Knicks 103, Magic 98

New York Knicks 103 Final
Recap | Box Score
98 Orlando Magic
Andrea Bargnani, PF 28 MIN | 5-12 FG | 3-3 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 13 PTS | -6

If I didn’t know better, I’d swear Andrea Bargnani was created in some twisted, macabre, Island of Dr. Moreau-esque lab with the specific purpose of causing endless spats among Knicker-backers. Our own Kevinicus McElroysius did a dandy job unpacking this paradox before, but this game is such a perfect example.

On the one hand, you have the 2nd quarter, in which the Knicks went to a small-ball lineup, and pummeled the Magic into a substance that probably best resembles an inedible pile of oxidized guacamole via deft perimeter passing while simultaneously hounding the Disneys on defense by, you know, being fast enough to make Son of Wood’s unnecessary doubling/switching system kinda/sorta work. In a related story, Bargnani wasn’t in the game.

When he was on the floor, you got the same brand of defense in space and on the boards we’ve seen in the prior 26 games—you know, the execrably bad kind that feels as if you’re trying to remove your own spleen with a warm, rusty spoon whilst simultaneously wondering, “Why the fuck am I trying to perform home surgery [insert Obamacare joke here]? Can’t I just leave my spleen where it is?”

Then there’s the two clutch (mid-range, natch) buckets off pick and pops he canned to keep the Knicks in front by the absolute hair of their chinny-chin-chins. No snark, those were money.

So those who call the Bargs trade the Knicks’ worst (and it’s quite the extensive list to delve into) trade since whichever Layden/Isiah/Walsh/Grunwald makes you most want to drink enough home cleaning products that you can barely remember your own name, let alone the Knicks’ sordid history when getting all swap meet-y, get to once again pine for lost picks and those who think he’s a solid piece (if properly utilized) have tools to cobble together a reasonable argument. Regardless, please don’t get hurt.

Carmelo Anthony, SF 24 MIN | 7-14 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 19 PTS | +14

The fact that he was destroying the Florida Men as a secondary option off pick and roll action/dribble penetration doesn’t matter. The fact that he smartly passed out of doubles doesn’t matter. The fact that he was tickling the twine on the regular out of isolation doesn’t matter. The totality of what was shaping up to be yet another in a series of boffo outings—all the more impressive for occurring within this bedraggled, zombie apocalypse of a season—has been sadly reduced to one swollen body part.

Of course, in typical Knicks self-medicating/diagnosing fashion (See spleen parable above), he’s more or less decided he’s playing in the Baby Jesus Bowl on Wednesday.

Which, yay! Warrior fighting spirit! Of course, there can be unexpected side effects when rushing back from a boo-boo. Which naturally brings us to…

Raymond Felton, PG 25 MIN | 4-11 FG | 3-4 FT | 2 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 13 PTS | -8

Hi Ray!

Bye Ray :(

There’s no way of knowing if the byzantine knots that Raymond’s tummy’s been twisted into are a direct result of rushing back from his gammy hammy, but… Eff it. Dr. Bob sez he’s hurt again because he came back early. It’s awful, because he was doing a splendid job running the offense when healthy, getting to the tin, feeding the bigs and wings, and hitting his shots when whichever Androgyne (You know, Orlando. Like the Virginia Wolff novel where the lead changes gender, hence…Let’s move on.) went under the screen.

I’d get into his incessant kvetching about calls, but honestly, I just hope he takes the time to rest up before coming back, as vital as he is to the team’s success. Take your time, Ray. Read a nice book. Maybe the 19th century semi-autobiographical tome I just referenced. But whatever you do, no matter what demands to play regardless of injury that your Bulldog religion dictates, do. Not. Come. Back. Until. You. Are. Freaking. Healthy. Really healthy, not “Rub some spit n’tabaccky n’ gut one out fer the team” healthy. Grantland Rice is dead. The fact that he’d like the cut of your jib isn’t helping right now.

Tyson Chandler, C 40 MIN | 5-9 FG | 0-2 FT | 13 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 10 PTS | +11

After a listless outing v. Memphis, it sure was grand to see Tyson back to his red-eyed, rage-filled, order-barking self; hunting alley oops, draining the occasional 15-footer and covering up for the various gaffes in perimeter D like a human whack-a-mole mallet. Peep this quote from HC Jacque “I really should have an S there” Vaughn: “I think the first play of the game, our draw-up, Tyson Chandler has us pushed out to the half-court line where we can’t even execute the first play of the game.”

