|Amare Stoudemire, PF 34 MIN | 8-22 FG | 5-5 FT | 9 REB | 1 AST | 21 PTS | 0
I’ll attribute Amar’e's general lack of springiness/getting stuffed repeatedly by the likes of Aaron Gray to the fact that he’s been idle for a week grieving. His defense (or as the right proper Canandians put it all night, “defence”) was pretty indefencible. Nor was the synergy between he and Lin on the pick and roll instantaneous, as some would have hoped. That said, after a 3-13 start, he did hit 6 of 9 the rest of the way. A decent effort for his first game back.
|Bill Walker, SG 30 MIN | 3-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 8 PTS | -1
You know historical etymology of the term, “scapegoat?” Interestingly, it’s derived from the Ancient Hebrews. On the Day of Atonement, a Rabbi would take an actual goat to the middle of the public square and confess the sins of all the people in the village whilst clutching said goat’s head. The goat would then be sent out into the desert to die, presumably carrying all the communal sins with him, thereby absolving the Chosen People.
I mention this because I wouldn’t be surprised if Billy’s dreds are there just to cover up a pain of nubbin-like horns. Baffling turnovers and sloppy play aside, he played some decent defence (I’m not letting this go) against the likes of DeRozan and Johnson and hit a couple of big treys in the third. While not a stellar outing, it isn’t worthy of the blood-curlding bile he’s on the receiving end of in the Game Thread. Gummy seems to have replaced _______ as the chief object of scorn for Knickerbloggeristas, who would be thrilled if D’Antoni would drop Walker off in the Mojave somewhere (or at least to the end of the bench).
|Tyson Chandler, C 28 MIN | 5-5 FG | 3-6 FT | 9 REB | 0 AST | 13 PTS | +2
Why can’t Tyson hit free throws anymore? Seriously, I’m asking. Does anyone know? At the end of the 4th, when he stepped to the line, I jotted in my notes, “He’s missing both of these.” His percentage has dropped 10 points in the midst of this glorious run and our volatile Centre has got to be more careful about his histrionic kvetching (deservedly or not) when the calls don’t go his way. Mark my words, he’s going to miss a game down the line for Rasheed Wallace-ing.
|Landry Fields, G 37 MIN | 3-9 FG | 1-2 FT | 7 REB | 7 AST | 8 PTS | +3
Some nice peripheral stats from Landry, but his shot is still woefully broken. In a starting lineup that in the near future will include Melo, STAT, Chandler and Lin, it’s imperative that the SG be a three point threat. So much of the rest of his game has returned that I feel fairly confident predicting that like the prodigal Lin, his jumper will return.
|Jeremy Lin, PG 43 MIN | 9-20 FG | 7-11 FT | 2 REB | 11 AST | 27 PTS | +5
Just unreal. This is magic. It’s so improbable that makes a dyed-in-the-wool atheist like yours truly rethink the entire philosophical underpinnings of his existence or at least dropping by the local synagogue next weekend, just in case.
That said, I worry about the amount of punishment Lin is finding himself on the receiving end of during his frequent forays to the tin. The Canadians were really laying into him, maybe because they assume that everyone’s got universal health coverage and no matter how badly they brutalized and battered young Jeremy, at least he wouldn’t have to worry about coverage. D’Antoni’s not doing him any favors in terms of playing time either. He said he was going to ride him like Secretariat, but even Secretariat wasn’t running in every single race at Pimlico.
My hand-wringing aside, the stones to take over in the last 1:30 like that…wow. That’s something only the greats can pull off. I think we can say without hesitation the “is this real?” argument is deader than disco.
|Mike Bibby, PG 2 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -2
Now that AMC’s The Walking Dead has returned, Bibby’s got far more important matters to attend to than being a halfway decent backup PG. There are reams of zombie extras on the show that he needs to coach up, hopefully resulting in more 2-minute stints like tonight.
|Jared Jeffries, PF 19 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -3
Jeffries’ playing time suffered the most with Amar’e's return. Not coincidentally, the Knicks defence (told you) returned to its pre-Lin porousness.
|Steve Novak, SF 19 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 3 PTS | +10
Novakaine Novakan’t do it every game, it seems.
|Iman Shumpert, G 27 MIN | 3-9 FG | 2-3 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 8 PTS | +1
Shumpert is still missing way too many easy (for him) layups and dunks. But the defence (still going)…Lin be praised, his suffocation of Calderon in the 4th literally turned the game around. As Thomas B. mentioned in the game thread, he’s potentially a 1st Team All-Defence (last time, I swear) candidate down the road.
