|Jared Jeffries, PF 33 MIN | 4-7 FG | 3-5 FT | 9 REB | 3 AST | 11 PTS | +4
I’m not sure whether Jared’s admission that he’d die for Mike D’Antoni was a sign of loyalty or incestuous creepiness. Either way, Jeffires again laid bone to grindstone in the name of coach and system, bodying up Gasol and Bynum in equal measure, snatching a number of key offensive rebounds, and continuing to blossom into a Fr’ankantoni monster capable of thriving in the mad scientist’s chamber. That report card I issued on his behalf should be tossed in a digital fire.
|Bill Walker, SG 31 MIN | 3-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 7 PTS | +15
I deluded myself into believing Walker could be our DeShawn Stevenson in this trying stretch – the guy who didn’t really deserve to start, but who could realistically catch fire early and thus justify heftier minutes, rotations permitting. By halfway through this one, however, I was reduced to merely hoping he and Metta Ron Artest would get into a face-slapping fight in front of the Laker bench. Which, admit it, would’ve been fun as shit.
|Tyson Chandler, C 40 MIN | 4-5 FG | 1-4 FT | 11 REB | 0 AST | 9 PTS | +7
It must be quite a thing to be standing at half court prior to tip-off and see Andrew Bynum directly in front of you, Pau Gasol right in your periffurals, and realize that the dude tasked with aiding you in holding off the best front court two-fer in the NBA is – God bless his soul – Jared Jeffries. Didn’t matter – Chandler and Jeffries more than held their own. Although I’m surely not alone in having come closer than I’d care to admit to a coronary when Bynum’s gangster-hard fourth quarter foul looked like it snapped Tyson’s fibula in four. %$#^ that guy.
|Landry Fields, G 33 MIN | 1-7 FG | 4-8 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 6 PTS | +3
You know what? I’ll take an offensively ineffective Landry Fields, if in return I get an engaged, focused version on the other end making life as difficult as possible for Kobe Bryant…. For a few quarters, anyway. In years past, Kobe’s Garden promenades have been conducted with more than a few cheers providing the bass line, and through all four bars. This time – though he indeed managed to get his — the crowd was on Bryant hard from the start, contributing to a funk not even the eminently testicle-severing Mamba could fang his way out of.
|Jeremy Lin, PG 39 MIN | 13-23 FG | 10-13 FT | 4 REB | 7 AST | 38 PTS | +8
For most, playing beneth the blazing bulbs and piercing cheers and jeers of Madison Square Garden can shrink the court down to a mere needle’s eye. For Jeremy Lin, those same factors somehow – miraculously, it might be said – seem to turn it into a football field. Don’t you dare…
Most thought — and they could rightly be forgiven as much — that tonight would mark the moment when Jeremy Lin came down to Earth. Not that he wouldn’t survive, or even play well; we all knew he’d manage that. But the experience, the size, the physicality, the length of the Lakers — it was all supposed to shelve, at least for a night, the thickening narrative.
Not so much.
There’s nothing more to say, really, except everything, and all that’s to come. For a franchise long steeped in a desire to justify its unrivaled towerscape of a hoops history with contracts malfeasant and misguided, the emergence of Jeremy Lin speaks to a deeper, more gravel-drawn narrative thread: That of a man, a family, a people — any man, any family, and any people — forced by fate or circumstance to make it any way they can astride the concrete jungle.
|Mike Bibby, PG 11 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -4
Wife: “Why don’t they play Toney Douglas?”
|Steve Novak, SF 28 MIN | 3-9 FG | 1-1 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 9 PTS | +2
Lost in all the rigamarole about our seeming savior, Novak has quietly emerged as the quintessential totem of what’s possible when Mike D’Antoni’s offense is truly let loose. Steve-O hit a number of clutch buckets from distance in the first half (read: two), helping stave off a Laker unit too tired to get out and challenge. Despite coolin’ off like a Swanson dinner in the second half, Novak’s timely boards and shockingly effective defense on Gasol were as welcome as they were unexpected. He also registered a steal, which I’m sure will blow up the universe in the next few hours.
|Iman Shumpert, G 26 MIN | 5-13 FG | 2-3 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 12 PTS | 0
As my Nubian brother @seth_rosenthal aptly pointed out halfway through the second quarter, Iman Shumpert has a unique knack for finding new ways to miss layups — contested or otherwise. But his ridiculous 13-foot-high heel-bounce finger roll shortly thereafter kinda sorta made up for it, as did his wolverine tenacity against a player whose oldest shoe line predates Shump by a good half a decade.
Five Things We Saw
- Knick fans who vomited their way through Thursday’s L.A.-Boston geriatric Olympics probably took an irrational amount of joy in watching the Lakers plod their way to a grueling overtime win. Like any red-blooded disciple of the orange and blue, you probably forgot who you were for a second and drove over to the nearest Cracker Barrel to grab a quick bowl of clam chowder and six martinis before calling it a day…. Anyway, the effects were evident tonight, with the notoriously bench-thin Lakers looking like the Walking Dead for most of the game. Where the Knicks might have mimicked the Lakers in terms of bench panty-thinness, they more than make up for in youth and hops.
- It’s really a criminal shame that we couldn’t enjoy the glorious musings of Breen and Clyde on this, the Knickest of knights in eons. You know what, though? Hubie Brown’s not a bad sub, particularly when Lin’s graceful dominance manages to cull from the former sideline sage a level of joyful admiration not often seen.
- The Knicks’ front line of Jeffries and Chandler (20 points, 20 rebounds combined) played the Lakers’ twin towers (19 points, 23 rebounds) to a statistical standstill. Psychologically and emotionally? Gasol and Bynum are still scraping their egos off the Garden floor.
- New rule: Any time Billy Crudup attends a Knicks home game, the National Anthem will be replaced with the Almost Famous star belting “I AM A GOLDEN GOD!” into the microphone.
- @alanhahn: The roar that comes up in this building when this kid does something is unlike anything I can recall. #Linsanity… And so it was that a Mecca found itself an obelinsk.