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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Saturday Morning Recap: Rockets 131, Knicks Stink

New York Knicks 103 Final
Recap | Box Score
131 Houston Rockets
Carmelo Anthony, SF 35 MIN | 14-24 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 37 PTS | -12

Let’s get this out of the way. Melo was absolutely brilliant with the rock in his mitts. When he’s hitting threes and taking the ball to the rim aggressively like that, he’s nigh-unstoppable. That’s all fine and dandy. And though he’s not close to being the most egregiously guilty party in the criminally execrable Knick defensive implosion, he was not the ball-hawking, ‘board-snagging beast we’d grown so accustomed to this month. Plus, he loses major brownie points for coughing the ball up a season high seven times. More importantly, if he’s not getting the treatment from the officials that he feels he’s entitled to (as has oft been the case), he absolutely cannot stop to chew the fat with the refs to discuss his grievances and other matters of great import whilst Patrick Patterson (Or “2Patz”, according to Clyde Drexler. Don’t get me started on Houston’s play by play team. In brief, they blow.) cruises right behind his back for a breakaway dunk. That’s his second such infraction this season and honestly, one time is just plain inexcusable. Twice should have meant a seat on the bench, no matter how prettily he was tickling the twine at the time.

Ronnie Brewer, SF 15 MIN | 2-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | -15

When you get torched by Chandler Bing Bang Parsons, (who, granted, is a swell young player and all, like a taller, better shooting Landry Fields circa early 2010. I’d be even more fond of him he didn’t make me think he was Christian Laettner’s even-more-annoying younger brother), it means your “Lockdown Defender” accolades get a tad bit burnished.

Tyson Chandler, C 28 MIN | 3-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 6 PTS | -11

Welp, now we know what a shitty Tyson Chandler game looks like. He pulled up lame on one series, giving some credence to the idle chatter that his knee’s still bothering them, but that was resoundingly poo-pooed in the post-game post-mortem. Still, seeing Tyson get utterly flambéd by Omer Asik was downright shocking. Like his fellow Houston front court mate, Asik (who Clyde repeatedly referred to as, “Aziz”, as if Omer had a side gig as a ensemble player in Judd Apatow’s flicks) is a more than serviceable big, but he won’t be mistaken for Moses Malone any time soon (save Friday’s contest, that is).Tyson was slow, disinterested and seemingly confused as to when to trap and when to switch. Just awful.

Jason Kidd, PG 28 MIN | 2-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 5 AST | 7 PTS | -29

Kidd was New York’s most stalwart defender last night by leaps and bounds. It’s a dubious honor at best, like being the Jersey Shore cast member who is the most adept at solving differential calculus equations.

Raymond Felton, PG 30 MIN | 6-11 FG | 1-2 FT | 0 REB | 8 AST | 17 PTS | -13

Raymond’s final line may be more or less indistinguishable from the rest of this season’s efforts, but a slew of long-range makes in the 3rd quarter belie the fact that he was seriously pressing in the first half, forcing shots and missing open mates all over the court. Despite repeated statements to the assembled media horde(s) that this wasn’t about a mano-a-mano showdown with Lin, his play speaks way louder than the pabulum he was spewing to Berman/Isola/et al.

Kurt Thomas, PF 10 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -4

If Kurt Thomas plays ten minutes and hasn’t realigned someone’s vital organs with a particularly nasty pick, you know the ‘Bockers are putting forth a crap-tastic, lifeless effort.

Steve Novak, SF 25 MIN | 3-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 9 PTS | -10

Novak’s stroke looked wetter than it has all season, and between all the defensive clusterfuckery around him, it was harder to notice his usual foibles on that end. Progress!

Chris Copeland, SF 8 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | -2

Hi Chris.

Pablo Prigioni, PG 18 MIN | 2-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 5 PTS | -15

I just realized something sooper important: Pablo Prigioni really, really resembles John Leguizamo in the seminal 1997 film, “The Pest”. If you haven’t had the opportunity to feast your peepers on Leguizamo’s magnum opus, I highly recommend you do so post-haste. It’s his historically bad (kinda like tonight’s game!) and makes literally no sense (kinda like tonight’s game!). In a nutshell, Leguizamo plays a con man named Pestario Rivera Garcia Picante Salsa Vargas (a.k.a. “The Pest”) who agrees to be paid 50k to be a human target for a racist Nazi manhunter who has so far killed every other ethnicity except a Latino and needs to bag one to complete his collection. Given his “defensive irritant” status, I hereby decree that our Argentine point be henceforth named, Pablo “The Pest” Prigioni. Oh, the game. Right…save for one clever swipe of a Toney Douglas inbound and a handful of garbage time pick and rolls, he stunk.

