Nuggets 117, Knicks 94

I started writing this recap at halftime. Because eulogies are best delivered before the dirt.

The Knicks’ season is over. This is meant both literally and cryptically: literally because, in the pure temporal-realistic sense, everyone’s ends sooner or later; cryptically because the ghosts of cheated Indians have scalped one too many knees for our beloved Bockers to cross the finish line in anything other than a cemetery-bound Herse. But we’ll get to that later.

The Knicks lost tonight – we all know that. A game? Yes. Atlantic cushion? Sure. A fistful of pride? Undoubtedly. Our heart and soul? It’s eminently possible.

During a late second quarter possession, the Knicks already down north of 20, Corey Brewer backslid to the baseline and right into the left knee of Tyson Chandler, who immediately crumpled into a flesh avalanche, sending Knicks Twitter into seizure and smoke out the back of my MacBook.

Preliminary reports were of something called a left knee contusion, which I’m assuming is Latin for “explosion.” The Knicks have no MRI’s scheduled, obviously, because they a) think that stands for “Meat Roasting Instrument,” and b) still use palm fronds and sap to wrap limbs.

Truth told, it likely would’ve ended up Chandler’s most cringe-worthy outing of the year anyway: four points, two rebounds, and a complete disinterest in putting a body on anything other than precious oxygen.

Melo would follow suit early in the third (sore right knee – nightmare to nightmare), calling it quits and ending what had been, to that point, a schadenfreude shitshow.

I had a homecoming once. I weighed 75 pounds – zits included – had to borrow money from a lass in our group to pay for dinner, went without a date, and danced with exactly one girl. To fucking Lady in Red. She also had bad acne, and smelled like sweat.

Compared to Melo’s night, that was like riding a vintage BSA A65 Ligtning on fire into the gym and plowing rails off the Queen’s face in front of the quarterback. The step’s pep was palpably better than it was Monday, but so was the same shot-for-shot heroics that proved death for the Knicks in last year’s loss. The early returns were mixed: A couple of powerful drives, a pair of pinpoint jumpers… and then some Rade Butcher one-legged Hoosiers bullshit with seven seconds left in the first quarter and the shotclock blank.

In what became the evening’s most predictably moribund development, the Knicks struggled to contain the Nuggets in transition, which can happen when you’re shooting nothing but contested long twos and being outrebounded 53-33 (including 18-7 on OREBs). At a certain point, it wasn’t even worth getting mad about – the Nuggets are such a cartoonishly fun team to watch, even when Andre Miller is orchestrating the offense from his tricked out Rascal.

Speaking of horrible offense: thanks to their doomed perimeter gambits, the Knicks didn’t even attempt their first free throw until nearly eight minutes into the second goddam quarter. I’m still convinced the refs gave Melo the trip stripe out of nothing more than pure pity.

Let’s see…. Oh, Raymond Felton! Here are the notes I took on Raymond Felton: horrible pass off the bat, hits a corner three, dribbles off his foot, altitude fat, no penetration.

If Felton thinks the smattering of boos that met Melo’s pregame intro are an accurate bellwether for what’s in store tomorrow, he better herniate a disk thrashing through tonight’s nightmares. Because they’ll literally have to REMOVE the Rose Garden roof, just to make room for the acrimony. Remember Ghostbusters II when the pink hate slime just starts spraying out the sewer? Just like that, except artisanal.

Iman Shumpert had himself a silver lining, tallying 20 on 10 textbook shots (including 4-5 from deep). The defense was predictably sporadic – Gallo abused him off the dribble drive pretty thoroughly a couple times – but you can see last year’s springs slowly shedding the rust.

J.R. Smith started the game by missing a bunch of shots very badly and bulleting a pass to a corner-straddled Novak that the latter had less than no chance of catching. A garbage time dawn proved the perfect anecdote for J.R., however, and he ended…. Well, he ended with a pretty terrible game.

Thus concludes the list of players on whom I actually bothered to take notes. The rest of this is straight rage gravy.

Starting tomorrow — and inspired by a tip provided by one Bobert Mansilver — I will be conducting independent research on the history of land on which Madison Square Garden was built. Because I’m convinced it’s an Indian burial ground. Really, what other explanation is there? What other explanation is there for this team’s past three decades being festooned to melting knees? How else do you account for a shame whose only refrain is heartbreak? How do you “contextualize” Kenny Walker? Who is Herb Williams, and why does his job not belong to Patrick Ewing?

“Dolan” is not an acceptable answer. He works in MSG, on the burial ground. The curse came first.

