(Editor’s Note: The recap generator’s on the fritz, please pardon the somewhat haggard formatting)
AMAR’E STOUDEMIRE, B
Any memories one might have of a brick-tastic and logy first half were eradicated by a splendid third quarter, filled with the entire menu of Amar’e’s delicious scoring entrées—smooth-as-the-other-side-of-the-pillow midrange J’s, quick low-post buckets, and much rolling and dunking at the rim. You know, like this:
CARMELO ANTHONY, D-
Melo: "The dogfight we were in? There was no way I was coming out"
— Kenny Ducey (@KennyDucey) April 5, 2014
Okay, yeah. I get that, code of the warrior, die with yer boots on, better to be a live dog than a dead lion, [Insert particularly determined animal] mentality. Whatever else you want to say about Carmelo Anthony, he’s never taken a night off throughout what feels like an interminable, leech, gator, and possibly a few backward Deliverance-type swamp people, poisoned swamp of a season.
But maybe, considering that the Knicks’ best stretches occurred when they ran out a miniscule-ball lineup featuring either STAT or Tyson plus four guards, a wise fellow (like a coach. Stop laughing) might’ve chosen to not to let emotion rule the day.
Yes, you could just as easily make the argument that it’s worth it to keep a hobbled Melo on the floor, if only to serve as a decoy. That worked like a charm back in ye olde glorious days of yore (aka Nov. 2012 v. San Antonio), but for the final seven minutes, they still ran the ball through Melo on practically every possession. Of course, when you have an offense that is entirely based upon Melo’s ability to tilt the defense, it’s not surprising that the team wasn’t able to change gears. And considering the glacial pace of Woodson ability to think and adapt to in-game strategic decisions…yeah, that wasn’t going to happen.
He was clearly hurt. Post-game x-rays were negative, but this seems eerily similar to the de-limbing he suffered via Garnett in last year’s playoffs. He’ll play on Sunday (natch), but this was as awful a performance from Melo as we’ve seen in a glacial amount of time. How bad was it? In his entire career (853 games), it’s the first time that he’s coughed up the rock more than 8 times, and canned fewer than six shots.
And it’s the most TO’s he’s had in four years.
We’ll chat some more about the final play (Hey! Where are you going? I’ve got some Novocaine right here. [Not Novakaine, sorry. ?]) in a jiffy. But just to steer away from the more painful aspects of this here ‘cap, Anthony did come up with a number of deft swipes and passes, though, yeah… he picked out weakside shooters and/or dumped the ball to STAT in the pick and roll about as often as he flung it to Julianne Moore in celebrity row (more on her in a sec, too).
TYSON CHANDLER, C
A meh outing for Chandler. Not much success with lob-hunting and often was forced away from the rim whilst chasing each and every Warlock wing when a Knick switched, seriously hindering his ability to do any damage on the boards.
RAYMOND FELTON, B-
Some terrible 20-footers/floaters mixed in with a steady hand on the tiller of the offense. I really, honestly thought his clutch trey was going to prove the game-winner, because I am stupid and gullible and fail to ever remember a single iota of this Santayana-esque, forever-on-repeat Knick past. And this is the sweater that he donned after the game. YOU’RE A BRIGHT SHINING STAR, RAYMOND FELTON.
Yeah, I bumped his grade up a point or too for that. Deal with it.
J.R. SMITH, A-
This is the totality of the J.R. Smith experience. When he’s on, sweet lawd almighty, it;s dizzying ecstatic thing. He’s still operating as the de facto PG, but tonight’s version was more Allen Iverson than John Stockton. Stil, it was a beautiful thing (even if you could sense that it wasn’t sustainable, because J.R. Smith). Still, people on the Twitterers were posting things like this…
J.R. Smith these days, basically pic.twitter.com/Ebc59XVJzj
— charlie widdoes (@charliewiddoes) April 5, 2014
After he nailed an oh-so-tough high post turnaround heave with the shot clock running down in the 4th, it’s pretty accurate to say that neither he nor any and all ‘Bocker-backers could feel their faces. (And he hadn’t even partaken of various substances at the club yet! [rimshot]). Then some other stuff happened. All of the ridonculous shots that he’d been making clanged iron. And he committed a dumb foul on a Bradley “Motherf$%&#ing” Beal breakaway for an unnecessary and one. He’s been so calm and composed for the bulk of the past two contests it was semi shocking to see him forcing off-balance layups and pounding the rock like one of those old-timey paddle games.
Which is the snake-eating-its-own-tail conundrum of our fave Roundball performance artist: a less J.R.-ish player wouldn’t have the temerity to take (and make) all of those long contested threes that kept Gotham in the lead (and in the midst of what might have been Melos worst outing as a Knick, it was absolutely, posi-smurf-ly necessary), but said lesser player might have seen Amar’e standing wide open under the hoop when s/he corralled the ball with two seconds to go.
Hard to kill him after a (mostly) great night, but yeah… J.R. Smith, everybody
PABLO PRIGIONI, B
Lizards are good at stealing things, like inbounds passes.
