Pre-Raptors 81, Pre-Knicks 76

Hi Knickerbloggeristas,

So I missed the first quarter and a half but the score was a robust 26-22 by the time I tuned in. And no, I don’t own a TiVo. Yes, I have to rub two sticks together and sacrifice a goat to my Dark Lord and Master to get a wireless signal. I do it because of my fidelity to old school, ruggedly individualistic blogging and my Ludditic fear of technology and/or exorbitant cable fees.

But since they putting the biscuit in the oven at a rate that seemed to suggest there were still laces on the ball and cages to prevent rowdy “fanatics” from chucking the charred remnants of a Satanic altar at the Knickerbocker Basket-Ball Club of the City of New Amsterdam, I’m going to assume that I didn’t miss much or that nothing actually happened and they just agreed to wait till I showed up to start the game and arbitrary set the score at something out of the 50s.

Anyhoo, there were some nifty moments, in particular a dandy set that started with a Melo/Acy two-man game, followed by a pretty cross court pass to Shump and an even prettier, lightning-quick flicking of the rock it to Calderon up top for a swished trey. But there’s still an instinctive lurch towards ISO-ball to bail them out of jams, which is to be expected. It’s going to take time for both New and Old Dogs alike to learn these New/Old Tricks. Alas, things really went to poop in the third stanza. There were a bunch of silly turnovers, a great many of which were caused by hesitation-laden overpassing, Various Knicks got trapped in the corner or frustrated when the shot clock started ticking down, leading to some ghastly Hardaway/Smith heaves, some bricked Jason Smith midrange jumpers and oh-so-many reach-y, grabby fouls.

That led to a parade of dinosaur happily trotting to the charity stripe and—sing along, kids. You know the words to this lil’ ditty!—before you knew it, what was a swell 11 point lead was swallowed whole by a 25-8 run over the final eight minutes of the quarter. And then there’s that blasted imp of the perverse, Lou Williams, doing exactly what Lou Williams has done to the Knicks since time immemorial which is generally be too fast for any SG defender, too big for the likes of Prigs and Larkin and when he wasn’t driving to the tin or dishing the ball to wide open Terrible Lizards, just started throwing it in from the ocean.

So, a loss. Sigh. Even without Lowry and Valenciunis, the royal road to the Atlantic crown goes through T-dot. Some individual notes…

CARMELO ANTHONY
Did just fifteen minutes’ worth of post shucking and jiving, after picking up a couple of early whistles combined with the fact that they’ll pack up the ol’ jalopy later this eve and shlep to Syracuse for team’s third preseason game in four nights. (Seriously, three in four? How and why is this A Thing, and when will Mark Cuban throw a conniption fit about it? This time, it’d be wholly justified.) On a couple of occasions he went to a very Nowitzkian fadeaway, which I’m fairly sure I recall seeing once or twice the last couple of years, but it wasn’t really a regular part of his arsenal. Sure enough, after the game, he told Chris Herring that, “He realized that certain defenders picked up on his tendencies thru film, & had to develop counter moves.” So there you go. Also, I really like Melo’s mustache-goatee combo. Very Jazz session musician.

JOSE CALDERON
Ah the Triangle, a fickle mistress be she. It seemed to click in in jarring fits and spurts tonight, but in thinking back, there may be a far simpler explanation: Jose Calderon is a durned good point guard, and when he’s in, he makes ish work. Without him, not so much. The prettiest sequence occurred after an out of bounds play. He got trapped at the top of the arc, leaving Melo wide open on the weakside wing. A crosscourt pass might’ve been possible, but risky. Yes, this is where Raymond Felton would have tried to flip and flap to split the double, and been sent skidding on his belly as the ball bounded away. Instead, Jose pulled back, turned the corner just enough to get a defender on his hip and lofted a pretty lob feed to Dalembert. Seriously, look at this. Marvel at its beauty. Pretend you’re an esteemed Esquire man of letters and ponder writing a pointless 1.2k word intro about bullfighting to the Sexiest Play Alive.

