|Andrea Bargnani, PF 26 MIN | 6-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 13 PTS | +7
It seems like every time you’re about to make fun of him for an awful defensive rotation or awkwardness pertaining to but not exclusively A) ridiculous drives to the basket, B) “contesting” a shot when he is more than 5 feet away, C) his mouthguard, he makes another midrange jumper. He finishes with respectable lines yet the whole time, you’re not sure how he got there.
We basically know who Bargnani is at this point — a solid midrange shooter, a surprisingly strong one-on-one defender against bigs, clueless in help defense or rotations, an overrated floor spacer, and an awful rebounder.
|Carmelo Anthony, SF 37 MIN | 6-16 FG | 6-8 FT | 7 REB | 5 AST | 3 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 19 PTS | +12
His first quarter was everything you love about efficient, team-leader Melo (23.8 in PER this year, 9th in the league.) He drew fouls, he moved the ball, he attacked Shawn Marion from inside and out, he hit threes, he rebounded. 15 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists in a tremendous first quarter.
What happened after was a mixed bag — a bit of a passive second quarter, a pretty awful third quarter that featured contested midrange shots and iso sets, and a tough fourth quarter in which he passed out of a double team to hit Shumpert for the biggest basket of the night.
After his torrid first, the Mavs decided to double team him on the catch, and for the most part, Anthony did well. His court vision, particularly in the second and fourth quarters, was wonderful.
The first quarter was the YouTube highlight reel. But the next three quarters were more interesting — the superstar trying to find his groove between facilitator and scorer after a hot start.
|Tyson Chandler, C 4 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | -4
The northeast and Midwest are shoveling out from Hercules, Jim Harbaugh inexplicably and hilariously survives a polar vortex in Green Bay, and Chandler somehow gets sick in Texas. Is there a causal relation? Well, other than it’s effing cold, no. But in any case, GET BETTER YOU FRAGILE, BEAUTIFUL, TORTURED GENIUS!
|Beno Udrih, PG 33 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 8 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 4 PTS | +9
The Good: Facilitated very nicely at times, very effective in the pick-and-roll with Kenyon Martin, attacked the rim with confidence.
The Bad: Is it me, or is he just too shot-happy? Only six attempts, but they always seem to be contested, 12-22 feet shots.
|Iman Shumpert, SG 30 MIN | 3-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 9 PTS | +9
Had a solid first quarter, disappeared for much of the rest of the game, then hit the two biggest shots of the whole darn thing — a gorgeous reverse layup after beating Dirk on a baseline drive and the dagger 3 on the ensuing possession. More on Shump in a bit.
|Jeremy Tyler, PF 1 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | 0
Tyler and Cole Aldrich are like the Bash Brothers of garbage time minutes.
(Great to see you out there, Jeremy!)
|Amar’e Stoudemire, PF 22 MIN | 4-9 FG | 3-3 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | +1
He attacked hard on the low block with mixed results, got to the line, and looked a bit lost on defense. The effort was there. The lift on his knees and the defensive know-how — not so much tonight.
At times, the offense seems to run through him at the low block too often, but he did a nice job working on Brendan Wright down low.
|Kenyon Martin, PF 29 MIN | 7-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 14 PTS | +15
This is his 14th year in the league and he is 36 years old. I bring this up because he is a survivor. The NBA is insanely tough and the expectations of a #1 pick are through the roof and he’s played on some disappointing teams and the effort hasn’t always been there (Clippers fans nod their heads) and gosh, just see what David West has to say about the rigors of playing power forward in this league.
But he’s a survivor and at this point in his career, an absolute pro. KMart was wonderful tonight. He was a great finisher and rebounder and played with tremendous hustle and energy. Sure, the Mavs are small, but KMart immediately brought a calming presence on the team once Chandler went out. It could have been different.
29 minutes for a guy who was once on a 10-minutes-a-game-every-other-night limit. He is hurting right now. I’m sure of it. But tonight, just as he did last season and so far this year, he gave his team stability, rebounding, defense, and effort.
|Cole Aldrich, C 1 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | 0
Aldrich-Tyler: Garbage-time lineups are big, man.
|Toure’ Murry, SG 15 MIN | 2-5 FG | 1-2 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | 0
I’d argue for why Murry needs to get more minutes, but I don’t feel like I have to. He’s a great perimeter defender, long and rangy. He harassed Shane Larkin and the Mavericks second unit all night, playing three-quarters court defense and making them start their offense far too high. He’s young and raw and isn’t the most developed offensive player, but he’s very athletic and a (dare I say, Prigs-esque) pest on defense. He deserves some more minutes with the first unit.
