|Amar’e Stoudemire, PF 29 MIN | 8-15 FG | 5-6 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 21 PTS | +8
Yeah, STAT’s gotten better on defense. Hey, look! A flying pig! We still saw a sequence or two where he loses track of dribble penetration and does that “I’M STICKING WITH MY MAN SO THAT’S GOOD, RIGHT YOU GUYS? CAN’T BLAME ME, BECAUSE YOU LIKE TOLD ME TO GUARD THIS GUY AND I’M TOTALLY DOING THAT, SEE?” thing, but he’s definitely boxing out better and he’s feeling good enough about his please-don’t-look-at-those-full-color-photos-in-the-medical-textbook-because-you’ll-wince/recoil/shudder knees that he’s ready to uncoil and block the occasional shot. And I love that he’s confidently taking pick and pop jumpers, either from Felton or after the defense collapses on Melo. In addition to being all spry and vim and vigor-ish, he just looks so much more confident, which is a weird thing to say about a chap who uses the word “phenomenal” as often as the Smurfs say “Smurf-ish/y/tastic”
|Carmelo Anthony, SF 43 MIN | 12-23 FG | 10-12 FT | 3 REB | 5 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 34 PTS | +13
Just a hard-workin’, muscular effort from Melo. He shrugged off really good defenders (like the Starks-ian [4-17] Paul George) and lesser ones, like our old friend Chris Copeland alike. Speaking of which, thanks for bricking two wide-open corner threes, buddy. ONCE A KNICK, ALWAYS…something, but you have to have felt a twang of nostalgia/regret watching Melo face up Cope and pound him until he resembled a substance that most closely resembles Guacamole in terms of color and texture.
Anyhoo, after George picked up his fourth foul, Vogel threw a passel of dudes who were either too small (Evan Turner) or too ornery (“Born Ready”) to corral Anthony in any way, shape or form. The funnest part was watching a near carbon copy of the series-changing swat, ‘cept this time Melo was just a tad more slithery in putting George in the blender before exploding to the rim. Yes, after a grueling six-game series, that’s to be expected. Still, it was kewl.
Slightly less giddily piquant was, you might have missed this little bit o’ sideline/timeout palaver. In case you were watching on ESPN, here’s what went down.
Which, yeah. If you or I or a even Franciscan monk that was really, really dedicated to the whole ‘vow of silence’ thing had to deal with Son of Wood’s boolsheeeeet, we’d have blown a gasket 15-20 games ago.
UPDATE: According to the Wall St. Journal’s Christophe Clupea, it wasn’t really Melo throwing shade, just a weirdly timed exhortation.
Not to get all Zapruder film with this ish, but it seems that Woodson is reacting, not out of animosity or because there’s an actual beef, but just because of the volume/tone. Will there be KnicksDrama™ about this? Yes. Yes there will.
But hey, five assists (and the ‘Bockers are 17-7 when he dishes four or more) and some solid defense, whether he was tusslin’ with West or keeping a hesitant, insecure PG in front of him, and some screamy, Rockne-esque timeout screams equals a nifty night.
|Tyson Chandler, C 39 MIN | 2-5 FG | 3-4 FT | 14 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 7 PTS | +5
The slew of patented Chandler-brand tip-outs, leading to six offensive rebounds in the 1st quarter (they average 11 per) were a big factor in amassing 21-14 lead, even though they shot a robust 6-25 from the field. There was a chasedown/recovery block of George (man, did he have a shitty night) and another on Hibbert during a critical stretch in the fourth. The Cornfielders were doing there usual funnel pick and rolls to Hibbert in the middle thing, and as a result, there were scant opportunities for TysonSmashing (is that a thing? It should be a thing), but that three man/double handoff weave play worked like a positively slathered in extra-virgin olive oiled machine.
|Raymond Felton, PG 28 MIN | 4-11 FG | 2-3 FT | 6 REB | 6 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | +5
When Felton makes a tough shot, the game’s over y’all. Usually it’s one of those powerful ugly free throw line floaters. Tonight, it was a banked trey after a thoroughly discombobulated, ISO-tastic possession as the shot clock expired The Knicks really should’ve just drop the collective mic and walk off the court.
|J.R. Smith, SG 29 MIN | 3-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 7 PTS | +7
I have zero notes regarding J.R. Smith. Ye Olde Boxscore indicates that he played, and that he missed a lot of shots, but I must have missed them all. I dunno, help me out here, people.
|Cole Aldrich, C 9 MIN | 0-2 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | -2
I’m sure you all heard the chatter about what current Knickerbockers catch Philip’s fancy. Melo, Shump, Chandler, Hardaway and…Cole Aldrich? Sure. 35% DREB rate, best in the NBA. Sort of looks like a child’s drawing of a walrus. May have a body that’s entirely composed of blancmange, but yeah. Cole train, baby! So, whether it’s to curry favor with the team’s new Zen Overlord, or it’s to have a slightly bigger (bigger than Jeremy Tyler, at least, who yes, has been struggling of late) body to fling in front of Hibbert, Cole (who Doug Collins kept calling “Cold” instead) was the first PF/C off the pine.
It did not go well.
