|Carmelo Anthony, SF 35 MIN | 11-21 FG | 6-6 FT | 7 REB | 4 AST | 33 PTS | +15
There’s a rather clunky bit of statistical analysis that’s been bouncing around for a few years which more or less says that the “Hot Hand” doesn’t really exist — that no matter how many home runs a slugger belts in a week, no matter how many games in a row a team wins, the likelihood of success in the next at-bat or the next game is no different than it is when no hot streak exists and a hot streak is simply an expected variation in an extended, observable pattern of events, the way a coin is likely to come up heads 10 times in a row at some point if you toss it 10,000 times. That’s all fine and dandy, but I’ve done some performing (non-sporting variety) and I have to say, that’s a load of bunk. I’ve been in the zone and it definitely exists. After 21 glorious first quarter points, ‘Melo appeared to have taken up permanent residence. Alas, he seriously cooled off the rest of the game, going 5-15 after canning his first six shots, but like Jimmy C said last night, this is the most potent offensive display ‘Bocker-backers have seen since the reign of the one true King. And the chase-down, LeBron-style block? Just scrumptious.
|Landry Fields, G 19 MIN | 1-5 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 3 PTS | +14
So this is the new normal for our former 2nd round wunderkind, it seems — one or two swell passes and passable defense thoroughly offset by enough bricks to build a comfortably-sized 4-storey brownstone on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. He’s a starter in name only, at this point, but I can’t imagine Landry will even be permitted to hold on to that nom de guerre if STAT’s starting. Like Poor Toney Douglas, I remain baffled by the utter deterioration of his game.
|Tyson Chandler, C 37 MIN | 5-7 FG | 8-11 FT | 10 REB | 2 AST | 18 PTS | +21
Another dandy set of numbers for Tyson, even if to the naked eye, it didn’t seem like his most dominating effort. Like many of his mates, he started off absolutely punishing the Nets but Soon of Wood must eased off the throttle on the “KILL-DESTROY-ANNIHILATE” lever on T-1000.
|Mike Bibby, PG 36 MIN | 3-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 8 AST | 8 PTS | +18
Well that was pleasant. With Baron Davis sitting with a case of NetsTankingAnywayCouldUseTheNightOffitis, Bibby got his second start of the season and certainly outperformed expectations. He pushed the tempo, wasn’t obliterated on D (though shutting down the likes of Sundiata Gaines and Armon Johnson isn’t exactly the first line on an all-defensive first team resume) and performed ran the pick and roll. It may sound like I’m damning him with faint praise, but considering the Nietzschean collection of the bungled (Baron) and the botched (Toney) that have manned the point, an 8 point, 8 dime effort looks mighty fine. He may be living on his rep, but Bibby does at least force an opponent to stick with him at the three point line.
Wait, am I trying to convince myself that Deadpool here should be starting? I’m sorry. The ball peen hammer I was whacking my forehead with as the Knicks threatened to blow the game clearly inflicted some serious cranial/cerebral damage. I apolosrgze in advance for any other errurs I makes in recap this.
|Iman Shumpert, G 28 MIN | 4-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 5 AST | 8 PTS | -1
I remain anxious about Shump’s ankle. If this team has any hope of dealing with those godawful brutes at the top of the Eastern Conference in the playoffs, they’re going to need Iman to be at his thousand-limbed best. I can only hope that he stopped beating people off the dribble because of the, “Ha. This is a professional team? Really?!?” info banner that was just as plastered his forehead as it was to every other Knick and not because of a gammy limb.
|Steve Novak, SF 27 MIN | 3-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 9 PTS | +13
Some timely treys notwithstanding, Novak’s hot hand (where have I heard that before?) didn’t travel well on the bus to Newark. Then again, nothing travels well on a bus ride to Newark, save for some mold-based life forms in and around the porcelain commodes in the back. One other thing — I’ve been consistently impressed with Novak’s defense. You expect him to be a total sieve, if only because of the “slope-shouldered, relatively un-athletic, looks-like-he should-be-preparing-potential-returns-to-audit-in-a-windowless-fluorescent-lit-office-in-a-sub-basement-of-a-particularly-musty-IRS-office-in-Peoria,IL-if-he-wasn’t-6’10″ thing but even when he switches up and is guarding either a smaller, faster player like Rondo or a bigger, stronger player like Garnett, he does a decent job of forcing said player into a tough/contested shot. These moments are inevitably met with outright shock on the part of Breen or whomever is calling the game, like seeing a pygmy marmot recite Proust, but at this point, I think we have to start including Novak in any and all discussions about the Knicks vastly improved D. Or is this that brain damage/ball peen hammer thing again? Derp. Dorp.
