Treading Water

I think, going to the West, 2-3 seemed like a realistic expectation, although 3-2 was clearly the hope. Basically, the Knicks are a pretty bad team, which means they should be able to beat bad teams (Seattle and Portland), lose to good teams (Clippers and Suns) and toss ups against other pretty bad teams (Sacramento).

However, 2-3 also brings the Knicks to only a game out of first place, which is basically the same place they were when they left on the trip. Treading water, but at least they are not drowning!!

Meanwhile, Steve Francis’ time as a Knick appears to be basically be over, as the Knicks have allowed him to go to Houston to rehab his knee with John Lucas. Francis says he wants to stick around, but by the Knicks allowing him to leave the team to rehab, that doesn’t seem all that likely (if he was actually part of their plans, can you really see them letting him leave the team like that?).

Here’s an interesting question…with this particular lineup, who would you rather be the guard who gets benched when Nate Robinson returns – Mardy Collins or Nate himself? I’ve been really impressed with Collins in the little time he’s played, and with this specific group of players, he might be a better option (specifically his ball-handling and his defense) – but Robinson has such talent – it too much to bench, I guess. But what do you folks think?

This is what it is supposed to feel like

This Knick victory, 151-146 over the Detroit Pistons, is the kind of game that the Knicks have been striving for – a win against a good team where the Knicks never felt like they were outclassed. It never felt like it was a shock that they were in the game. It felt natural. This is what we all want to see – not necessarily a win (although wins are great), but just the feeling of “It is not a surprise if the Knicks beat these guys.”

It’s a good feeling. I hope it continues.

As for the game, WOW, what a game! It’s amazing how the suspensions really have alerted Zeke to the idea that, hey, what do you know? The Knicks three best players all happen to be forwards and/or centers…maybe they should be on the court more often!! As KB has pointed out before (or was it Dave? Oh well, one of those two fellas…hehe), one of the best things about the suspensions is that Thomas literally CANNOT go to a three-guard lineup anymore, because he doesn’t have the manpower for it, and as a result, the Knicks end up having a BETTER lineup because of it!

Jared Jeffries steps back into the starting lineup, although Thomas’ explanation for it was kinda creepy, “I don’t want a guy penalized and lose his starting spot for protecting a teammate in a fight,” Thomas said, “You can’t punish them for that.” It’s not like the guy missed four games because he took a bullet for Mardy Collins. Weird. Anyhow, it is a bit of a shame, as David Lee once again looked awesome when he was on the court (although he was getting burned on the glass just as much as Frye, Curry and Jeffries – the Knicks are a good rebounding team with this lineup, but they were just flatout SMOKED on the glass by Detroit. It was embarrassing, really).

Marbury was amazing, especially making all three free throws. I really loved his game. John Hollinger recently wrote about “presents” for each of the league’s bad teams, and his “present” for the Knicks was to play Marbury less. I really disagree with him on that point. His position seemed to be that, since Marbury had a lower PER than the other Knick guards, the other guards should play over him. That sounds reasonable enough, but that’s like saying that, since Channing Frye had a lower PER than Malik Rose in the beginning of the season, Rose should play over Frye. Marbury should not be playing as poorly as his PER has been for this season, and I think these past few games have shown him coming into form again. Although, with Francis getting healthier, I can’t be the only one who is scared about what his return means to the team.

Jamal Crawford – wow, isn’t he so much cooler when he is taking 16-18 foot jumpers? And with the Knicks down four, who else was astonished that he drove for the hoop and the harm? I know I sure was – but it was pretty unbelievably awesome. Almost as awesome as him passing to Frye for the game-tying bucket.

Speaking of Frye, it sure is good to have the good Frye back again. But man, is it REALLY that much harder to hit a 22-foot jumper instead of a 20-foot jumper? If he could add the three to his repertoire…wow, look out!

Curry looked pretty good, as well. And how awesome was it to see him make the free throw to put them up one in the third OT?

I remember being really pissed off that the Pistons kept getting the ball into Rip (who was freaking unbelievable tonight) and Billups’ hands for free throws, but I felt pretty silly when Billups then missed one…hehe.

Anyhow, great win, and while the Knicks still need to play some better defense, this current lineup has been a real revelation, and it is almost getting to the point where I would not be surprised if you told me “Knicks over Suns” early Saturday morning.

