|Carmelo Anthony, SF 39 MIN | 10-26 FG | 6-6 FT | 6 REB | 3 AST | 26 PTS | +1
Early on, it appeared as though Melo’s mindset was once again set to distributor mode – sharp swing passes and one picture perfect, adrenaline-surging ‘oop to Chandler being the hallmarks. But to think Melo is going to do anything other than dominate the ball down a nail-biting stretch, with the league’s reigning MVP and basketball media pin-up Derrick Rose dropping tears at the other end, well, you probably never took a psychology course. We needed two Herculean efforts from our Olympian forwards tonight. Sadly, one of those cards came up Cassandra.
|Amare Stoudemire, PF 41 MIN | 16-27 FG | 2-4 FT | 11 REB | 2 AST | 34 PTS | -11
Stat looked about as washed up as an aircraft carrier in this one. Any game where Amar’e can take 27 shots, connect on a majority of them, and commit only one turnover, is a game that ends with me flipping open to a random page in the Bible and reading, just to be safe. Indeed, watching Stat tonight was as close to poetry in motion as I can recall having seen from anyone in the orange and blue in eons; the cuts, the timing, the lift — even the late dish to Fields — was as encouraging as it was inspiring…. What’s that? Carlos Boozer can’t guard a dead tree? I don’t know what you’re talking about.
|Tyson Chandler, C 36 MIN | 4-5 FG | 1-2 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 9 PTS | +5
Normally I wouldn’t feel too threatened by the idea of Tyson Chandler lining up opposite a stubble-bearded Frenchwoman with a ponytail. If anything, I’d hand Tyson a stack of dollar bills and tell him to have a blast in Montreal (Now if you get too drunk, TC, find yourself some poutine. Don’t ask what it is, just yell it very loudly and I’m sure someone will point you in the direction of a lunch cart. Eat it quickly, but sleep very close to the toilet. You’re welcome). As it turns out, that Amazon stripper I just described was actually Joakim Noah, who can be quite a handful, I’m told. Still, Chandler came up with some monster boards and blocks down the stretch, and laid a pick at center court on Bull rookie Jimmy Butler that not only looked like it severed the kid’s windpipe, but actually resulted in a foul call on Butler. It’s good to be the King.
|Landry Fields, G 42 MIN | 7-10 FG | 0-1 FT | 0 REB | 4 AST | 17 PTS | +4
What a fickle beast this Landry be. After getting off to yet another torrid start, Landry inexplicably went into one of his Goth chick funks midway through the second quarter, somehow convincing himself that the NBA awards a trophy and Atlanta Bread Company gift cards for leading the league in pump fakes. He managed to come alive late – running down a steal after a turnover at the other end, and hitting a layup that cut the Bulls lead to two in the game’s waning moments – making it, on the whole, a game heavier on benefits than costs.
|Iman Shumpert, G 39 MIN | 5-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 8 AST | 10 PTS | -6
Like Derrick Rose, Iman Shumpert hails from South Chicago. Unlike Derrick Rose, Iman Shumpert is not Derrick Rose. Shumpert contributed as many flashes of feist as he did complete dumbass decisions tonight, although his shot selection — with a few, stroke-inducing exceptions — was noticeably less harried. For a youngster still figuring out his role in the piping cauldron of New York, games like this have to ring particularly painful for our budding wingman, albeit a pain with roots to grow.
|Jared Jeffries, PF 14 MIN | 0-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 PTS | +4
If Jared Jeffries doesn’t get the lead in the Leave It to Beaver feature movie — whenever they decide to make it — everyone can just go to Hell. I mean that. For as much flak as the one-time All Big Ten forward has gotten during his goof-ridden career, Jeffries really does do the right thing most of the time, even if — as was the case on a heinous blocking foul during a key run in the third — he doesn’t always get rewarded for it.
