Author’s Note: Tonight my wife and I had dinner at her folks’ place, about 20 minutes from where we live. Which worked out pretty well: Like his daughter, my father in law, Tom, is a huge Celtics fan. As such — and despite the Cs doing battle with the pesky Pacers at the same time — they were more than happy to let me watch the first half of the Knicks-Heat game after we’d eaten dinner. Under one condition: Tom got to chime in for all the player grades.
|Amare Stoudemire, PF 38 MIN | 5-14 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 3 AST | 12 PTS | -5
Amar’e Dangerfield, as he will heretofore be known (the total lack of zebra respect never ceases to amaze me). Stoudemire did his best to show solidarity with hobbled front court mate Carmelo Anthony – self-sidelined with nagging wrist and ankle – by bravely deciding to not play basketball in the first half. But someone (I’m guessing Herb Williams, via nothing buy laser-eyed stares) must’ve sparked Stat’s J at the half, because Amare’ looked better from mid-range in the final two stanzas than he has maybe all season. Despite the few-and-far-between flashes, however, this wasn’t exactly the rising-to-the-occasion that many of us either hoped or expected.
Tom: “Hey, we have an All-Star power forward! Let’s make sure he never touches the ball!
|Landry Fields, G 34 MIN | 4-12 FG | 4-4 FT | 7 REB | 5 AST | 14 PTS | -1
About five minutes into the game, it was easy to imagine Landry mumbling to himself that he should be playing a 7th red-shirted year at Stanford right now. Such was the extent to which our loveable ruffian is — and was — simply outclassed on the wing tonight. Nevertheless, Landry managed to Lego together a nice, multi-colored keep – on paper, anyway – lending more credence to the notion that he’s back to some semblance of form.
Tom: “He’s a pretty good player… For a second round pick.”
|Tyson Chandler, C 39 MIN | 2-3 FG | 5-8 FT | 12 REB | 1 AST | 9 PTS | -4
I’m not sure how many more times Chandler can tolerate setting solid picks at the high post, rolling in textbook fashion rim-ward, and somehow not be rewarded by whichever plebe guard happens to be standing their trying to braid the ball’s hair. Tyson easily could’ve had four or five dunks to go along with his already rock-steady line. And then there’s his psychological — and at times physical — abuse of Chris Bosh, which exactly 190% of the basketball-ignorant population could predict simply by looking at side-by-side headshots of the two.
Tom: “Here’s what I’d do: Give the ball to Tyson Chandler and let him stuff it on Joel Anthony’s face every time down the floor.”
|Toney Douglas, PG 36 MIN | 6-18 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 5 AST | 16 PTS | -5
If what we’ve seen of Douglas this year – and particularly the last few games – is any indication of what we can expect in the next 15 months of his recently option-exercised contract, I might seriously consider holding up a string car washes and strip clubs until I have enough money to buy him out of his contract myself.
Tom: “He’s %&*!@#^* terrible!”
|Iman Shumpert, G 20 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 5 PTS | -14
I’m just going to start calling three-point shots with one foot near or on the line “Shumpers.” The effort – particularly on the defensive end – is never anything short of balls-to-wall, and tonight was no exception. As for the court awareness, shot selection, ability to control his body in traffic, and finishing on contested dunks? That craft remains the dual proprietorship of two of the guys in white.
Tom: “I like him. He’s a chucker who can’t shoot, but I like him.”
|Mike Bibby, PG 13 MIN | 2-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 6 PTS | -9
Bibby didn’t do too much in this one – hit a couple threes, made a handful of nice, crisp passes, tried to bite Norris Cole’s neck. But if that charge he took on LeBron James at the end of the third quarter doesn’t win him a Purple Heart, Medal of Honor, ESPY, and free oxycontin for life, there is no God.
Tom: “Do I like Mike Bibby?…”
|Jared Jeffries, PF 19 MIN | 0-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 0 PTS | -11
I don’t really have an opinion on Jared Jeffries.
Tom: “I don’t really have an opinion on Jared Jeffries.”
|Steve Novak, SF 9 MIN | 2-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | -4
You can see how savant three-point shooters get to be that way.
Tom: “I love this guy Shizma or what’s his name on the Celtics…. Stiemsma? Whatever… Boy that Novak hasn’t seen a shot he doesn’t love, huh?.”
|Bill Walker, SG 31 MIN | 7-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 21 PTS | +3
For a while there, it looked like it was going to be another Arbor Mist vintage Bill Walker performance: Pick up ball after one dribble, throw ball directly into opponent’s hands, foul opponent in transition, rinse, repeat. But something funny happened on the way to KnickerBlogger postgame wrath: Billy went bananas. Yes, he scored all 21 of his points on threes. Yes, he made a handful of passes and moves that would likely get you bludgeoned in the wrong street game. But Walker also played harder on defense than I’ve seen him play all year, taking turns in both the LeBron and Dwayne torture chambers and playing – I loath this statement worse than an ass rash – whistle to whistle every time.
Tom: “Bill Walker’s a good player — always liked him.”
Five Things We Saw
- The Miami Heat enjoy forcefully throwing the ball through the rim. Right from the go-get, the Knicks seemed pretty intent on tricking the Heat into a Jordan vs. Bird three-point shoot-out. As such, Miami had their way inside, particularly on slashes from James and Wade, the latter of whom actually made me want to break my own ankle, just to see if two weeks later I could jump over people’s heads. Meanwhile, the Heat seemed content with letting the Knicks launch from deep. And launch they did! Forty-three of them, to be exact — something that’s only been done seven times since the arc’s advent. In the end, 54 of the Knicks’ 89 points would come from deep, which is the most awesomely depressing basketball statistic I’ve read all year.
- So much for Carmelo Anthony being the raison d’etre for Amar’e Stoudemire’s cliff plummet. I’ve been arguing nonstop these last few weeks that Stat’s woes are more the product of systemic crises than they are any rotting of talent. And I still believe that. Mostly. But when I see Stat do the same stupid shit without Melo on the floor as with him, doubt can’t help but pay a visit. After hearing me react to Iman Shumpert shoveling a pass to Amar’e on the break by yelling “NO-WHATAREYOUDOINGWHATAREYOUDOINGWHATAREYOUDOING!?!?!?!” (mind you, a full second or two before Stat even made a move) only to see Stat do exactly what me and millions of others knew he would do — give the ball to the other team — even my wife knows what I’m talking about here.
- When I can hear Knicks fans chant “air ball,” you have a terrible crowd.
- That pin-down screen they ran for Steve Novak is pretty nifty. In fact, it’s the kind of play they should be running for Melo more, and – as it was for Novak – in the flow of the offense.
- The next person I hear / see say / tweet that this was a “moral victory” should have their feet put in a blender. Losing is losing — it never gets any more fun.