Knicks 106, ‘Ptors 87

Toronto Raptors 87 Final
Recap | Box Score
106 New York Knicks
Carmelo Anthony, SF 31 MIN | 5-15 FG | 6-8 FT | 8 REB | 5 AST | 17 PTS | +28

One would be hard-pressed to conceive of a more head-scratchingly stupid P.R. move than Melo’s admission earlier today that he was ready to start defending and playing with more consistent energy. Because, you know, the preseason just ended this weekend. It’ll probably take a few weeks for word of this to reach the Italian Alps, where I imagine D’Antoni is holed up Decameron Nights style in a secluded mountain cottage with a gaggle of Milanian tarts. When he does, you can bank on that mustache bursting into violent flames.

…. ANYWAY, Melo certainly seemed intent on walking the walk, even if his shot was bricktastic. A handful of truly beautiful passes, combined with his aggressive work on the glass, made all of us forget his recent transgressions — at least for a few hours. Truth told, though, it’ll probably be a few games before the Garden boo birds lay off completely.

Amare Stoudemire, PF 34 MIN | 8-13 FG | 6-7 FT | 12 REB | 2 AST | 22 PTS | +23

Stat’s six year old bulldog, Spudd, had to go to the vet with pneumonia today. He’s OK, as evidenced by this photo of its statuesque owner taking ol’ Spudd for a pre-game walk. Which apparently means Stat gets up for games when his dog has semi-serious health problems, because dude straight up bloodied the pit with arguably his most consistent — and most efficient — performance this year. He also managed to get sufficiently into Aaron Gray’s head that the Raptors’ seven-footer got summarily ejected in the second quarter. By now, poor Jorts is fresh out of Central Park squirrels to shoot.

Tyson Chandler, C 29 MIN | 8-10 FG | 1-4 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 17 PTS | +24

Chandler better not think we didn’t see him lose the opening tip to Bargnani, a guy with a vertical worse than a bathroom tile. That transgression alone knocked Chandler down immediately to D-territory, before a first quarter dunk orgy helped put him back in teacher’s good graces. We’ll forgive the lack of rebounds on the grounds that the rest of the team picked up the pace nicely. And we can’t forget about that late fourth quarter two-handed over-the-head backwards pass to Lin, which made me laugh so hard I Hershey squirted.

Landry Fields, G 23 MIN | 2-4 FG | 2-4 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 6 PTS | +20

If Landry’s free throw shooting over time were a graph, it’d be a failed polygraph: The ball always lies — always. But we’ll forget that for the moment, and remind ourselves that the second year guard’s recent string of conservatively assertive, turnover-free games – punctuated by the occasional savage slash or transition throwdown – prove he’s well aware of his own limitations.

Jeremy Lin, PG 29 MIN | 6-10 FG | 4-4 FT | 3 REB | 10 AST | 18 PTS | +28

“Lin seems to get smacked in the face or head at least once a game.” – Mike Breen

Indeed, Herr Breen. Indeed.

Immediately after Lin’s requisite face-smack — this one at hands of Bambi-eyed DeMar DeRozan — he was bleeding so profusely that it looked like a few pints of it was actually winding up in his mouth. I don’t know much about the occult, but I’m pretty sure doing so is supposed to make you invincible and / or a total sex machine. Luckily we were only witness to one of these two things tonight, with Lin’s floor generalship setting a tenacious tone for the rest of the team — poise, hustle, vision, confidence, it was all there. He even canned a handful of treys! I hereby nominate Jorts to bust Lin in the face before every game. It’s science.

Mike Bibby, PG 12 MIN | 0-3 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 1 PTS | +2

I was a little concerned when Bibby had to shake off a thumb tweak after running into Ed Davis late in the third quarter. Then I remembered: Dead people can’t be hurt! That Mike Bibby. Such a trickster!

Jared Jeffries, PF 19 MIN | 1-3 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 4 PTS | +1

Let’s see now. Jared Jeffries drawing a foul on a pump fake late in the shot clock? Check. Jared Jeffries drible-driving past a stone-footed defender for a savvy layup? Check. Jared Jeffries tossing a picture perfect outlet pass to a streaking Shumpert for a thunderous throwdown? Chiz-eck. Jared Jeffries riding a flying unicorn across two oceans to deliver a hand-written peace accord to Isreali and Palestinian authorities. Give it a few minutes.

