|Carmelo Anthony, SF 26 MIN | 9-15 FG | 5-6 FT | 5 REB | 6 AST | 25 PTS | +33
Oh, so THAT’s why you trade Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Ray Felton, Timofey Mozgov, Anthony Randolph, Eddy Curry, Eddy Curry’s Food Per Diem and two of Clyde Frazier’s panda-skin suits get this guy. I shudder whenever Kelly Tripucka (or any other members of the smart set) start dissecting “body language” but, if only for the optics, it sure was fun to see Melo play angry. His devastating mid-range game came storming back to the fore, he plain shredded the Magic at the tin and all the above was accomplished despite the fact that he’s clearly still hobbled by whichever Milwaukee Buck Rochambeau’d him…Wow. Just a dominant, complete performance on both ends. What’s that? Where has this been all season? Shut the hell up, that’s where!
|Landry Fields, G 28 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 6 PTS | 0
On a night when so many of his mates shone, Landry…well…he performed in a manner that was pretty much indistinguishable from every other game during the Knicks’ 8-1 run. He slashed to the basket, had a galling turnover and continued to receive increasingly threatening letters from The International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers for failure to pay back dues. Like a Global Warming denier, despite the mountain of evidence, I remain convinced that the Young Landry who banked 37% of his treys will return tout suite…Right? Y’all are with me. Hello? You guys still here? Anybody?
|Tyson Chandler, C 28 MIN | 4-4 FG | 1-2 FT | 9 REB | 1 AST | 9 PTS | +22
So here’s the deal. Our only other defensive big is out. The high-scoring all-star big who has been the team’s best player during the reign of the Potato-headed coach is also out. The point guard who fed you so many lobs…yeah. He’s out too. I know, not fun. But anyway, tonight, can you do us a solid and guard the league’s preeminent center one on one and make up for the fact that we’re undersized on the boards and make up for any defensive lapses in the backcourt/shoot 70%/run the high pick and roll/finish at the rim like you have all season? You can? Thanks. Sweet.
Oh, one more thing. I’m moving next week. It’s a fifth floor walk up, I’ve got a sofa unit that’s going to be tricky getting around the corners of the stairwell and I’ve got about 34 boxes of books. No, I’ve read them all, I just want to keep them. Can you…you know…You will? Awesome. We’re starting Saturday morning at 7am because I don’t want to pay an overage penalty on the truck. I’ll buy the coffee. See you then!
|Baron Davis, PG 25 MIN | 4-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 7 REB | 6 AST | 11 PTS | +32
There are still some persistent facial twitch-inducing aspects to the Baron’s game — the “Throw the ball in the vague direction of the hoop on the pick and roll” move, the “I’m going to dribble idly at the three point line and then launch one with the shot clock near zero” gambit to name two, but tonight was clearly his finest performance as a Knicks. I’m still considering converting because Jeremy Lin plummeted from the heavens and/or rafters, but it’s nice to know (hope?) that there won’t be a significant drop off when Baron’s beard enters the fray. Gird your loins, because I’m about to trot out a as hoary a sports cliche as I’ve got in my arsenal, but the best part of his game tonight? When Melo or Novakaine or Shump or whomever got “hot” he made sure that they touched the ball on the next possession, even if said player did swing it to the open man when the Magic converged. That’s just a veteran point guard knowing how to control/run the offense. Creak, gasp, cough.
|Iman Shumpert, G 32 MIN | 10-21 FG | 1-1 FT | 7 REB | 4 AST | 25 PTS | +36
We Knick fans tend to…ahem…overreact at times, especially when it comes to rookies/young players with potential. We here at Knickerblogger aren’t immune. We actually leased an entire compound’s worth of slave labor in a free trade zone in Bangladore, where they work 25-hour days churning out ‘Bocker-themed t-shaped shirts that proclaim the aforementioned presumption of greatness. Tonight, “21 Shump Street” doesn’t only refer to the team-high number of shots he hoisted, but the potential (there’s that millstone again) our perpetual-energy combo guard does in fact possess. When he’s hitting consistently from long range (a few tips from Allan Houston never hurt), it’s like the fabled Dutch Boy pulling his finger out of the dyke on Twitter — comparisons to Joe Dumars, Latrell Sprewell and even…gulp…Dwyane Wade came flooding out with as much effervescent giddiness as 140 characters will allow. He’s not in that stratosphere yet, but If Shump can fling it like he did tonight on a consistent basis, we’ll start cracking the whip at the factory again.
|Mike Bibby, PG 18 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 PTS | -7
Now that we’ve run through Mumm-Ra, The Egyptian Book of the Dead, Weekend at Bibby’s, The Walking Dead, Human Victory Embalming Fluid, “You can’t get hurt if you’re not actually living,” and another 44 iterations of jokes describing Mike’s untimely, premature demise, I gotta say, I’m tapped out. I got nuttin’. So, in lieu of thumbing through my dog-eared copy of James Joyce’s “The Dead” for a quote/jibe that’d probably be a reach and make your humble correspondent look like a pretentious egghead anyway, I’ll just note that Bibby hasn’t really been playing point guard since Lin’s been out anyway. Tonight, it was mainly Shump and J.R, Smith who initiated the offense or ran a pick and roll while Bibby channeled Eddie House — stretching the floor as an undersized two. I guess in that role — a 6’1″ Steve Novak (save for the fact that he’s about 872% less likely to hit the shot) — can we can call him…le petit mort? I’m back, baby!
