|Solomon Jones, PF 14 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | +2
Look, I get the logic behind wanting to throw a big body at Roy Hibbert, who, truth be told, is rilly big, aside from taking up more three-dimensional space than any other ‘Bocker, SOLOMOJO didn’t do much. After 26 minutes in orange of blue, my judgment of Solomon isn’t very generous. See what I did there?
|Carmelo Anthony, SF 30 MIN | 9-23 FG | 5-6 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 25 PTS | 0
I’m sure there are still odd particles of David West’s tuft-y, Jazz-tastic goatee embedded deep within Melo’s epidermis. After starting the game dusting off All-Defensive first Team candidate Paul George with the nonchalance of a particularly nonchalant person doing something nonchalantly, the Children of the Corn put the prison trustee-esque brute West on to Melo, and I found myself flashing back to those evenings of yore when Anthony Mason/Xavier McDaniel tried to pound Scottie Pippen’s face until it resembled a piece of overly-tenderized, milk-fed veal (I mean, more than it usually does/did). It’s profoundly disarming, finding yourself on the other end of the. “Basketball is a game of grace/poetry/beauty, not a mean-spirited, blood-drenched bit of grappling in a hardwood mud pit! Where are the arbiters to put these dastardly, uncouth scallywags in their proper place — the gutter from whence they came! Good day, Sir….I SAID GOOD DAY!” argument. Two things: Melo has to learn not to lose his cool when he’s not getting the calls (and believe, me, he’s got a legitimate beef). This has been a season-long issue and, between the Chthulus in Round One and these self-same Hoosiers in Round Two (Assuming they get there, knock on an entire forest), the postseason’s going to be a constant stream of creepily irritating dudes doing everything imaginable — even pushing the boundaries of the rulebook/flinging handfuls of General Mills-brand cereals — to get under his skin. Amazingly, J.R. is better at keeping his composure than Melo is. (He’s not tryna get the gripe! I’ll show myself out…) Two, even if it meant losing this game, there was no need to send Melo back into the game in the 4th. When he wandered over to the sideline, I had horrible, sweat-soaked visions of Kobe’s shredded achilles tendon dancing in my head. The juice just ain’t worth the squeeze, Coach. Of course Melo’s not going to ask to remain glued to the pine and the subs managed to keep the lead at double digits, but that worried me.
|Iman Shumpert, SF 25 MIN | 3-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 10 PTS | +13
Here’s a fun fact. Shump’s rebound rate has jumped to 12.7 from 9.9 last year. Part of it’s due to the fact that he’s ostensibly playing small forward these days as opposed to exclusively seeing action at PG/SG in ’12. But if you watch, he’s got that J.R-esque knack for jumping into the fray from the perimeter before someone can box him out.
|Raymond Felton, PG 33 MIN | 5-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 11 PTS | +9
More facts! More funz! Raymond Felton’s been shooting a nifty 47% from the field since the All-Star break, basically since he recovered from the multiple contusions to his flippers that he suffered in late December. At one point in the 3rd, Once again, he saved his finest bulldoggery for the final frame, going 3-4 and banging home a tough layup, a pretty floater in the lane and a trey.
|Pablo Prigioni, PG 24 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 3 PTS | -12|
|Chris Copeland, SF 34 MIN | 8-12 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 20 PTS | +8
Another very, very productive outing for the People’s Cope, who did a solid job tusslin’ with all those burlier, brawnier Nap Town PF/C’s. Oh, and if you haven’t read this article about Cope’s journey, do so now. The recap will still be here when you get back. He’s still far, far from being even an average defender, but if he can make the leap from “Starts drooling like one is facing Steve Novak” to sub-par/average, he’s a serious asset, especially given his ability to spread the floor/lur the opposing big out to the three-point line. He has to get PT in the playoffs, even in favor of….
|Steve Novak, SF 18 MIN | 2-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | +10
…If you’re like me, you probably were first introduced to Chaos Theory via the disaffected, oily, curiously-unbuttoned mathematical stylings of Dr. Ian Malcolm/Jeff Goldblum (There’s no difference between the two. That IS Jeff Goldblum. You can’t tell where Goldblum ends and Malcolm begins. Perfs casting.). I mention this because I have an example from tonight’s game that would set James Gleick’s heart ablaze. The only explanation for Steve Novak unleashing a hook shot on a pick and roll drive to the rim is that a butterfly farted in Indonesia. I just blew your minds.