Steve Novak, SF 16 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | -6

I just now realized that Novak read backwords roughly mimics my own surname’s spelling. Which makes sense, because to this day my only discernible skill remains the ability to throw a rock into the ocean from 25 feet or less. Everyone was probably a trifle concerned after Novak missed his first jack by a solid foot, the same way we’d be thrown off if Warren Buffet woke up tomorrow and invested a few billion dollars in Jordasch. Novakaine would hit a couple timely bombs thereafter — including a key, run-staving three helped peg the ‘Bocker lead in the double digits — but didn’t play much in the second half. Presumably because he got in Woodson’s face about “never touching my mother %#$^#@% Honda Civic ever again.

J.R. Smith, SG 19 MIN | 5-9 FG | 1-2 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 11 PTS | -10

Smith provided some much-needed scoring oomph in the first half, before going a little Hyde thereafter. He wouldn’t play much again until garbage time, where he hit a couple patented fall-away 22-footers, just for good measure. Still, Smith — who took a pair of vicious charges in the first half — was decidedly active on both D and the boards, which goes to show how contagious some habits can be when your stars are buying in.

Toney Douglas, PG 3 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -4

Over the weekend it was reported that Toney had taken a leave of absence to attend to a family matter. Usually when you hear that, it means something rather unpleasant. Such was not the case with TD, who just became a father for the second time. Kudos to Woodson for putting TD in at the end. You know it meant a lot to Toney, to whom we extend nothing but the most courteous congrats.

Iman Shumpert, G 22 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 4 PTS | -7

Sources tell me that, in preperation for tonight’s second go-at Calderon, the coaching staff locked a hog-tied Shumpert in a electrical closet with nothing but a single, 100-watt bulb lumminating four walls full of nothing but images of Calderon’s face taken while the Spaniard was being fouled. It wasn’t quite the beasting Shump put on the sinewy Spaniard in their previous meeting, but Shump’s 110% M.O. more than makes up for the momentary lapses in judgment.

Josh Harrellson, F 3 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -4

Have you ever washed down a mouthful of chipmunk jerkey with a two-week-old open can of Rolling Rock Light? Jorts has.

Five Things We Saw

  1. The Knicks out-Windexed the opposition for the fourth straight game, working the ‘Ptors on both the offensive and defensive glass en route to a +16 rebounding margin. More impressive still, the Knicks boxed out better than a Montreal brothel, beating their Atlantic foes to every bad bounce.
  2. Woodson said as much during the pre-game presser, but the Knicks have started to do a better job of not switching on every ball screen — an ideal approach to take against a streaky-shooting team like the Raptors, where you can afford the extra split second it takes to get over the pick. We’ll see if the trend continues during the tougher parts of the home stretch, but for now it’s encouraging to see the Knicks’ newfound defensive intensity being coupled with a more cerebral approach to switches.
  3. For most of the game, the Knicks did an excellent job of forcing the Raptors to settle for outside jumpers. Part of that had to do with the presence of Chandler, obviously, but credit is also due to the Knicks’ D on the perimeter, where quick feet and good communication made life miserable for the guys in…. purple.
  4. How’s this for a weird stat: After averaging over 17 turnovers a game — and committing 19 giveaways in Mike Woodson’s debut last week — the Knicks have coughed up the ball a mere 11 times in each of the last three games.
  5. In what is something of a rare occurrence, Mike and Clyde got into the mindless banter well before the Knicks had put foot to foe’s neck:

    MIKE: “And you take a look at Jeremy Lin, who looks like his nose has swollen somewhat since taking that shot in the first quarter, which has to make it hard to breath out of his nose. Clyde, did you prefer breathing out of your nose, or your mouth?

    CLYDE: “My nose! I used to run with water in my mouth, to force myself to breathe out of my nose!”

    Magical.

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Jim Cavan

Beyond his KnickerBlogger roots, Jim's work has appeared at ESPN.com, 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.

29 thoughts to “Knicks 106, ‘Ptors 87”

  1. Is it me, or is this the second time Toney’s been called away this season for the birth of a baby? No wonder he’s looked so frazzled out there.

  2. Jake S.:
    Is it me, or is this the second time Toney’s been called away this season for the birth of a baby? No wonder he’s looked so frazzled out there.

    I know he has two kids, but didn’t think they’d both been born this season. Yikes.

  3. Excellent writeup, Jim. I truly hope we get more and more about Jorts’ squirrel hunting expeditions. I’m sure he’s dying to get down to New Orleans to hunt up some nutria.

    I love that Gilbert Arenas isn’t even in any of the box scores. I click his name on the Yahoo play by play and get a blank player template.

