|Carmelo Anthony, SF 28 MIN | 7-16 FG | 3-4 FT | 6 REB | 3 AST | 17 PTS | 0
Based on Melo’s first shot – launched with all the grace and glamor of a cement canon ball – it looked as though my “pay-a-Knick-to-tank” plan was poised to prosper… Until he blew by Caron Butler for a two-handed dunk and pull-up like 10 seconds later, and then promptly stole the ball on the other end. The next 26 or so minutes of burn were largely in keeping with Melo’s M.O. of late: a jubilee of mid-range daggers and confident drives, combined with an ever-growing defensive acumen he’ll need duly sharpened if he hopes to keep LBJ from turning us into woodchips in the first round.
|Amare Stoudemire, PF 29 MIN | 4-9 FG | 2-3 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 10 PTS | +1
Who knew that braiding your hair like 17-year old Amar’e would end up giving you 17-year-old Amare’s game? I wasn’t able to watch Stat’s 22-point, 12-board Sunday matinee performance against the Hawks, but after watching him tonight, I have to wonder, who exactly was guarding him? Uwe Blabb? Jon Koncak?… Jon Koncak? He looked a little better being the focal point of the second unit during a few third quarter spurts. But his lift, while present in flashes — a nice feed from Melo for a second quarter flush being the prettiest instance — is still inconsistent, and he looked genuinely shocked after finding out that that DeAndre Jordan statue he was guarding could actually move, and dunk a basketball.
But that all just begs the question: should the Knicks consider bringing Stat off the bench? I’ll have a Times piece tomorrow on this very subject. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go stock up on canned goods and hammer multiple pieces of double-thick plywood to my doors and windows.
|Tyson Chandler, C 32 MIN | 2-4 FG | 7-10 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 11 PTS | +1
Yet another negative side effect of Stat’s return: Chandler being forced to man up the smaller, spryer, patch beard-ier Blake Griffin. Save for a few embarrassing head fakes and helpless blow-bys, Chandler didn’t do a half-bad job. Problem is, Griffin pulled him far enough away from the tin to render his board crashing mostly moot. Still, why he was put back in down the stretch isn’t exactly clear. If Woodson has any sense at all, he’ll rest the ‘Bocker bulwark tomorrow. And by “rest,” I mean “dangle sticks of raw meat and various Heat boxer shorts through his eight-foot square cage.”
|Baron Davis, PG 19 MIN | 5-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 12 PTS | -9
After that first tear drop fell five feet short, you had a feeling this would be one of those games for the bearded court marshal. Instead, sparked by a more truly aimed floater seconds later, Davis did a decent job of picking his spots, hit a pair of timely threes, and was fairly effective at keeping the offensively inept Eric Bledsoe from wreaking havoc. We keep waiting for that vintage 20-10 game — it seems he’s either scoring or distributing, and never both at the same time — and maybe he’s saving one or two for the Heat.
|Iman Shumpert, G 24 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 6 PTS | -1
Randy Foye’s totally predictable wet shooting night aside, Shump seemed especially invested in “not losing for the more advantageous match-up” tonight. He once again appeared to tweak an ankle, which I’d probably be alarmed about if it weren’t the 65th time it’s happened already this year. By far the most memorably Shump-tastic sequence came late in the second, when he followed up a deflection-steal into a one-handed slam off a Melo miss on the other end.
|Mike Bibby, PG 21 MIN | 0-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 5 AST | 0 PTS | +11
Mike Bibby’s not dumb. Mike Bibby knows that when coach puts you in down the stretch of a game whose outcome means little more than a chance to take Playoff seeding in your own hands — and that losing said game would make for a better draw — you try and lose the shit out of it. Alas, Bibby’s effort was all for naught. He might not be putting up spectacular numbers, but his relative lack of boneheaded turnovers, combined with an undeniable Playoff pedigree, means we’ll likely be seeing more of the vampish vet in the next few weeks. Aaaaaaand my nose is bleeding.
