Detroit Pistons 115 – New York Knicks 89 – Game (?) Recap

Minutes before this game was on, Al Trautwig was at center court telling the viewers that coach Fizdale told his guys to treat the last seven games of the season as a playoff series, and that since we were 3-3 in the last six the game against Detroit would have counted as a game seven. Now, aside from the total retconning bullshit of that claim (yeah, sure. The last seven. What if we went 5-1 during that stretch? Or 0-6? It’s things like this that trigger my inner con artist alarm, but whatever), I think now we know what would happen if the Washington Generals played by total happenstance a game seven against an NBA team.

This game was utter trash and deserves not even the tiniest smidge of a recap, at that’s not only an indictment of the game itself, but also of my writing ability. There’s a saying in Italian that goes like this: “(He is trying to) extracting blood from turnips”, describing someone who’s trying to turn a bad thing into good results without any chance to reach his goal. Well, I won’t even try. Keep your orange and blue turnips, hoping that in July they’ll have become majestic roses.

So, instead of recapping this game (honestly, there’s nothing to say about the game: Detroit went up by a lot early. Mitch was in foul trouble, and that’s a shame because suddenly people kinda remembered how to pass the ball to him in the air. The 2+ block was interrupted. Jenkins was the only one able to put the ball in the basket apart from Mitch. Hicks played 21 minutes. That’s all), I will be handing out grades for the season, with basic stats (pts/reb/ast; TS%, WS/48) and whatever, for every guy who donned a Knicks jersey this season. Players in alphabetic order (surname):

Kadeem Allen: 18 games, 9.8/2.6/3.8; .582, .105. Kadeem was a very nice surprise for the season, being the beneficiary of the two-way slot left open when Trier signed his first true NBA contract. He’s an old sophomore (26), and he came here with a reputation of defensive-minded short shooting guard. He actually transformed (for a bad team, I know) into a capable point guard, with good instincts and a penchant for not turning the ball over too much while hitting shots. Look at the TS% and WS/48! Small sample size and all, these are the numbers of a very nice second/third string point guard for a playoff team. He won’t be shooting 45.5% from three on a steady diet of shots, but 39% would be more than good, and he has the mechanics to float around there. Grade for the season: B. I want him back.

Ron Baker: 11 games, 1.3/0.6/1.2; .376, .003. One of the good guys, as Clyde would say. I think he’s definitely out of the League. Kadeem is what we thought Ron could have been, but was never able to become. Wish you well, Ron. Grade for the season: D-. His defensive intensity will be missed. Everything else is useless and/or ugly.

Trey Burke: 33 games, 11.8/1.9/2.8; .496, .045. Regression to the mean was the name of the game for Trey, who’s definitely capable of 25/5/5 games as a dynamic backup but more often than not shoots you out of the game while not creating plays (not to self: copy/paste this sentence for Mudiay). I was happy to see him shipped elsewhere mid-season. Grade for the season: D. I had some expectations about him being able to man the point effectively, but should have known better.

Damyean Dotson: 72 games, 10.8/3.6/1.8; .528, .040. The OG Dungeon Boy, was the first beneficiary of some inexplicable strings of DNPs Fiz reserved to a few guys during the season. Dotson regressed a bit from his rookie season in a few areas, namely defense and rebounding, but shot better from three and showed some flashes as a tertiary playmaker. I really, really wish I could overlook his former criminal allegations and root lightheartedly for him. Anyway, grade for the season: C-. A good basketball cog to have around next year if we build a superstar core.

Henry Ellenson: 16 games, 5.6/3.3/0.9; .524, .059. A cool fourth/fifth big, with the requisite shooting for a stretch four, a knack for good ball handling, but too slow and not enough intense to really impact games consistently. I can see in his future a playoff game decided by his sudden unexpected insurgence, only to be forgotten for the next four years. Grade for the season: D+. Wouldn’t mind having around as a homeless man Olynyk, as I already said.

Billy Garrett: 3 games, 6.7/1/2; .437, -0.010. Thank you, next. Grade for the season: INC. (veering on F+).

Tim Hardaway Jr.: 46 games, 19.1/3.5/2.7; .531, .049. He was who we thought he were. Probably a good kid, not really versed in winning basketball. The poster boy for everything that’s wrong in Steve Mills basketball analysis. So glad he’s gone in the KP trade. Grade for the season: D. Hope he never comes back. I don’t harbor any ill will towards him, but I couldn’t simply stand him anymore.

Mario Hezonja: 57 games, 9/4.1/1.5; .500, .005. Apart from the late season insurgence of point Mario, he was very frustrating, especially when Fiz insisted on starting him and keeping Dot or Frank glued to the bench. Aside from Mitch, though, he had the most iconic moments of the season, and that has to mean something. Still waiting for Giannis to punch him in the nuts after the stepover. Hopefully it will be when the Bucks are playing another team and not the Knicks. Grade for the season: F+ (point Mario: C – even last night he had two gorgeous assists for Mitch; maybe I actually wouldn’t mind him here as a combo guard on a vet min).

Isaiah Hicks: 3 games, 4/2.3/0.6; .510, .012. A total waste of a two-way contract. Slow, unathletic, unplayable and unplayed. Grade for the season: INC. (veering on F-)

John Jenkins: 21 games, 4.7/1.6/0.9; .492, .002. The numbers aren’t there, but you can squint and see a James Jones-like path for John Jenkins. He badly needs someone who makes defenses collapse and then kick the ball out for open threes to thrive a bit. I liked his contribution (as much as you can like such a shallow on). Grade for the season: C—. Wouldn’t mind having him back if the right guys come on board.

DeAndre Jordan: 19 games, 10.9/11.4/3; .681, .185. Who would have guessed than DeAndre has such passing acumen in him? While he apparently lost a step and a half on defense, his play wasn’t half bad and there’s a real chance he helped Mitch grow into the vocal presence he is now on the court. It’s astounding to see that he’s played less games than Jenkins and only three more than Ellenson, but such is the tanking way. Grade for the season: C+. I don’t see the reason for wanting him back (considering he’ll command a lot more than the vet min), but I see the abstract reasoning in wanting DeAndre on your team.

Enes Kanter: 44 games, 14/10.5/1.9; .585, .144. Sooo glad he got bought out. I’m eager to see him getting his ass kicked by Steven Adams in the series against OKC. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t wish anything bad on Enes, but his shtick grew incredibly stale and annoying (and his defense-averse ways were even more annoying). Props for standing up against Erdogan, but it’s not politics, it’s basketball we’re talking about. The poster boy of why WS/48 doesn’t describe everything right. Grade for the season: D-. I can’t wait to see him come back to the Garden and get posterized by Mitch over and over again.