    Lin played a GREAT game tonight. He has made 29 of his last 31 free throws – 93.5%. That’s better than Mark Price :-)

    the last four games have been all about defense defense defense, rebounding rebounding rebounding, and taking care of the ball taking care of the ball taking care of the ball, as you point out, Jim Jiminy Cavan. We are playing absurd defense and rebounding at an absurd rate. Yes, absurd!

    We are outrebounding opponents in the last 4 games by 9.3/game, which would make us tops in the league on the season. That includes two games against Indiana, the 5th best rebounding team in the league.

    We are forcing hella turnovers — 18/game, 1.6 above our average and another number that would be good for first in the league.

    We are holding teams’ shooting way down — 50.4 TS% by opponents in last 4, which would be good for 5th in the league. We are currently 14th in that category on the season.

    It is only 4 games though. 4 great games. I’m going to wait until the 2 in a row vs. Chicago in the second week of April before I buy that this isn’t the whole “we’re scared, so we’ll try hard for a little while, we guess,” thing that seems to happen whenever a team gets a new coach.

  4. It’s not a big surprise considering Mike Bibby is the backup PG, but the starters racked up some nice +/- stats today. A lot of recent games it seemed like all the runs were coming while Melo, Stat, and Chandler were on the bench, if the team’s biggest problem is being bad when Mike Bibby is playing, simply being healthy could be amazing to watch (as will watching a team that makes it’s free throws)

  5. I particularly liked Lin’s confidence and improved shooting; Amare’s attacking the board; the team’s overall energy, including Melo’s all around game (despite his poor shooting %). It was a great win for a lot of reasons. But we should not be carried away. Defense was not effective tonight, to say the least. It was nowhere close to the previous three games. Amare, in particular, was a liability on defense for 90% of the time. Calderon abused him on pick-and-rolls time after time. The impact of some critical defensive plays notwithstanding, esp. down the stretch, it was not defense in toto, but rebounding that won the game tonight. The Raptors were simply destroyed on the boards; they had almost 20 fewer rebounds and were outscored 20 to 6 in second chance points! Their poor 89 point total output is deceptive. They were shooting 48% but had by far fewer possessions than the Knicks. So one can easily imagine the situation had the Raptors defended the boards better. I am saying all this having in mind tomorrow’s game. I don’t think Philly will go down so easily. Let’s stay down to earth.

  6. Thanks, guys!

    @Max

    Great points. I agree this hasn’t exactly been our toughest stretch of the year, but we needed a few confidence-builders like this. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow night’s game. Should be a slugfest.

  7. Impressive game from the Knicks tonite. Again. Melo is starting to win me over with his team play. Jeremy might need to wear a protective face mask and look like Kobe
    The defense and rebounding has been awesome The offense takes care of itself with a fast break of a steal or rebound. I like the full court pressure This new look Knicks team reminds me of …well ..dare I say….the Miami Heat With its full court pressure and fast transitions to offense, even the double digit wins to boot.

  8. Best part from Clyde tonight was when he started talking about how muscular the refs working the game tonight were.

  9. BigBlueAL:
    Best part from Clyde tonight was when he started talking about how muscular the refs working the game tonight were.

    I liked when Shumpert came in for the first time, and he gleefully called him “The Shut-Down Man”.

  10. http://www.jeremylin.net
    Interview with Lin’s shooting coach Doc Scheppler:

    “JLin appears to be just an average or slightly below average FT shooter for a PG. It would seem like that’s one area he should be really strong in given that he gets to the line so much. Does he have any special routine for his FTs? Any specific path to improvement?

    Doc: He should be better! I thought his arc angle was too high a week ago (interviewed on 3/3/12)…and I reminded him about snapping his wrist and having tight rotation on the ball….and also ending his follow thru at a 45 degree angle.. Also shooting a lot of FT’s RIGHT before the game and also at halftime to have a better feel when he steps to the line…He’s about a 90% FT shooter in repetitive practice..but game FT shooting is different.. you have to have that 15 foot muscle memory stored and ready when you get the chance..at different intervals… He’ll only get better because of his form change being a little over a year in the making!”