Hoo boy. Getting a tad warm in here, huh? According to the NUMBERZ, he was actually a worse defender than Ray-Ray, but so far, he’s looked semi-capable. Granted, keeping Greivis Vasquez out of the lane isn’t much of a bar to hurdle, but yeah. We’re going to enjoy rooting for this dude, and making precise Facial Scruff Levels :: Assist/TO Ratio charts.

SHANE LARKING
No, that’s not a typo. That’s how Clyde’s been pronouncing his familial name so we really have no choice but to take it as the gospel truth. Speaking of which, you can see that Frazier desperately wants to play Yoda the ‘Bockers; fledgling neophyte floor general, at one point practically wincing while saying, “Slow down, slow down!” as Larking was streaking down court on a fast break that got utterly discombobulated by said streaking as he swerved left to avoid Patterson and cut off his own passing lane to Early on the wing.

Speaking of speaking, this:

Speaking of Clyde speaking of movies, while Mike and he were waxing poetic about Fish n’ Phil’s pilgrimage to see the Buddha of the Triple Post, Tex Winter, Clyde said something to the effect of, “It kinda reminds me of the Karate Kid. You know, the kid he didn’t know why the old man wanted him to do that stuff.”

This pretty much flabbergasted Breen, who was laboring under the assumption that Frazier had failed to process any cultural touchstones since the release of Frampton Comes Alive! But really, all I want to do is watch Karate Kid II-IV with Clyde. Not the Jaden Smith reboot. That ish was awful.

JASON SMITH
The proud poppa got his first taste of MSG action tonight and… well… he was pretty nondescript. If Jason Smith wasn’t 7 feet tall, I think he’d make a nifty C+ stand up comic. I have no idea if Jason Smith is in any way capable of slinging the occasional joke, but he just has the vibe of a dude wearing a t-shirt standing in front of a brick wall at the Laff Shack in Peoria that gets the occasional @Midnight slot. Aside from my witty bit of observational humor, he reminds me of Michael Doleac on offense, and…that’s it.

QUINCY ACY
The Fisher Koach has repeatedly said that we shouldn’t read too much into his lineup choices, which, yes, is probably wise. Two years ago, there were a ton of wonky, weird lineups that that struggled mightily before Son of Wood settled upon the Kidd-Felt-Brewer (remember him?)-Melo-Tyson quintet that practically set the atmosphere ablaze in November ’12. Of course, last year, I remember seeing Bargs starting in various combos and getting increasingly nervous.

So no, it’s not a rule, but I do think Fisher isn’t just seeing how Acy looks with at least three dudes that’ll be starting. The fact that he ran him out again to start the 2nd half seems to indicate something’s up. Then again, we may see a totally different grouping later tonight, and all my tea-leaf reading will be for naught, but there’s certainly worse candidates than Quincy at PF.

TIM HARDAWAY JR.
His shot was making soooooo much brick music tonight, but he’s gotten—dare I say it—savvy when driving to the basket, and I’m not just talking about transition hoops and/or boffo athleticism. Specifically, the two drives in which he didn’t rely on his speed, but used a hesitation move to shield the defender and slink to the rim.

JR SMITH
Interesting…

Wait for it…

Please, by all that is holy and good, someone go eat a JR Smith bagel and report back. I’m gluten-intolerant (and a tad Jersey-intolerant), but this is a moral necessity.

PABLO PRIGISNEAKS
#PabloSneaksRule

PHIL JACKSON
Here’s the most direct, tangible benefit of Phil Jackson’s reign: Spike Lee is no longer dressing like a club kid that couldn’t decide between, “Oompa Loompa” and “The Cat in the Hat.” To wit, he looks nice!

And that’ll about do it. As previously mentioned, there’s another game tomorrow. Long is the way, and hard, that out of hell leads up to light… n’stuff.

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Robert Silverman

Hey, did you know that in addition to banging the keys here and occasionally for the NY Times and at ESPN, Robert is a playwright, an actor and a wand'ring mendicant/gadfly? He also once wrestled a bear...and lost.

24 thoughts to “Pre-Raptors 81, Pre-Knicks 76”

  1. My favorite Clyde moment was when he said that he was “nervous” when he met Denzel Washington and that he was shocked to hear that Denzel idolized him as a kid. I can’t picture Clyde being nervous meeting anyone. By the way, nice “Hazel” reference with the conniption fit comment.