|Renaldo Balkman, PF 4 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 PTS | -4
For those of mired in the protracted MSG-Time Warner cluster$#@% and who don’t have cable, here is Balkman’s four minutes of playing time in word form: Get ball at left wing, watch as the lane parts like Red Sea, take two purposeful dribbles towards basket, throw basketball off backboard / into rafters. Truth told, I’m 75% sure that D’Antoni – feeling the second quarter Bulls run was getting close to out of hand – actually barked Melo’s name down the bench, only to see Balkman (to Jeremy Lin: “He said ‘Naldo, right yo?”) jog towards the scorer’s table, and had neither the heart nor the mental energy to stop him.
|Toney Douglas, PG 15 MIN | 2-7 FG | 1-1 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 6 PTS | -4
Being disemboweled and having your innards fried in your own fat while you watch can happen when you guard Derrick Rose (I don’t know how that’s possible but just work with me). But to allow yourself to be tortured for the better part of seven minutes by C.J. Watson – mere moons removed from the D-League – has to be a pretty helpless feeling. Regardless, that in no way excuses things like driving to the baseline, having your path cutoff by red-shirted steeds, and bouncing the ball five feet into the blue paint in a lame attempt to kick it to the corner.
|Bill Walker, SG 9 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -4
Fun Fact: Rendered into binary code, the average Bill Walker stat line actually creates a program which causes the computer to play the Benny Hill theme song on a non-stop loop.
Five Things We Saw
- My wife has a crush on both Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah. Now, I could conceivably handle one of those. But both? Even when Noah flails around after not grabbing a board or yelling like a banshee in the rut after a one-handed dunk he barely has to jump to pull off, she finds it oddly attractive. Clearly, this doesn’t really have anything to do with game analysis. But it sure goes a long way to show why women shouldn’t be allowed to watch sports.
- Tonight’s TNT broadcast – headlined by Kevin Harlan and Reginald Golemface Miller — issued their own report card for the Knicks towards the end of the first quarter, wherein the ‘Bocker defense was awarded a D-. I actually had to rewind the DVR six or seven times, just to make sure that the mead I’d been drinking wasn’t spiked with mescaline.
- I don’t care how big a fan you are of delicious fruit-filled pastries, 11 turnovers in one quarter (the 2nd) is just way too many. With Carmelo Anthony on the bench, the Knicks had managed to keep the Bulls within striking distance early in the second. But a slop-filled three-minute stretch –the Bulls naturally capitalized – would put us into a hole from which we wouldn’t fully emerge until late in the fourth quarter.
- When the Mayan prophecies come true and 11 months from now we find ourselves fighting in the streets over rice and medicine, my starvation-induced visions will likely include joining up with a roving band of well-meaning warriors, lead by the Knicks’ bench. I imagine us combing the countryside for nuts and berries, attempting in vein to harvest dirt suitable for consumption, all the while looking for a neck of uncontaminated land on which to start civilization anew. When we finally reach what we think is our Valhalla – some stunning field of glistening grain and gallant stock in Northern Indiana, let’s say – we find that our dreamed-of parcel is actually being defended by a brigade led by the Bulls’ bench. Upon our approach, Taj Gibson steps forward to inform us that the only way we can join their tribe is if our finest roundballers can defeat theirs in a game of five-on-five. If the Knick bench loses, on the other hand, we all die. I then immediately turn around and walk in the other direction to get eaten by wolves.
- Look, I never complain about the refs…. OK, that’s a lie — I currently lead my old man league in technical fouls ($45 each), and was actually told during a recent game to “strap on my diaper a little tighter.” So it goes without saying that disparities of 23-15 on fouls and 29-14 on free throw attempts aren’t going to help keep my piss at room temperature very long. I get that Derrick Rose, being the MVP, will find his way to the line. But when Kyle Korver and Jimmy Butler start getting phantom whistles, it’s very difficult for me to not revert to misanthropic tirades against the NBA’s professional wrestling-level scriptedness.