New York Knicks 117 – Boston Celtics 109 – Game Recap

I told you I wanted the guys to win this game. I’m really happy they followed through on my wish, and did it in such a convincing fashion. In a season dedicated to losing, sucking and (hopefully) developing players, it’s a great thing to pick your spots with regard to beating good teams. If we have to beat a good team, let it always be Boston. It feels great to wash away their smugness with the same forcefulness used by Mitch to swat those poor suckers at the rim.

The game became a much closer matter than it should have been (our largest lead was +26, but it got cut to just 3 with 34 seconds to play), but that was to be expected, given that Fiz left two rookies on the court for the majority of the fourth quarter. I have to say that this game went a long way in giving me back confidence in Fizdale’s ability to understand the game. Whatever was going to happen to this game (and it’s much better that we won, but it would have been good even if we lost), let the unproven guys get the reps they earned. Mitch and Knox were on the court for pretty much the entire fourth quarter. Frank played the full last 12 minutes. This is how you do it.

The good:

– Ok, when did Trey Burke (29 pts, 6 rebs, 11 ast, +10 +/-) become the undersized version of Kyrie Irving? Seriously, this guy is having such a good streak of games that you might mistake him for an All-Star candidate in the last four: 25.8 ppg, 4.3 apg, 3.3 rpg and 1.3 spg on a super efficient 67.8 TS% and an astounding 31.7 USG% in just 28 minutes per game. This game is all his: he played great (yeah, great) for all of his 33 minutes, and came through with timely buckets in the last two minutes and a half, including the crucial three-pointer to put us ahead for good with just 12 seconds to go. In fact, he scored 7 of our last 9 points, where the lone two points he didn’t score were free throws that the Celtics gifted to Mudiay after we were up six with 5.5 seconds remaining. Trey was everywhere, oozing confidence and showing he was in total control of the game. I know it won’t last, but this Trey is an amazing player. Well, I guess most players are amazing when they apparently can’t miss, but this one, hitting guys in stride and snatching more than a few contested boards in traffic, was the real deal. Probably his best overall game in a Knicks uniform.

– Noah Vonleh (16 pts, 10 rebs, 3 ast, +5 +/-) began the game with fire in his eyes and ice in his veins, hitting both of this three-pointers and going after caroms with undeterred savagery. The fact that he played so well and still didn’t see significant playing time down the wire speaks volumes about both the quality of the play of the guys on the floor during the bulk of the fourth quarter and the sound decision making of coach Fizdale. Noah keeps on being the best frontcourt player of the team, if not the best player entirely, and even when he commits a few mistakes you can’t deny the contribution he brings to the team. This time he was very good even at rim protection, blocking 3 shots, two of them reminiscent of particularly nasty spikes in volleyball. I think we all remember fondly KOQ; I also think we found a guy that’s a nice, consistent replacement for the zany beardo (save for those delicious passes hitting backdoor cutting guys). His stats are not at the level of peak KOQ, but are good nonetheless: .123 WS/48, 18.4 TRB%, 9.1 AST%, 1.2 BPM look like the typical portrait of a nice third-fourth big to have on a contender. If we are not able to keep him next season, I wish him the best of luck and to find a place on one of the 4-5 best team in the League.

– Mitchell Robinson’s (8 pts, 4 rebs, 6 blks, +7 +/-) inclusion here is a bit of a stretch, since he alternated resounding plays and dumb mistakes – most egregiously fouling Irving with a clear path to the basket in the fourth, effectively handing the Celtics the opportunity to cut the deficit to ten with more than seven minutes to play – but I mean… have you seen this guy roam the paint on defense? There was a stretch in the fourth quarter where the 15 foot radius in front of the rim looked positively like a no-fly zone for green jerseys. Do you know who’s on top of the block% in the whole NBA? …your guy, Mitch. I guess we probably would have won the game even with Vonleh on the court in place of Robinson, but it was such a stupendous view to see our rookie center wreak havoc and terrorize all sorts of Celtics for a few minutes. This kid really belongs in the League.