That’s our Tyson. Please don’t get hurt.

Iman Shumpert, SG 27 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 9 PTS | +8

I don’t know if any of you have ever worked with children, but there’s always one kid in the class (regardless of whether you’re teaching AP Calculus or Canine Theriogenology for Dog Enthusiasts) that tries so damn hard, but can’t seem to get out of his own way; that is constantly is crashing into himself, his ever-increasing effort and mounting disgust at his own failure crashing into one another like over-caffeinated Sumo wrestlers, such that harder he tries, the worse he does and, like a snake eating its own tail, builds upon itself ad infinitum, going nowhere. Enter Shump. There were a more than few glorious moments—specifically the steal of Jameer Nelson at midcourt leading to a breakaway layup with 1:39 to go and strip of Big Baby (Ew!) a few seconds later. But the evening was still punctuated by swag-less hesitation, purpose-free drives and needless over-pursuing/unnecessarily hands-y defense.

And each time something goes wrong, the agony is writ large all over his flat-top free mug. I want him to pull it together, to return to the cat he was in game six oh-so badly, yet my or your desire must pale in comparison to his own.

If he did come to me for some friendly advice, I’d turn to the seminal DeNiro-Snipes cinematic opus, The Fan. (NOTE: It is not a good movie.) and suggest that maybe things would improve if he cared a little less. That may sound like crazypants talk, but I think his overwhelming need is getting in the way of accomplishing what he wants to on the court. He really should follow in JR’s carefree footsteps and not give a crap. If you fail, so be it. Woodson’s gonna scream? So what. Smile. Don’t play with anger (and it’s horrid twin brother, fear); play with joy. Smile even in the face of certain doom. Don’t try to do the right thing, do your thing.

Thus endeth the lesson. Please don’t get hurt

Amar’e Stoudemire, PF 18 MIN | 3-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 6 PTS | -9

Um, what the hell happened to STAT’s hands? I could prattle on about his defense, but I don’t think I’ve seen him cough up the rock so easily before. Yes, we’re well aware of his propensity to get butter-fingered when dribble-driving, but there were just tons of moments tonight where he treated the ball like a particularly slippery greased sow. Weird. Stop that. Please don’t get hurt (again).

Beno Udrih, PG 23 MIN | 2-3 FG | 6-6 FT | 1 REB | 6 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | +13

Welp, looks like we’ve got a whole lot more Beno to look forward to. Let’s see who’s up next on the old handy-dandy pocket schedule. Hm. Oklahoma City, eh? I wonder if they have a point guard that… OH GOD, NO. NOT WESTBROOK. THE BLOOD. WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT THE OLD MAN TO HAVE SO MUCH BLOOD IN HIM. The thane of Fife had a wife: where is she now?–What, will these hands ne’er be clean?–No more o’ that, my lord, no more o’ that: you mar all with this starting BENO FREAKING UDRIH AT POINT GUARD. WESTBROOK GONNA USE HIM LIKE A FREAKING WET NAP.

Please don’t get hurt.

Tim Hardaway Jr., SG 18 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | -9

A quiet outing for Timmy Jr. A couple of deadly shots and some badly missed rotations. Coach yelled. Another weird by-product of tonight’s Battle of Stalingrad-level casualties was that it was hard to find time for Rook², what with JR’s presence being so vital and Shump required to check Afflalo. Please don’t get hurt.

J.R. Smith, SG 37 MIN | 7-17 FG | 1-2 FT | 10 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 18 PTS | +11

When Melo was not amongst the (not) walking wounded, JR was having a swell game. His work on the glass was more than solid, he twice stuffed Tobias Harris at the rim and in general played solid defense, he made a few nifty dishes after driving into the tall trees, and he mostly limited his heaves to spot ups. That’s all well and good. Of course, post-injury, his eyes lit up like he’d just landed at the VIP room at 1Oak and found Rhianna’s Amex Black card lying on the floor, and began ordering up bottle after bottle of La Ley del Diamante Tequila. It’d be hilariously awful/awfully hilarious to see what a world where JR is the primary option might look like. On Christmas, we may just get to see our darkest, most sadistically perverse desires come true. It’s an evil miracle! Please don’t get hurt.