Kevin Knox: 74 games, 12.9/4.4/1.1; .477, -0.026. The rookie played the most games and minutes for the 2018-19 Knicks while being terrible in every aspect of the game save for shooting threes. I don’t have a lot of faith in him becoming a good NBA player, but as a 9-10th man off the bench to shoot threes and be quite tall he could carve his spot for a decade, I guess. Not what you’d go for in the lottery, but if you swing for the fences that’s what you have to know you could get. I love the idea that as soon as Zion Williamson will post his first 30 point game next year the media will run the list of teenagers scoring 30+ in a game in the NBA and Kevin’s name will be there, a perfect trolling figure amidst all-time great. Grade for the season: D+ (if he wasn’t a rookie he’d get an F).

Luke Kornet: 45 games, 7/3/1.2;.537, .090. Luke ended the season on a tear, but he just gave us confirmation of what we already suspected: he can be an NBA player. He has to play in a system that limits in a hard way his shot creation but gives him the green light to bomb away. He’s like a very limited Brook Lopez, and we saw this year what difference can make a player like him if surrounded by good to great players. He’s a good fit for Mitch, and even for that reason alone he needs to be back. Grade for the season: C+.

Courtney Lee: 12 games, 4.7/2.3/1.3; .527, .087. Courtney is the clear cut example that advanced stats don’t have to be terrible even if you can’t be a good basketball player anymore. You simply have to understand what you can and can’t do anymore. Hated his contract, never hated the guy. Wish him well. Grade for the season: D+. Prime candidate for a buyout in 2020 in Dallas.

Wesley Matthews: 2 games, 7/1.5/2.5; .330, -0.114. Somehow, this washed up guy is a starter in the Eastern playoffs. I thank him for his huge contract that was perfect to match salaries in the KP trade. Grade for the season: LOL.

Emmanuel Mudiay: 59 games, 14.8/3.3/3.9; .531, .024. Improved by leaps and bounds, still has no idea whatsoever on how to run a basketball team. I commend him for the good job he did on becoming a better player, but honestly it’s not enough, not by a long mile. I would sleep much more comfortably if I didn’t know about Fizdale’s love for him. You can’t be an average playmaker in this league with 24 AST% and 14 TOV% if you can’t defend, can’t hit consistently your threes and the team stops dead in its tracks as soon as you pump the air out of the ball just because you breathe inside an NBA arena. Mudiay’s future is the third most anxiety-inducing subplot of the offseason (free agency and lottery night being the other two). Grade for the season: F+.

Frank Ntilikina: 43 games, 5.7/2/2.8 .417, -0.044. Well take a look at me now/cause I’ll still be standing here/and you coming back to [the] Knicks/it’s against all odds/it’s the chance I got to take. It’s so hard to stay on team Frank, I don’t know how I manage to do it and still pretend I can write on the smartest blog I know. This season was terrible for Frank fans. He regressed everywhere, and also failed to stay on the court because he got hurt. I wouldn’t bet a dime on Frank being in the NBA after 2021. It’s a shame, I like his (presumed) style of play, super team-oriented and defense-oriented, but at some point you gotta hand some results, and he seems unable to do that. He reminds me of those people who have a nice sound to their talking voice, and friends of them ask me to teach them to sing. Apart from the fact that I’m not a singing teacher and I couldn’t even if would, I’ve seen too many of them not being able to really sing because they don’t feel anything when they do, even when they can “sing” in the right key. Frank looks the same to me in basketball terms. Grade for the season: F-.

Mitchell Robinson: 65 games, 7.3/6.5/0.6; .690, .218. I can quite recite by heart every single Mitch stat. I’m pretty sure his B-R page got more hits from me than PornHub ever did. A few numbers to digest at the end of this season: Knicks rookie records for most blocked shots in a season, most games in a row with at least 1 block, most games in a row with at least 2 blocks (2nd ever in NBA history for a rookie), highest WS/48 (6th best in NBA history for rookies, just ahead of MJ), highest BPM (6th best in NBA history for a rookie), highest BLK% (second highest in NBA history for rookies, 4th highest ever), highest TS% (highest ever for a rookie, minimum 1000 minutes played). He’s second in VORP amongst rookies this year despite having played a lot less minutes than the others. The guy is simply unbelievable. His production waned a bit in the last week, but you can see that teams really game plan for him. It’s hard to block many shots if the other team is scared to shoot around you. A foundational piece if there ever was one in the last 35 years of Knicks history. Grade for the season: A+. (Might I remind you he’s a second round pick and he’s under contract for 4 years for peanuts? He might be hands down the best contract in the whole NBA right now, at least of non-max ones).

Dennis Smith Jr.: 21 games, 14.7/2.8/5.4; .473, -0.013. Not a great player, and the numbers are there to tell you exactly this, but you can see a functional point guard in him. Problem is, he’s frail and his shot is broken. The good thing is that we have him under contract for two more years, so there’s no rush to make decisions about him (unless a certain flat-earther comes along). I’d like to see what he’s capable of when not hurt. He seems to have a good nose for steals. Grade for the season: C—

Lance Thomas: 46 games, 4.5/2.5/0.6; .482, .004. A great locker room guy, an endless abyss of suckitude on the court. I can see him sticking around in the future for MSG, but I think we saw the last of him on a Knicks jersey. I can’t say I’m unhappy of that. Out of 492 to ever don the blue and orange, Lance is 60th ever for games played. This sums up perfectly the Phil tenure and subsequent years. Grade for the season: D–

Allonzo Trier: 64 games, 10.9/3.1/1.9; .564, .031. Lost behind Mitch’s stupendous rookie season there has been another strong rookie season here. A lot of ups and downs, mainly thanks to injuries and the non-existent offensive sets, but in the end a fairly good debut for Iso Zo. I don’t know if he’s the guy I’d keep around if superstars were to come here (maybe a more “never off his script” guy like Dotson would be better?), but I was extremely pleased by his attitude and skill level compared to the League at large. Grade for the season: B.

Noah Vonleh: 68 games, 8.4/7.8/1.9; .561, .091. It seems like Vonleh hasn’t played in two years, when he only missed 14 games. He went a bit AWOL even before, because after the All-Star break his play totally cratered (pairing him with DeAndre wasn’t that smart), but in the end it was a solid season from him, but still forgettable enough that we should be able to sign him at the minimum again. Grade for the season: B-. Definitely like to have him as a third/fourth big.

David Fizdale: he’s great at one thing: selling you what he says. That was a major skill to have during such a bad season. Everything else was mediocre at best, and I wouldn’t mind if they canned him today (they won’t, and they’re right. For now). Grade for the season: D-.

