Knicks 100, Timberwolves 98

New York Knicks 100 Final
Recap | Box Score
98 Minnesota Timberwolves
Jared Jeffries, PF 30 MIN | 3-5 FG | 2-4 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 8 PTS | -2

When Kevin Love’s hungry, Kevin Love eats. When Kevin Love just wants an evening snack, Kevin Love eats Jared Jeffries. Or tries to, anyway. JJ didn’t escape this one without a couple hundred bite marks, but his timely rebounds and steals — not to mention a pair of deep twos that almost have me believing it’s become some sort of trend — kept it from being a complete front line massacre.

Bill Walker, SG 24 MIN | 0-5 FG | 3-4 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 3 PTS | -4

United Airlines or whoever should probably check the overhead storage compartments of last night’s New York-to-Minneapolis flight for a loose brain. Whereas most everyone else in the regular Knick rotation has found in Linsanity a season spark, Walker continues to flop around aimlessly at both ends of the floor. Like the dreds, let’s hope it’s just a phase.

Tyson Chandler, C 37 MIN | 6-10 FG | 0-2 FT | 7 REB | 3 AST | 12 PTS | -2

When Chandler looked at the schedule a month or two ago, he probably — and understandably — saw playing in Minnesota on the second night of a back to back after bangin’ bodies with Gasol and Bynum as something of a night off. After all, Chandler’s silk pajamas are probably more physically burdensome than 40 minutes of Darko Milicic. But with the recent emergence of Non — I have no idea where the Wolves found this guy, and quite frankly I don’t want to know — Tyson’s Saturday night was about as fun as a playing in a Fargo wood chipper. At the end of the day, I’m just glad he resisted the urge to smash Haywood Workman’s head like a cantaloupe.

Landry Fields, G 35 MIN | 8-10 FG | 3-4 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 19 PTS | +8

Landry once again continued with his cutting and slashing ways, taking advantage of numerous mismatches, and even posting up Luke Ridnour and J.J. Barea on the low block on a couple of occasions. Having tweeted the other day that he’d “never had this much fun playing basketball,” Landry’s aggressiveness certainly indicates as much. As for the five turnovers? Guess who’s crashing on the couch now.

Jeremy Lin, PG 39 MIN | 8-24 FG | 4-7 FT | 6 REB | 8 AST | 20 PTS | +5

It was either watch this game, or head down to the mall pet store and watch twin puppies romp through sawdust and bite each others’ faces. All things considered, I’m glad I chose the game, which pitted two young, narrative-changing point guards in front of a rabid Minnesota crowd that apparently was the fourth largest in Target Center history. With both teams capping off a back-to-back, neither floor general was spectacular, save in flashes. Not surprisingly, Lin looked completely gassed by mid-way through the third quarter, at one point making but one of 14 second half shots. Still, eight assists, six rebounds, and three steals are nothing to shake a stick at — and nor is the increasingly common repertoire of scowls, towel-throws, and barks helping lend some semblance of an edge to a guy we’ve lazily taken to painting as happy-go-lucky.

With a full two days before the Bockers’ date with the Craptors, Lin will soon become the most deserving napper in world history.

Mike Bibby, PG 16 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 3 PTS | -4

Expecting Mike Bibby to stay in front of any of Minnesota’s guards is a little like expecting concrete to float. Bibby did connect on a corner three, which is nice, considering he was doing that at a 27% clip entering tonight’s game.

Steve Novak, SF 29 MIN | 5-10 FG | 1-1 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 15 PTS | +5

After one of his pump fakes nearly shredded Michael Beasley’s ankles, I was already prepared to give Novakaine an A (I love how this just immediately became his nickname, no questions asked). As it turns out, if anyone can be said to have won this game for us, it was the Marquette Marksmen, whose new found confidence – to say nothing of his seemingly limitless range – has emerged as a true rotation game-changer. Novak is likely fornicating with an airline stewardess at 30,000 feet as we speak.

Iman Shumpert, G 29 MIN | 9-16 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 20 PTS | +4

Following the lead of his fellow neophytes, Shump stepped up with arguably the signature game of his young career off the bench. The idea that this kid can reliably and consistently play the point may have long since sailed, but he is quite frightening when put in isolation against players routinely a step or twelve slower. And his clutch cool – like that of Novak – was invaluable on a night when the pain and fatigue and Minnesota chill would have been excuse enough to pack in the Linderalla tale for just one night. The four steals didn’t hurt, either.