James White, SG 9 MIN | 0-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -9

According to James. he broke his phone broke early this AM. He’s had a bad day. We’ve had a bad day. Bad, bad day all around.

J.R. Smith, SG 35 MIN | 2-13 FG | 7-8 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 12 PTS | -20

Remember last year, when every other game it seemed, J.R. would be whistled for pointlessly fouling a three-point attempt? Yeah, that was definitely the fuzzy end of the lolly. If his early Bruce Bowen-ing of a Harden heave wasn’t a giant, flashing, garish, neon sign that we were in for an appearance by J.R.’s evil twin, Chet and his grab-bag of indifferent defense and off-balance, forced, terrible shots, I don’t know what is.

P.S. “Bad J.R.” isn’t actually named Chet. I just think that’s a dandy name for an evil twin. If I had one, f’rinstance, I’d definitely call him Chet. He’s a real wildcard, that Chet Silverman.

Rasheed Wallace, PF DNP SORE LEFT FOOT MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | PTS |

COME BACK, SHEED!

Marcus Camby, C DNP COACH’S DECISION MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | PTS |

Obvi, Camby served the Knicks braised Typtophan with an Ambien reduction and a tossed Sudafed salad for Thanksgiving dinner. That’s some impressive cooking, like Iron Chef-level, mind-blowingly tasty grub, assuming f the secret ingredient is “Turn all your teammates into somnambulists”. Well done, Marcus. A plus in the culinary arts.