Guys, it’s finally over. I’d like to thank you all for bearing with me throughout this dismal season, for having kind words for my writings, for making me feel your support. If I did put a smile on your face here and there, well, I want you to know that those are the riches I’m striving for in this life. A smile because you made someone laugh; a tear because you moved something inside someone’s soul; a fist pump because your name is Mitch and you just swatted a Celtic attempt at the rim.

I’d like to thank Mike and Brian for the opportunity.

I’d also like to present to Brian my condolences for his mother. I cheated a bit and read the comments in last night’s thread. I don’t know personally any of you, but as it happens with most online communities you end up knowing people with matching hobbies or tastes better than you do on your day-to-day real-life interactions. On that basis, I think I can say for sure that Mama Kathleen Cronin had to be an amazing woman, since she raised such a great guy.

Be nice to each other, guys. We only get a splinter of time on this Earth, caring for other people is the best we can do. (If you have a few spare minutes, though, feel definitely free to argue about whether Barrett or DeAndre Hunter is the right choice at #3.)

 

New York Knicks 96 – Chicago Bulls 86 – Game Recap

It’s cool being the worst team in the NBA for the season but knowing that your opponent is going to be the worst team in the NBA on the nights it’s facing you. Our active roster looks like this: two 9th overall picks, an 18th pick, a 23rd pick, two second round picks and three undrafted dudes. There’s no way someone is going to do worse, right?

Well, I present to you the April 2019 Chicago Bulls: a hodge-podge of fringe guys around a legitimate NBA player (Robin Lopez) and nothing else. They never presented a challenge to our own merry band of misfits, and how could they? They are essentially the basketball equivalent of the team Pro Evolution Soccer gave you at the start of a new Master League: computer-generated players lacking skills, namesake recognition and (sometimes) purpose.

Our guys started very strong, up twenty (35-15) with 2:30 to go in the first on the heels of strong performances by Kornet, Mitch, Knox and a bit of DSJ. The momentum hit a lull in the second when we fielded a terrible lineup composed by Garrett, Jenkins, Dotson, Ellenson and Hicks, where everybody was too slow and unathletic to do anything and our guys weren’t able to score for three straight minutes. Fortunately, the Bulls were also terrible but the stench of that lineup stayed in the air for the remainder of the game, and Chicago crept several times close to us. Like a bored old man in a hot summer night with a pesky mosquito, though, the Knicks kept mustering just the minimum amount of effort needed to keep the nuisance at more than an arm’s length, and the victory was never in doubt.

In the third quarter we were even treated to a jumpshot attempt by Mitch, who improves in every aspect of his game: his first jumpshot attempts of the season, in late October, was an airball. This one grazed the rim! Maybe by his fifth attempt he’ll actually hit the back rim. Anyway I was delighted to see him take the shot, not because it was good or even needed (it was neither of them), but because it means that he actually might have the freedom to attempt things outside of his comfort zone. I don’t want a jump shooting Mitch, but if he’s able to add a few wrinkles to his offensive game in the offseason, we’re going to have a real shot of having a superstar on our roster.

Notes about the game:

– This game meant absolutely nothing apart from the fact that winning it saved this ragtag bunch of scrappy-doers the ignominy to helm the absolute worst season in franchise history. Right now they’re tied with the Phil-laden 2014-15 abomination, and with a victory against the Pistons would condemn that atrocious iteration to stay alone in its own basketball hell. I’ll be rooting hard for these kids tonight.

– When Mike Breen said there would have been no Mario at point last night, I was visibly saddened by the notion. Judging by Breen’s frown, I think he shared my malady. The Mudiay experience has gone so far that a (mostly) sane person is forced to deeply appreciate the more nuanced approach to the position that Mario brings with him. It’s like going to rural China for a few months, and after that being delighted at the thought of a meal entirely made by Big Macs and McNuggets.

– Speaking of point guards, DSJ played in a very Mudiay-like manner last night. 25 points on 23 shots, 5 assists and 4 turnovers, and a general incapability to involve guys in the action. I seriously hope this version of Smith Jr is just hampered by his back problems, because there’s definitely not a lot to like about that. Also, his shot looks irreparably broken.

– A lot of us have been pining for Mitch and Kornet together. We know that this game shouldn’t count for much, but here they were: 20 points, 30 rebounds and 9 blocks (!) together. You know who would have played very well alongside Mitch, don’t you?

– Kornet’s numbers (12 points, 13 rebounds, 6 blocks and 2 threes) were great, and just the 11th such occurrence in NBA’s history. Only two players have done it more than once, one is Shawn Marion and you know who is the other, don’t you?

– Here’s the list of Knicks rookies grabbing 17+ boards on multiple occasions: Willis Reed, Patrick Ewing, some guy named Johnny Green in 1959 and Mitch. The legend of the lob goes on.

– Apropos of lobs, it is really that hard to throw a decent high pass? People seem to have forgotten how to send a dime in the general Mitch vertical zone. It’s a shame.

– Again about Mitch: he’s now the 20th rookie ever to have blocked at least 160 shots. I’ll wait one more game and then I’ll shower you with all of the accolades and records he’s amassed in his phenomenal rookie season.

– Kevin Knox had a decent game, apart from the fact that he’s a remorseless chucker. 17 and 10, but 5-for-16 from the field (1-for-8 inside the arc).

– Kornet is a terrible chucker too, though. He needed 14 shots to get to 12 point. It’s ok being a stretch 4/5, but sometimes it would be good to hit those shots inside of the arc, you know? This season’s TS% is 53.7 for Luke, and that’s with him shooting a bad 41.5% from two. I hope he develops a couple moves from the post, if he wants to stick for good.

– I usually root for nobodies plucked from the G-League depths, but I can’t find the inner strength to actually lobby for Billy Garrett’s future. Sad thing is, he’s not that far from Ntilikina in terms of real basketball contributions.

– Madness all around the League! Magic steps down from the Lakers’ President of Basketball Operations seat without telling anyone beforehand. Heat fans sing “Paul Pierce sucks!” after the Truth’s bonkers remarks about his career being on par with Dwyane Wade’s, only Wade was able to ride his teammates’ train a little more (it’s the same as hearing Britney Spears saying she’s equal to Whitney Houston, having had the same career and skills but being overlooked because one starred in “Crossroads” and the other in “The Bodyguard”). Dallas wins another game and loses ground on the tanking race. It feels good to be normal-awful, for once.

Guys, just one more. Let’s do this, and then keep our fingers crossed for 34 days.

Washington Wizards 110 – New York Knicks 113 – Game Recap

“What can change the nature of a game?”