Five Things We Saw

  1. You’d half expect a team playing the second night of a back-to-back halfway across the country to come out basically playing in leg braces. The Knicks looked anything but sluggish early on, relishing as they must have the challenge of keeping up with an equally burgeoning, maestro-marshaled Timberwolves. As the wolves steadily built a lead, the Knicks looked at points like the were a couple bad bounces from packing it in completely. Instead, they hung around, kept it close, got stops and rebounds when they absolutely needed them, and sneaked out of the Twin Cities with one of the young NBA season’s signature stolen victories.
  2. I don’t know if the refs took advantage of the Target Center’s Free Acid Night or what, but Haywood Workman, Sean Wright, and Michael Smith looked completely lost in a number of instances. Once again the Knicks found themselves on the short end of a mystifying whistle, when a technical foul call on Tyson Chandler somehow precluded Jeremy Lin from shooting free throws, even though Lin had been fouled on the same play. Jerks.
  3. Both teams combined for 41 turnovers tonight — most of those in the second half — turning what started out looking like a beautiful barn burner of a basketball game into an actual barn burning to the ground. The Knicks’ in particular were especially careless, at one point coughing up the rock on five consecutive possessions.
  4. Pekovic is the real deal. I’d caught glimpses of the 7-foot Serb on League Pass from time to time, but it wasn’t until tonight’s game that the dude’ sheer size, strength, and surprising quickness became abundantly apparent. A front line of Pek and Love is going to give a lot of teams a lot of problems, and provides further proof that the long languishing Timberpups really are poised for a breakthrough.
  5. Whitney Houston died tonight. She was 48. I know it’s not much of a tribute, but anyone who owned this VHS will understand where I’m coming from.
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Jim Cavan

Beyond his KnickerBlogger roots, Jim's work has appeared at, Grantland, The Classical, and the New York Times. He is currently working on a biography of Robert Silverman, entitled "Clownin' and Astoundin.'" Follow him on Twitter @JPCavan.

31 thoughts to “Knicks 100, Timberwolves 98”

  1. I didn’t know John Starks heart could be transplanted into another player while he was still alive, but the Dragon has the heart I’ve missed for so long.

  2. Nice write up. Nice win.

    Totally agree, the refs were terrible.

    I saw this on Facebook, unbelievable piece, apparently someone kinda sorta saw this coming…

    “After John Wall there are no sure things. Jeremy Lin might be the #2 PG available in this draft. He looks to me like a sleeper in the mold of George Hill. He appears to have the skills to become at least a usable combo guard. If he can get the passing thing down and handle the point, Jeremy Lin is a good enough player to start in the NBA and possibly star.”

  3. I’m going to jump into my computer and slap the next person who takes a shot at Melo before he plays again. Do people think he hasn’t been watching this? That he cares more about stats than winning? That we can’t trust him? That Bill Walker deserves his job? Wasn’t the problem with him that he wasn’t good enough to be a franchise player? Isn’t it a good thing that now he doesn’t have to be?

    I mean, I’ve always liked and defended Melo, but understood the criticisms as well. These millions of posts are way out of line, though. Give the guy a chance to find his role on a team that’s finally got all the pieces. I mean, what has he had to work with up to now?

    It’s very good that he needn’t rush back and play hurt like he must have felt he needed to early in the season.

    Not too concerned about Lin being under .50% for the first time in five games. He wasn’t chucking. Great shots and drives, they just didn’t fall. He did look gassed.

    Tyson Chandler is the guy they should chant MVP for. Steal on Rubio after Novak’s three was the play of the game.

    1 Wizards John Wall PG
    18 Clippers Eric Bledsoe PG Thunder
    34 Trail Blazers Armon Johnson PG
    54 Clippers Willie Warren PG

    Point guards that were drafted over Lin on the 2010 draft. tsk tsk Epic Fail!

  5. A frustrating but, ultimately fruitful outing. They were clearly gassed after an emotional win against the Lakers, but they played theirs hearts out and executed down the stretch.

