Knicks 90, Yazz 83
Here’s the lede I wrote prior to the game, when I was 100% certain the Knicks would lose:
They say there’s nothing more dangerous than a wounded animal.
Except when that animal is 39 and dehydrated, with a mange so gnarly he gets stuck for hours in thornbush thickets, two functioning limbs – the front right and rear left, let’s say, which makes it slink along the ground like some primitive protozoa whose only functions are to have sex with itself and turn granules of dirt into strands of bubonic plague – cataracts in both eyes, and a broken nose that never properly healed because the thing couldn’t see well enough to stake out fresh bathing water, meaning he can’t smell the pack of starving banshees bombing down the hill behind it, teeth newly sharpened on the last meal’s bones.
That animal isn’t dangerous.
I still think it’s a pretty good lede.
Anyway… A WIN!
I’ll be honest, I spent way too much time with Boston-Miami .gifs and fake Cormac McCarthy tweets (@netw3rk, of course) to take anything resembling good notes, so what follows is a bare-bones recounting of the…. bare sessentials.
The Bocker’s bounced demon from back – finally – with a 90-83 win over the poorly coached Utah Jazz. The victory keeps New York one game ahead of the Nets in the Atlantic and me from eating the rest of the ibuprofen.
The Bockers were without Amar’e Stoudemire (knee), Carmelo Anthony (knee), and Tyson Chandler (neck — busy preparing for Tyson Chandler bobblehead night on Wednesday). They’re all expected to conduct their own season-ending surgeries tomorrow.
“Led” by J.R. Smith’s 20 points, the Knicks managed to keep the much bigger, much stronger, much younger Jazz at arm’s length throughout, never surrendering a lead greater than eight and somehow outscoring them 34-22 in the paint, despite the fact that Utah employs half the leagues power forwards.
In just his eighth start of the season, Chris Copeland turned in a serviceable — if somewhat inefficient — outing, tossing in 14 varied points to go along with six rebounds and at least a dozen contusions from Paul Millsap’s flailing T-Rex arms.
Kurt Thomas played close to 30 minutes with a goddam bone spur in his foot, and provided more in the way of ancillary contributions than just about anyone – bone-crushing screens, timely jumpers, three blocks (seriously wut?), and an hour-long crowd troll job sources say was incredible.
Raymond Felton was spectacularly efficient, finishing with 19 points on 12 shots, four dimes, and three steals. We might eschew the whole pit bull name fetish, but damnit if it wasn’t apt this time. He also lose a jump ball to Earl Watson, who three minutes before had taken an elevator from his seat to the floor.
The Knicks started with a lineup of Felton, Prigioni, Marin, Shumpert, and Copeland, which incredibly is not a joke. The ultimate burn was limited, but the unit held down the fort well enough to allow the likes of J.R., Kurt, and Kidd room enough to orchestrate a getaway win.
Speaking of Martin, his nine points and nine boards managed to lend even more weight to the notion that his may become an indispensable role down the stretch. He’s still shooting free throws like he’s nodding off mid-attempt, but the vicious swat on (Mo Williams?) definitely helped set the defensive tone in the early going.
Not to take too too much away from our much-needed W, but holy hell are the Jazz a complete disaster – terrible spacing, no semblance of offensive identity, defensive breakdowns galore. They have some decent talent; it’s just being put together like a toddler would a 500-piece puzzle.
So now it’s back home, still hobbled but with a slight respite after a hard-fought, prideful win in what is a very, very tough place to grab one – particularly on the business end of a back to back.
Next up on the docket: The Orlando Magic, who are decidedly terrible. In the mean time, let’s hope Tyson’s neck rot doesn’t amount to anything serious; that Melo’s newly drained knee is sound enough to warrant some Wednesday night burn; and that salvaging what we could from what was otherwise a disastrous Westward trip can help spark something of a run.
With one month left and the East slate tightening, every game – and especially the ones at home against lottery-doomed teams – should be treated as tonight’s was treated: a must-win.
Holy hell I’m tired.
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.