Said blancmange was thoroughly cooked by Hibbert. Maybe it’s the dirty water hot dogs or he saw Wicked for the 23rd time last night, but the dude just turns into Olajuwon in the post whenever he sets foot upon the Isle of the Manhattoes. 14 freaking 3rd quarter points, lefty hooks, righty hooks, face up jumpers: everything found the bottom of the net. Some of that falls squarely on Aldrich’s buzzcut. And please, stop trying to dunk on people. His inability to judge either the distance to the rim or his own ability to elevate brought back all those bad Bargs memories. Hey, remember Bargs? Hehe. That was awful. Bad times, bad times…
|Shannon Brown, PG 0 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | 0
Shannon Brown Anagram: BRAN, NON SHOWN.
|Pablo Prigioni, PG 20 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | +1
Be honest, when Pablo scored that breakaway layup, you too could just tell that every single fiber of his being was screaming for someone, anyone to dish it off to. I half expected him to breakdown in halting, jagged tears.
|Iman Shumpert, SG 29 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | -4
Shump did a nifty job of sticking with George no matter how many organ-rearranging screens West et al. set, keeping him on the perimeter. But seriously, not-Knicks basketball teams, STOP HITTING SHUMPERT IN THE FACE. He got clocked at least twice tonight, and I all I wanted was to get sucked into my computer, Tron-style to scream “J’Accuse!” at Vogel. In closing, stop hitting Shumpert in the face.
|Tim Hardaway Jr., SG 15 MIN | 0-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -3
Sometimes, you miss. After averaging 23 points the past three games, Timmy the Younger got…(checks math) two garbage time charity stripe points. There were a couple of those cringe-worthy, off-balance dribble pull ups, but mostly he just bricked shots he was hitting.
“Absolutely I can teach it. But it’d be even better if he helped me teach it. That would be great. Who would be better at teaching the triangle than Phil Jackson? So if that be the case and I get that opportunity, sure, I think, I know I can teach the triangle offense. It’s basketball. It’s what we do.”
Psst, Mike. You’re trying too hard to suck up to the new boss. PS: PHIL JACKSON IS THE NEW BOSS. IT’S STILL AWESOME.
Five Things We Saw
- So hey, seven in a row! The Knicks started out the first looking downright tense, as if Phil’s aura was giving all of them a terminal case of bad vibes, (EDITOR’S NOTE: There will be a noted increase in hippie/drug jokes from hence forward. I had a whole bit about the hours that Phil spent pregame burning sage and ripping the leather off of a few front row seats to cobble together a makeshift Native American costume that was required for the mystic rites/dances to purge the Mecca of 14+ years of evil spirits and bad juju. It got a little long, so that summary will have to suffice. Just be aware that ish like that’s coming down the pike on the regular. Cost of doing business, yo.) but the Hicks were playing poopy enough that it didn’t really matter. There were so many freaking unforced, sloppy turnovers, and the Knicks were hitting the glass hard enough that they were able to build a solid 16-point lead. The fact that they went on an 8-0 run to make it 35-23 occurred at the exact moment that our giddy, effervescent POTNYK was chatting with the ESPN sideline reporter did not go unnoticed ‘round these parts.
- The rest of the contest saw that lead slowly but surely dwindle. The Pacers stopped coughing up the rock, and the Knicks scurried away from the offensive glass like it was the Chicago Riot Police in ‘68 (See?). Things got really, really ISO’y down the stretch, but Melo and STAT bailed them out enough for the win. Yay!
- And James Dolan, the man that went seven freaking years without speaking to the ink-stained wretches, did a sideline interview. Really. This is a thing that happened. He looked a little shaky, and once again repeated his “I don’t know anything about basketball” line, which, duh. But he did okay, and in his awkwardness seemed far more human than I’d imagined possible. Don’t get me wrong; he’s still an evil shit for reasons that have nothing to do with basketball. Read up about how he treats unions, or low-level employees if you care to delve, and there’s something kind of unseemly about this public victory lap (especially when he hasn’t won anything except for a PR war). But hey, maybe he’s learning. There is no such thing as a clean slate, but people can change and grow, or at least realize when it’s time to get the fuck out of the way.
- Speaking of which, optimism and/or hope. I wrote a long thing over at the Daily Beast about why this probably won’t work and money and the Wire and a bunch of other stuff. That’s my logical take on all this. The fan in me, however, is absolutely over the moon. I like having a guy in charge who is competent and smart and when he says he has a plan, it’s not just a marketing slogan (of course, it is a marketing slogan, and a very good one. Let’s just say it’s both.) I like the idea of connecting to the past, even if again, that too is just another means to separate you and I from the ducats in our pocket.
- I was having this convo on the Twitter about the draft, and the proposed ‘wheel’ modification, and friend-of-the-blog netw3rk (I’m paraphrasing) said something super smart—that fandom isn’t about the pleasure in watching managerial or systemic competence. If you take away the lottery, yes you probably could devise a better way of allocating the top prospects, but you’d kill the hope that the tanking teams have, that they can somehow luck their way into an Anthony Davis. And that you’re never going to achieve total competence, with 30 clones of the Spurs anyway, so why destroy the dreams of a good portion of your consumer base. He’s right. Phil Jackson gives this franchise hope. And as recently as two weeks ago, I didn’t think that was possible. I know I’ve slung the line “Hope is the sharpest, cruelest knife in fate’s kitchen drawer” ‘round these parts in the past. It’s still true, but hope is also a good thing, especially if hope is all we/you have.
So for these cats, who (bless their hearts) still trudged down to 7th Avenue to protest, I feel your #feels, but seriously awful timing, bros.
And yeah, that was sad. All American protests are inherently sad, maybe because we know that the powers that be (especially when it’s about something far more important than a freaking basketball team) just don’t give a fuck. So come back into the fold, guys. Maybe, just maybe, it’ll be all right.
I’m interested to see what Phil Jackson will do, and I really like Phil Jackson the human being. For now, that’s enough.