|Tim Hardaway Jr., SG 12 MIN | 4-6 FG | 1-1 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 10 PTS | 0
Exciting in the most terrifying way possible. Not unlike another guy employed by a New York sports franchise with a devil-may-care, #YOLO-ish swag.
|J.R. Smith, SG 31 MIN | 3-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 7 PTS | +11
In the second half, after some nice Knicks ball movement, JR caught the ball on the wing for a wide-open three. He thought about it for a second, and instead took one dribble inside the three point line. The rotating defender had caught up to him by that point, and JR opted for the contested long two.
He made it, of course.
His effortless and remarkable talent is honestly funny stuff, as is this brilliant maneuver.
But then you realize he played 31 minutes tonight, third-most on the team, and his one-on-one offense slows down the whole operation, and there’s no accountability for any of it. He played in crunch time throughout the entire fourth quarter. No one cares and no one learns. But we’ll talk about the coach in a bit, if I have to.
|Metta World Peace, SF DNP SORE LEFT KNEE MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | STL | BLK | TO | PTS |
“Kiss your mom on the mouth. She will be shocked But it will be loving n funny” — Metta World Peace
I have written in my game notes: “10 point game with less than 6 minutes to go and the Knicks going with Udrih, JR, Melo, STAT and Bargs. I’m not even kidding.”
There’s no sense in piling on, but it’s brutally clear that he, at the very least, has no idea how to optimally use his personnel and seems to shun advanced statistics. His late-game lineups (he later switched to Udrih-JR-Shumpert-Melo-Bargs, a bit better) almost cost the team the game. This team, in less than half a season, has seen a string of terrible starts, terrible collapses, terrible end-of-game plays, widespread confusion on the team policy of defending the most common play in basketball (the pick-and-roll), not to mention two instances of players taking absolutely inexcusable end-of-game 3s.
And yet, I still want this t-shirt
Four Things We Saw
- Another brilliant veteran move from KMart: The ref calls a touch foul on Martin as he is guarding Dirk. The play goes dead, and Dirk goes to take a practice shot after the whistle. On his way up, KMart grabs his arm, fouling Dirk and enabling him to block the shot.
Take that, KG! Instead of ruining your knees to goaltend on opponents’ practice shots, you should have gone for the foul-after-the-whistle strategy instead.
- Iman Shumpert is so many things — far and away the team’s best two-way player, its best young talent, one of its only trade assets and homegrown talents. He is the team’s reigning-and-still champion in swagger and athleticism.
Tonight, he played 30 minutes, but I can’t recall his play during most of them. He hit two huge shots, played very good defense on Monta Ellis, and was a non-factor on offense for much of the game. I don’t know exactly what to make of him tonight.
This is perhaps something of a greater point: Two-and-a-half years in, I still don’t think we have any solid idea of who Iman Shumpert is. And I don’t think we know where he will be in the next year, five years, or ten years. His rookie year, he was initially miscast as a point guard, greatly improved when moved to the wing, and then underwent a major injury. Last year, he came on strong as an extremely promising two-way player and a deadeye 3-point shooter, but only played half a season. This year, he’s shown occasional flashes of brilliance while being a statistically poor player — tentative on offense, erratic shooting, and unspectacular on defense.
He is just a third-year player and has been a part of trade rumors for more than 12 months. There is something simultaneously intoxicating yet often unfulfilling about his play, and between injuries and the reprehensible way the front office has treated him, it still feels like he hasn’t gotten settled. I hope he does, if only so that we can see him with far more clarity.
- Just to be clear: the Mavericks were truly awful tonight. Their first half was particularly egregious: pick-and-roll defense even the Knicks would scoff at, 0-8 from 3 (and many looks were wide, wide open), four (!) missed three throws from Dirk, missed dunks, turnovers, blown defensive assignments.
At the end of the game, the Mavs missed several opportunities to make it a one-possession game. Yes, Dallas is 4 games over .500 and the Knicks performed admirably on the road. But the Mavs were dreadful tonight.
- That said, there’s also this: The Knicks just went 2-1 in three road games against teams that are a combined 67-36. They were also a few bouncing balls (and one boneheaded shot) away from conceivably going 3-0 and beating the Spurs and Rockets on back-to-back nights.
It’s too early to tell whether this team has turned the corner. But at least, for now, it has stopped driving on the wrong side of the road.