|Jason Kidd, PG 30 MIN | 0-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 5 AST | 4 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +17
So much beautiful, hands-y goodness from our ol’ chum, Jason but his shot, which seemingly had all the kinks and bugs and old man smell washed out over the last few games, got really bricktastic.
|James White, SG 3 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -4
JAMES WHITE ANAGRAM FUN: MEET JAWS…HI?
|J.R. Smith, SG 30 MIN | 7-16 FG | 0-1 FT | 8 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 15 PTS | +7
I know Smith’s been playing the best ball of his career, but it’s amazing the way the narrative has swung from, “J.R an All-Star? That’s so redonkulous!” to, “J.R. IS the 6th Man of the Year–no bout a doubt it.” I don’t know if 1.5 months of great play is more important than 40 games of inefficient chuckery (Actually, you use that same paradigm for the entire team this year.), but it’s natural to recall what Earl’s doing now when punching chads than Crawford’s stylings in LA or the way that Jarrett Jack transformed Golden State. I’m not saying he doesn’t deserve the big, shiny trophy, but three’s certainly a case to be made otherwise.
LOOK OUT, COACH!
Five Things We Saw
- This was as aggressively sloppy/sloppily aggressive a game as I’ve seen in awhile. Things started off all sunshine and lollipops, with Melo ailing jumper after jumper. (Side note: Is there any sound more immediately pleasurable than a pretty jumper swishing through the hoop? That ‘thwock’ [When it's a Knick doing the thwocking, natch] encapsulates something essential, something pure that I can’t really put into words. Maybe it’s just me.). Indiana clawed their way back, with BK’s own Lance Stephenson scowlingly driving to the tin and banging home threes. A 18-6 run in the 2nd, fueled by the kind of sweet, Socialistic ball-movement that even a guy who carries around the Gadsden Flag would love and banking 5 of their first 9 heaves from downtown produced a lead that ballooned to as much as 20, before the Athenians of the Prarie whittled the deficit back down to a disturbingly last-Thursday’s-Bulls-game, all-too-manageable 7 by the intermission.
- Evidently the Lead Horses watched a series of inflatable anthropomorphic animals batter Ed Burns around during halftime, because they came out of the locker room determined to win the fight, if not the game itself. The refs decided to (as the oft-used expression goes) “Let them play.” In this instance, that meant allowing Messrs. Hibbert, West, et al do everything this side of ripping off one of Solomon Jones gangling limbs and using it to bludgeon the New Yorkers within an inch of their lives. Shump got a bit of amateur rhinoplasty on a layup attempt. Melo was struck in the ‘nads, (And, as our fave member of the Basketball Algonquin Round Table, netw3rk, put it, “Oh, no, Melo’s hurt….whew, he only got hit in the nuts.”) hands and finally a serious zetz to the shoulder, which sent him to the bench where he was given doses of Deer Antler Spray. The lead vacillated between (See, Clyde. THAT’s the proper use of “Vacillate!”) 7 and 14 (and I was sure there was a run coming that was going to make this one a down-to-the-cuticles-chomping nail-biter. But Cope and Felt and the 2nd unit pushed the lead back to 15 on a corner three by J.R., Indy couldn’t hit the open threes that the Knicks were giving them (and if they had shot even decently from the outside/not missed oh-so-many tosses from the charity stripe, this game might have unfolded in an altogether different manner), and that, got the hyperadiposic, Nordic woman doing her vocal warm ups.
- Not sure if you caught it, but Clyde unleashed what might possibly be my fave rhymed couplet he’s ever slung. In reference to Melo’s injury, the poet laureate of the hardwood hath spake this glorious bit of verbiage: “Luckily his contusion didn’t cause any confusion.” [Slow, teary-eyed clap]
- So the seedings are locked. The Knicks are the two seed, have home court through ’till the Eastern Conference Finals, they’ve won 15 of the last 16 games, snaggled 30 wins at MSG for the first time sine 2001, and word is starting to trickle out via corporate whistleblowers that Tyson, K-Mart and even SHEED are close to returning. This is fun. This is a fun team. It’s been a slightly tortuous journey getting here, and I have to admit that I certainly didn’t see it coming in September and proclaimed this team dead on more than one occasion during the awful 20-21 dirge of winter, but here we are. Let’s end it with some swell pictures from Jonah Kaner. Go Knicks!