG 30 MIN | 3-13 FG | 2-2 FT | 10 REB | 2 AST | 9 PTS | +5
Speaking of losing it, finding out that — prior to his admittedly timely fourth quarter bomb — J.R. Smith was 12 for his last 41 from the field really brought my piss to a boil. Take a gander at his stat line again. One for ten from beyond the arc? You took ten three pointers? Smith is like Javier Bardem’s Anton Chigur in No Country For Old Men: A spellbinding, conscious-less killer with no qualms at all about shooting the first thing he sees. The only difference being that Chigur’s kills are clean. The ten boards and lock-down D were crucial, though, so he gets something of a bump. I mean, you know, beyond the one he snuggled up next to in the hotel afterwards.
|Josh Harrellson, F 13 MIN | 1-3 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 3 PTS | -8
Look, I wanted a good reason for Jorts to continue growing the Rube-Man-Chu as bad as anyone. Truth be told, a halfway decent performance — a five and five, even — probably would’ve done the trick. But Harrellson was pretty useless tonight, drawing some silly, lazy fouls, missing a couple of layups, and generally looking like he had a Waffle House hangover.
Five Things We Saw
- Mike Dunleavy scored 24 points in less than 13 minutes of first half action. As the peerless Robert Silverman twatted: “Dunleavy and I are neck-and-neck in our points vs. cigarettes smoked contest.” Which, if I hadn’t given up smoking a few years back, likely would’ve been the case in the Cavan household, too. Whoever rounds out the roster of Knick killers from this decade, Dunleavy is clearly team captain.
- Final tally aside, the Bucks bludgeoned the ‘Bockers in the Battle of the Benches, 48-22. Dunleavy was responsible for most of the damage, but with three starters either out or partially hobbled, the Knicks went from bench-heavy to bench-Kate Moss in less than 48 hours hours, a frightening development that only accentuates what has been a truly %$#^& up season.
- Down five at the half, the Knicks clawed their way back into the game in large part thanks to an 18-0 third quarter free throw disparity. Read that again. And again. Now once more. On the night, the Knicks nearly doubled the Bucks’ attempts from the stripe, 35-18. It’s become something of a fatalistic fad to decry the zebras for being anti-Knicks, anti-MSG, etc. Most of the time, I fall right in line. Not tonight.
- Tonight’s “game” was about as aesthetically pleasing as a Soviet brick factory. After watching two professional basketball teams combine for 42 turnovers – each more creative than the last – most who witnessed tonight’s ballet of futility not only want those precious two-and-a-half hours of life back; they want it back with enough interest to cover the Xanax. Luckily, the Bucks backcourt seemed most affected, with Ellis and Jennings combining for a mere 19 points on 8-36 shooting, including 0-9 from Dunleavyland.
- With Amar’e possibly out for the year, Lin temporarily hobbled with a sore knee, and now Melo looking like he’ll need a few days to rest his man bits, the Knicks new-found depth might’ve have been erased literally overnight. Obviously the one to worry about most is Amar’e, who was just starting to hit his stride after basically being stuck to the starting block for most of the year. At this point, we can’t even afford to have Lin or Melo resting for more than a game or two — let alone both. Basically, if strings of games can be thought of as storms to weather, the Knicks’ brutal upcoming stretch is that gigantic goddam red spot on Jupiter.
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.