Five Things We Saw

  1. The Knicks are a wonderful primer in the balance of nature. If you’re not familiar, it’s a theory that proposes that ecological systems usually seek out and remain in a stable equilibrium. That is to say, a small change in some particular parameter will be corrected by some negative feedback that will bring the parameter back to its original “point of balance” with the rest of the system. In this case, the out of balance state occurred during the 25-point lead the Knickerbockers secured in the beginning of the 3rd, with an offense that was such a glorious throwback to 2013-14. There were threes dropping off snap-quick passes around the horn. Melo scored without having to exert the absolute maximum energy required. The pick and roll, with Felton and Chandler as the lynchpin of everything they want to do, was positively delightful. The defense was only intermittently effective, (and they still do an atrocious job of getting back to prevent fast breaks), but it was enough, what with the 63-point first half they unleashed.
  2. And then, there was a change in the system that restored the natural order of this particular system. I.e. Melo (and then Felt) got hurt and, like your annoying brother/sister who jerks out the absolutely crucial piece in a game of Jenga because he/she takes perverse delight in seeing all the blocks come tumbling down, and the ‘Bockers returned to the shitstorm from whence they were born. The fact that they were able to pull out the win can’t obscure the fact that those two pieces (like Chandler before them) are absolutely essential to making this trey-happy offense work. Without them, well… it’s not good.
  3. Of course, the fact that they have owes isn’t idiopathic. I.e. no known cause. Melo’s been playing an unsustainable 40mpg and Felton clearly wasn’t fully hale and hearty before pulling on his orange and blue togs. Was it THE reason they pulled up lame? There’s no way to say with 100% accuracy, but I’m sure it didn’t help. Of course, Melo wouldn’t be ridden like Secretariat and Felton wouldn’t be spitting in the faces of various medical professionals were the situation not so dire. That is to say, were they winning the games they should have (or even 2-3 of the ones they’ve blown) perhaps a more small-c conservative course would’ve been taken. And now the situation is more dire, so they’ll have to take more risks (like playing Melo on Wednesday) and pushing Tyson up to 5,672mpg even though he’s just off the IR, which means he might get hurt, which means more general panic and possibly panicked trades and sacrificing what remains of the future for a dubious present and more cap hell and no draft picks and on and on and on and on and on and the wheel spins ‘round and ‘round, never to stop.

    That’s why we can’t have nice things.

  4. Speaking of things that are actually nice, during a promo spot for MSG’s X-Mas day broadcast, 24 hours of Knicksmas, Clyde donned a jaunty red cap and informed us that he’ll be hosting from his home in St. Croix where, “Santa wears shorts and not much else.” That’s awesome.
  5. Despite all that, on Christmas eve, the Knicks (the 9-18 Knicks) are 2.5 games out of first place. So, in closing:

    You got it. Go Knicks!

Liked it? Take a second to support Robert Silverman on Patreon!

Robert Silverman

Hey, did you know that in addition to banging the keys here and occasionally for the NY Times and at ESPN, Robert is a playwright, an actor and a wand'ring mendicant/gadfly? He also once wrestled a bear...and lost.

25 thoughts to “Knicks 103, Magic 98”

  1. We are 9-18! If you squint really hard and forget everything you know about math that’s like .500 record, right? Keep squinting, it’s looking real nice now.

  2. The Knicks are currently 9-18, and 4-10 at MSG

    Last year –
    They won their 9th game on Nov. 25th
    They lost their 18th game on Feb. 13th
    On 12/24, the Knicks were 20-7, and 12-2 at home

    Unlike Scrooge, I wish the ghost of Christmas past would visit us and stay for a while!

  3. Man, Bargnani really is a difficult guy to figure. It’s true – he looks terrible one second, then unstoppable the next. It’s easy to see why he’s so tantalizing for GMs.

    Watching him handle the ball makes me wonder – why doesn’t someone try running a big-small (or even big-big) pick and roll with him as the handler? That was one of Dallas’s go-to plays with Dirk and Terry. If they trap him, he’s tall enough to pass over the double. If they switch, then he probably has a much smaller guy on him that he can post, or pass to someone like Melo on a mismatch against a big. If they go under the screen, he can shoot unimpeded. The added bonus is having a big like Hibbert or whoever sucked all the way out to the periphery so that they can’t bother the roller.

    have we seen this even once this year? (Synergy says no). One would think a PNR with Bargnani as the ball handler and Melo as the roller would be pretty much unstoppable. Or maybe it’d be a complete disaster. I don’t know.