The bad:

– Mario Hezonja (3 pts, 2 rebs, 1 stl, -2 +/-) is trying a little too hard to get acting recognition, starring tonight as Lance Thomas in “Desperately seeking useless starter: a Knicks bio-pic”. Second start in a row for Mario, second stink-bomb. He shot 14.3% from the field, did nothing in any other facet of the game and was his usual listless self on defense. It’s unbelievable to think that, for all his talent, he could just very well be the worst player on our roster. His effort level is unexcusable. I pegged him for some 20+ points game from the bench inside MSG, but I don’t think he has any fire in his soul. He looks like he can’t wait to be home, wherever that home might be. Sure as hell ain’t gonna be New York after April 15th, 2019.

– Emmanuel Mudiay (5 pts, 2 rebs, 2 ast, -6 +/-) wasn’t all that bad, but the good Mudiay we’ve seen in some of the last games was nowhere to be seen. A timid performance, buoyed just a little by his block on Irving’s last shot and his subsequent 2 free throws. Never was the disparity between him and Burke more evident than tonight. There can be a lot of games where Trey is not playing well, but that’s on his physical limitations or his mental disconnect, never on his instincts. Mudiay, on the other hand, needs to be always 100% focused on the game, as his insticts are severely lacking and have to be continuatively kept in check. Tonight was a typical directionless Mudiay game; the fact that I don’t feel it was that bad maybe speaks more about my very low expectations for him than about his real level of contribution.

Fun-sized bits:

– Enes Kanter is strangely posting meh numbers since getting inserted back into the starting five (8.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 41.2 FG%); his body language looks a lot better, though. Does he really care that much about starting on a team that’s going to lose at least 55 games? I mean, I know the NBA market is skewed in favor of starting, huge numbers posting guys… but in 2018 that’s for guards, wings and stretch bigs. I hope his agent is smart and in his ear, otherwise Enes is going to be in for an unpleasant surprise this summer. Not a bad game for Enes tonight, anyway. Sometimes he kinda overcomes his defensive liabilities and find a way to be sorta useful on both ends of the court. Not hating on happy, 25-minutes playing Enes.

– Frank Ntilikina played a huge game on the defensive end. I’m sorry, I don’t have stats for you, and I’m not keen on trusting that much my eye-test (what with being shortsighted and all), but if you saw even some snippets of the game you saw his on point defense on Jayson Tatum and other sorts of Celtics. He was again good at getting to the rim, even unleashing a contorting baby Greek Freak layup in the fourth. I like me some aggressive Frank! Maybe Fiz has found his right role? Could Frank play best as a wing, acting as the egg in our Knicks cheesecake recipe: you think it has no purpose, but it makes everything stay together while enabling the different, more present flavors to emerge with their distincts features? Oh, and there were a few possessions where he was matched with Marcus Smart and I was like this.

– Tim Hardaway had another 20+ points game, but this time his performance wasn’t noteworthy in a good way: 21 points on 19 shots, a missed technical free throw late in the game, lots of bad turnovers (seven total). He seems a little more engaged on defense, but nights like this one won’t cut it when we’ll need him to win games in two years. He’s always unafraid, but he’s careless with the rock in the half-court. For all the talk about his improvement, a lot of his advanced stats are the same as they were in his last year with Atlanta.

– Allonzo Trier continues on his campaign to be a proficient offensive cog while trying not to detract anything on the defensive end. Through almost a quarter of the season, he’s still averaging double figures in points while shooting a little south than 60% true shooting percentage. Not bad for an undrafted rookie, huh?

– Kevin Knox had a nice outing (11 points, 9 boards, one block). I don’t care that much about him scoring 10+ points: I care about how he gets there. He was able to go to the line four times and employed a good shot selection. Also, his work on the boards was similar to what we saw in Summer League. I still don’t see much in him, but tonight he looked at the very least competent enough.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Celebrate this pretty win with as much cranberry sauce you like and, if your stomach is full of air and feel about to burp, send a thought to Boy Wonder Brad Stevens who just got manhandled by a merry band of misfits in his hometurf.

See you on Friday against the Pelicans!

Preseason Game Thread: Knicks vs. Celtics

Welcome back, friends! When last we met, your Knicks were unceremoniously shuffling away from the scene of an anticlimacitc stale fart of a playoff series loss at the hands of Lance Stephenson and the Indiana Pacers while we yelled angrily from the terraces about JR Smith’s poor decision-making and Coach Mike Woodson’s abandonment of two-point-guard lineups. Which is to say, exactly the same things we’re doing now.

