To start, a semi-painful admission: it may be partially due to a three-month hibernation without watching more than the odd Summer League tilt, but for vast swathes of this game I was as confused as a lost, wet puppy in the rain staring at a street sign. (Yes, it was adorbs.) Whether it was all the new ‘Bockers, a totally different, rather intricate offensive system, a revamped (if conservative) defensive set or just a combination of all of these things, it felt like trying to re-learn AP Calculus after twenty years without running so much as a standard-brand differential equation.
I spent the idle summer day peering at YouTube clips that purported to break down the principles of the Triangle offense. (I did my homework, Teach. I super-swear!) But there are worlds of difference between learning the textbook, properly executed plays and counter-plays and counter-counter plays with the help of a patient, khaki-clad dude and being enough of an expert to sift through the muddled sets that sometimes occur as a result of the ‘Bockers remaining at the beginning of this steep learning curve.
I guess that makes this Recap Training Camp/Preseason as well! So please, pardon me if I miss a couple of the details from tonight’s contest, but I promise you, Knickerblogger’s chemistry is boffo, and I’m entering this blogging season in the best shape of my life. That weird whistling sound emanating from my thighs when I wear corduroy slacks is no more, and I don’t hack up a lung after a hearty jog to the corner to buy a pack of smokes and a jar of Nutella (as a well-deserved treat).
So where were we? Oh right. BiskitballlllllLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!1!
It’s also worth dumping the big ol’ caveat that tonight’s win means about as much as last Wednesday’s dreary drubbing, big picture-wise. Everyone’s #feels properly calibrated? Neither too high, nor too low, but just freakin’ right, right? Okay. Let’s dive into a lukewarm, properly-sized portion of oatmeal notes.
Really nice to see him remain patient in the post, making more than a few dandy passes into the paint when the double team came. He was an active defender, and whapped a couple of those oh-so-frightening windmill blocks, and was solid defensively. But enough about that, LADIES LIKE OFFENSE. (Read more in my five-part explainer, “Sportsball things and ladies” at Men’s Health Magazine).That up and under move that he unleashed a couple of times is so Paul Pierce-esque that it instinctively makes the vein above my right eyebrow throb uncontrollably, but it feels like a shiny new Craftsman in his toolbox. He’s obviously still figuring out how to shoehorn his game to an entirely new set of systemic constraints—and yes, it’s plumb weird not to see the Knicks’ dump him the ball as he flares to the free throw line as the opening play each and every single game—but It felt like he had as much space to operate tonight as any game in recent memory. Yay! Melo seems to agree, but the phrasing of this quote is… problematic.
Carmelo Anthony said with triangle we "haven't cracked the tip of the iceberg with me."
— Marc Berman (@NYPost_Berman) October 12, 2014
While we’re here, STFU, Jim Boeheim. You wanna sell a few books? Fine. It took an entire team of investigative journalists from the New Yorker to unearth Dubya’s grades, and to date, no one has still been able to lay eyeballs on Obama’s marks. You know why? BECAUSE THAT ISH IS PRIVATE. Carmelo’s report card is not yours to hold up like some shiny prize to burnish your record, especially when the fine institution of higher learning that issues your w-2 forms still has a piss-poor graduation record when it comes to the Men’s Varsity. Seriously, Jimmy. Shut yer goddamn mouthhole or I’m cramming my own transcript down it till I scuff my watch on your tonsils. Thanks.
Right around last year at this very same time, I’m pretty sure I was tossing more or less the same bouquets that landed on top of Shump’s flattop just so. Which floral arrangements? These… looked very confident with the ball in his hands, did a nifty job creating off the bounce or after a handoff from the high post, and he even had a nice, explosive drive to the rim. Finishing, not so much, but as always, the team is just plumb different on the defensive end when he’s in the game. Have we heard this siren’s song before? Yes. Will we continue to warble a few bars of “Promise, potential” till it all comes a’ tumblin’ down? Yes, my darling. Yes, we shall….
You know, for a pass-first point guard, Jose’s got some serious swag. With a little more than five minutes remaining in the first, he just grabbed what the game by its (up until that point) sloppy collar and took over. He twice pump faked Brandon Bass into the Mohegan Sun slot machines before canning a twenty footer, and banged home a nice trey off of a busted transition feed from JR. I remember him repeatedly hitting frustratingly contested shots when he toiled in Toronto n’ Dallas, but I always chalked it up to New York’s execrable three point defense. If he can do even a passable job of staying in front of his man…
TIM HARDAWAY JR.
