|Carmelo Anthony, SF 37 MIN | 4-11 FG | 3-6 FT | 3 REB | 6 AST | 11 PTS | -10
it’s impossible to expect a player of Melo’s pedigree and caliber to come out after a two-week groin hiatus — with the onus of Linsanity having hung over his every word and move — and not over-think things. Yes, I’m 95% sure I got tetanus of the eyes watching Melo shoot a basketball tonight. Yes, he was undoubtedly not in game shape. Yes, DeSagana Diop could’ve realistically beat him in a shooting contest. But Melo was far from the problem tonight — the six dimes and crisp passes being part testament to that. Not that the tabloids will care.
|Amare Stoudemire, PF 36 MIN | 7-17 FG | 3-3 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 17 PTS | -6
You can basically tell whether Stat has it going on a given night based on what he does the first time he touches the ball. Tonight, Amar’e dribbled directly into Kris Humphries and punted the ball out of bounds. That was it in a rotten, festering nutshell. He couldn’t rebound, he couldn’t defend, he couldn’t rotate quickly enough, and he couldn’t hit a jump shot. Look, I love the guy, and I want him to bounce back and have a torrid second half of the season just as much as the next guy. But it’s nights like these that make such hope feel like a fool’s errand.
|Tyson Chandler, C 24 MIN | 4-5 FG | 6-6 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 14 PTS | +14
Let’s make a list of things that aren’t good for wrist injuries. I’ll start: Driving to the basket and running into a Sheldenasaurus Wiliams, who proceeds to grab you by said wrist, and pull you down onto your face…. That seems like a decent enough list, so we’ll just stop there. Chandler was questionable prior to tip-off, and really, I almost wish he’d just taken the night off, stymied as he once again was by early foul woes – foul in heavy, heavy italics. Is he sleeping with Haywoode Workman’s wife? Ex-wife? Daughter? Daughters? These are the only explanations I can conjure for Chandler’s continued whistle-lashed fortunes. Then again, it doesn’t exactly help you’re cause chasing Kris Humphries back to the Nets bench and repeatedly smacking him on the ass and shoulder. Nobody wins when that happens.
|Landry Fields, G 32 MIN | 5-10 FG | 0-1 FT | 11 REB | 1 AST | 10 PTS | +9
Landrythan was all sorts of Ritalin fiendish early on, with a handful of out-of-control drives and misguided passes tempering for a moment what had been a pretty encouraging run of late. He did a decent job of keeping Deron Williams from going completely nuclear in the second half, while finishing with double-digit boards for the second time in a week. On offense, Fields continues to look at ease and in rhythm, despite the occasional blunder.
|Jeremy Lin, PG 36 MIN | 7-18 FG | 5-6 FT | 7 REB | 9 AST | 21 PTS | -1
So apparently Jeremy Lin has a harder time going left than Joe McCarthy. What’s amazing is that it took a full nine games for an NBA team to truly capitalize on that theory. Supposed Nets code-cracking aside, and despite arguably his spottiest offensive outing to date, Lin also flirted pretty heavily with his first career triple double. But a combination of having to adjust to the much heralded return of the team’s self-proclaimed leader, and a brilliant defensive strategy on the part of the Nets — who basically turned that end of the court into a pinball machine — made for a night heavy on bruises, and light on heroics.
|Baron Davis, PG 10 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 3 PTS | -12
OMG OMG OMG OMG! I’m so nervous I’ve been waiting to write about Baron in a recap for soooooo long! Is my hair OK? How ‘bout that really ill-advised Evanescence tattoo on my forehead – is that showing? OMG OMG Baron just jumped and did a behind-the-back with the ball before throwing a perfect cross-court pass to Steve Novak for a corner three! I know it didn’t count but AHHHHHHHHHH!… In all seriousness, how many of you out there would’ve flinched more softly if Santa Claus checked in to start the second quarter? Thought so. The positive thing here is that 1) he actually played, and 2) his back didn’t collapse like a Jenga tower. Baby steps.
|Jared Jeffries, PF 24 MIN | 1-4 FG | 2-4 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | -22
Not exactly sure where that -22 came from, but I’m assuming it had something to do with Shelden Williams and Kris Humphries keeping dudes off the glass at gunpoint. Jeffries still managed to show flashes of the team defense genius that’s helped staple him to the rotation, but a pair of bungled offensive opportunities and bad timing in the boards made for a sub-par night for our resident Hoosier.
|Steve Novak, SF 17 MIN | 3-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 8 PTS | +4
I’m too tired to write about Steve Novak.
|J.R. Smith, SG 24 MIN | 2-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 4 PTS | -16
If J.R. Smith took actual ballet lessons, he might average 60 points a game. As it was, Smith rolled off the bench with a flurry of ridiculously athletic – and sometimes stupid – plays on offense. He hit a couple huge shots…. Check that, he hit two shots – one in each half — with the rest ricocheting violently off rim and backboard. The stout defense remains, however, which will doubtless be key down the stretch.
Five Things We Saw
- Aside from the full-length fur coats, wallet-crushing gas prices, and super awkward key parties, taking a time machine back to 1970 was pretty cool… for, like, ten minutes. Early on, the quick, decisive passing, good defensive rotations, and general aura of camaraderie were positively invigorating, to the point where I actually had a hard time keeping track of the ball, on a couple of possessions. But that all crumbled away in a sea of shit and fire, of course.
- if you peak inside Deron Williams’ man cave, you’ll probably find a life sized Fat Head of Jeremy Lin, his face completely shredded with dart holes. After his blistering 68-point performance (I’m assuming it was 68 / it might have been more / leave me alone), Williams admitted that Linsanity essentially beginning on his watch was something he’d taken personally. Clearly.
- I’ll probably be up until 4am scouring the interwebs for reports of Kris Humphries imminent mauling at the hands of Knick fans on a President’s Day bender. Say what you will about the dude (actually, don’t), his lack of human-level cognitive functioning makes him basically immune to any kind of collective hostility, Garden crowd included.
- I really hate it when I build up a towering, righteous rage towards the refs for transparently twisting the game to their own biases and histories (I’m looking at you, Haywood), only to find out that they actually called the fouls dead even (25 to 25). But — and I’m trying really hard not to go all sour grapes here — the timing of the some of the calls killed us tonight. From Chandler’s “charge” (how you can get called for a charge after being dragged down by your half-broken wrists, I’ll never know) to Melo and Lin’s fruitless forays into a blizzard of flailing limbs and Johan Petros, it was the Zebras who feasted tonight.
- For as sporadic and 3-9 as he’s been of late, we seriously missed Iman Shumpert tonight. With D-Will’s personal vendetta against Jeremy Lin taking it’s toll at both ends of the floor, having Shump out there to bat his wings around Deron’s face would’ve been invaluable in this one. As it turned out, D-Will feasted all night on a Knick back court either physically out-beefed (Lin) or too rusty (Boom Dizzle) to hang.