IMAN SHUMPERT, C+
In the first half, he was his range-y, free safety-like self, snaggling wayward passes and generally playing like a nitro-juiced hellion on defense. He was aggressive in looking for his shots from the outside (heat-check airball notwithstanding. In the second, the Wizards started running Beal through multiple, Miller/Hamilton-type screens, and that’s just not Iman’s bag, mang. Offensively, he was a big help on the boards, especially in the aforementioned “Honey, I shrunk the Knicks!” lineups, but he passed up opportunities to drive after corralling a few caroms on the offensive glass. More importantly, during the intermission, Jill Martin’s guest was noted stage and screen thespian Julianne Moore, who said that her love of the Iman Shumpert: Beginnings documentary led to her loe of Iman and friendship that evidently includes hobnobbing at movie premieres and screenings and whatnot.
As someone who has a great many serious #feels for Shump, I concur wholeheartedly. I would also like to go to screenings with them and talk about the craft of acting and what’s Clive Owen really like and basketball and stuff. Can this happen? Is there a transitive property of Shump-love that makes this possible?
TIM HARDAWAY, JR
A big three in the 4th, but overall, a quiet game for Timmy. That said, he also didn’t make any noticeably boneheaded gaffes on D, which is…progress? Progress.
FIVE THINGS WE SAW…
1. Ugh. That was a tough, tough, tough, tough beat. Once again, the Knick defense was pretty subpar as a whole, reliant on ill-considered (often one pass away) doubles and manic switching. A DC squad that came into the game hitting 39% from downtown would have been up by a lot if they weren’t straight bricking uncontested looks. There was enough J.R. goodness (and not much else), but down the stretch… just a perfectly terrible/terribly perfect encapsulation of everything that’s gone wrong this year.
Did they go primarily with ISO-ball, even with a seriously hobbled focal point of said isolation? Yes.
Were there terrible, unforced turnovers? Yes.
Did the hottest player(s) on the opposing team get pretty much whatever shot he liked? Yes
Was there a chance to win that got fumbled away either by poor design or shoddy execution or both? Yes.
And like every single falling-back-on-the-wagon alcoholic that you’ve ever encountered, even though you knew in your heart of heart’s they’d fail, were you still stomping and hooting and hollering when Felt banged home a corner three to give them the lead because maybe, just maybe they could sneak into the playoffs? Yes.
Were those chances relatively slim even if the Knickerbockers had managed to eke out a win? Yes. Don’t read this.
Did it hurt? Yes.
2. Okay, that last play. Woodson said after the game that the play wasn’t necessarily his usual “Give the ball to Melo” set, but rather a pick and roll/2-man game ‘twixt Anthony and STAT. That’s certainly possible, and you can see Amar’e sorta/kinda slip the pick and Melo slip the screen before he got all butterfinger-y with it, but if that is the goal, there’s certainly action you can run before going into that play outside of having Melo run up to Felt and grab it from him, such that two Prestidigitator defenders are right there to harass a guy that already has nine freaking turnovers.
And even if Woody did go right to the police, this would never have… I mean, here’s the Penguin’s interpretation of the endgame:
Felton: "The play was to give the ball to Melo."
— charlie widdoes (@charliewiddoes) April 5, 2014
Fun fact: the Knicks are 3-of-34 on game-tying/game-winning shots in the final 30 seconds of games this season
3. But more than a tough loss, or the thought of trying to grapple with Miami, Toronto, Chicago and Brooklyn with a less than fully operational Melo Death Star is the goddamn lies. For a while now, it’s been an open question of whether Son of Wood is a Munchausen-level prevaricator or has a tiny liquid-filled nubbin at the top of his spinal chord in lieu of higher cortical functioning. Here’s the answer. When asked why he put Melo back in with 6:20 to go, he said:
Woodson's most puzzling comment: We brought back Carmelo into the game in 4Q bc "we weren't gaining any ground." That's simply not true.
— Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) April 5, 2014
That’s bull. From the 10:45 mark till he dragged his battered carcass off the pine, the Knicks went on 13-8 run and took a 3-point lead. That is not why you put him back in. You put him back in because he’s Carmelo Anthony and most coaches (practically all) are incredibly small-c conservative. They know that they’ll be roasted over a roaring flame if they lose without their star, but will generally get a sort of grim, grumbling acquiescence even if said star fornicates with the canine.
So he did that. He danced with who brung him and it failed, even though the super-small squad was without a doubt the best quintet he had at his disposal tonight.
4. Just say that. There’s a perfectly useful #SPORPS cliché at the ready, Coach. “I always trust Melo. Melo’s my guy. I love Melo like I love the scent of laundry hanging from a clothesline, gingham dresses flapping gently in the breeze and gooseberries still hanging precariously, ready to be picked as I frolicked in the verdant summer air…” Okay, maybe not the last one, but you get my drift. Don’t sling a stat because you’re too confused about what bullshit you’ve spewed recently.
And you know, Coach, we can look up these things quite quickly and see that it’s not true. So keep being a crappy coach, and blather about ppining for Bargs’ comeback (you know it’s coming) but at least treat the press and us with enough respect to tell the goddamn truth.
5. Clyde said come cool/funny things (like “Gertacht”), but I’m just mad. I’m mad that they lost, and I’m mad how they lost, and I’m mad that I still cared how and why and that they lost. So let’s let Metta end things.
I'm sad because I want a baby bottle and I wanna play on a man swing. And I want to be pushed . Can someone push me?
— Metta World Peace (@MettaWorldPeace) April 5, 2014