Okay, I guess we’re not really THERE yet…but it looks like they’re on the way.

P.S. How sad is it that I’m scoreboard watching in late December? And is it sadder when the team I’m scoreboard watching is all of 13-16?

Thank you, Trent Tucker

As it turned out, the only way to keep Jamal Crawford from hoisting up a long distance, period-ending jumper was to have a rule that specifically says you canNOT shoot the ball.

And thankfully for the Knicks, that’s just what happened.

It’s still only the Bobcats, but two wins in a row are two wins in a row.

I’ll take what I can get.

How Much Will They Get?

Okay, while there may be a quibble here and a squabble there, I think we basically can agree that the Knicks and the Nuggets were pretty even in the ol’ “acted poorly” category. The media is already going into Breen-overload on how disgraceful the fight was, so how about just trying to put some distance between us and the vast moral high ground the media has, and just evaluate how many games we think the various players will be suspended?

Let’s begin!

I’ll go in order from who I think will get the fewest to who I think will get the longest, as well as how much I think they DESERVE to get…

Isiah Thomas

What will he get? Three games.

What does he deserve? A game.

“Foul him hard” is a bad thing to do, but it’s also not all that out of the ordinary, so I dunno if I would even necessarily suspend Thomas, except he appears to have gone beyond the realm of good sense and warned Carmelo Anthony to stay out of the paint. Just on the stupidity of that comment alone, I’d like to give him a game.

But seriously, a coach shouldn’t reveal stuff like that at all, and I would give him a game for that, just like how baseball managers get suspended if they say they were intentionally throwing at a player. It’s one thing to have it happen, it’s a whole other thing to talk about it like it isn’t a bad thing, which is what Isiah apparently did (“Stay out of the paint”?!? Seriously? How do you say something like that to another team’s player? If he said it at all, of course). And I think the league will find enough corroborating info to justify giving him 3 games, although I wouldn’t be surprised by a few games more.

Jared Jeffries

What will he get? Three games

What does he deserve? One.

Had Jeffries caught up with Carmelo, I could see him getting a double-digit suspension, but he didn’t, so I really don’t see how you can suspend a guy for more than a game just for running at someone after a brawl already began.

Mardy Collins

What will he get? Four games

What does he deserve? One.

Collins commited a bad flagrant foul, and it was bad enough that even had nothing happened, I think he would have received a game suspension once it was reviewed. But with the fight tacked on? I think two games would be a reasonable result.

I think they’ll give him four just as a “statement,” though.

JR Smith

What will he get? Five games

What does he deserve? Three

Smith had pretty standard fight behavior (which is not a defense of his actions, just placing them within context). He felt he had been wronged, so he got angry, and when Nate Robinson reacted poorly to Smith having an angry reaction, Smith decided being physical was the way to go. This is nothing we haven’t seen a million times, but since it happened during a brawl, I think he’ll get a couple more games than normal.

Nate Robinson

What will he get? Six games

What does he deserve? Three

I think Nate and JR Smith were basically equals. Nate perhaps acted more erratically, but Smith made up for it by being more physically aggressive. However, I think Nate’s craziness will lead to the league taking it out on him a BIT more than Smith.

Carmelo Anthony

What will he get? Ten games

What does he deserve? Six

Marcus Camby got almost (if not exactly) six games for a much less egregious punch, but I thought that that suspension was too much. Actually, if I recall correctly, there was talk about how the league would make Camby’s suspension short enough so that he wouldn’t miss a big nationally televised Knicks/Lakers game, and then I think the league wanted to prove they weren’t concerned about that by specifically suspending him long enough to miss that game, so I seem to recall that suspension being too long.

I think the league will most likely pick ten as a nice number – double digits, so they look serious, but not PAST that, so they don’t end up punishing one the league’s biggest young stars (who had such a good reputation up until now).

Well, those are my determinations. What do you folks think?

Some More Tempered Enthusiasm

Once again, in a game the Knicks absolutely had to win (the Hawks playing on the road on the second night of a back-to-back without their star player), they did.

And that, as Marth Stewart might say, is a good thing.