Five Things We Saw

  1. Blech. So much dreck. Sifting through all this is like cleaning out the Augean Stables. Where to begin…First of all, for anyone who feels compelled to blame the refs for this loss, please stop now and save yourself a screen-capped embarrassment. There were a few questionable whistles, and the fact that Melo doesn’t receive the royal treatment that one might expect/hope for is an ongoing concern. But (and this is a huge, economy-sized, you-need-to-call-the-guy-with-the-cherry-picker-at-Home-Depot-to-get-it-off-the-shelf sized “but”) that had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that they lost. Nothing. Nada. Zero. Rien. Zippo. Zilch. Bupkis. I get it. When one is having one’s ass handed to it by as feckless a squad as Houston, every single injustice is writ a bajillion times larger, but even if a few questionable/borderline fouls didn’t go their way, as is the norm when playing away from home, our boys weren’t winning tonight, period.
  2. Blech. So how this utter disemboweling occur? Not that this should be a shock-a to any human that’s walking upright and possessing a reasonably well-functioning pre-frontal cortex, but it’s the defense. It was indefensibly bad. They couldn’t keep Clutch, the Rockets fuzzy bear mascot from beating them off the dribble. Their help D and rotations were nonexistent. They closed on shooters slower than Issa’s infamous snail trying to climb Mt. Fuji. Why they refused to deign to knock someone on their back instead of allowing layup after uncontested layup is beyond me. I’m sure somewhere Anthony Mason and Charles Oakley are gouging their eyes out. For a defense that up until they hit the Lone Star State had done a dandy job forcing teams to take mid-range jumpers (or at least limiting scoring in the paint and fouls) and gobbling up turnovers, the Rockets barreled their way to 49 points in the paint while only coughing the ball up 14 times. The Chandler Parsons Project was certainly scorching, and Harden was at his smooth best, but the Knickerbockers’ blood-curlingly awful play was like shoving a year’s worth of copies of the Sunday New York Times under a smoldering fire. That makes five straight quarters in which they’ve allowed more than thirty points. What’s worse is It’s as if the first 9 games of the season were some hallucinogenic flashback from my substance-imbibing days – all of the beauteous, unselfish play on both ends vanished, gone in an instant like Verbal Kint said of Keyser Soze. I’m (and I’m sure many of you are as well) left shaking my head in utter disbelief, wondering whether or not it had ever actually existed in the first place.
  3. Blech. You also might be tempted to stare at 103 points and assume that all was flowers and sunshine and bacon-wrapped diver scallops on the offensive end. Well, no. I’m not sure why, but the ball movement and motion on offense is still clearly curled up in a food and booze-induced heap in the Lay-Z Boy at Gramma’s place in front of the latest Jets
    shellacking to the pleasant, sonorous drone of Chris Collinsworth’s voice. The fact that the treys were dropping were abso-smurf-ly what Pat Riley was referring to when he referred to a team’s three-point proficiency being “Fool’s Gold”, where constant ringing up of points on the scoreboard masks a sea of stagnancy, piss poor shot selection and a near-total eschewing of what had been, to date, an incredibly effective pick and roll attack. And the turnovers…dear God, the turnovers, each one like a sharpened Ginzu thrust and then twisted straight in yer gut. Unforced, sloppy, thoughtless, careless turnovers. Sickening.
  4. Blech. Oh hey, Coach Son of Wood. Guess what. You’re not going to be spared my hangman’s noose either. In a game when the Knickerbockers are being outrebounded 49-30, it might be wise to get one of the finer rim protectors on the roster in the game. I don’t know whether Marcus Camby is injured or he’s in worse physical shape than I am after a two-pack chain-smoking bender or he recently peed in Coach’s goatee and said, “What. People micturate in facial hair all the time. It’s a thing,” or what, but why in the name of all that is holy and good did was JAMES WHITE put in the game at the end of the 2nd quarter when Chandler picked up his 3rd foul, leaving first Carmelo Anthony and then, when Melo was strapped to the pine by the arbiters, Steve Novak manning the five. Kurt Thomas couldn’t come back in for three more minutes? Really? And if the boys are getting snippy at the calls, well, it’s on the coach to let them no in no uncertain terms that ditching what remained of their collective composure/losing their shit like a five year old hopped up to the gills on Count Chocula throwing a tantrum because you won’t let him/her watch an eighth consecutive episode of Bubble Guppies
  5. Blech. In addition to everything else, the narrative got fucked ten ways from Sunday. Wasn’t this game supposed to be a titanic, world-encompassing, all-consuming showdown that would either completely validate the Machiavellian brilliance of James Dolan or Linsanity would rise, Phoenix-like from a recent hibernation to inspire vast seas of puns and plaudits and wreaths of finely spun gold? Well, none of that happened. Lin was decent.. At least, if nothing else, I would have preferred a dynamic performance or a total flop, leading to barrels of ink spilled about a redemptive tale and the return of the prodigal son or a enough grumbling from unnamed sources/anonymous, old-school scouts looking to validate their original assessments of Lin’s talent, as it were, to rouse the dead. We didn’t even get that. Instead, the story of tonight was that all of our chest-thumping may have been woefully premature.

    Great.

    I don’t know about you, but for your humble correspondent, this game was just plain painful to watch. As is the case with many things in life, it’s because I’ve grown to expect far, far more from this team. And when those expectations all seemed like a colossal lie, it made me want to fling heavy objects at my flat screen or strip off all of my overpriced, newly-purchased NBA gear and run howling into the nearest forest (or Central Park), flaying off layers of derma, were screeching at vocal chord-shredding decibels, about the basic unjustness of the universe, and that THIS TEAM SUCKZ, upchucking all my heart’s chyme.

    My only hope is that someone gave them the evil eye and a curse has been put on the defense. It’s certainly a possible explanation. Texas is full of old gypsy women, right? Don’t worry, fellas. I got this covered. Here’s what you do. You make a fist with your thumb wedged between your index and middle finger. Then you say to the curse-ee in Yiddish, “Gants dray wives zayn sitting bay a shteyn. Eyns zogn ye, der ander zogn ney, der drit zogn, “fun whence em has kumen, em shall geyn.” Oyf der vaser!”

    Loosely translated,it means, “All Three old women were sitting by a stone. One said yes, the other said no, the third said, from whence it has come, it shall go. Into the water!” it’s a plea to the three mythic wives/witches who are sitting by the sea, creating the future/the fate of the world. Their superhuman powers are only to be invoked in times of utter desperation. This certainly feels like one of those times.

    Anyway, you recite the above prayer/invocation and then you spit on the curse-ee three times. Evil eye gone. Problem solved. You’re welcome.