Some of you might have recognized the origin of the broad strokes of this question. You know I’m a gamer, and in 1999 (already 20 years ago! Damn I feel really old) a revolutionary RPG came out for PC thanks to Interplay, trying to exploit the success of Baldur’s Gate in 1998. The name of the game was Planescape: Torment, and while it was kind of a commercial blunder at first (becoming profitable in subsequent years thanks to its cult following and an Enhanced Edition that came out in 2017 at the hands of remastering wizards Beamdog) it quickly became a mainstay in every Top 10 list of games, especially RPGs because of its philosophical depth and extreme care in character arcs. To this day, it’s without a doubt the most literary (in a good sense) game I ever played and it’s responsibile for 33% of the fact that I love the english language.

I won’t spoil it for you if you ever decide to give it a go (and I remember some of you already played it; the others, well I definitely recommend it), but essentially the game goes like this: you die, but you never really die. Everytime you died before the game you lost your memory, and it probably happened a thousand times. The main goal is then to understand who you are (were?), why you ended up like this, and how do you become normal again.

Moving forward on you quest, you discover that some of your previous incarnations left behind some memories, even journals, while others have done everything they could to erase their traces.

At some point, you learn that there were three of these previous incarnations that are important in the game: the Good Incarnation, the Practical Incarnation, the Paranoid Incarnation. More on them later*.

Since I won’t spoil the game for you (even though, well, 20 years…), I’ll just say that the question “What can change the nature of a man?” lingers throughout the whole game and stayed with me for a long, long time. To this day, if you asked me that question, I don’t know what I’d answer.

But, back to us: What can change the nature of a game? 

Answer this question, well, I can: having clinched the worst record in the NBA while your opponent might still benefit from losing one here and there.

If you watched this game (and I bet you didn’t, you sane person), you saw how the Wizards did what they could to basically throw the game. Not the players, but well… the coaching staff didn’t exactly send its best units out there again and again. Jeff Green scored 19 in the first half (18 in the second quarter) and never saw any second-half action. Bradley Beal “acted” his way out ot the floor falling around here and there. OAKAAK Chasson Randle shot 11 times at the basket. I mean, Washington competed, but didn’t really… uhm… try its best, you know? And that’s all good and well, especially considering the fact they’re tied for wins with the Mavericks, and the fewer chances for the Mavs to jump in the top five the better for us in the long run.

So, yes, we’re facing a good win. An interesting game culminated in a win, at a time when winning is gladly accepted around here. I don’t think we could have asked for more.

*Writing about those incarnations I couldn’t shake the thought that there’s a bit of them in every savvy, modern Knick fan.
The Good incarnation: hey, we should win every game we can and we’ll be better rooting for every young guy that dons our jersey, even if it’s a sucky French guy who can’t stay on the floor and can’t hit shots (let it be known that I’m still team Frank, even if it makes zero sense).
The Practical incarnation: wait, we’re better off tanking and ditching young guys at their peak trade value. So, yeah, let’s play Knox a lot and then let’s trade him as soon as possible!
The Paranoid incarnation: DOLAN’S RAZOR. MUDIAY IS A RFA. WE’RE GOING TO SIGN BOOGIE.

A few notes about the game:

– Is it a coincidence that Fiz pretty much nailed rotations in the first game in the whole season where a win wouldn’t have mattered at all? Probably so (also, see again: Wizards tanking), but give me all the silver linings you got. It was bizarre: we only went eight deep but everyone contributed and nobody really sucked.

– Is this the end of the Mudiay era? Let’s hope so. The thought hit me in the second quarter, and it immediately lightened me up. I have nothing against Mud as a human being (in fact, I think he probably is a good guy), but I can’t stand watching players in Mud’s mold playing as if team ball isn’t a thing.

– If you paid a bit of attention to how Mario played the point, you knew why Mudiay is a horrible playmaker. Hez tried a lot of times to pass the ball very near the rim, and even if he didn’t record a lot of assists (just 5 tonight), sometimes people didn’t convert the looks, some other times they got fouled, sometimes they passed the ball again outside for an easy look from the perimeter. Hezonja is not a good point guard (how could he be?), but he’s miles better than Mudiay and Ntilikina at this point, and I fear he might continue to be. Good for him that he’s pretty much guaranteeing himself another shot in the NBA with these last games: in the last three, he’s going for 25/10/7 on 53.7 FG%. Hez has long been the meister of the garbage time, but this is just another level. Hope he sticks around for the worst team in the NBA every year. He’s also posting for the first time in the season a positive WS/48! Good things all over.

– DSJ was able to play again, even with a sore back. His game was pretty bad, but every minute he spends on the court it’s a minute that serves as a reminder that we don’t need Mudiay at all. 15 points on 12 shots, 5 assists, 5 turnovers. Very very mediocre.

– Kornet had a great game! 17 points on 11 shots, 4 threes, 4 blocks, 7 boards and a team-high +9 plus/minus. It’s only the 102th time in the history of the NBA that a guy who connects on 4 threes also swats 4 blocks.

– Mitch was his usual self: 11 points, 11 boards, 3 blocks. The streak goes on! The third block especially was beastly, he met a dunk/layup attempt from Randle with fierce authority and corralled the board like it was nothing.

Two to go, and a pretty much guaranteed win against Chicago. Let’s hang tight, guys!

 

 

New York Knicks 96 – Houston Rockets 120 – Game Recap

I won’t toy around even a tiny bit: this game was pure ass. The final score doesn’t even begin to tell how mismatched were the two teams, with the worldbeating Rockets straight up abusing the Knicks from the start, and without needing too much from the reigning MVP to complete that feat (because let’s face it, in 2019 a 26 point game from Harden – on 21 shots! – is kinda subpar) or elite efficiency from the whole team; the Rockets shot 42.6% from the field, but connected on 22 threes on 59 attempts while our guys were just able to muster 6 trifectas on 27 tries. The starters did a lot of damage, as three of our starters ended with -30 or less plus/minus while Chris Paul and Harden posted a tidy +34 and +29, respectively.

Honestly, the game looked like a lot of the games I played semi-competitively in my youth. I always played in outmatched teams, and most of the time opposing teams would just run us out of gym in less than 20 minutes. To this day, I remember a game I played in 1995 where the final score was something like 92-19 (I kid you not) and I was the leading scorer for my team with… 4 points.

Seriously, there’s no point in telling you how this game was, so I’ll just focus on the main course: point Mario.

Mudiay was out thanks to a sore shoulder, so with the team completely out of serviceable point guards (sorry, Billy Garrett, I have a hard time seeing you stick in this league) Fiz elected to give the lion’s share of playmaking duties to the Croatian Kobe. Simply put, it was a blast. I don’t mean this in the sense that Mario might have a future at the 1, but watching him play the part made evident a concept we should all be aware of: our point guards simply suck at distributing (the jury is out on DSJ, who showed some promise before injuring himself and letting the position open for Emmenthaler Mudiay), and as soon as there someone actually capable of making a strong entry pass assists tend to pile up.

