Knicks (plus one Yahweh) 100, Bulls 99
|Carmelo Anthony, SF 47 MIN | 16-31 FG | 7-9 FT | 7 REB | 3 AST | 43 PTS | +5
RESURRECTION NARRATIVE #1: Wherein a much maligned franchise cornerstone slogging through the worst statistical season of his career – and struggling to endear himself to a fan base lusting for tough ciphers – rises to the mammoth occasion. After banging home his first five shots, you just had the feeling that it was going to be one of those games for Carmelo Anthony. He’d hit something of a dry spell for most of the next three quarters, but with the game on the line – and the seasons’ chips pushed to the table’s shaky center – Melo straight up heroed the shit out of the joint down the stretch, a sequence punctuated by a pair of stupid 25-foot threes from the right wing (both of which, it should be noted, he got fouled on).
The way things were going, this could have easily been the point at which the Knicks’ season lost its momentum and sputtered to a Playoff-less stop. Instead, the ‘Bockers could very well look back at Easter Sunday as the moment where an entire franchise found itself risen.
|Landry Fields, G 29 MIN | 5-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 10 PTS | +11
It must be a hell of a thing to be having what amounts to a solid, well-rounded game — no issue-forcing, relatively few mistakes, a couple of timely buckets — only to be forced to watch as J.R. Smith goes into full on sabotage mode for a large portion of the second half. Maybe Woodson doesn’t get Landry’s jokes. Maybe Landry’s been courting Woody’s daughters. Whatever the reason, Stanford’s sparse crunch time minutes of late (Woodson even claimed to have “forgotten” about him during the game in Indiana), are a little strange, given his recent streak of clearly sucking far less than J.R. Smith.
|Tyson Chandler, C 44 MIN | 3-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 16 REB | 0 AST | 8 PTS | +15
RESURRECTION NARRATIVE #2: Wherein a people’s spiritual leader is felled, the people fear their demise, and their anchor returns, hobbled but happy. Be honest. When Chandler left the game in the second quarter with what looked like a separated shoulder – why with his cable-like arm in a dead dangle – you thought about walking very briskly towards the nearest ten-story building. Mercifully, it was only an elbow contusion, hich apparently doesn’t register high enough on the pain-o-meter to stop a dude from snagging 10 offensive rebounds, diving to the floor twice in a 15-second sequence, and saving enough possessions to single-handedly keep his team in the game. It’s gotten to the point where even my wife is considering naming our firstborn Tyson. Yes, even if it’s a girl.
|Baron Davis, PG 21 MIN | 1-7 FG | 0-2 FT | 0 REB | 4 AST | 2 PTS | -6
RESURRECTION NARRATIVE #3: Wherein the risen tries to leave the cave, only to have the entrance-sealing boulder roll on top of him, crushing him for all eternity. Look, just because you’re not turning the ball over like a third grader doesn’t necessarily mean you aren’t crippling your team. Davis continued his season of awfulness – he’s scored in double digits twice this year, folks…. TWICE! – by piecing together another shit mosaic of off-balance jumpers, clanks, air balls, and papier mache D. Unfortunately, with Jeremy Lin likely out for the first round of the Playoffs, we’re left to sink or swim with a point guard who makes me — not even 30 — feel older than dirt.
|Iman Shumpert, G 45 MIN | 5-14 FG | 3-3 FT | 9 REB | 6 AST | 15 PTS | +9
Today and tomorrow, the focus and the accolades will fall on Carmelo Anthony — and rightly so. But Shumpert’s performance — most chiefly his amazing clampdown of Derrick Rose on a number of key possessions — was just as much of a catalyst. The fact that this guy wasn’t even invited to the Rookie-Sophs game goes down, in my mind anyway, as one of the most criminal of anti-Knick hatchet jobs. But if that meant the kind of shoulder chip capable of driving our rapacious rook to higher and higher levels of rage-fueled production, then so be it. He got burned a couple of times navigating screens, and his foul on Rose’s near-dagger of a four-point play could very well have been the Knicks’ knell of death, but on the whole this was something of a coming out party for Shump. Just so long as he never passes up a wide open three to make the extra pass to a 3-15 J.R. Smith, we cool.