“But we won in ’70 and ‘73” – even more unacceptable. Here’s why: even curses grant the occasional graced exception. Those teams trafficked in gestalt, and an almost mystic camaraderie. If anything, their play embodied nativist notions of teamwork, togetherness – things since sparked only from randomly smashing cornerstone shards. Frazier, Bradley, Reed – these guys were the vexer’s answer.

We’re going 0-5 on this road trip. Book it. If Tyson’s injury turns out to be anything beyond a bad bang, we might not win a game for the next two years.

That’s hyperbole, of course. Luckily, such is second tongue ’round these parts. Which is why I’m predicting we lose by 20-plus again tomorrow night in Portland. At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if an acid-addled punk in a clown costume took Raymond Felton out with a slingshot. Or if Mike Woodson just walked on to the Rose Garden floor in the middle of a 27-0 Blazers run and lied down at center court. Just, lied down. Or if Kurt Thomas clawed out Damien Lillard’s right eye. Or if Carmelo Anthony “gives it a go” and falls into a sinkhole, never to be seen again.

These are the things I think about at 2am after another blowout loss, the season’s hopes hanging on hairs thinner than a dead man’s. You can say we shouldn’t panic. You can say it’s just a funk. Me? This ship ain’t sinkin’ – it’s sunk.

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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.

27 thoughts to “Nuggets 117, Knicks 94”

  1. Whoa, Jim! Calm down! I mean, sure, are best three players are injured, but… But… (breaks down crying)

  2. So I need some splainin’ re the virtues of playing through chronic soreness and minor injury of the human knee joint.
    Demonstrating toughness?
    Earning your money?
    Setting an example?
    Taking one for the team?
    I kinda lost my Woodson tonight. Someone who looks the same as he did but is inhabited by a mechanical meat puppet took his place. There can be nothing resembling human thought going on behind that browless expanse. This creature cannot leave too soon for me.

  3. Alan Hahn and ESPN report that Chandler’s injury is not considered especially serious. And it is not believed that the injury will require an MRI or an X-Ray.

    This is just insane. Only the stupidest of organizations would not gain as much data on one of their key assets whenever possible whenever that asset has been compromised.

    With that being said, despite what was reported, we have to assume that Chandler is going to have an MRI and an X-Ray just to be sure, even if their immediate prognosis says something else. Because that’s what sane organizations do to protect their valued assets. They acquire data. Then they make a gameplan once all the data is in and has been processed.




  4. Or, in other words, reports that Tyson Chandler is not getting an MRI or an X-Ray reminds me of a child not wanting to know the truth because the truth hurts.

    And a child owns this team.

  5. Chris Herring tweeted

    Chandler said he doesn’t want the knee examined. Says he’ll play tomorrow if he can get up and down the floor

    Since when does a player’s desire to have his knee examined make a difference?

    I also love this quote from Melo (courtesy of Howard Beck):

    “I was always concerned. I was just kind of being naïve…just trying to psyche myself out and say `I can do it, I can do it.’ “

    That is exactly what it looked like to all of us. That he was basically trying to be a hero and not let his team down. I appreciate the thought, but yes, Melo, that was very naive. And moreover, it was very foolish of the Knicks’ doctors to let that naivete possibly affect their star player.

  6. Thanks Cavan for the write-up. I enjoyed it, if such a thing can be said in this situation.

  7. 20-19 now since the hot start, losses in the next two will leave us under .500 for a full half season at 20-21.

  8. ““Dolan” is not an acceptable answer. He works in MSG, on the burial ground. The curse came first. ”

    I know (think?) you’re joking, but this is the one thing Knicks fans should never joke about. Dolan basically is the curse of the past decade-plus, it all comes back to him and is on his head.

    1987-1999: 12 seasons, 12 playoff teams, 17 playoff series victories, 2 Finals appearances.

    Dolan takes over summer of ’99, right after the Finals run with Sprewell/Camby etc.

    1999-current: 13 seasons (not counting this one), 5 playoff teams, 2 playoff series victories (both in 2000), obviously no Finals appearances.

  9. I really wish he had just gone out there in a suit. Going out like that must have been a real bummer.
    Denver is a better team, and almost unbeatable at home, while playing on the best coast.

  10. I’ll cut the Knicks medical staff some slack with Tyson — this is the same injury he had in the preseason, and any trainer/orthopedist worth their salt can differentiate between a bruise and an ACL etc. That being said, I certainly wouldn’t mind a confirmatory MRI.