What do you know, point Mario recorded his first NBA triple-double last night, with a fat line of 16/16/11 on 11 shots. The 4 turnovers are a bit too much, but it was a glorious individual performance. Mario is like a talented painter who mostly “paints” slinging his own feces at the canvas, but sometimes remembers to put actual paint on the palette and then proceeds to give you glimpse of pure art. Last night, in his most complete performance ever in this League, he gave us his “Girl with a pearl earring”, a well-balanced masterpiece where everything falls into place. Last Wednesday, he raged against the Magic with fiery strokes, delivering his “Saturn devouring his own son”, a gory, scary, pulpy and a bit pointless creepy act of artistic revenge. The Lakers game with the iconic block on LeBron was his “Composition VIII”, a mixture of things that had no business being there but in the end look good and meant to be. The Giannis stepover was like a Lucio Fontana work of art: a single cut on the canvas that makes you wonder “Is that all?” but ultimately resonates through a lot of arts’ cognoscenti (Every other game is similar to a chicken holding the brush in her beak and running around smearing paint on the floor).

Still, a marvelous triple double for him. Since there’s nothing else to say about this game (other than Mitch keeping alive his 2+ blocks streak and eating alive Faried on one occasion), I’d like to treat you to “The history of the triple double”.

***

I learned about the existence of a thing called triple double unpacking Upper Deck cards in 1994 (it was also my first exposure to NBA, thanks to the intuition of my uncle and to the fact that the newspaper stand had no change, so the vendor “gifted” us with three packs of cards – I still remember the first ever card I pulled out, it was of the Denver Nuggets’ shooting guard Bryant Stith). That edition had a special section about triple doubles, god knows why. Well, the first time I incurred into the notion of a triple double it was thanks to Rumeal Robinson, who recorded two triple doubles in 1993 for the Nets while substituting for the injured Kenny Anderson, and was thus granted a special card by Upper Deck. At that time there was no Internet (nor Basketball Reference), so I guessed this Rumeal guy was a big shot in the NBA having accomplished such a great feat twice. Little did I know that a triple double was not that big of a feat, and little could I know that in the late 2010s the triple double movement would have seen such a spike that even Mario Hezonja and Jarrett Jack could record one manning the point for the Knicks.

***

It’s 1996, late February/early March. The team I play for is approaching his last game of the season, having already been eliminated from the playoffs (but not without putting up a fair fight; that year we won 7 of the 16 games we played). A few of our guys are sick with colds or fever. I have to play all 40 minutes (the only instance of me playing the whole game; I was a starter – at center, since my polished 5’8″, 145 lbs frame accounted for second tallest guy on the team, welp – for the whole season but usually played 30mpg banging with guys 6’3″ or taller and weighing at least 190 lbs). I finish the game with the only triple double ever recored by that team, with 10 points (on 16 shots, urgh), 16 boards, and 10 steals (at the time it was impossible to record triple doubles in Italy. Assists were awarded only if you passed the ball to a guy in the paint and the guy didn’t have to dribble even once for it to be considered a valid one). Of course we lost. If your center shoots 5-for-16 for the night, what do you think will happen? By the way, I also have the only 4-point play ever made by a player of that team. Incidentally, that team folded in 2001.

***

Throughout Knicks history, there have been only 79 triple doubles. It’s not hard to guess who has the most (it’s Clyde, of course, with 23). I’ll let you guess who’s second and third*. Anyway, in the last 30 years there have been only 13 triple doubles by a Knick player. Mark Jackson is the only one having more than one – he had four. Notable names on the list: Raymond Felton. Chris Childs. Jarrett Jack. Mario Hezonja.

Yes, Mario and Jarrett Jack have as many triple doubles in a Knick jersey as Patrick Ewing.

***

For context purposes, the NBA has seen 120 triple doubles (and counting) just in the 2018-2019 season. Ten years ago, the grand total was 30. We’re living in a golden era, in terms of league-wide talent. It’s a shame that our team is so devoid of such talent. For now?

A few notes:

– We clinched the worst record in the NBA! It was the worst year since the lottery exists to do it (Dolan’s razor anyone?), but it’s still a nice feat, especially because we avoided malcontent festering inside a pathetic losing team. I have to give credit to Fiz for that. Just for that.

– Henry Ellenson is a weird dude. Once in a while he looks slick as hell (even if very slow and plodding). 16 and 7 for him. I wouldn’t mind guaranteeing him for next year to be a homeless man Kelly Olynyk for us.

– You know who’s improved mightily as the season went by? Nah, not a player. Rebecca Haarlow, that’s who. More confident, more relaxed, more professional-sounding, dare I say even better looking (love the casual mini-ponytail she was sporting last night)?

– Speaking of Haarlow: I don’t know if you saw it, but the interview with Mitch’s high school coach was nice. The guy looks like a good-hearted, no-nonsense man. Thank you Butch for everything you taught our wonder tall baby.

Only three to go! We’re almost done, guys. We stayed strong. We won the tanking battle. It’s a tale for the ages. When we’ll be old and cranky, we’ll remember nights like these and we’ll remember they led to a ring, sooner or later. Especially if Jeff Bezos buys the Knicks, you know?

*second in that list is Richie Guerin, with 16. Third is Michael Ray Richardson, with 12.

New York Knicks 100 – Orlando Magic 114 – Game Recap

This early April games are seldom relevant, even during non-tanking seasons. There are only a handful of games bearing any sort of importance, what with most of the seeding and qualfication threshold being already handed out. Well, this wasn’t one of them. Orlando needs every win it can get to sneak into the playoffs (the Magic began the night being 9th, down 0.5 games from the 8th spot held by Miami), and the Knicks need every loss they can get to ensure their place amongst the top tanking teams ever. That said, the game wasn’t as bad as you could have guessed from the premises.

The Knicks actually started guns a-blazing, hitting 7 of their first 13 shots and with Mudiay doing his best impression of an average passing PG, dishing in traffic and (mostly) on the perimeter. Watching Mudiay play in the first quarter you had the feeling he stayed up late to watch tape of the latest Westbrook heroic: Mud had 5 assist in the first 6 minutes, while shooting terribly and notching only 2 points from the line in the whole period. Meanwhile, Mitch was beasting on well-timed cuts and well-executed finishes at the rim, with a couple soft layups in stride. Kevin Knox was also pretty good attacking the rim (!), never settling for that ugly floater of his but going strong to the rack with the ball up high. Intensity level wasn’t high by any measure, but it was a competitive game nonetheless. After the Knicks went up 8 (22-14) the quarter actually ended with the teams perfectly tied at 26.