Five Things We Saw
- Like Jim recapping the Minny game, I was all set to write something to the effect of, “Okay. Trap game. Trouble reintegrating STAT. Got down too far. Can’t miss FT’s in the 4th and hope to win. Lesson learned. Etc.” Of course, that was a silly assumption to make. Because we have Jeremy Lin. Not sure if y’all saw the bit before the Laker game where the artist formerly known as Ron Artest advised Lin to, “Get some swagger” by wearing leather pants. Street cred qualities of leather pants notwithstanding, swagger is cold-bloodedly hitting a three in Jose Calderon’s smirking mug to win a game (again) that they had no business winning. That’s swagger, son.
- Alas, it’s not all leather pants and lollipops for our burgeoning hero. I’m more than a little concerned about the high turnover volume. Part of it is due to the fact that (as described above) teams are getting very physical with Lin, both on the perimeter and on dribble-drives and, on a night like tonight where the perimeter shooters couldn’t hit the broad side of an Iowa-Class Battleship, they’re going to pack the lane and make it just as impregnable as the previously mentioned battleship. Lin’s fearlessness is such an integral part of his game, though, that the TO’s will have to be like the purposeful flaw that Navajo artisans will deliberately add to a rug they weave. The Navajo, like Lin, feel that humans are not perfect and cannot be on the same level as God, who they see as perfection. To show that they do not see themselves as perfect as God, they will leave a bit of string dangling. For Lin, it’s letting himself get repeatedly stripped on dribble-penetration.
- It’s Valentine’s Day. In honor of this sweet, candy-rific day, I truly hope some of you watched the game via Toronto’s feed, just you’d be compelled as I am to send a Whitman Sampler to Clyde Frazier and Mike Breen. (I’m assuming they share an apartment, like a far cooler Felix and Oscar or a grown up Bert and Ernie. It’s not sexual, they just live together, get into wacky fights about whose turn it is to do the dishes and then go to work covering the Knicks. They don’t? Whatevs, y’all suck. I prefer the fiction. Anyway…) Jack “Not the All-American Boy” Armstrong is the color guy and he sounds like a very poor man’s Bill Raftery if very poor man’s Bill Raftery also sported a thick Brooklynese and apparently had a few before each game. He and his play-by-play cohort, Matt Devlin, were engaged in a series of running yuks about the fact that Naughty by Nature was playing at the Air Canada Centre (or as they put it, “The ACC!” Shudder…) on Friday.
MATT: The legendary Naughty by Nature will be here Friday!
JACK: Yeah! Gawna be dere! I’m gawna axe him if I can join dem onstage!
MATT: You know Naughty by Nature isn’t a guy, it’s a band.
JACK: Yeah! But they gotta have a guy who sings, right? I’ll axe duh guy!…Yeah!!
- Is it me or have Jose Calderon and Linas Kleiza been killing the Knicks since the dawn of time? I find myself personally galled by their good play as they eerily resemble these guys I used to know when I was…ahem…partaking of certain substances. They’d come over to negotiate the sale of said substances, both of them looking like they sampled quite liberally from their own product and then wanted to hang around after the sale was complete. You’d say yes, even though “hanging around” consisted of them dabbling in the product they just sold you and menacingly sitting on the couch asking of you knew any girls who “wanted to party,” both because they did sell a fairly good product at a reasonable price and because they had the unkempt, haven’t-showered-days yet wired to the gills-attitude of guy who wouldn’t mind using your face to polish the inside of the toilet as a form of light amusement. My point being, even if they weren’t so consistently effective v. the ‘Bockers, I wouldn’t particularly care for Jose Calderon and/or Linas Kleiza.
- Jim Cavan just IMed me saying, “I just caught up on DVR. UNREAL. I laughed for ten straight minutes.” That sums it up pretty durned well. On to Sacto!