    Re: Melo – this is freaking ridiculous. Granted I have no idea what the MRI looked like, what his exam actually looks like. He certainly took the ball to the cup a couple times in the first half pretty normally, but I have to think his extremely crappy 3 point shooting has to do with his legs. But like this team has said from the very beginning of this season — we are playing for April/May/June, not for February and March. If it takes us falling to the 6 or 7 seed to get everyone healthy and rested, then so be it. I’d much rather give up the 1 home game and have a healthy team than fight like crazy to get the 3rd seed and have half a team out there in the playoffs.

    If it’s up to me (which of course it isn’t) — Tyson doesn’t play tonight and maybe not the rest of the road trip even if his knee is just a little sore. Melo doesn’t play for 2 or more weeks. JR apparently has knee issues as well — he goes on a 25 minute limit. Dust off Camby — he needs to get into shape anyway, let him play 20 minutes. Play Kenyon Martin 15 minutes at the 5 and Kurt Thomas the rest. If we go 0-5 this road trip, oh well.

    Amazing how this team has completely lost its confidence less than a week after taking OKC to the buzzer and having a 16 point lead against the Heat. I guess that’s what happens when your top FOUR frontcourt players all go down at the the same time (Melo/Tyson/Amare/Rasheed).

  11. btw since I’m an optimistic guy, the only silver lining I see to the last couple weeks is Shumpert’s obviously improving health. In the last 8 games (month of March) he’s shooting 48% from 3 point range (and now 39.1% for the year on 64 attempts) and has a free throw rate of about 29% (double his rate for the year and 50% higher than last year). To me he looks obviously more locked in on defense as well (PNR defense still a problem but the man-to-man stuff looks much better).

    I only watched the first half last night, but one thing I loved about Lawson last night was how hard he worked to get over screens. It’d be great to see Felton or Shump ever do that.

  12. Who is Herb Williams, and why does his job not belong to Patrick Ewing? +1,000,000.00 FREAKIN EXACTLY

  13. Once again…like it happens in every freakin Knicks Season since 1989…I am depressed!!!!

  14. Frank:

    If it’s up to me (which of course it isn’t) — Tyson doesn’t play tonight and maybe not the rest of the road trip even if his knee is just a little sore. Melo doesn’t play for 2 or more weeks.JR apparently has knee issues as well — he goes on a 25 minute limit.Dust off Camby — he needs to get into shape anyway, let him play 20 minutes. Play Kenyon Martin 15 minutes at the 5 and Kurt Thomas the rest.If we go 0-5 this road trip, oh well.

    Couldn’t agree more. I’m not sure if the Knicks think the playoffs are starting tomorrow or what, but trying to play through all these injuries makes no sense. I’m floored by the idea that Tyson is going to play today “if he can get up and down the floor”. To achieve what ends? The battle for seeding is really not that important in the East. All the teams are mediocre outside of Miami.

    The Knicks should be taking every precaution with these guys at this point. Tyson’s next game should be when he is A. Feels 100%. Not just capable of getting up and down the floor, but 100%. Or B. The first game of the playoffs. I understand why the players want to play, but the Knicks orgainzation has to be smart enough to realize that we’re good enough to beat any non-Miami East team when healthy, but then “when healthy” is the key. Patience is the order of the day.

  15. They can’t rest guys to drop to the 6th seed b/c then their season is going to be labeled a “failure”. This team isn’t getting past the 2nd round, and even if healthy, there’s a non-zero chance they don’t make it out of the first round. So, you can either have a 6th seed make the 2nd round, or a 3rd seed lose in the first. And in the latter’s case, Dolan can claim that “if only we were healthy…” while justifying the jacked up ticket prices.

    Once you accept that the organization’s goals (profits) don’t match your goals (championships), it’s easier to understand all the decisions. They keep putting bandaids on bullet holes trying to squeeze out a better regular season resume.

  16. I was there last night. The highlights were:
    -Shump looked really good
    -I forgot how much I liked Will Chandler
    -Ample parking
    -Javale McGee reviewed my taxes at half time and “found some shit a mothafukka forgot to itemize”

  17. “If it’s up to me (which of course it isn’t) — Tyson doesn’t play tonight and maybe not the rest of the road trip even if his knee is just a little sore. Melo doesn’t play for 2 or more weeks. JR apparently has knee issues as well — he goes on a 25 minute limit. Dust off Camby — he needs to get into shape anyway, let him play 20 minutes. Play Kenyon Martin 15 minutes at the 5 and Kurt Thomas the rest. If we go 0-5 this road trip, oh well.” #AMEN

    Look at how Pop deals with this kind of situations in San Antonio!!! Give Copeland some playing time, prepare him for the playoffs. If James White is a bust (wich I think he is) cut him and make room for a valuable player down the stretch!!!

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