  2. 44 minute games? Has anyone in the history of ever complained that NBA games are too long? Baseball games, of course, since they’re not timed, but basketball games? So dumb.

  3. 2 thoughts on our PGs…

    1) I like Calderon more than I thought I would. He’s just savy as hell and, obviously, can really fucking shoot. Also, granted it’s just pre-season, but his defense hasn’t been as frighteningly bad as I assumed it would be. He’ll never have the foot-speed to stay in front of quick guards but he doesn’t appear to be lazy and he doesn’t appear to be a terrible team defender. It’s not saying much, but he’s incrementally better than Felton…which is…nice, I guess.

    2) Shane Larkin oftentimes has NO idea where he’s going…but he’s going there at 140mph and if he ever figures out that whole “what am I supposed to do with this Ludicrous Speed?” thing than he will be a very useful piece for us. He also shoots pretty well off the dribble, which I like. It’s almost essential that he sticks around because we need that change-of-pace PG behind Calderigioni because they be not fast.

  4. 2 more things…

    1) Amar’e is either going to have to buy into this whole Triangle thing or get another tattoo tear for murdering offensive sets before they have a chance to start. He’s not the only culprit, but he seems steadfast in his determination to not get involved in this whole Triangle hootenanny. There was one play last night where someone, maybe Calderon, was yelling at him to move and go to wherever he was supposed to go for them to set up the Triangle and he just refused. Posted up. Bricked a face up from 15-18 feet. It was infuriating. Also…I really need him to stop saying any derivation of the word ‘dominate’.

    2) COLE. COLE. COLE. GIVE US MORE COLE. I will be seriously hacked off if Cole doesn’t get at least 20 mpg. AT LEAST.

  5. I think it’s a majority opinion here on Knickerblogger that Cole Aldrich must get a lot of minutes this year. I personally want to start him over Dalembert, but I can’t complain about the job Dalembert has done for us. But #freecole is a movement.

    I think my biggest problem with the triangle is the predictability of the passes. It’s either we swing it to the strong side (which teams have overloaded already this preseason) or we swing it to the weakside and hope Sam Dalembert can create offense (he can’t). I see why Gasol, Kobe, and Bynum were so instrumental to the success of that offense because creating opportunities for multiple players is all good as long as you have multiple players that can capitalize on those opportunities. As it stands, I can only think of Calderon and Melo that can consistently take advantage of the opportunities this offense will provide for mismatches, and it seems like we only have those two plus Shump/Prigioni who can make the right passes on the quick cuts and post dump-ins available in this offense.

    This season should be interesting. Between Calderon, Shump, Melo, Dalembert, Acy, Stoudemire, Aldrich, Prigioni and the Smiths, we have a team that can push 50 wins (so long as Bargnani doesn’t play more than 300 minutes this year). How fast they can put together their offensive and defensive strategies will be crucial to our success.

  6. The offense will look smoother during the reg season, I’d be surprised if Melo and Jose were both off the floor at the same time. Plus we’ve all seen that it takes time to adjust to a new system and new players (Heatles, Celtics, Nets all had adjustment periods), but the triangle will be less predictable once the players get more comfortable making reads and learn how to counter the dfense a bit better.

  7. No doubt it’s going to take time. There will be many a night, early in the season, in which the offense looks about as discombobulated as it did under Woody’s sage tutelage. But I certainly have hope that it will come together and make for a much more efficient, effective, and aesthetically pleasing offense than we’ve seen for a few years.

    Also, Massive…not only am I well aware of the #freecole movement but I’m in favor of getting some #freecole t-shirts and hoodies made up. I’d buy the fuq out of any and all Cole swag. Cole lighters. Cole gold fronts. Cole overalls. Cole Zubaz pants. Let’s make this happen.

  8. 44 minute games? Has anyone in the history of ever complained that NBA games are too long? Baseball games, of course, since they’re not timed, but basketball games? So dumb.