|Dan Gadzuric, C 8 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -2
Alright, so Gadzanity didn’t get off to quite the rocket-propelled start of its anity brethren. So Gadzuric looks barely capable of jumping over a pamphlet of famous Jewish sports stars (#airplanejokealert). So the fact that I remember when Gadzuric played at UCLA makes me feel older than dirt. At least he’s….. a warm-ish body.
|Steve Novak, SF 27 MIN | 4-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 14 PTS | +14
In my heart of hearts, I honestly believe Novak was trying to miss those last couple treys. His muscle memory is just machine-like, at this point; there’s nothing his brain or will can do about it.
|J.R. Smith, SG 30 MIN | 7-13 FG | 4-4 FT | 2 REB | 5 AST | 21 PTS | +13
Of course J.R. Smith shoots 7-13 with five dimes the one night we could’ve used him hoisting contested 22-footers like skipping stones. To the extent that there’s something genuine to be said for getting your units in rhythm in time for the Playoffs, it was encouraging to see J.R. keep up his efficient, heads-up play of late, even if that night included securing the “foul other dudes on three point attempts” crown. Deft dishes, steel-bolted D — it was all there for the mercurial Smith. And you gotta love a guy who turns a steal into a transition contested floater with a teammate trailing – and makes it.
|Landry Fields, G 22 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-1 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 8 PTS | +2
Like my #6 Fields tee-shirt, it looks like Landry-as-starter is poised for permanent obsolescence. The good news is Stanford looked to take the new role in spry stride, piecing together an efficient game replete with mismatch exploitations and some nice transition buckets. If anyone’s going to keep his head up in spite of a rookie’s rotation leapfrog, it’s this guy. I for one expect great things out of him when we play the Bulls in the GOD DAAAAAAAAMNIT!
Five Things We Saw
- A Bobcats loss in the Land of Disney meant that, roughly mid way through the third quarter, the Knicks were looking at no better than the seventh seed, and a first round tango with the Heatles. Coupled with Philly’s win in Milwaukee, the Bockers’ prospects for falling back to the 8th seed — and a more favorable frolic with the hobbled Bulls — just took a severe hit. It’s possible the Bobcats could come out tomorrow and pull of an unlikely, season-ending win, snapping their NBA record 29-game losing streak and ending one of the worst campaigns in modern pro sports history on something of a high note. It’s also possible that I could wake up tomorrow to find my cat cooking me an omelet. Who the hell are we kidding? #beattheheat
- Speaking of Charlotte, I was actually in North Carolina for a wedding last weekend. My wife and I spent quite a bit of time out and about — not in Charlotte particularly, but thereabouts — and I’m not kidding when I say that I saw exactly ONE piece of Bobcat paraphernalia all weekend: A D.J. Augustin jersey, worn by some hapless ten year old kid, probably because it was the last clean thing in his closet. I saw 15 times as many Davidson Wildcats tee shirts. It’s like they don’t exist!
- File this one under “Keep it Up, Plz”: The Knicks committed but eight turnovers tonight, helping offset deficits on both the boards (40-36) and overall shooting. If there’s one thing the Knicks should look to hone in these last few games, it’s ball control. With Miami’s Flying Death Machine waiting in the wings, if I were Woodson I’d be giving everyone a ball to carry around for the next four days. Anyone seen losing it or getting it knocked out of their hands, has to sit front row at JD &The Straight Shot’s next gig. Wearing the band’s tee shirt.
- Honestly, who didn’t see this Randy Foye performance coming from a mile away? Of course, it doesn’t help when your $100 million power forward aids your foe’s cause by LITERALLY STEPPING OUT OF THE WAY TO GIVE THEM A CLEAN, SHOT-CLOCK BEATING LOOK. Regardless, his spot on the All Knick-Killer Team is secure.
- “Aaaaand starting for the Knicks tonight, Dan Gadzuric, and Toney Douglas!” – Charlotte TV guy, tomorrow night probably