    A couple things though. IMHO Walker has played himself out the rotation when Melo gets back. You have to think that Novak has earned those minutes with a confident, deadly shooting stroke and surprisingly competent D. Compared to Walker, he rarely forces the issue and doesn’t make bone-headed, dangerous decisions with the ball.

    Bibby has been pretty awful as well. Tonight he did make some hustle plays, I guess, coming up with a few big loose balls/rebounds. That said, if he can’t hit an open shot, he is just dragging us down. Granted we are all down on Toney Douglas but I think I’d rather see him taking Bibby’s minutes.

    I don’t mean to be a grade grubber, but I think JJ deserves better than a C+. Maybe a B or B-. And maybe Lin deserves a B or B-, too.

    Rest up and regroup so that we can keep the fairytale alive on Tuesday. Goodnight, Neverland!

  6. A few things to think about…

    1. Lin obviously needs more rest. Dude can’t play 38 minutes on the second night of a back-to-back after playing 38 minutes a night earlier. But the Knicks need someone to help him. It is hilarious to think that Baron Davis might be useful as a back-up point guard more than anything.

    2. On that note, can Baron Davis be a back-up point guard?

    3. The T-Wolves were able to slow Lin down by throwing doubles and triples at him. That worked, but what is awesome is that there’s no way you can do that when Melo and STAT come back.

    4. Al made an interesting comment earlier that I think was strong. Wasn’t what Lin doing tonight in the second half essentially hero ball? The guy drove on three Wolves and got blocked badly. He can’t let his strong play lead to him making bad decisions.

    5. Great game from Fields. He had a great comment about how this is the most fun he’s had in his career. It is so clear that this is the type of offense he thrives in. With that said, then, can we perhaps look at his career in a bit of a different light now? Ball Movement Offense – Great. Iso offense – Terrible. Back to Ball Movement OFfense – Very good. And his defense has even improved. I think he is a legit starting 2 in the league. Heck, I think I’d continue starting him even if the Knicks get JR Smith (since Smith can move in and play either the 2 or the 3).

    6. Great game by Shump, but he, too, needs to be a better decision-maker on offense.

  7. I think it’s safe to say that once Anthony gets back then Novak will get the minutes that used to belong to Walker and Walker will be relegated to mop-up duty.

    If Kyle Korver gets 20ish minutes a night for the Bulls then I feel comfortable with the nearly-identical Novak (this isn’t one of those ‘only compare white guys to white guys’ things — their games are just exactly the same) getting 20 minutes per for the Knicks.

  8. I think it’s safe to say that once Anthony gets back then Novak will get the minutes that used to belong to Walker and Walker will be relegated to mop-up duty.

    If Kyle Korver gets 20ish minutes a night for the Bulls then I feel comfortable with the nearly-identical Novak (this isn’t one of those ‘only compare white guys to white guys’ things — their games are just exactly the same) getting 20 minutes per for the Knicks.


    Seriously, though, while I’m sure Novak will get more playing time, I dunno if it will be as many as 20 minutes. I’d love to see more of him with the main guys, though. Like a Lin/Shump/Melo/Novak/Chandler lineup at times.

  9. The Knicks were (-15) with Melo on the bench up until Lin’s emergence. Melo +/- was one of the best among 30+mpg players in the NBA, that’s with the injuries causing a significant shooting slump.

    Before Melo strained his groin, somehow folks forgot that the Knicks could have beaten both Boston and Chicago and destroyed Det.As a few of us mentioned, there was a clear trajectory. Guys were playing much better with another. Melo was trusting his teammates (Fields) and making better decisions in the offense after the initial motion.

    Fields was playing GREAT with Melo. In fact, he’s played much better with Melo on the floor this year, last night’s game included.

    So, maybe I’m being totally unreasonable here, but it’s clear the reason the Knicks are on this winning streak is not so much that Lin is picking everyone’s else’s play up (see: Billy Walker, Mike Bibby), though there is clearly some of that of course, but that the Knicks have taken the worst player in basketball off the court (________) and replaced him with a top 10 pg. Replaced a negative WS/48 and replaced him with what appears to everyone to be a 150-200 WS/48 in this kind of offense.

    So, in that regard, considering the teams NY has faced in the circumstances the Knicks have faced them in, the winning streak should be of no surpise at all, nor is it a fundamental change in the team.

