Rodney Hood is a guy I like a lot, but he’s up and down and doesn’t strike me as the sort of guy that gives the Knicks fits.
I wrote that in the game thread. Ahem. 29 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, and 5-8 from three. The Knicks have been poor at guarding perimeter players this season, but it’s the shifty little dudes who break down the defense and get into the lane that usually torch us. Tonight Rodney Hood went nuclear and just couldn’t miss from deep. He was water on everything, and I wouldn’t even say the Knicks defended him poorly. He was just in a zone.
The Knicks had the game won…in their pockets, but Hood and Burke hit every clutch, contested three and then there was Kristaps….oh…oh….Kristaps. He couldn’t stay calm like…well….Kristaps Porzingis, fouling Super Mike Dunleavy…er…Gordon Hayward for three last second free throws. It was probably his stupidest moment during a spectacular, heady rookie campaign. Hayward and his punchable face just relishes facing the Knicks like all great hot dogs do. He’s so good, and I hate him.
The game was marked by Knicks endurance in the face of uncanny Jazz shooting and sloppy Knicks defense on screen and rolls. The Knicks weren’t historically bad defending screen and roll, but it was enough to make the Jazz hot shooting stick and dropped the home team into a persistent 10 point deficit. The Knicks fought back, but the Jazz hit shot after shot after shot from impossible angles and occasionally from wide open looks around the free throw line extended. The Knicks never let it get too out of hand though, and Melo ignited like the Human Torch in the fourth…swishing and dishing and leading the charge back to the lead late in the 4th. Robin Lopez grabbed every offensive rebound in sight and put back crucial shot after crucial shot. It was definitely his best game of the season.
Not only was Melo in Olympic mode, but he hit a huge milestone passing Larry Bird on the all time scoring list. The word “passing” was also key in his season high 9 assists, and he defended Hayward like Kawhi Leonard down the stretch, denying him the ball and generally bullying him all over the court. Magnificent.
Credit to Langston Galloway and Derrick Williams for really changing the tempo and momentum of the game, making huge plays down the stretch and in the overtime period. The crowd was super into this one, and D-Will had a lot to do with it. He even got a Garden chant after a big “and one” late in OT.
Now that the game is over and the Knicks won, I want to say that the referees were about as awful as can be imagined. They were beyond terrible in multiple stretches of the game, and I kept saying out loud, “No one came to see you pasty guys.” They managed to stay out of the way enough for the game to find prolonged stretches of really fun play up and down the court, but they also managed to insert themselves into particular periods of the game that confounded everyone and promoted a very sluggish, agonizing pace. In the end, that was a lot of fun. It was shouting, hating, cheering, thrilling, gasping, smirking, and winning. Winning is the thing that matters most.
Thanks for playing along at home Knickerbuddies.