  4. I just think that might unclog the middle a little, and at least get the defense on its heels a bit. Miami does it all the time with Lebron and Chalmers too. Only thing is you worry about Bargnani’s handle and his decision-making off the bounce. But you figure you restrict what he’s allowed to do and maybe he can hold it together — especially while we are so short on PGs that can create anything.

  5. Bargs sucks. It’s pretty simple.

    lol, I guess you’re right. It’d be so different if he were a 40% 3 point shooter. But he just doesn’t seem to have the touch anymore.

    Meanwhile where has Dave Hopla been this year while all our shooters have been sucking?

  6. Nice recap! I defended the logic of the bargnani trade, but at this point have to admit that his game is worse than I feared. First, he is not in NBA shape, he lopes rather than runs. Second, his shot is flatter than a Passover pancake. Third, his rebounding is frustrating be pause he actually has the physical ability but is so mentally slow (plus out of shape.)

    It all smacks of laziness in the offseason, he is the anti-Lin in that regard. I would love to see what a full offseason boot camp type training would do for him.

    As to Shump, saw some very positive signs. I have a feeling h is gonna come up big tomorrow.

  7. Bargnani isn’t bad, but he shouldn’t play a role on this team where he is anything other than a luxury. If he is not being efficient on offense, he can’t play because he doesn’t bring enough on the defensive end. His post up D is good enough for some of the “east is big, man” matchups. the most frustrating thing about his offense is that the long 2 appears to be his most efficient shot. I still think he could do much better offensively if he looked to kick on more of his drives. When he drives to the basket, he is almost always causing a rotation, but he tries to do way too much at the rim.

    Melo should really sit out as long as possible. He’s risking serious injury playing injured and the offense is going to have to learn on how to play without him for stretches. If any of us said that the Knicks would be 9-18 and Woodson would still be coaching, we would have been locked up.

  8. It looks to me like Bargnani struggles outside of 20 feet because he has virtually no arc on his shot. Not sure if this was always the case, because he at one point in time was a good shooter from distance. At this point he really is just a shittier offensive version of STAT which doesn’t add much to the team.

  9. Front office is bad.
    Coach is bad. Assistants are bad.

    Bargnani is bad. JR is bad. Cole is bad. Beno is bad. Felton is bad. C. Smith is bad. Prigioni is bad. Kmart is bad. Artest is bad. Amare is bad.

    Shumpert mediocre at best. Hardaway a question mark. Murry a question mark. Chandler slightly above average. Melo is great for three quarters.

    Team is bad.

    Why is anyone surprised we lose more than we win?

  10. Best of life to all. I hope everyone has gotten to enjoy some time off this Holiday season.

    I’d like to see the Knicks go a few games without Carmelo and learn how to do some things without him. I’d of course feel better about it if we were 18-9 and not the opposite, but, hey, this might be good for the team, on a microscopic level.

    On the macro level it’s all Shakespearean tragedy (or comedy if you’re a fan of anyone else). But I think the silver lining is that Dolan is probably sitting back right now saying, “I guess Donnie was right about the Melo deal.” In short, it’s not hard to be a good owner. Just hire smarter people than you and trust them. Easy job. It’s not like piloting a boat in the America’s Cup. Just learn to do it, Dolan.

  11. If you have not read this Deadspin article on Carmelo’s passing, it is worth your time. Here are the takeaways:

    1. Carmelo has a lower usage rate than last year.
    2. Carmelo has increased his “assist opportunities” to 6.8 per game this year.
    3. Even with that increase, he creates fewer assist opportunities than virtually ever other high usage player.
    4. Carmelo has such low assist totals because his teammates are shooting poorly on his assist opportunities.

  12. Ephua, nice find. I think it’s dumb for the writer to basically have a list of PGs , exceptional passing twos, and lebron to point out melo isn’t a good passer. He’s avg. nothing more nothing less. The ball got thing is overblown. There are guys who are exceptional passers who aren’t PGs but they are the exception not the rule.

  13. Carmelo is still behind Dirk, Boogie Cousins and Pau Gasol in creating assist opportunities. I think there is a synergistic effect between his teammates poor shooting and Carmelo’s relatively low assist totals. It’s not just that he loses assists because his teammates are shooting poorly, but he is also putting his head down and running isolations down the stretch because he does not trust his teammates.