|Jared Jeffries, PF 11 MIN | 2-5 FG | 2-4 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | -13
RESURRECTION NARRATIVE #4, Wherein a once-vilified, suddenly indispensable misfit returns to prevent total destruction. If 2012 Jim were to Marty McFly his way to 2011 Jim, just to warn him that there would come a point in the following season where the loss of Jared Jeffries would put the team’s Playoff hopes in serious jeopardy, 2011 Jim would probably have stopped doing recreational drugs. JJ’s knee and calf looked pretty alright to me, which bodes well for a team that’s struggled lately to keep the board-beasting Bulls off the glass.
|Steve Novak, SF 22 MIN | 0-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -8
Hey, sometimes even a toothless frog can break the lamp. It’s an old Irish proverb. Look it up.
At least Novak didn’t let a bad target practice get in the way of some pretty serviceable D. Besides, it’s pretty hard to argue against a fickle Fortuna when your potential game-tying three rolls all the way around the rim — twice — before inexplicably popping out.
|J.R. Smith, SG 37 MIN | 6-22 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 14 PTS | -6
The only thing worse than reliving this performance would be if it came to light that an upright, human-sized rabbit didn’t actually deliver this basket full of sugar and money. Make no mistake: If they Knicks had lost — and they probably should have — Earl of Brickton would’ve had to dig a tunnel through the locker room and out of the Garden using nothing but his own teeth. It wasn’t the first time we’ve seen Smith succumb to the double-edged shooter’s sword; but it certainly was the most jarring. I’m told the United Nations was seriously considering declaring a cease fire and sending in a peacekeeping mission (the U.S. vetoed the measure,) as Smith missed seven consecutive shots during one particularly craptastic stretch in the second half. In short, if I ever see this J.R. Smith again, it’d better be at Rucker or on my rec league team, where he’d still be besting the next best field goal percentage by a couple thousand points.
|Toney Douglas, PG 9 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -2
For someone who’s made shooting a pillar of his game, Toney’s mechanics are about as bent as you can get – his elbow has a tendency to pop out, his release point is too high, and he almost never sticks his hand in the cookie jar (tee-hee!). We’re happy he’s back getting burn, and his defense – something that’s more a matter of will than skill anyway – remains staunch. But there are plenty of skull cobwebs that still need to be vacuumed out.
|Mike Bibby, PG DNP COACH’S DECISION MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | PTS |
Hey, God’s magic is only so powerful.
Five Things We Saw
- If we are indeed destined to meet Los Bulls in round 1, someone’s gonna have to do something about the rebounding “issue.” Once again the Bulls rooted out and jumped over, through, and around the Knicks en route to a 59-47 edge on the boards.
- It seems as though Derrick Rose has recovered nicely from his injuries. But while the reigning MVP certainly came close to making his one of the more devastating — and crippling, as far as the Knicks’ momentum is concerned — injury returns in recent memory, the efforts of Shumpert et. al forced D-Rose to really work to get his. I’ll take 29 Derrick Rose points every game, so long as it’s taking him 26 shots to get there.
- Once again, the Knicks managed to take pretty good care of the ball, committing but a dozen turnovers and keeping the cute passes and awful gambits squarely in their back pockets. Against the league’s number one defense, that ain’t half bad, and serves as further proof that the Bulls likely want nothing to do with a seven game series against these 90′s harkening ‘Bockers.
- Joakim Noah is a mooncalf.
- RESURRECTION NARRATIVE #5: Wherein a people long mired in the mud of history’s disappointment take divine countenance as glimpse into their fortune’s future. Not only did the Knicks come out on the high side of far and away the best NBA game of the year; they did so in a way that suggested they — everyone, from Melo on down — truly understood the gravity of the moment, and the sense of urgency inherent therein. From Shumpert’s inspiring D to Melo finally — even if it’s fleeting — winning over the Garden crowd, it was the kind of game that made me truly proud to be a Knicks fan.
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.