  11. ROUGH:
    I particularly liked Lin’s confidence and improved shooting; Amare’s attacking the board; the team’s overall energy, including Melo’s all around game (despite his poor shooting %).It was a great win for a lot of reasons. But we should not be carried away. Defense was not effective tonight, to say the least. It was nowhere close to the previous three games.Amare, in particular, was a liability on defense for 90% of the time. Calderon abused him on pick-and-rolls time after time.The impact of some critical defensive plays notwithstanding, esp. down the stretch, it was not defense in toto, but rebounding that won the game tonight.The Raptors were simply destroyed on the boards; they had almost 20 fewer rebounds and were outscored 20 to 6 in second chance points!Their poor 89 point total output is deceptive. They were shooting 48% but had by far fewer possessions than the Knicks. So one can easily imagine the situation had the Raptors defended the boards better. I am saying all this having in mind tomorrow’s game. I don’t think Philly will go down so easily. Let’s stay down to earth.

    Giving up offensive rebounds doesn’t exactly make your offense worse. Knicks did not play a great game, yet still won by 20, and they all had to realize that there was a much bigger game in Philly tomorrow. Lots of teams don’t try as hard against scrubs like Toronto, and again we won by 20, at some point you’re asking them to play like the best team of all time.

  12. That play by Amare where he sidestepped someone from the freethrow line a la 6’10 Wade was hellacious.

  13. Tony Pena:
    That play by Amare where he sidestepped someone from the freethrow line a la 6’10 Wade was hellacious.

    I thought he travelled.

  14. Defense was not effective tonight, to say the least.

    Whaaa?

    The Raptors scored 87 points. The Knicks forced 17 turnovers and allowed only 4 offensive rebounds. The end result was that the Knicks had 12 more FGA than the Raptors and 11 more FTA. Forcing turnovers and strong defensive rebounding are the Knicks’ bread and butter defensively.

  15. Thanks Cavan for the write-up. I found this was unusually funny. “Everyone was probably a trifle concerned after Novak missed his first jack by a solid foot, the same way we’d be thrown off if Warren Buffet woke up tomorrow and invested a few billion dollars in Jordasch.” Maybe bc the Jordasch reference seems so remote in the hoary past that I actually had no idea how the word is spelled.

    As for the comments about Lin playing with poise and confidence, I connect it to what Lin said after the (I believe second) Pacer game: that the game was “a big step” for him bc he got a better feel for “playing in a less spread offense.” He does look to me more comfortable out there, more in control, and not forcing the matter when it comes to scoring but taking advantage of opportunities to do so when they come.

  16. The Sixers still lead the NBA in defensive rating and hold opponents to a league-low .448 eFG%. This is going to be a tough game tomorrow.

  17. Jake S.: Is it me, or is this the second time Toney’s been called away this season for the birth of a baby? No wonder he’s looked so frazzled out there.

    tdfwtdf

  18. Nice Write Jim, Let me add some of my opinion.

    The whole team were playing with great energy.. Melo and Stat are getting WiLLing in D, Lin is getting much better with the Woodson Strategy with decreasing his TO..

    I think The strategy of sacking a coach and get a new coach every month is a good idea since Melo and Stat starting playing like that if some internal problem happened and coach get sacked. ^_^

  19. Choir practice running late my ass, you were in a Montreal brothel the other night Jim! No matter what you are up to in your spare time, the write-ups are outstanding.

  20. Just thought I’d clarify a statement I made last night re: Lin and Price.

    I don’t think Jeremy Lin will be a shooter in Mark Price’s territory. I was speaking purely in terms of WS/48 and AST%. Price, for his career, is at .158 and 36.1 respectively. I think that’s very reasonable for Jeremy Lin (although his assist rate could be better than that), given his current body of work as a starting PG. So, I think Lin will be more than just a solid PG. I think he’ll be a top 10 PG in this league for the next decade or so.

  21. Jim, you are much closer to the action than I, so let me ask you this (not if but) when Jorts starts up a jugband in the locker room, who else will join and what instruments will they play? Jorts will clearly play the washboard.

  22. massive:
    Just thought I’d clarify a statement I made last night re: Lin and Price.

    I don’t think Jeremy Lin will be a shooter in Mark Price’s territory. I was speaking purely in terms of WS/48 and AST%. Price, for his career, is at .158 and 36.1 respectively. I think that’s very reasonable for Jeremy Lin (although his assist rate could be better than that), given his current body of work as a starting PG. So, I think Lin will be more than just a solid PG. I think he’ll be a top 10 PG in this league for the next decade or so.

    he takes such a pounding, I’m not optimistic he can stay consistently healthy.

  23. Thanks guys, glad you like the borderline offensivity of what we do. Actually that’s not even a word.

    chrisk06811: Jim, you are much closer to the action than I, so let me ask you this (not if but) when Jorts starts up a jugband in the locker room, who else will join and what instruments will they play? Jorts will clearly play the washboard.

    This is too good an idea for it to not have happened already.

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