|Amare Stoudemire, PF 27 MIN | 5-11 FG | 1-2 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 11 PTS | +20
The numbers might not reflect as much, but Stat looked like he knocked off a lake barge’s worth of rust the last 24 hours. He did have one of his “episodes” – turnover followed quickly by a rage foul at the other end – but all in all Stat looked measures more comfortable playing off his new-look squad. The Lin-Stoudemire P&R still needs tweaking and tuning, but the Spidey senses of both parties are going so berserk you can practically see smoke coming out their ears.
|Bill Walker, SG 20 MIN | 6-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 14 PTS | +22
During Melo’s absence, Bill Walker’s been like the fifth guy on a bank heist team: Nobody’s exactly sure what he’s doing there or whether he secretly works for the cops, but they let him try to chip in anyway. Mainly because all the other heist team reserves would trip over the BofA laser alarm. That all changed — at least for an evening — with Walker’s shooting (Billy Bird), post moves (Hakeem Walker), and passing (Magic Walker) all rolled out with aplomb.
|Tyson Chandler, C 30 MIN | 4-6 FG | 1-1 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 9 PTS | +20
A night after foul trouble had him largely tacked to the pine, Chandler managed to stay on the court long enough to put up a mediocre performance — numbers wise, anyway. Chandler did do a hell of a job keeping DeMarcus Cousins off the glass, however, forcing the blossoming Soph to get his on mid-range jumpers. Unfortunately, his poor shooting night brought his season field goal percentage below a million percent for the first time all year.
|Landry Fields, G 30 MIN | 6-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 10 REB | 5 AST | 15 PTS | +18
After the Kings play-by-play man Grant Napear responded to Landry’s first touch – a travel – by busting out “hip-itty-hop to the barber shop,” I almost went to bed. But then I remembered the mute button, which made things slightly more bearable from thereon forward. Ditto the stellar play of Landry himself, who’s parlayed his new-found bromance flame into a stunning renaissance of late. Even so, making Lin sleep on that couch would qualify as child abuse in most states.
|Jeremy Lin, PG 26 MIN | 4-6 FG | 2-3 FT | 5 REB | 13 AST | 10 PTS | +19
Yeah, he had baker’s dozen assists. Yeah, the Kings play-by-play guy referred to one of his dishes as “Classic Jeremy Lin.” So what? He didn’t score 20 points. He didn’t de-mummify Mike Bibby. He didn’t force the Chase moneychangers out the Temple. He didn’t cure AIDS. He didn’t throw a lob with his teeth. He didn’t weave a blanket for all New York’s homeless out of Renaldo Balkman’s hair. He didn’t negotiate an Isreal-Palestine peace settlement. He didn’t shave Bill walker’s head. Regressing to the mean. Told you. FAIL!
|Mike Bibby, PG 18 MIN | 0-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 0 PTS | -3
Did you know that an anagram for Michael Bibby is “Hi, my ice lab bib”? As in, “Hello, bib. I’m going to wear you so that I don’t get dirty stashing Mike Bibby back into the ice lab.”
|Jared Jeffries, PF 23 MIN | 4-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 9 REB | 1 AST | 10 PTS | +6
Jeffries has come awfully close to a double-double a few times of late, but hasn’t quite closed it out. No matter. His defensive presence once again helped turn the paint against the foes, while his offensive awareness, presence, and confidence continue to grow. Although I’m starting to worry that the next really hard charge might send JJ into the next dimension.
|Steve Novak, SF 27 MIN | 5-11 FG | 1-1 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 14 PTS | +2
Hey, I miss Jorts, too. I do. Can’t wait for the guy to come back and beef up our front line a bit. But even at his most dangerous from distance, Harrellson didn’t pose near the threat – or provide near the floor spacing – of a Steve Novak. During the past fortnight’s Linning streak, Novak has proved himself yet another classic D’Antoni cog, keeping the defense honest and opening up opportunities for Lin, Fields, and Shumpert to cut and slash inside.
Wife: “He looks old.”
|Renaldo Balkman, PF 5 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -10
Grant Napear: “Looks like Balkman took a shot in the eye right there.”
No he did not, Grant. No he did not.
|Toney Douglas, PG 7 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -10
After three games of exactly zero court minutes, Toney was finally given some garbage time, “confidence-building” burn. The energy was there, but the shot still looks Maloof broke.
|Jerome Jordan, C 7 MIN | 1-2 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | -10
I’ll be honest, by the time Jordan entered the game, I’d pretty much stopped paying attention. Despite the actual tangible statistics, the one time I saw Jordan do anything, he bobbled an easy entry pass. I’m starting to think he’s like one of those Mario Bros. ghosts that only moves around and tries to attack when you’re not looking at it, and then totally freezes as soon as it sees your eyes.
|Iman Shumpert, G 21 MIN | 3-8 FG | 4-4 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 11 PTS | +1
If I’d eaten Jose Calderon without chewing, I’d probably be a little sluggish the next day, too — bad gas. Not the most spectacular of outings from our iron-forged rook — As our boy Spree aptly pointed out, “dude looks like a life-sized GI Joe action figure” — but his performance in Tuesday’s nail-biter buys him at least half a dozen duds, in my estimation.
Five Things We Saw
- Not since the 90s has the Garden’s energy been so consistently berserk as it’s been the last two weeks. We know this because, within five minutes of tonight’s tip, a good grip of the crowd was yawping for defense. Against the Kings. In February. Last month I wrote a piece for the Times about how home court advantage as we know and understand it tends to backfire in MSG. Might have to revise my thesis.
- If Cousins can somehow get a brain tattooed on the inside of his skull, the closest thing to a ceiling he’ll have will fall somewhere between the stratosphere and Neptune. As we mentioned earlier, Chandler kept Cousins largely at bay on the glass. But the flashes, the quickness, the strength, the quickly blossoming game — it’s all there, and it’s all getting more and more scary by the day.
- Gee whiz, if we could just get the Kings at the tail end of every back-to-back, why, we’d be doing just swell! The Knicks outdid the Kings in virtually ever category – shooting, rebounding, defense, TV crews — in a contest that had more the tenor of a friendly with the Paraguayan National Team than an actual NBA game. Maybe they were happy to be home. Maybe they just wanted to — finally — put a bad team away early. Maybe they just really wanted to get back to .500. After all, the symbolism of having the team’s final piece inserted just as it claws its way back to even keel is an attractive one: As far as the Knicks are concerned, it’ll be a whole new season and – hopefully – a whole new Melo. As for the Kings, the Maloofs should probably hold a few hundred bake sales or something.
- There’s nothing quite like a Knicks home crowd. From basically inventing the “DE-FENSE” chant to the eardrum-splitting chaos of a home Playoff game to the now infamous Kris Humphries abuse, there’s arguably no better crowd in professional sports than that which bleeds orange and blue. But showering Kings rookie guard Isaiah Thomas with boos any time the poor kid so much as lifted his Gatorade cup? That takes the cake.
- As I explained earlier, I was stuck tonight with the Sacramento home feed on League Pass. Or, as I like to call it, the Sactotron 3000 Robo-Game-Announcer. This machine comes with two settings: Midwest John Doe Robot (play-by-play) and Cowboy Robot (color). Both impart all the enthusiasm and vivacity of a bowl of lettuce, and both are tremendously numb to even the most asinine of Kings screw-ups. Even-keeled, I guess you’d say? Anyway, it sounds like Breen and Clyde were in rare form tonight. Something about sharks remembering their watering holes and Clyde needing elephant bait in order to scrub Al Gore’s deck and digging Asian chicks with blond hair? I hate League Pass.