    In other words, Douglas +Amar’e+ Melo<Lin,Novak,Jeffries. At least with a hobbled Melo.

    It's as much an indictment of how bad _____ was playing,perhaps, as it a result of how good Lin has played since he replaced him.
    It is of course, both.

    But for all of this nonsense that Melo can't mesh with a penetrating pg with excellent passing skills who collapses a defense. (He's never played with onelike that,I'm sure you understand why Iverson, though a penetrator who collapses a defense was not one of those players)

    Check out his assisted field goal % dating back to 2005.

  10. Wow. I can’t believe we walked out of that building with a win. Magic.

    And Jim– is the Non reference yours? On MSG I heard Hahn thank some guy who twittered a Superman II reference, but wasn’t sure what it was until I read the recap here. That is funny.

    It was fun to finally see Rubio play, after hearing so much about him for so long. If today was any indication he is quickly going to overtake Anderson Varajao as the league’s biggest flopper. The kind of guy you love to play with but hate to play against.

    I’m going to jump into my computer and slap the next person who takes a shot at Melo before he plays…These millions of posts are way out of line

    Huh? I think it’s only one guy who mad a few melo-skeptical comments the entire ame thread. Other than hoolahoop, I don’t think anyone has mentioned Melo on this site for days.

  11. 2005 (Andre Miller pg): 63 % (48% from field overal)
    2006 (Andre Miller, iverson, Blake pg):60% (48% from field)
    2007 (Iverson, Carter): 59% (49% from field)
    2008 (Billups): 48% (44% from field)
    2009 Billups: 42% (46% from field)
    2010 Billups: 47% (46% from field)
    This year: 30%

  12. Brian Cronin:

    6. Great game by Shump, but he, too, needs to be a better decision-maker on offense.

    his decision making isn’t so bad, he needs to get better at finishing. what he really needs is a very specialized coach, I was wondering elsewhere earlier this evening what Ron Harper is doing these days. with the right coaching, he could be an All-Star.

  13. I love how the “experts” say Lin will eventually “regress back to the mean”. Wouldn’t you have to have a mean to regress to? I mean if this is his first substantial playing time how do you know that this isn’t his mean? I mean I don’t expect him to continue to score at the rate he’s scoring at, but I do expect his assists to skyrocket. So if it’s possible that where he is ATM is not where he will be down the road isn’t it just as possible for him to improve? I mean I know he’s in kind of uncharted territory right now but I think the thing a lot of people avoid seriously discussing is that the ball was flat out dropped on this kid. He’s asian and he went to a non basketball school. He probably even went to a non basketball school because he was asian. I have read pieces where there were people that projected him to be the second best pg of his draft. But because of the profiLIN he got passed over, then overlooked and so on. I really don’t understand how anyone could watch him play and not realize that this is who he is. It’s not luck, it’s not a fluke. He is one hell of a ball player. And while defenses will eventually scheme on him and maybe find ways to slow him down some, he seems to have such a complete skillset that it should just open up other ways to win for him.

    This guy is awesome and this whole week I have felt like the Knicks won the lottery.

  14. This guy is awesome and this whole week I have felt like the Knicks won the lottery.

    That’s a great analogy. That really is what it feels like, like they just won the lottery for the #1 pick in the draft.

  15. I mean it really is the way I look at it. I mean I hate it for this kid that he had to go through the rejection he went to getting here. But it probably carved him out of wood mentally bc when that guy steps on the floor he doesn’t seem to be phased at all. And it’s just staggering. I mean you just blew the doors off the NBA when nobody expected you to and you are calm about it? You go from zero expectations to having the weight of the entire asian community on your back and it doesn’t scare you at all? And idk I mean I guess it makes sense, because after all the rejection this guy has had just getting the opportunity has to make him feel like he has already won. These other guys that come up that have been told they were a star since 8th grade, those guys are the ones with something to prove. This guy he’s already done the proving part just by getting to this point. So the next time you hate yourself for liking this team remember this time. Because THIS is why your a fan. This guy is going to bring a bandwagon with him. But no matter how well the Knicks do it will never taste as good to them as it will to you.