|Steve Novak, SF 23 MIN | 6-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 16 PTS | -2
Really not much more to say than NOVAK SMASH.
|J.R. Smith, SG 30 MIN | 5-10 FG | 1-1 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 12 PTS | +2
J.R. did a few ridiculously athletic things — abusing poor Liggins with a crossover in garbage time, flushing a wayward alley oop from Bibby — but it’s his defense and willingness to do the dirty work that’s proving to be the most pleasantly surprising aspect of his game.
|Toney Douglas, PG 5 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 PTS | -3
I honestly thought Toney would get some significant burn tonight and start acronyming away, but, Son of Wood chose to go with a known (if wholly uninspiring) quantity in Bibby. It’s odd — for a dyed-in-the-wool pessimist, I do tend to have an unyielding faith in certain Knicks who catch my fancy (See Fields, Landry). Alas, his window to spin may slam shut as soon as Lin heals up.
|Jerome Jordan, C 5 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -3
I have a fondness for all third string centers, possibly because continue to I labor under the delusion that if I was 7’2″ with Machine Man extendo-arms I too could log five minutes of play on an NBA team. That said, even though JJ to the third power is turning 26 in September, as previously stated, he is long and fairly athletic. It’d be swell if he was getting consistent mins in the D-League, but the with this truncated season grinding players into so much pink slime/meat filler, he’s definitely needed at MSG.
|Josh Harrellson, F 20 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | 0
I don’t know about you, but I started sweating pure acid in the 2nd when it looked like Chandler was going to be either out of the lineup entirely or severely reduced in aggressiveness because of foul trouble. Jortstache came in and banged and boarded with aplomb, even if his elevation on layups makes Charles Oakley look like Bob Beamon. (Carl Lewis? Does anyone watch the Olympics any more?)
Five Things We Saw
- In the most noticeable change in offensive philosophy since Mike Woodson has taken over, with Baron Davis proving far less effective than Jeremy Lin on the pick and roll, the Knicks trotted out some serious onside-out basketball tonight. This sport we love isn’t chess, kids — Melo set up deep in the post and when he wasn’t rattling in turnaround jumpers or drawing contact, he smartly kicked it out to a teammates who either took the shot or swung it around the perimeter until they found a wide open look. For all those who claim that featuring Melo necessarily means an offense more stagnant than French-German front in World War One, I offer tonight’s affair to the court as evidence 7A. They dominated the boards and stuck to forcing anyone other than Dwight Howard to beat them, even when that strategy appeared to be failing miserably in the opening minutes. I grow more and more impressed with Coach Mike the 2nd (and the lush, sumptuous, full goatee that the MSG Network is featuring in promos for the NY-ATL tilt) with each and every passing game.
- Not that tonight’s win wasn’t impressive and all, but boy did the Orlandoans (Orlandoites? Orlandos? Jews?) just curled up and pull a Bibby. On more than one occasion this season, for reasons unknown, if their floor-stretchers aren’t connecting, Dwight seems to start pouting and then the whole team follows his lead, disappearing in a fit of pique that would do Garbo proud and resulting in ghastly things like the Knicks’ 21-0 run in the 3rd that blew the game wide open. I dig SVG as a coach, but to watch a supposed contender just quit like that…well…it’s not what I’d call a good sign.
- Some fun factoids in the midst of the delirium. Bernard King referred to Glenn “Giant Infant” Davis as a, “400-pounder.” I think he’s off a by a few folds of flab, but not that much. The MSG Network does a nifty job of using their sooper slow-mo shots not to clarify or highlight a particular play, but rather to provide the fans at home with larf-worthy distended facial reactions to either violent on-court collisions or, as was the case tonight, the horrified, palsied expressions of those who can afford to pony up about 2k a seat as an adorable rhinoceros of a man comes hurtling over the first few rows.
Oh yeah. And Hedo Turkoglu is the spitting image of the French Impressionist painter, Edgar Degas.
- Our boys find themselves above .500 for the first time since January, after multiple attempts to climb the mountain of mediocrity only to be sent plummeting backward like a hardwood Sisyphus. On a night that I assume most fans had pretty much written off as a loss, pretty much everything went right and they beat a top-three team like a gong. I can’t begin to predict what might happen next. They’re a mystery wrapped in an enigma underneath a fedora worn by an aging Blues guitarist/hack of a cable TV despot. Could Toney Douglas shed his skin tomorrow night and reveal that he’s actually descended from a race of evolved, hyper-intelligent penguins from the future? Sure! Why not. Awesome victory notwithstanding, whoever keeps slapping the Improbability Drive on the Heart of Gold, please stop. I’m nauseated and coughing up yarn.