Bricked a couple of open outside jumpers, but the dribble penetration, both off of a deft feed from STAT in the high post and curling around a high post play off of ball reversal. He even dumped the ball off smartly down to Aldrich for an easy lay-in. Really. It happened. I swear! I don’t have photographic evidence, but… Hey. Get back here! Still, got absolutely torched to start the 2nd half by Marcus Thornton, but you can see the improvements that he’s made to his overall game.
He’s a boundless ball of Blanka-like energy, and any and all “Anthony Bonner combined with Sacha Baron Cohen’s prop beard from The Dictator” are hereby approved, especially with regards to converting on the break. (Bonner, too, had a tendency to suddenly lose all fine motor control when streaking down the court. Now, kitties, gather ’round my side and I’ll tell you the tale of Eli Whitney and his wondrous cotton gin. ‘Twas the summer of…) If he can consistently make those wide open mid range jumpers, it’ll definitely help get him in the regular season rotation.
A perfectly reasonable stint from Sam (Can we call him “Sam?” This feels both utterly right and completely wrong.), a couple of nice weakside rotations to contest at the rim and capable board work..
There’s a joke I made during the LVSL about Timmy Jr. thinking “The Triangle” was actually the tip of an arrow (a sanctified Native American arrowhead, natch) that was pointed at him. I’d like to formally request a stay of injunction for said witty gibe, your honor. As evidence, I offer the stretch in the 3rd Quarter when our man Earl just said, “Eff it. I’m shooting.” Even though he was hardly the only Gothamite to point a middle finger at Tex Winter’s magical mystery dance, during the stanza, his solo was the most egregiously out of rhythm. Granted, it worked. But still.
Oy Vey. Still totally lost defensively. Got shredded by both Bass and Sullinger, and was generally befuddled on both ends. ICE-ing the pick and roll is a nice change from Woody’s switch-tastic fahlderal, but STAT really doesn’t have the skillset to do it properly. He couldn’t do what Son of Wood wanted either, for what it’s worth. On offense, you can practically hear the gears whirring in his head as he checks off each box before making an abortive post move. Things will improve, but this was bad. Real bad. Speaking of which, Fisher really can’t go with Stoudemire at the five and THJ at the same time. They gave up 11 points in 3.5 mins to start the 2nd half, to the surprise of absolutely no one.
TRAVIS “WEAR BEAR” WEAR
They’ve got him listed at 6-10 230 and all I can think is that at least three of those inches and 30 pounds are shunted into the same alternate dimension that takes on Ant Man’s mass when he shrinks. Some nice hustle moments, but he’s the spitting image of James Waterston in Dead Poet’s Society. I move that we hereby christen him WEAR BEAR. Like Bulldog Hershiser, it’ll toughen up his rep. Wear Bear cares about scrappin’ and hustlin’ for loose balls n’ whatnot. Yeah, not much tougher, but I’m sticking with WEAR BEAR for the duration of his Knick career, i.e. the next decade.
Yeah, that’s about right. Very Pablo-like in his pesky, hands-y defense too. Hi Pablo. I miss you, Pablo. <3 Pablo
@netw3rk Pablo on rollerblades
— Seth Rosenthal (@seth_rosenthal) October 12, 2014
I agree. #FreeCole
Doubt it will happen, but I really think Cole Aldrich would make the best starting center for the Knicks this year.
— Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) October 12, 2014
This dude is the real MVP. First, a Fisher shirt, now a Shumpert one. pic.twitter.com/mdQcyAUGvA
— Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) October 12, 2014
Clyde’s Suit game is STRONG
And that’ll do it. The defense was improved from Wednesday (I think. I missed that game. I know, shocking, right?) but the Celtics missed a lot of open looks from outside during the stretches when the Knicks pulled away. Granted, keeping a team from shredding them on the pick and roll counts as a major step forward. This is a gonna take time, but learning about these new bros is fun. Learning how to even watch this team play is fun. Sports is fun! More Monday. HOOPS.