17 comments on “Saturday Morning Recap: Rockets 131, Knicks Stink

  1. JK47

    D’Antoni and Gasol are already at odds, and Gasol has played like crap so far in D’Antoni’s system.

    Could a Gasol/Amar’e trade actually make sense for all parties?

  2. d-mar

    Good writeup Robert, and all grades are fair (although I wish there were a grade below F) I had the 2nd half on DVR and was thankful for that; I usually fast forward thru foul shots and commercials, instead I ended up fast forwarding the entire half.

    Completely agree that the refs did not cost us the game, but the play when Melo ended up arguing with the ref during that dunk really pissed me off. Guys like Kobe and Wade get that call on a pump fake 10 out of 10 times, I really don’t understand the disrespect Melo gets from the refs, it makes zero sense.

  3. njasdjdh

    JK47:
    D’Antoni and Gasol are already at odds, and Gasol has played like crap so far in D’Antoni’s system.

    Could a Gasol/Amar’e trade actually make sense for all parties?

    Not sure why the Lakers would trade Gasol for someone who is worse than him in just about every aspect of basketball in addition to having a worse contract and rarely being healthy the last 2 years.

  4. StatsTeacher

    You just gotta get used to the Houston play by play team — Drexler is horrible, but he seems to only do home games (?). Carmelo is unguardable, as was proven again, and he deserves a higher grade. Parsons is a solid player, fun to watch, but he isn’t shootin’ 90% from 3 zone any time soon again. Seeing Felton and Lin on the court was very interesting. They are very different players. Lin is playing well, but his jump shot has regressed, hope it is salvage-able. He’s rebounding and d IMHO are exceptional, not things to comment on last year. He is bigger than Felton, which surprised me, and Asik seems a LOT bigger than Tyson, also a surprise. Felton is clearly the guy to run the Knicks offense, much better chemistry than Lin had with Melo. Both teams made the right call in that deal. Lastly, Gasol + Blake for Lin + PPat + maybe Morris? Will either team want that? (I bet MDA does)

  5. ruruland

    JK47:
    D’Antoni and Gasol are already at odds, and Gasol has played like crap so far in D’Antoni’s system.

    Shocker, right?

    Like you said, it’s MDA’s system. Gasol doesn’t fit, but that’s Gasol’s problem.

    Just wait until Nash comes back and Kobe goes from handling the ball every possession (like Melo last year) to the either the corner or the slot.

    MDA is not interested in building offense that utilizes his best players strengths, he’s interested in implementing his system and forcing guys to do things his way.

    Also, Dwight is going to get even fewer touches in this system than Bynum did last year. Frankly, Dwight is not that much of a defensive upgrade over Bynum.

  6. ruruland

    njasdjdh: Not sure why the Lakers would trade Gasol for someone who is worse than him in just about every aspect of basketball in addition to having a worse contract and rarely being healthy the last 2 years.

    Gasol is not a better pick and roll player, nor jump shooter. MDA was playing Gasol as his stretch four in the corner much of the time last night, which is why he was benched for Jamison late.

    I seriously can’t understand why people wouldn’t be outraged by that.

    Obviously Amar’e isn’t going to get traded and wouldn’t fit the roster in LAL in place of Gasol.

    ruruland: Shocker, right?

    Like you said, it’s MDA’s system. Gasol doesn’t fit, but that’s Gasol’s problem.

    Just wait until Nash comes back and Kobe goes from handling the ball every possession (like Melo last year) to the either the corner or the slot.

    MDA is not interested in building offense that utilizes his best players strengths, he’s interested in implementing his system and forcing guys to do things his way.

    Also, Dwight is going to get even fewer touches in this system than Bynum did last year. Frankly, Dwight is not that much of a defensive upgrade over Bynum.

  7. f.l.o.

    StatsTeacher:
    … He is bigger than Felton, which surprised me, and Asik seems a LOT bigger than Tyson, also a surprise. …

    well asik is 7’0″ and chandler 7’1″
    i guess the big difference was that asik really jumped and showed serious effort

  8. Brian Cronin

    Hehe, great stat tweeted by Simmons.

    Jan Vesely has 30 fouls and 27 points this season.

    Ouch.

    And that guy was picked nine spots ahead of Kawhi Leonard, eleven spots ahead of Iman Shumpert and sixteen spots ahead of Kenneth Faried. NBA GMs, you gotta love ‘em!

