|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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!”