The second quarter was a debacle, as shots weren’t falling at the same rate for the Knicks but mostly the offense was inconclusive while the defense was porous at best. After returning from the bench, Mitch was looking winded with more than 3 minutes to go in the second: banging bodies with Vucevic without some sort of help from anywhere else (since we started Hezonja as our power forward, making good of a promise Fizdale made to him) would do that to a rail-thin rookie with an up-and-down stamina. The quarter ended 58-45 and we knew the game was over. From there, it started the Mitch-block-streak watch, since by halftime Mitch had none, a very rare occurrence.

The third quarter saw the Knicks come very close behind lots of drives from Mario, who played a nice all-around game (save for defense, but we could expect that): the Knicks were down 2 with just 1:23 to go in the third, before three straight trifectas from Terrence Ross sent us at the last break down 11.

The fourth quarter saw the Knicks putting up a fair fight, but never coming closer than 7 points, despite the efforts from Mario (again) and Knox. We went on to lose and that was ok. I was just sad because during the telecast (and the NBA League Pass extension confirmed that) it looked like Mitch’s streak of 2+ blocks did come to an end. Alas, it was not to be. Sooner or later it had to happen, and it was more than acceptable for it to happen against Vucevic, who’s more than a handful to contain on defense and would tire a lot of guys around the league. Well, I thought, it was good until it last (and by the way Mitch would have been second all-time among rookies anyway, only tied with the Admiral).

Imagine my surprise, then, when I went to open the boxscore to write this recap. Two blocks? I remembered a clear one on a Terrence Ross jumpshot early in the fourth quarter, but where was the second? I went on to check and there it was: it was credited, with 7:02 to go in the fourth (so less than two minutes after the first) against an Aaron Gordon tip-in. And you know what? They were right! It was a block, only it happened in a split-second and in real time it looked like Gordon’s attempt just clanged onto the rim.

The streak goes on! 26 games with at least 2 blocks for Robinson, putting him in sole possession of the second place all-time among rookies. If the Knicks were a 35-win team (god forbid), I think Mitch would have a clear shot to be nominated for the second All-Defensive team. Being the Knicks a 15-win team, I don’t think his effort will be rewarded (this year). But then again, maybe it’s best not to be put in the spotlight too soon, especially with the summer of AD ’round the corner. Don’t take away my Mitch please, I want him here forever.

A few notes:

– Mitch’s streak is also the 12th longest ever in the history of the League (non only rookies). Doncic and Young might be better (they are, as of now), but Mitch’s season has been nothing short of historical. It’s the best rookie season for a Knick since Ewing, bar none. Last night (and mind you, he really was gassed in a few stretches) he posted a 12/9/3/2 line (3 steals, 2 blocks) and it looked like he wasn’t even trying that much. If his offseason is just average, he’ll come back ready to plaster opposing players all over the court. He’s just too good.

– Mario went nuts tonight in his return to Orlando (byt the way: I don’t understand why you have to make a promise to start a guy against his former team, which selected him 5th overall and repeatedly saw him fail to live to expectations, but still. I’m ready for the Ntilikina night in 2020, when Frank will start against the Knicks and put up 7/3/3): 29 points on 20 shots, 9 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals. It would be so easy to root for him if he only cared to play real basketball more than once every two weeks. The 29 points are his new career-high. If he has a few more games like this one, maybe he’ll ditch his negative WS/48 for the season, who knows?

– Mario’s season reminds me of those friends who talk always like they’re such big shots in every area, and most of the times (rightfully) nobody believes them. Then one night you go to a restaurant and you see that there’s, say, Bruce Springsteen seated two tables from you. At the end of the dinner Bruce comes to your table and greets your friend, telling him “hey, we have to check back on each other! Remember that night I backed you on vocals in front of 3,000 people?” and your jaw drops to the ground. Next day, your friend will claim he had a burger with Elon Musk on Wednesday and you’ll go back not believing anything he says. Last night, the stepover dunk, the LeBron block: the Bruce meeting. Everything else: utter crap.

– Do I need to say anything about Mudiay? Yes, I do. If Mudiay learned to play every night like his first quarter, I’d be more than ok with keeping him on board. I don’t care that much that he misses his shots if he keeps the offense humming. Sadly, he was able to do that only for 10 minutes. Still, a well rounded box score: 13/7/10/2/1. He just was inefficient (13 points on 13 shots, 3 turnovers) and the usual minus on defense. He also can’t play the PnR, but in the open (or semi-open) floor he found Mitch three times, which has to be a season high for him.

– Did Knox turn the corner in terms of offensive efficiency? In March, he was able to shoot a respectable (for a rookie) 53% TS. In April he’s at 62% (ultra small sample size, I know). I mean, he still sucks, but there’s some improvement here and there. 21 points on 13 shots, 4 boards and 2 steals aren’t that bad.

– Billy Garrett Jr had his NBA debut thanks to the fact that we’re out of bodies in the backcourt. He was nothing special, but he can run the PnR much better than Mudiay. I know, that’s like saying that 3 is higher than 2. Mudiay has to be one of the worst 5 pg in the league (10-day contracts included) in running the pick and roll.

– Kornet was thoroughly abused by Vucevic. It’s not exactly fresh news, but normally he’s at his worst when asked to man the 5 without some enforcement (be it Vonleh or Mitch). He collected a game-low -21 plus/minus (Mitch was +7 for what it’s worth).

We’re getting closer and closer to the last spot (we need two losses, two Phoenix wins, or any combination of those). I guess next game will be a blowout, so we’re due!

See you against the Rockets!

 

Chicago Bulls 105 – New York Knicks 113 – Game Recap

Well, well, well. Did anyone ever doubt we would end up winning this one? I mean, did you see beforehand the Bulls’ starting lineup? Three undrafted guys. A late first round-pick on his third team. A good center with a journeyman resume. If there ever was a blatant tank job, it was this one. Not that I blame them: it’s the right thing to do, just like it was the right thing to do to play our (mostly) young guys and be happy with any result.

In short: of course we did win this one. To be honest, I’m pretty amazed that we were able to let the Bulls mount a fake comeback of their own, letting them shave the deficit to a meager five points before putting the game in the fridge for good.

It wasn’t a good game to watch. The Knicks were hitting on all cylinders in the first half (even getting to a 28-point lead), but the atmosphere and the intensity were very similar to a glorified scrimmage against a varsity team. There are things that aren’t quantifiable, and one of them is the heaviness of the air inside of an arena when a game is played. You can’t gauge that heaviness in measurables, but you feel if it’s high or it’s low. Anyone who’s ever watched a game knows what I’m talking about. Well, this one was as heavy as the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man right after having been defeated by the Ghostbusters. Fluffy, vanilla-white, strangely inconsequential. It looked like nobody was playing for something because, to be honest, nobody was playing for something (save for the guys on unguaranteed contracts for next year, but even then, the effort wasn’t enough to make up for the overall suckiness).