    A strong coach (and the Knicks do not have one) would figure out some sets that would allow Carmelo to create for himself and others down the stretch. Here are three thoughts:

    1. PnR with Carmelo as the ball handler and Amar’e as the dive man.
    2. Carmelo in the mid-post being fed by JR Smith at the 3 point line above the elbow.
    3. Tyson Chandler downscreen for Carmelo to allow him a free catch at the elbow.

    Woodson has run #1 and #2 during the game, but rarely in crunch time.

  14. “Second, his shot is flatter than a Passover pancake.”

    That is a classic line.

    Read the deadspin piece, I liked it. It seems like an intelligent use of sportvu data. (although hey, it’s unflattering of Melo, so of course I would love it)

    You are never going to get Frazier-Reed basketball when Melo is your star. Which we knew. It would be nice if the rest of the Knicks could shoot a little better though. Melo has picked it up in a big way at least, can’t fault his play of late. .

  15. …”On the macro level it’s all Shakespearean tragedy (or comedy if you’re a fan of anyone else). But I think the silver lining is that Dolan is probably sitting back right now saying, “I guess Donnie was right about the Melo deal.” In short, it’s not hard to be a good owner. Just hire smarter people than you and trust them. Easy job. It’s not like piloting a boat in the America’s Cup. Just learn to do it, Dolan.”

    There is zero chance Dolan believes this. If he did, he wouldn’t be mentally ill which he certainly is. The man was born on 3rd base and thinks he hit a triple.

  16. Front office is bad.
    Coach is bad. Assistants are bad.

    Bargnani is bad. JR is bad. Cole is bad. Beno is bad. Felton is bad. C. Smith is bad. Prigioni is bad. Kmart is bad. Artest is bad. Amare is bad.

    Shumpert mediocre at best. Hardaway a question mark. Murry a question mark. Chandler slightly above average. Melo is great for three quarters.

    Team is bad.

    Mr. Grinch, Merry Christmas to you too sir!

  17. My 12-yo daughter writes:
    Playing the OKC thunder, with kevin durant, we need to be on our game. If melo is out tomorrow, slim chance of winning. KD will just shoot on whoever is there and the game is practically pointless with bargnani too prancy on his feet and cant stay in one place for more than half a second. Either way, if we win or not, the team has to work better together and on the court. and right now, with our record, who wants to see a loss in NY on christmas?

  18. @ dead spin article. I would like to see Melo’s monthly split because to my I he seems to be passing more this month than last month. Maybe he is not but I would like to see those numbers.

  19. I think it’s dumb for the writer to basically have a list of PGs , exceptional passing twos, and lebron to point out melo isn’t a good passer.

    It’s not a list of PGs and good passers, it’s a list of high usage players. It makes sense that a guy who is more of a scoring-oriented forward would be towards the bottom of the list (with Griffin and Aldridge and so forth).

    I don’t think it’s much of an indictment against Melo – to me it’s more a reminder that he needs somebody else who can distribute the ball. The Knicks were good last year mostly because they had good guard play. This year’s guard play has been a flat-out disaster. Melo’s a potentially great #1B star — if he were in Griffin’s spot in LA, they’d be just as much a contender, if not better. But if he’s your alpha dog, you’re going nowhere (well, especially when 80% of the guys racking up minutes on your team suddenly look like marginal pros).

  20. Carmelo Anthony’s biggest problem is one of perception: a lot of fans keep questioning his game, his production, his approach, his numbers.

    They think he is a superstar – when the evidence shows Melo is a specialist, a gifted , yet inefficient, scorer and not much else. They think he is “clutch” when history shows he tends to fade in fourth quarters. We have almost three years of Melo seldom taking over and delivering for the team at the end of close games – but most fans still believe that player is not Melo and blame his teammates, charles barkley, the refs and every other creature under the sun.

    In short, Melo is expected to play at a level he can’t. That’s where the problem lies…

  21. If I hear one more comment about how we can fix broken players, I am going to go full-on grinch-mode on this holiday morning.

    Bargnani is a shit player. There is no silver lining. 8.1 TRB/48. Average center gets 13.4. There are high school frontcourt players who could grab that. Hell, even Kwame Brown got 12.0 per 48. Luckily for him, Anthony Bennett is going to take over as the worst #1 pick in history.

Comments are closed.