|J.R. Smith, SG 30 MIN | 6-16 FG | 0-0 FT | 8 REB | 2 AST | 15 PTS | -7
You remember that game, like, the other day, when like every shot that like JR and stuff threw up went in like we were playing NBA Jam but instead of like a video game it was, you know, real people and we weren’t controlling them like the video game but it felt like it did because they were, like, awesome, and everything was going in and stuff? Good times, good times. Yeah, tonight was the other Earl — the one who fires contested shots with about 28 seconds left on the shot clock and either purposely ignores or is only vaguely conscious of open teammates he could swing the ball to. Like his mismatched buddy-cop bench mate above, he came through with some clutch hoops in the 4th to fend off those pesky Nets, but ’twas not one of his finer efforts. There’s been some blather about comparing him to John Starks (for better and for worse) but honestly, J.R. really reminds me of Jamal Crawford. Like Jamal, there will be nights when he can absolutely carry a team and others where you’re screaming “NOOOOOOOO!!!” in futility at the screen. It’d be nifty if we knew what to expect heading into the playoffs but then again, expecting consistency from a gentleman who has THIS…
…tattooed on his back is probably a fool’s errand. I’ll let Earl explain:
He’s surrounded by imaginary, other-sport playing. malicious, sneering, possibly psychotic clowns. No wonder it’s so hard to hit open shots. Those fictional characters are distracting and scary!
|Toney Douglas, PG 8 MIN | 0-2 FG | 3-4 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 3 PTS | -5
Ah Poor Toney. Like Mr. Fields above, I can’t say for sure what broke his shot, but you can see how it’s affected every other aspect of his game. You can see him thinking out there, and not in a good way. Sad face.
|Jerome Jordan, C 2 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -7
Hi Jerome! How was Erie?
|Bill Walker, SG 9 MIN | 1-3 FG | 1-1 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 3 PTS | -7
Is it just me, or did Billy pack on a few pounds during his extended hiatus?
|Josh Harrellson, F 8 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -9
It’d be swell if Jorts could recover his early-season form, because running Tyson out there for 40 mpg is like asking for trouble. For now, we’ll have to be content with his increasing resemblance to the high-larious Rod Farva of Super Troopers fame.
Five Things We Saw
- We all spend a lot of time kvetching about the trails we Knick fans have had to endure this past decade, but I can’t even imagine the degree of masochism it’d take to be a long-suffering Net devotee. Tonight,the SG feed cut to a ticker they were running of everyone who has ever suited up in a Nets uni. Ed O’Bannon, Dennis Hopson, Benoit Benjamin, Yinka Dare, Pearl Washington, Derrick Coleman, Kenny Anderson — it was like the Vietnam Memorial of NBA draft busts, wasted potential and tragic failure. This evening, the “home” crowd tossed off the “M-V-P” chant for Melo (one that to the best of my recollection he’s never heard in the Garden) and even booed the Jerseyites as they were introduced fer Chrissakes. I get that any and all diehards in attendance might be a tad peeved at having their team shanghaied to Hipsterville, but it wasn’t as if the cats on the floor had any say in the matter. Ouch. Speaking of pain, with about seven minutes to go in the fourth, there was a fat guy in the front row wearing the shirt that said “talk” who got bonked in the melon because he wasn’t paying attention and texting during the game…hehe. Good.
- I don’t know about you, but I’m not really used to rooting for a team that’s expected to curb-stomp bad teams, as has pretty much been the case during the brief reign of the great Mr. Potato Headed-high holy fearless leader. So maybe building a serious lead and then letting a lesser opponent claw their way back is par for the course. Still, there was enough rotational tomfoolery and casual indifference to have me pacing and chain-smoking more cancer sticks than J.R had shots. Maybe I’m hand-wringing over nothing, but take a look at the quarter-by-quarter splits under Woodson (via Jared Dubin):
That’s a problem. Like we saw in the Indiana game and even the 1st Chicago game where Melo (and some heinous foul shooting by the Bulls) saved their derrieres, a good team won’t squander opportunities. The Knicks got ahead by pushing the tempo. Why they reverted to walking the ball up as the game went on is beyond me.
- I get that they still won rather handily, but this is my forum for the evening so I’m going to continue to quibble about some disturbing trends. If I were the wagering type, I would have called my bookie and bet every penny (and it’s really just pennies at this point) left in my savings account that Novak/Smith wouldn’t reproduce their torrid shooting. It’s the old Pat Riley “Fool’s Gold” axiom. There will be nights when the shots rain down like manna from heaven and others when they rain down like a plague of frogs. They desperately need to unearth a play that’s not “Give the ball to Melo” that they can turn to consistently no matter how marvelously Anthony is playing right now. Which leads directly to my final point.
- …Friday is Amar’e Comes Back Day. And like clockwork, all the wags are nattering about how he’ll fit in. I’m far more concerned about his wonky back/general level of conditioning. But when Melo tosses off a post-game line like,”Who knows, I’ma still play my game, play the way I’ve been playing… As far as Amare he’ll come & fit right in…This is crunch time now so everybody’s just got to be on the same page & we make our run.” I get it. Not to overly parse Melo-speak, but it could easily be inferred as if he’s saying something to the effect of, “This is my team now and you’re going to have to take a backseat, good sir, whether you and your wonky spine like it or not.” We’ll see what happens. It’s good the Knicks don’t face any world beaters in the next few games because I predict (once again) that there’s going to be an adjustment period.
- And after all that, the Knicks are four games over .500 for the first time this season. Orlando lost to Boston, so the gap’s been reduced to three to avoid the two-headed MIA/CHI monster in Round One. Onward and Upward!