However, once again, you can’t get too excited when the Knicks beat up on teams they certainly SHOULD beat up on. It is a nice sign, though, and certainly a better one than LOSING to teams like this (and it is also an improvement over the Memphis game, which was a blow-out that turned into a ballgame).

Eddy Curry continues his inspired play, but the best part, though, was Jared Jeffries, who was an absolute delight out there on the court. There was one particular play, when he saved a ball from going out of bounds, that I don’t think a single Knick from the past five years would have made. It was more hustle than Charles Oakley even used to show! A truly amazing move by Jeffries.

His scoring, though, was a bit TOO good to be true, it appears, so I will not take too much solace in that, as I doubt he will keep that up.

In any event, the Knicks had a strong game on both sides of the ball, and Curry had another 20 point game.

For one night, at least, all was right in Knick-ville.

Now let’s please see them do this against a team that doesn’t have a built-in excuse for losing.

What’s the deal with Knicks in 60?

While we wait to see if the Knicks can beat the Bucks (and also, where the heck is Allen Iverson going to end up?), let me do my best Seinfeld impersonation and ask, “What’s the deal with Knicks in 60?”

Does anybody else watch this program? It is amazingly awful. I understand that condensing a full game into an hour (more likely about 44 minutes, with commercials taken into consideration) is quite a difficult task, but Knicks in 60 doesn’t even seem to ATTEMPT to do a good job.

What it really appears like (and I doubt this is actually the case, but it sure looks like this is the case) is that they mark the game for certain time periods, and just run those clips no matter what.

For instance, the other day, the show fast-forwarded in time to the end of the second quarter, to see Mardy Collins hoist a beyond half-court shot as the shot clock expires – that hit nothing. Huh?!?!

The show will fast-forward to people shooting FREE THROWS and then fast-forward again…BEFORE the free throws even finish! Could they possibly think what Breen and Kenny Smith are talking about during the free throws warrant a special note?

They show part of the HALF-TIME show! You only have an hour to show the WHOLE game, and you’re showing us the HALF-TIME show?!?

The worst, though, was the classic ending against the Nuggets. They showed us a few of the fourth quarter plays, but then SKIPPED Marbury’s game-tying three!!! What the heck?!!?

Or how about the recent game against the Grizzlies, where they SKIPPED Q’s awkward, game-clinching shot?!!? That was clearly the most interesting shot of the game (mentioned in all the reports of the game), and they skipped it…to go to the last seconds of a 8 point game!!!

How hard can it possibly be to edit the game so as to give us the stuff fans actually WANT to see? It is a real shambles of a program.

Tempered Enthusiasm

There’s a memorable line from the poker film Rounders that goes, “If you can’t spot the sucker in the first half hour at the table, then you ARE the sucker.” This applies to basketball teams as well. If you can’t pick out the easy games that should definitely win on your schedule, well, then you are the easy games on the other teams’ schedules. Luckily, the Memphis Grizzlies still definitely qualify as the “sucker at the table,” and the Knicks took care of them last night in a generally all-around pummeling, although it was unsettling that the Grizzlies actually cut the lead to five at one point towards the end of the game.

When Eddy Curry plays like he has been playing the last few games, the Knicks look so much better, as a strong Curry is a definitive advantage for the Knicks, with so many teams out there playing small lineups.

Marbury had a strong game, and Francis didn’t play poorly (Jamal Crawford did, though).

It was great seeing the Knicks just get so many easy buckets. It was practically a clinic, except, and here is the tempered enthusiasm part, it WAS only the Memphis Grizzlies, who I am astonished have won four games with this line up.

Isn’t it interesting to see Steve Francis leading the NBA in free throw percentage? How weird is THAT? I doubt it will stay that way all season, but still, very impressive job by Francis.

With Curry playing so well offensively recently, it is starting to look more and more like it will be Francis who will be replaced by Jeffries. Man, I would not want to be in Isiah’s shows when he has to decide which players to play…there are going to be some interesting minute crunches when Jeffries and Frye return.

In any event, this was a good win (except for the comeback at the end, where the Knicks were lucky the Grizzlies are so bad, as the Knicks practically GAVE them the comeback). Let’s hope they can keep it up on the homestand. 7-13 doesn’t look awful – 10-15 would look a lot better.