    I think in general the pace of games is fine. Some playoff games get really, really slow (seems like the games in the finals last an hour+ longer than a regular season tilt) but for the most part I think game length is fine. If they want to cut game times slightly instituting some pace of play changes would be a much better solution in my opinion – for example one does occasionally wonder why it’s called a 30-second timeout when it lasts 2 full minutes and why it takes 3 minutes to shoot 2 free throws. Finding a solution to the annoying dragging out of the last 60 seconds would not only be a positive for the length of the game but also for the quality (seriously, think about how dumb it is that 99% of close basketball games at the end turn into ft shooting contests, the least interesting part of the game). And they should think about shortening the season slightly as well.

    Overall, looking at a 44-minute game feels like barking up the wrong tree to me, but I do like that Silver seems open to the possibility of tweaking some things to improve the product.

  9. Starting rotation:
    Melo is trying to make the triangle work. You can tell that he’s sacrificing and trying real hard. As the clock winds down and the ball finds its way into his hands, Melo is still reverting to 1-on-1 play, but he seems to be able to score at will.

    I agree with the notion that Acy’s appearance in the starting lineup for both the start of the 1st and 3rd quarters was not a fluke. He brings intangibles to the table and that lineup (Calderon, Shumpert, Melo, Acy and Dalembert) clicked big time.

    Shumpert is looking great. His admission that he wasted the past year and a half is telling. I hope he replays his own voice over and over… I’m 24 and playing in NYC … I’m 24 and playing in NYC … When he’s inspired, he plays great. I love that he’s slashing and dashing. I look for him to average 15 a game. He needs to.

    Calderon impresses me. Very much. No, he won’t be able to keep up with speedy PG’s, but he’s going to make great decisions with the ball and twice now I’ve seen him break defenders ankles with moves off the dribble to get open for his lethal jumper.

    We’re not losing anything with Dalembert anchoring the interior defense and offensively he’s better than Chandler. No, I don’t look for 20-10 from him but 10-10 on a nightly basis would be sweet.

    Bench
    Two players, Stoudemire and JR Smith, did everything wrong. When the ball got to them it’s next stop was a missed shot followed by a transition bucket by the Raptors. It’s easy to say that Stoudemire plays poor defense but it’s the bad offensive plays that lead to opponent scores.

    I keep saying this, but Larkin needs to be in the D-League. He has LOTS of potential but he needs a basketball boot camp. He flies all over the court and accomplishes little.

    Jason Smith shows a nice touch. I need to see more rebounding and defense.

    Hardaway had a rough game all-around.

    Prigioni astounds at his age. He picked off two…

  10. I think in general the pace of games is fine. Some playoff games get really, really slow (seems like the games in the finals last an hour+ longer than a regular season tilt) but for the most part I think game length is fine. If they want to cut game times slightly instituting some pace of play changes would be a much better solution in my opinion – for example one does occasionally wonder why it’s called a 30-second timeout when it lasts 2 full minutes and why it takes 3 minutes to shoot 2 free throws. Finding a solution to the annoying dragging out of the last 60 seconds would not only be a positive for the length of the game but also for the quality (seriously, think about how dumb it is that 99% of close basketball games at the end turn into ft shooting contests, the least interesting part of the game). And they should think about shortening the season slightly as well.

    Overall, looking at a 44-minute game feels like barking up the wrong tree to me, but I do like that Silver seems open to the possibility of tweaking some things to improve the product.

    The problem is that the things that slow the game down the most are the things that make the league the most money, as those commercials are prime real estate. Who is going to turn away from the game when a 30 second time out is called with 10 seconds left in a playoff game? No one. So that’s how a 30 second time out lasts close to 2 minutes, so they can get in four 30 second commercials. But yes, I absolutely agree that if there is any problem with the NBA game, timing-wise (and I honestly don’t think that there is a “problem” – just something sort of inconvenient), it is how they handle the end of the game.

  11. Kirk Goldsberry and his sportsvu data have discovered that most rebounds are gathered close to the hoop.

  12. The problem is that the things that slow the game down the most are the things that make the league the most money, as those commercials are prime real estate. Who is going to turn away from the game when a 30 second time out is called with 10 seconds left in a playoff game? No one. So that’s how a 30 second time out lasts close to 2 minutes, so they can get in four 30 second commercials.