The Knicks take the court tonight for their preseason debut without their mercurial Sixth Man of the Year, suspended for using medicinal marijuana to regenerate tissue in his knee and setting a horrible example for America’s children or something. Similarly absent: any indication that tonight’s starting lineup (Raymond Felton, Pablo Prigioni, Andrea Bargnani, Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler) will survive the return of Iman Shumpert, the cubically-coiffed wing who will sit with a shoulder injury but is widely expected to unseat Prigioni as soon as he’s ready to go. For many, this confirms a fear that has persisted since erstwhile GM Glen Grunwald sent some draft picks with a side of Novak to Toronto for former top pick Bargnani — namely, that the Knicks’ disproportionate allocation of salary commitments (and arguably talent) in the frontcourt spells doom for the types of lineups that proved most successful in the team’s banner 2012-13 campaign. To this end, it would be great to see Felton and Prigs run roughshod around the new-look (read: pretty bad) Celtics this evening in the hopes that they might jog the memories of all concerned. Ultimately, however, the presence of both Bargs and Amare Stoudemire might make for a frontcourt rotation whose appearance of depth persuades Woodson to confine Smith and Shumpert to the 2 and Anthony to the 3. Empirical evidence suggests that this would be unfortunate. On the other hand, Bargnani was good when Chris Bosh was on his team so he’ll probably be good now since Chris Bosh is on the Knicks. Or something.

Anyway, these are concerns that I will have a whole season to worry about and you will have a whole season to tell me that I’m wrong about. Tonight is all fun and games and me being mad that Pierce and Garnett bailed on the Celtics as soon as we got good enough to beat the crap out of them in their twilight years. Que sera, will be.

Russell! Reed! Havlicek! DeBuscherre! Bird! Ewing! Gerald Wallace! Andrea Bargnani! Colton Iverson! Ike Diogu! You know, Basketball!

Celtics 105, Knicks 101

Tonight New York went into Boston hoping to keep their 2011 season on an upbeat. Unfortunately they came up short against the Celtics, losing 105-101. Although Boston held the lead for most of the game, New York kept it close and occasionally took a lead here & there. In fact New York missed a great opportunity with 31 seconds left in the game. Toney Douglas stole the ball from Ray Allen, but Wilson Chandler missed a three pointer to bring New York within 1 point. After a pair of Paul Pierce free throws, Stoudemire made a three pointer (his second of the game) to slim the lead to 103-101. But another pair of Pierce free throws and a final attempt by Amar’e was blocked, giving Boston the victory.

Some notes:
Amar’e Stoudemire provided efficient scoring with 27 points on 17 shots. He had a pair of blocked shots, but one of his defensive lapses hurt the team. It was on a switch, and I’m not exactly sure what happened there, but he seemed upset that Toney Douglas went over a pick. Amar’e was clapping his hands, and left his man open for an easy basket. Otherwise I thought he played well enough defensively.

Toney Douglas chipped in with 12 points on 8 shots, but he had a head scratching moment near the end of the first half. Douglas forced an ill advised shot on a broken play, even though there were 11 seconds left on the shot clock. On the next possession he threw a cross court pass out of bounds. I’m not Paul Ekman, but D’Antoni’s facial expression wasn’t “happy” at those plays.

Danilo Gallinari continued his regressive play. He was 0-6, including 0-3 from behind the arc, and ended with 2 points in 11 minutes. He hasn’t looked good since last year. This is very concerning considering this is the year he’s supposed to make forward strides. I’d like to hear a reason why he isn’t playing well, that doesn’t include the phrase “sophomore slump.” (Yes I know technically it’s his third season…)

Wilson Chandler contributed 19 points on 20 shots, but more importantly played 33 minutes, much of it at SF instead of Gallo. Chandler was active defensively, and led the team with 4 blocked shots. Unfortunately his three point shooting, especially that attempt in the last minute, hurt the team tonight. He was 1-7 from downtown, which has me wondering if he’ll ever improve in this area. (Yeah I know it’s only game 2, but don’t forget his history.)

Roger Mason took one shot, and it was an awfully forced attempt in a fast break, which he missed. I want this guy to light it up from three, because well that’s his strength. I don’t see him getting minutes once Azubuike returns, unless he goes NBA Jam from three.

