|Carmelo Anthony, SF 44 MIN | 10-23 FG | 7-8 FT | 9 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 5 TO | 31 PTS | -9
I honestly don’t know how to evaluate/grade/comment on Melo’s performance tonight. For the most part, he didn’t force wing jumpers when it became clear early on that his shot was less than wet. He hit 4-8 from three and made more than a few clever passes out of double-teams to a cutting STAT and/or spot shooters. That said, in what will become a recurring theme should you chose to continue to read this little ditty, he just looked flat. Heck, after more than a few instances when he seemingly got walloped down low with nary a word from the arbiters, he didn’t even unleash his trademark aggrieved, sour half-smile or fail to get back on defense while he and the ref engaged in a lively debate about the merits of the latter jamming his whistle so deep into his pockets that it unearthed a lint-encrusted, faded receipt for a Blockbuster video rental from 1998. He’s playing way, way, WAY too many minutes, but we’ll get to that in a jiffy.
|Tyson Chandler, C 36 MIN | 3-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 13 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | -5
Look, 13 bounds is nothing to shake a stick at, but shaking a stick is the least Tyson could have done to stop the frequent forays to the tin by the Warlocks. Once he started botching alley-oops and tapping the ball out, not to a fellow Knick, but to the waiting arms of many a Prestidigitator, you knew it just wasn’t his night. It’d be folly to have expected a record-4th straight 20 carom-snagging effort, but when Nene and Emeka ring up a combined 25-17 line, you can say with assurance that Chandler wasn’t up to snuff.
|Jason Kidd, PG 18 MIN | 0-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -11
“Hey Jason? It’s okay. Don’t get upset. Where did you leave it last…Okay, okay. I heard you the first time. ‘You don’t know.’ There’s no need to shout. I’m not patronizing you, I’m just trying to…No, I’m not treating you like a child. You lost something and I’m just trying to help. This is what I do when I lose something. I try to retrace my steps and go though all the events to see if I can remember where…You’re not senile. I didn’t say you were senile. Please, why does this always have to turn into a screaming fight? C’mon. Think back, okay. When did you last have your jump shot. I remember seeing it at the Garden when Orlando stopped by in Janu…No…no…not your garden, THE garden. Jason, JASON. Don’t go outside. That’s not what I meant. Your hearing’s going… JASON. PUT ON A SCARF AT LEAST, IT’S FREEZING OUT.
|Raymond Felton, PG 40 MIN | 6-13 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 17 PTS | +1
Defensive foibles aside, Felt had a solid outing with flurries bordering on outstanding at times. Why they didn’t run even more pick and rolls, like many of the strategic decisions in this one, remains a mystery wrapped in an enigma, stuffed awkwardly inside a penguin.
|Iman Shumpert, PG 22 MIN | 2-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 5 PTS | -6
I think when Shump finally does convert a monstrous dunk this season I’ll achieve complete tumescence.
|Amar’e Stoudemire, PF 28 MIN | 6-11 FG | 7-9 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 3 BLK | 1 TO | 19 PTS | -3
Even another doubleplusgood effort from STAT was somehow boring as corn flakes tonight.
|Steve Novak, SF 10 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -4
Steve never has a good game when I’m captaining the HMS Recap. I’m beginning to think there’s a causal relationship here. If he goes bonkers on Friday, I’m penning the rest of these under a pseudonym like Sparkles McAfee or Merlin Enabnit or even the name I briefly used for writing angry, rambling, possibly-deranged letters to the editors of various print publications just to see if they’d print ’em, Ms. Pebbles Wadsworth, Esq.
|Pablo Prigioni, PG 8 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 3 PTS | -11
Save for a moment when he hurled a trey from Pampas, there’s very little positive that Prigs contributed to the cause. Considering he was scampering about on court when the Sorcerers when on their killer run, I’m docking him grade point. I DON’T WANT TO PUNISH YOU, BUT IT’S FOR YOUR OWN GOOD. THIS HURTS ME AS MUCH AS IT HURTS YOU. <3 u, 4evr, Pablo.
|J.R. Smith, SG 35 MIN | 6-14 FG | 1-2 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 13 PTS | -2
There’s a pretty famous bit of performance art from the 70’s by Joseph Beuys called “Coyote: I love America and America Loves me”. In brief, at a gallery on the Lower East Side, Beuys shared a room with a wild coyote, for eight hours a day over three days. He wrapped himself in a thick, grey blanket of felt, weilding large shepherd’s staff and basically watched the coyote as the coyote watched him. Sometimes the animal circled him, like he was about to attack, or shredded the blanket to pieces. Other times Bueys engaged in symbolic gestures, such as striking a large triangle or tossing his leather gloves to the animal. It was art. I have no idea what it was intended to mean or convey, but it was quite the must-see event of the black turtleneck/clove cigarette smoking/modes of alienation discussing set back in the dizzle. I mention all this because I’m semi-convinced that what J.R. Smith does on the basketball court is, in fact, a career-spanning version of performance art and we are not, as we might think, spectators, but actual players/elements of this Gesamtkunstwerk of Earl’s*. To wit, after a stretch when 40 of his 45 attempts to score were treys (and pretty much all spot ups) he suddenly returned to hoisting off-balance 20-footers with plenty of ticks still remaining on the shot clock. Why? Who knows. Why the fuck would a man live with a freaking wild coyote and strike a goddamn triangle, other than to piss the beast off. Just watch this. See if you don’t flash to our après-garde shooting guard’s particular elan/esprit.
*Upon further reflection, I’m not sure if Earl’s Joseph Beuys, the coyote is the game of basketball, and we’re the art-hags who came to see this dreck or Earl’s the coyote and we’re Bueys. Paradigm works either way, methinks.