    Certainly the NBA isn’t going to dramatically cut into timeout time b/c timeout time=commercial time, but just trimming the fat around the edges at least could help a bit as well. It seems to me there are 30-second timeouts in the 2nd quarter of regular season games where the carrier doesn’t even go to timeout that still last a full two minutes, and how often does the game come back from the two minute commercial break only for all the players to still be in the huddle, they wander back towards the floor, and it’s basically a full minute before play resumes? I mean we’re not talking about dramatic time savings here, but cutting down to 44 minutes isn’t going to save half an hour either. If we’re looking to shave 8-10 minutes a game I think that could be accomplished within the existing 48 minute framework.

    Also it bears mentioning that 11 minute quarters just feels weird. 11 minutes? What kind of length is that?

  13. Actually,at least with this experiment, the NBA will be cutting into their timeout time.

    From their official release on the matter:

    Application of the experimental 44-minute game will involve quarters being reduced from their typical 12 minutes each to 11 and a reduction in mandatory timeouts in the second and fourth quarters. During this 44-minute game, each quarter will feature two mandatory timeouts per quarter, with the first triggered at the first dead ball under 6:59 of the period if neither team has taken a timeout prior, and the second mandatory timeout will be triggered by the first dead ball under 2:59 if neither team has taken a timeout subsequent to the first mandatory timeout. In the NBA’s 48-minute game, the second and fourth quarters have three mandatory timeouts.

    That’s 2 mandatory timeouts cut per game. That’s like, what, maybe a dozen ads all totaled? 10? I bet that adds up to a lot of money, so I’ll be interested to see if they actually go through with that; and surprised for that matter.

  14. Oh and a last thought. If the NBA is trying to make there games more digestible for a TV audience (and I assume that’s the point of this type of move) I think more consistent TV scheduling is something they should seriously look at. If you look at other sports watching them can be very habitual – the Sunday routine has been a big part of football’s rise to dominance, the everyday nature of baseball fandom is at the core of its historical identity, even the uncontested nature of Saturday morning has played a significant role in the Premier League’s rising popularity. On the other hand, basketball is seriously a clusterfuck. Even for the diehard fan it can be hard to keep track of. There’s games on ESPN on Wednesday and Friday, TNT games on Thursday, Sunday games on ABC (but only for part of the season). There’s games on NBATV god only knows when. Your local team plays…well check the schedule, because there’s no natural rhythm. Sometimes it’s 3 in 4 and it starts to feel like baseball where you basically just tune in every night and expect it to be there, and then boom…3 days off. I think finding some sense of consistency there would make a much bigger difference than shaving 4 minutes off the game.

  15. The problem is that the things that slow the game down the most are the things that make the league the most money, as those commercials are prime real estate.

    Do people really still watch the ads? Between the internet, TiVo (except for Robert, of course), and the good ol’ mute button, it seems that that realestate is overvalued. Especially when they are just re showing the same ads that have been airing all game.

    But, since we’re on the subject, maybe they can put product logos on the jerseys and then do away with timeouts altogether? (That’s worked for NASCAR, no?)

  16. Sports are one of the last things on television that people watch live. That and, like, The Walking Dead and The Big Bang Theory. That’s why the NBA’s TV deal just tripled despite ratings not necessarily going up that much (if at all) – everyone else’s live ratings are plummeting but sports’ ratings remain pretty steady.

  17. But, since we’re on the subject, maybe they can put product logos on the jerseys and then do away with timeouts altogether? (That’s worked for NASCAR, no?)

    That’s something they’re already toying around with. I believe that either this season or next they’re going to do a few games to experiment with the idea.

    Personally, I’d actually rather have the ads than start rooting for the New York Nikes.

  18. I wouldn’t mind unobtrusive ads on the jerseys, but yeah, they’d have to be obtrusive for it to be worth it for the companies doing the advertising, right? So I’d rather see commercials, as well.

  19. The NBA probably doesn’t care as much about ad space since they signed their new TV deal. How else are they going to plead broke during the next collective bargaining?

    In all seriousness how much of the commercial money goes to the NBA vs. the TV networks?

    I do agree that the only real timing issue is in the last two minutes. While it’s probably less of a problem for anyone who spends time on this board, casual fans may enjoy a faster paced ending.

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