Final result notwithstanding, the script was pretty much the same as it has been in the last month (since Mudiay came back from his injury): the less Mud is involved in the offense, the better the ball moves. It’s just a shame that we’re left with zero PG on our roster apart from him thanks to a wide variety of injuries, since even Kadeem went down with a concussion and I guess will be questionable for Wednesday. I mean, who am I kidding, Fiz would play Mud anyway for at least 30 minutes, but right now he can just play the “who the hell should I play here instead?” card and nobody can hold him accountable for that.

Onto the notes for the game:

– Keep in mind that whatever will get written here has to be taken with a grain of salt, because when you play early April NBA basketball a lot of things are not reliable, but it’s so easy on the eyes seeing Mitch and Kornet play together. That’s not even on them as players, it’s more on them as specific molds: the rim running center, quick in space and able to cover the perimeter on defense, and the sharp shooting tall guy, with cinderblocks for feet but long enough to protect the rim up close. It wasn’t hard to figure that it could have worked, and I’d say early results are good. Maybe not real NBA good, but early April NBA good for sure.

– Kornet scored a career-high 24 points on just 11 shots, and added 6 rebounds and 3 blocks for good measure. Is he the third best player on the active roster right now? I think he is. I honestly hope they’ll keep him around, as a situational sharp shooting big good for 10 minutes per game he’s pretty good. He even had a monster jam in traffic, but then again, early April NBA. Or Fizdale magic, call it what you want.

– Tied for third best player on our active roster there is Damyean Dotson. who after a shooting slump came back strong and went on to score 18 points on 8 shots (6/7 from three), while adding to the table 6 boards and 6 assists. I swear, Dotson is a better distributor than that sorry excuse of a playmaker going by the name “Emmanuel”. I can’t still get if Dotson is a plus defender or merely an average one (I guess the latter), but for this season Dot’s play is one of few good notes.

– Our second best player is a sophomore 26-year fake point guard, who plays point guard much better than our nominal point guard. Kadeem Allen was somehow able to record a game-high +20 plus/minus in under 10 minutes of play, before the aforementioned concussion put him on the shelf for the remainder of the game. He also had 5 assists in those 9:46 of playing time and just one turnover.

– His PG buddy, instead, was a mess (strange, huh? But they fixed him for good!). The whole Knicks team went on to shoot 50% from the field tonight, including a stupendous 47.4% from three, and recorded 24 assists. Mudiay shot 33.3% (17 points on 21 shots), had 4 assists to 3 turnovers, and was able to post the second-worst plus/minus of the whole game, Bulls players included. For fuck’s sake, for all his improvements (which are certainly real) Mudiay is on pace to a .024 WS/48 season. Kadeem Allen stands as .101 (small sample size, I know, but come on). I think bringing back Mudiay is a borderline fireable offense, but I’m not even hoping to see him on another roster in August. I think resignation did set in, and we’ll have this useless waste of space as our backup (or, god forbid, starting) point guard for two more years. We shall see.

– I liked a bit DSJ in his Knicks time, but man, is he frail.

– Kevin Knox had a strange game. Numbers are goodish (19 points on 15 shots, 9 boards, 3 assists, 1 block in 40 minutes) but his impact on the game is almost null. Season’s almost over, at least, so we can look to improvements in summer league (or to draft day trades, I beg of you Perry). For now, be happy to know that Kevin is 14th in the all-time NYK list for most points scored in a rookie season, and a good bet to end 12th. If he improves a bit his shot selection, there’s even a chance he’ll have a better TS% in his rookie season than Willis Reed had in his. I can’t wrap my head around that thought (not that it means much, but really? Willis Reed shot .477 TS% in 64-65? Ouch).

– By the same logic, did you know that Frank Ntilikina had a better rookie TS% than Micheal Ray Richardson? Were players shooting with a blindfold on in the 20th century?

– I know you want me to wax poetic about Mitchell. I would, but I’m almost out of words and angry at the fact that this guy (with a quiet line of 14/10/4/3) was able to shot only 4 times in 33 minutes on the court. Much of that stems from the fact the Mudiay is an atrocious passer (unless it’s his drive and kick move he dusts off twice a game, just to revert back to dribble dribble dribble midrange jumpers for the rest of the game), but some of them has to be on the coaching staff. He’s sealing shorter guys in the low post, give him the ball! The man has a really cool touch around the rim. There was a possession where Dotson mistimed the pass for a lob, but Mitch was still able to catch it, move around Robin Lopez and score with a reverse left-handed bank layup. He has a feel for putting the ball in the basket from close, it’s not only power dunks. Also: I love when he blocks a jump shot and immediately recovers the basket to jumpstart the fastbreak. He did just that for his third block: a smothered Antonio Blakeney three turned into a rebound turned into an opportunity to run. Glorious.

– I’m a bit sad seeing his block% going down a bit. Right now it’s 10.6%, good for third ever in the NBA. And it went down in the last two games (when he had 4 and 3 blocks, respectively. Damn). I’m much more happy, instead, seeing his REB% go to respectable heights. For the season he’s at 16.8%, a far cry from his early season 12.2%. I never, never, never expected him to improve so much in that area. That REB% would be good for 20th in the League if he qualified for the leaderboard.

– Phoenix won a huge game for us last night. Right now we need to lose three more games (or Phoenix to win three, or any combo of Knicks losses and Suns wins than amounts to three) and we’ve locked the last spot. I’ve warmed a bit on the top 5 of the draft. Of course you’d like to pick Zion and immediately transform yourself into a playoff-hopeful team overnight, but I can see this team working out even with Morant, Culver, Clarke or (gasp!) Barrett. A DSJ-Dotson-Barrett-(TBD)-Mitch team would probably lose a lot of games again but it would be a fun team to watch.

– Bron, can you insist to bring Fizdale to Los Angeles? I want to see this team coached by Mike Miller. The Westchester one, of course, not the shoe-losing, three-bomb abusing one.

Let’s prepare to get our asses handed to us in Orlando on Wednesday for good! See you soon.

 

 

Toronto Raptors 117 – New York Knicks 92 – Game Recap

It occurs to me I’ve never exactly told you about my Clark Kent job. I don’t know if there’s such a profession in the USA; but my trade is essentially facility management for condos, accounting for expenses for common areas, negotiating between home owners, and generally acting as the guy you call if you’re an home owner and you’re having some sort of building-related problem. In short, I’m sort of a commissioner of condos. At the end of the year, you have to report in a public meeting with the owners about expenses, works in progress, etc.