Coach’s gonna get an earful from me in just a sec, but for now, I say, in as fully-throated a manner as befits a man with years of theatrical/vocal training, YOU CANNOT KEEP PLAYING MELO 43 MINUTES A NIGHT. I CAN’T SAY THIS WITH ONE HUNDRED PERCENT ASSURANCE, BUT BY THE END OF THE GAME HE LOOKS GASSED. AND THEREFORE CAN’T BE THE “CLOSER” THAT EVERY GOOD SQUAD REQUIRES. PLUS, IF THAT AWKWARD TUMBLE IN THE FINAL MINUTE IS PROLOGUE, HE’S GONNA GET HURT AND THEN WE’LL REALLY BE SCREWED.
(Bows. Exit, stage right, pursued by a bear that oddly resembles Nikola Pekovic)
Five Things We Saw
- ‘This recap, as you may have noticed already, has featured some oft-mentioned complaints/issues/gadflies (to put it mildly, but I’m going to stand in the mirror and do my best to try to replicate Mike Woodson’s stone Toltec death mask stare. Kind of like this.
Nope, I can’t replicate it. It just looks like someone unleashed a silent-but-deadly bit of flatulence and won’t fess up and I’m, like, giving him the stink-eye as my nostrils fill up with the ambient sulfuric aroma.
- Regardless of my mimicry-fail, and even though you’re not here with me, you can probably tell that I’m pretty pissed. I cannot for the life of me fathom why this team/coach either cannot or will not make the seemingly basic strategic changes required to contain the whippet-quick point guards that have been eviscerating this team since, oh, I don’t know, the William Howard Taft administration. And frankly, I’m getting plum tuckered of finding different ways to say the same ish over and over. They say the Hell you know is preferable to the one you don’t. Well, I’m way too familiar with this circle of the inferno, but here goes…The pointless, unforced switching, the terrible rotation from such luminaries as Tyson Chandler on down, the decision to double team non-threats like Emeka Okafor, all of it followed hard upon by sluggish, not-even-half-an-assed close outs. It’s happened time and time again. You give a guy enough time to solve Fermat’s Theorem whilst he idles out on the perimeter, no matter how sub-par a shooter he may be, after he cans a couple, well, then all your precious scouting reports and white board plastered scribblings about tendencies and/or how middling an offensive unit the Thaumaturgies are can be chucked into the dustbin of history. Coming into the game, Washington ranked 25th in three-point shooting (.340), but tonight they hit 11-20 bombs, aided in large part by the sluggish New Yorkers’ inability to close out, which granted myriad Prestidigitators (Chris Singleton? Trevor Ariza???) the time, space and confidence to skewer the hell out of what might have seemed like a sensible, fact-based game plan.
- Plus, it’s certainly possible that there’s a reason Woodson stubbornly refuses to start Shumpert on the opposing point (you know, his chief skill at this juncture of his career). Maybe in practice both Felt and Prigs have been routinely lighting him up, leading the Goateed one to send “Rook” scurrying around the perimeter through an thicket of arms, picks, and wayward elbows, but given that option one, letting Felton get char-broiled and served up on a platter like one of the Food Network’s aspiring cheftestants/epicureans might cobble together on an episode of Chopped where the basket contained a live penguin, has failed so completely miserably, how much worse could the flat-topped one be? You know what the definition of insanity is, right? Well it’s far more complicated than the shop-worn phrase that gets routinely flung hither and yonder in political and sporting criticism alike, but either they’re unaware of the problem or too effing hard-headed to change. Not sure which is worse.
That said, after a Felton-led 21-7 spurt towards the end of the third had (briefly) given the Knicks a three-point bulge, it doesn’t matter how lackadaisically one has or has not gone about one’s job for the prior 36 minutes, it’s certainly within this team’s grasp to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, man up, spit on their hands, hunker down, go Galt—whatever ruggedly American idiom/turn of phrase suits your fancy—and put a lesser foe away. When the Necromancers began the 4th on a 15-4 run, featuring all of the sins listed above, the game was more or less over.
- Even more disturbingly, this wan, indolent trend began in the 2nd half v. Detroit. Like the right royal James Q. Cavan the Elder said in his post-game post-mortem, playing with all the vim and vigor of an indifferent, navel-gazing, anhedonic teenager, stuffing his face with corporate, nutrition-free, preservative-laden convenience store crud whose heinie has made a permanent and immutable impression that could hold up in a court of law as a form of valid identification, in lieu of finger prints or dental records and whatnot in a stained, desperately-in-need-of-reupholstering couch is exactly the kind of behavioral pattern that tends to hang around/be tough to slough off, kind of like getting the aforementioned archetypal slacker to take out the trash or clean his/her room or exhibit some kind of pulse.
- Luckily (or potentially, unluckily) there’s another weak kid in the NBA schoolyard whose milk money the ‘Bockers can swipe on Friday. This game left a bad taste in my mouth. I mean really bad, like with that gelatinous white coating you get after a night of heavy drinking and then stopping off at Mickey D’s to at least put something in your stomach lest you hurl and then decide, “Hey. A Filet-o-fish. I haven’t had that in like, forever,” only to wake the next AM, dehydrated, your eyes still semi-wobbling in their sockets, realizing that you did not, in fact, ralph, and that translucent layer of beige goo covering your gob is mainly industrial fish parts and deep fryer grease residue. In brief, yuck. Here’s hoping our fave cagers are equally nauseated with their so-called performance and, Robert Randolph’s dark, Wizardly powers notwithstanding, take their sickly hate out on the Lupine Land of 100,000 Lakers.