  9. jon abbey

    maybe Woodson was punishing Camby for hosting what seems to have been the most filling Thanksgiving dinner in history. :)

    gotta win tomorrow, that would put us back on 60 win pace before going back out on the road again.

  10. Brian Cronin

    The Clippers lost to the Hawks, so the Knicks have good company among the top teams in losing to teams they probably should have defeated. Heck, the Cavs nearly beat the Heat in Miami! The Heat pulled off yet another amazing last minute comeback, erasing a seven point lead with less than two minutes by ending the game on a 9-0 run.

  11. ruruland

    Brian Cronin:
    The Clippers lost to the Hawks, so the Knicks have good company among the top teams in losing to teams they probably should have defeated. Heck, the Cavs nearly beat the Heat in Miami! The Heat pulled off yet another amazing last minute comeback, erasing a seven point lead with less than two minutes by ending the game on a 9-0 run.

    The Cavs….without Irving…rested…..at home….heathy.

    Miami has been amazing in close games this year. That won’t last all season.

    I know it’s easy to lose perspective after such a dreadful performance, but I think it will take 30 games or so before a loss here and a loss there isn’t looked at as the end of the world.

    So long as Chandler and Brewer were merely in a Thanksgiving stupor and not injured, this team is going to be really good and great when Amar’e and Shump return.

  12. Brian Cronin

    By the way, I may have spoken too soon about Atlanta beating the Clippers. I didn’t know they were doing so well. They’re only a half game behind the Knicks!

  13. Jenny

    ruruland: Shocker, right?

    Like you said, it’s MDA’s system. Gasol doesn’t fit, but that’s Gasol’s problem.

    Just wait until Nash comes back and Kobe goes from handling the ball every possession (like Melo last year) to the either the corner or the slot.

    MDA is not interested in building offense that utilizes his best players strengths, he’s interested in implementing his system and forcing guys to do things his way.

    Also, Dwight is going to get even fewer touches in this system than Bynum did last year. Frankly, Dwight is not that much of a defensive upgrade over Bynum.

    What? People actually still believe this? I thought this “Bynum is just as good as Dwight” thing was just a result of people not liking how Dwight handled his impending free agency, not an actual thought. Dwight is a much better defender than Bynum just on effort alone, let alone actual talent. Dwight is a 3 time DPOY for a reason. He’s clearly just still recovering from back surgery. He’ll be better later on in the year and in time for the playoffs.

  14. ruruland

    Jenny: What? People actually still believe this? I thought this “Bynum is just as good as Dwight” thing was just a result of people not liking how Dwight handled his impending free agency, not an actual thought. Dwight is a much better defender than Bynum just on effort alone, let alone actual talent. Dwight is a 3 time DPOY for a reason. He’s clearly just still recovering from back surgery. He’ll be better later on in the year and in time for the playoffs.

    Actually, I think some of Dwight’s defensive success was a product of Stan Van Gundy building defenses that funnelled penetration in certain parts of the courts to him.

    I don’t think he’s a good pnr defender despite his agility.

    He’s a tremendous leaper who certainly intimidates penetrators, and he’s earned his awards on merit, not denying that.

    But did you know that over the course of his career, the team’s Howard has been on have only been slightly better with him defensively when he’s on the court. Just .8 points better in a 30,000 minute sample?

    Compare that with Tim Duncan, who has a career +5.1 defensie +/- on better defensive teams.

    I think I’d prefer the much longer and wider Bynum when it comes to contesting shots at the basket.

    When it comes to spectacular blocks and rebounds, Dwight is great. Not denying he’s a top 5 defensive big man in this league, and he’ll always put up the best defensive numbers, but he’s not nearly the complete defensive player people make him out to be.

    He’s certainly no Tim Duncan in his prime — who was never the sht blocker or rebounder Howard is or was.

  15. ruruland

    Also, Juany, notice I didn’t say Bynum was as good as Dwight. I like Dwight more on offense over Bynum than I like him on defense over Bynum, which is to say I don’t like Howard that much more on defense than Bynum.

    He’s completely unstoppable offensively and used to garner the most amount of defensive attention in the lague prior to being used as a decoy and offensive rebounder under MDA.

    Right now, I think he actually a very polished offensive game to go along wiht his freaky athleticism and upper body strength.

    Bynum is not as polished, but he is much longer and has a more deft touch.

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