Historically, in Italy there have been two ways to do this sort of job: treading water, with minimum effort, and bullshitting your way through every meeting, thinking that the owners will easily be manipulated by the guy they feel is in a position of authority, or being very meticulous and transparent, putting as much effort as possible into making data available to every owner in real time so that by the time of the meeting your work is almost entirely done and you just have to negotiate the disputes between owners.

After a new law about condos was approved in 2013, the first category has seen its ranks slowly but steadily depleted, while new blood (like me) has been inserted in the profession with both eyes towards transparency and accountability. That’s all well and good until you actually have a guy from the first category managing your condo (by law, every condo has to have one of such managers). When that happens, it’s amazing to see how a lot of people fall for their bullshit (“Mr. Rossi, but why did we spend 6k euros just for the cleaning service when last year we spent 3k?” “Eh, you see, growing interest rates have an effect on cleaning materials, so the company has to charge more to every customer, also Mr. Bianchi on the second floor has a dog who suffered from diarrhoea all year and your building needed a lot of extra services”) without even blinking an eye. That’s at the same time discouraging for honest guys and mesmerizing to watch in real time. Of course, as soon as one of the owners sees through the blatant lies, the “bad” manager knows his days are numbered, but ignorance and fear of the “supposed” authority makes it so that “bad” managers last a few years more than they should.

I think you know where we’re headed.

Listening to Fizdale lament a lack of defensive players and attribute the many defensive shortcomings to that, and seeing for the umpteenth time a starting five that clearly doesn’t care at all for defense, I couldn’t take my mind off the thought that he actually makes up things on the go. “Oh god, I have the press conference, I have to survive this, what can I say? Yeah, defense! Even if I don’t pay that much attention to gameplan or rotations, those fools will certainly fall for it again!”.

I mean, Toronto is a really good team, and the standings speak for themselves. But there’s no need to make things easy for them by playing from the start two atrocious defenders in Knox and Mudiay and a very suspect one in Hezonja, while forsaking (at least for the moment) our best available defenders in Kadeem Allen and Mitchell Robinson. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we started the game falling behind by 13 (25-12) before Knox and Mudiay got subbed out of the game. By the time Mudiay came back in to the game in the second quarter, Knicks had cut the deficit to seven and the team was humming playfully, with a clear monster performance in the making by Mitch. The second quarter went on to end with the Knicks behind by 19, and there was the game. I don’t think we would have had a chance even with Kadeem running the show from the beginning (especially because tonight he was particularly turnover- and foul- happy) and Mitch and Lance (!) playing from the start, but at least we wouldn’t have been subjected to this dreadful start for the umpteenth time this season. I’m tired of watching no-defense ballhogs and chuckers play freely without any kind of dungeon in sight. We’re near the end, but I can’t help thinking about how there were chunks of this season that were lost due to the fact that we didn’t really put our money where our mouth was, as the full moniker of Stratomatic has been suggesting for a few months.

After that, the game was just a cool Mitch showreel and a reminder that Pascal Siakam is everything you should want in a player.

Onto some notes:

– Let’s start with the huge plus from this game: Mitch blew a chance to nab his first career 20/20 Nick Andersoning two free throws with 3.6 seconds to go, but his box score was still more than majestic: 19 points, 21 rebounds, 2 blocks (I counted 4, but whatever) and a steal in 31 minutes of play. For reference, I give you the full list of rookies who reached those thresholds: Mutombo, Mourning, Shaq, David Robinson, Terry Cummings (guy was good for a while), Hakeem, DeJuan Blair (huh), Ralph Sampson, Derrick Coleman, Greg Anderson, Clark Kellogg, Bill Walton and Earl Williams. It’s not entirely a murderer’s row and Mitch registers the lowest scoring performance, but I think it’s something else to add to his impressive resume. He’s also the third youngest ever to post such numbers. He’s also rocking the second highest WS/48 in the list. Right now he’s posting the sixth highest ever WS/48 season for a rookie. He surpassed MJ. I really, really, really don’t get why he doesn’t start. It makes no sense.

– But, well, in a game like this maybe not starting was a boon, since he didn’t have to play with Mudiay a lot. Mudiay is like Mitch’s kryptonite, on behalf of the fact that he never passes the ball like it’s supposed to. Late in the fourth, Kornet and Ellenson were able to find Mitch twice in the low post. Result: a bucket and a foul. If Luke freaking Kornet is able to do that, shouldn’t everyone be encouraged to do the same? Isn’t “pass the ball to the tall, high jumping guy” a good enough strategy, if we’re trying to keep things simple?

– About Mudiay’s night and the general shortcomings of our lead guards: tonight the Knicks recorded as many assists as turnovers. You know who led the team in assists? You’ve guessed wrong right (I guess, by this paragraph and at this point): DeAndre Jordan, with 4 assists in 20 minutes. Tied at 2 apiece after DAJ there are Kadeem, Mario and Kornet. This team is soooo bad.

– I saw the Knox-as-Novak gain some traction in the comments in the last days (and some weird speculation about trying to foresee how good a player will be based on the number of threes taken in his rookie season – but I think we need team optimism more than ever, so it’s ok), and I stand by it. Shooting open threes is probably the only real NBA skill Knox has. It’s not much, but it’s something. Also two blocks and a steal today! But don’t let them fool you: he played defense like my mom would if I put in her hands a NBA2K controller for the first time and didn’t explain her which button does what.

– I didn’t like Kadeem’s performance that much, but at least he was scoring efficiently (18 points on 9 shots) and trying on defense. These days, it’s enough, even with his 4 turnovers.

– Fiz tried to play Jordan and Mitch together. While I commend the fact that we’re trying weird things, it’s evident from the fact that they tried to defy the principle of bodies compenetration in a few offensive possessions, where they both stood in the same exact area under the rim, that they aren’t receiving even a modicum of effective coaching. That’s, uh, not how you should play, you know? At least one has to stand a bit further from the rim.

– DSJ came back and was terrible. Not Mudiay terrible, but still terrible. 7 points on 11 shots and just one assist are horrible numbers, but he looked like he was playing with a bit of fire on defense.

– How is it even possible to airball a layup and a 5-footer in the same game? Well, the Knicks were able to do that, thanks to DAJ (layup) and Lance (5-footer). Veteran leadership, yay!

So, I think I won’t be able to recap Saturday’s game because I have a friend’s graduation party incoming and we’re planning on getting real wasted, but who knows, I might surpise myself and not wake up with a tremendous headache just to watch Knicks basketball!

See you guys!