Finally Landry Fields is such a joy to watch. He’s active at all times. You’ll see him cutting to the hoop without the ball, being active on the boards, helping out on defense – everything that would take a superior athlete and make him a next level player. Fields led the team with 10 boards, and only had 11 points on 10 shots. But he didn’t have a single turnover, and dished out 4 assists. He’s a keeper.

2011 Game Thread: Knicks @ Celtics

Thought I’d start this early, considering the news about Delonte West.

During a three-on-three game with Avery Bradley(notes), Luke Harangody(notes), Semih Erden(notes) and assistant coach Tyronn Lue(notes), West began fouling [Von] Wafer each time the reserve guard touched the ball. West was increasingly physical to the point that Wafer exited to the locker room midway through the game. As he walked away, West barked obscenities and taunted Wafer.

After Wafer had showered and sat down at his locker, West approached from behind and threw a punch. Wafer didn’t see the punch coming but quickly got off of the ground and connected on two punches of his own. He then wrestled West to the ground before being separated by the team’s veterans.

Totally uncalled for, but yet still laugh out loud funny, joke about it from Twitter:

GaryJBusey (Not Gary Busey)
“So Delonte West hit something besides LeBron James’ mom?”

Unsung Knicks History – Celtics “Cap-Size” Knicks Salary Cap From the Start

This is the second in a series (of indefinite length and regularity) of examinations into different games, events and decisions that impacted Knicks history in some way, shape or form. Stories that are not as famous as, say, LJ’s 4-point play or Willis Reed playing Game 7, but still have a place in Knicks history, especially for die-hard fans. Here is an archive of all the stories featured so far.

Today, we look at the very first salary cap in Knick history and how the Boston Celtics took advantage of the new salary cap system to keep the Knicks from their goal of signing Celtic Hall of Famer Kevin McHale and almost decimated the early 1980s Knicks!
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2010 Game Thread: Knicks @ Celtics

Happy Saint Patrick’s day. 

The Knicks (24-45) travel to Boston (42-24) looking for their third consecutive road win.  The Knicks are only 9 games out of the final playoff spot with 13 games to play. So if the team can keep up the strong play and combine that with prolonged struggles from Toronto and Chicago the team still has a shot at the 8th–“Another round? Well sure and begorrah! I just need to (hic) finish this game preview.”–seed.  Let me know in the morning if the Knicks win, just make sure you speak very softly.

Be safe tonight people. Go New York Go.

Milwaukee 83 – New York 67, The Good And The Bad

You didn’t have to look too deep last night to see examples of the opposing extremes. In a night where the franchise honored the 1970 championship team, their modern day heirs put up a 67 point stinker. Another polar event was the benching of Chris Duhon, who despite being third on the team in minutes played racked up a DNP in favor of newcomer Sergio Rodriguez. The Knicks scored 118 (albeit in overtime) against the #3 defense just two nights prior, but struggled to put up half that against the Bucks. Newly anointed savior Tracy McGrady followed up a 26 pts on 17 shots masterpiece with a 15 pts on 14 shots clunker.

But it wasn’t limited to T-Mac, as the entire team looked bad shooting. Chandler and Gallo, two youngsters who were supposed to thrive with the addition of talented passers, were a combined 4-14. Eddie House put up a Crawford-esque 4-16, Al Harrington was a meager 3-9, and Sergio Rodriguez made his predecessor look like a viable option with his 2-8 night.

The 1970 Knicks were known for their teamwork and fundamentals, as many of the telecast’s guests pointed out, and last night’s team failed to play as a unit. Rodriguez had lots of energy, but nearly too much for his teammates. He racked up 8 steals, and often pushed the ball up the floor. The problem was he was met by superior opposing numbers as the rest of New York jogged their way up the floor.

Other than cohesiveness, the Knicks lacked one other crucial aspect. With Lee bringing his game out to 15 feet and adding a long range bomber in Eddie House, the Knicks lack scoring in the paint to open the exterior. One play that stuck out in my mind was when Tony Douglas received the ball right under the hoop, but was unable to even get a shot off. Al Harrington can drive to the hoop, but he rarely passes the ball in that scenario. We’ve seen Tracy McGrady get the ball in a mid-post iso, but I’m not sure if he has that first step to get past his defender. The team is lacking someone that can really slash to the hoop. Perhaps they’ll get a view of one tonight as they face Nate Robinson and the Celtics.