  16. Re: the refs and Non – what did that guy have to do to get a foul called on him? I went back and watched the 1st quarter and he easily could have had 5 fouls called on him in the 1st quarter alone. Maybe I’m watching through homer glasses now but J-Lin was getting zero calls last night. They were bumping him like crazy on the perimeter, and he was taking a fair amount of contact going to the cup and nothing got called. oh well. And let’s not even talk about the weirdness that is 2 possessions that got stolen from us in the last 2 games. When it’s even obvious to my wife, who doesn’t even really know the rules, we have a problem.

    @Spree – totally agree that J-Lin’s road here will have a huge role in his success the rest of the way. You don’t get any of the sense of entitlement that so many of the stars in this league have, which clearly comes from the fact that they are treated like royalty from the time they’re in 8th grade. A friend of mine’s husband used to be an assistant coach for some of the high school all-star traveling teams in the summer, and he says 80% of his job is picking up after these spoiled brats, smoothing over complaints from hotels and restaurants because a kid broke stuff or threw stuff or yelled at other patrons etc. He ended up quitting because he couldn’t deal with all the pampering that goes on.

    Now you take a kid who had to scratch and claw his way to the NBA, being doubted every second rather than anointed the King from puberty – not only doubted but being the subject of racist taunts etc. Assuming he continues to play well, I think he will be more the Dirk Nowitzki-type of star (disposition-wise) – another guy who wasn’t part of the AAU culture. At least I hope so.

    (to be fair – guys like Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant, and even Amare totally break that “AAU mold”)

  17. ” But with the recent emergence of Non”

    Perfect. That’s exactly who that guy is. Funny how Non gave us a much harder time than Bynum.

  18. steveoh:
    Another very underrated Jeremy Lin attribute is how much he sounds like Matt Saracen.

    Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.

    been saying the same thing to my wife all week! really endears him to me.

  19. About three years ago, I spied a large Canadian Lynx with her three pups. The Lynx was dragging a deer carcass out through a corn field up the mountain. The carcass outweighed the Lynx by 200 pounds, easy. I watched this go on for two days. Since then, I’ve driven by that spot almost every day, but the Lynx is gone. When I watch Lin, I get the same feeling. I hope he sticks around though.

  20. Z: And Jim– is the Non reference yours? On MSG I heard Hahn thank some guy who twittered a Superman II reference, but wasn’t sure what it was until I read the recap here. That is funny.

    That was all Bob Silverman, who insisted the reference be in there. But I’ve definitely heard the reference made a few times. So spot on.

  21. Brian Cronin: That’s a great analogy. That really is what it feels like, like they just won the lottery for the #1 pick in the draft.

    I think Dolan must have secretly sold the Knicks last week. It’s the only explanation for the absolution of their bad Karma. (and the new owner must be either the Dalai Lama, Warren Buffet, or Captain Sully Sullenberger…)

  22. I only watched the first three quarters, but did Fields do something ridiculously dumb to deserve a B+ after 19 points on 10 FGA?

  23. I like to think that with Lin in, the days of Amare being plopped the ball 18 feet away and being expected to do something are over. Same for Melo. In my fantasy Amare is converting at the basket a lot off PnR or the defense collapsing on Lin a lot more often and effectively than Jefferies. It should be more like how it was when they got hit last year with Felton. My concern is how many layups will we have to see with Amare in position but standing sideways. That’s one thing that I can barely recall sering lately and the credit goes to Jefferies (and Chandler but this is about Amare).

  24. Sorry for blathering, but Melo I would think will be getting the ball in more advantageous positions rather than where he becomes instantly triple teamed. Look how many more opportunities Chandler got ( no more him waving a hand while a head down PG throws it to a guarded man in a corner).

  25. The Honorable Cock Jowles:
    I only watched the first three quarters, but did Fields do something ridiculously dumb to deserve a B+ after 19 points on 10 FGA?

    He, along with everybody else on both the Knicks AND the Wolves, committed some horrible turnovers down the stretch. One of them was an inbounds pass straight to Kevin Love for absolutely no reason. Kevin Love almost didn’t catch it because he was so surprised that someone would just hand it to him, unsolicited, in the closing minutes of a tight game.

  26. If Lin = Matt Saracen, Fields = Landry “Lance” Clarke. A case I’ve been making for YEARS.

    So who is Tami Taylor? Amber Rose?

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