Quick Reaction: Suns 91, Knicks 88

Phoenix Suns 91 Final
Recap | Box Score
88 New York Knicks
Carmelo Anthony, SF 38 MIN | 5-22 FG | 1-4 FT | 11 REB | 4 AST | 12 PTS | -2

Whether hobbled by ailing joints, a sub-par Wing Wednesday at B-Dubs, or shell shock after being yelled at by LaLa for not fixing the faucet, Melo was all but out to pasture in this one. He did manage to grab ten boards, dish some nice dimes, and do a serviceable job on the defensive end. As for shooting, well, he once again did this quite poorly. He also missed a bunch of free throws — or, as I now like to call them, “really expensive throws.” Any of y’all have some leftover banana peels I can smoke?

Amare Stoudemire, PF 38 MIN | 7-22 FG | 9-10 FT | 7 REB | 4 AST | 23 PTS | +2

Stat had some nice flashes, but at this point it’s impossible not to notice that the mostly controlled grace that defined Amar’e’s game early last season has gradually and alarmingly morphed into chaotic and ill-timed drives, flagrantly irresponsible ball-handling, and just a general crappy attitude. After watching Melo play arcade basketball for the last three games, you could tell Stat was in full-on “my turn” mode in this one.

Tyson Chandler, C 38 MIN | 3-4 FG | 3-4 FT | 17 REB | 2 AST | 9 PTS | -2

I should probably just have a Chandler template for these recaps. That way I’d only have to add exclamation points depending on how badly he beasted the boards. Also, new rule: Any game where Chandler doesn’t have at least five lobs thrown in his general direction, he gets to shave one of Bill Walker’s dreads. !!!!!!!!!!

Landry Fields, G 36 MIN | 6-12 FG | 5-9 FT | 6 REB | 4 AST | 17 PTS | -4

If Shumpert had his best outting in weeks, Landry Fields had his best since maybe the Modell’s commercial. Despite a forgettable first half and early start to the second – a spell which included him picking up his 134th charge of the season – Landry came alive late in the third, hitting a variety of shots, moving confidently both with and without the ball, and generally not puking all over the place. The next order of business will now be to ask my dog very politely if I can have my Landry tee-shirt back.

Iman Shumpert, G 40 MIN | 8-14 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 20 PTS | -2

This was a big test for Shump — playing not only one of the best court marshals in NBA history, but against a dude who was experiencing his own rookie trevails when our little Iman was still eating Flintstones vitamins. Nash did his Nash thing, but Shump kept time with his strongest performance in many moons, playing tenacious, Miyagi-hands defense (he’ll soon be eligible for inclusion on the league steals leaders list, where he may very well be tops), and hitting four straight bombs – including a pair of threes – down the stretch to keep the Knicks within striking distance. He also cast the wrong spell from the Egyptian Book of the Dead while guarding Shannon Brown on that corner three. Rookie mistake.

Mike Bibby, PG 6 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 PTS | -5

Congratulations to J.R. O’Grady (@LoHudKnicks), winner of our Fan Recap Caption contest: “THAT WAS THE MOST MEANINGFUL SINGLE ASSIST EVER MADE!”

Jared Jeffries, PF 18 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 2 PTS | -4

Ladies and gentlemen, your early frontrunner for Best Defense-to-Offense Sequence of the Year Award, courtesy of Jared Gottfried Jeffries (go ahead, Wikipedia that shit — I dare you). After taking a charge on a Marcin Gortat (Russian for “Elephant Tapir Gortat”), Jeffries capped off perhaps the best 30 seconds of his career on the opposite end with a ridiculous, standing up-and-under that banked in with enough english to kill a Catholic. At this point, Jeffries is one of the few players – if not the only player – who doesn’t give me the urge to eat glass at least three times during games. He’s doing his job, and for that he should be commended.

Toney Douglas, PG 17 MIN | 1-6 FG | 1-1 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 3 PTS | +1

When your first two shots careen off the backboard with enough force to alter European storm systems, it’s probably not gonna be your night. And it wasn’t. The times he did play, TD mostly just ran around and occasionally shot off one foot. He did play some descent defense on Nash early in the fourth quarter, however. So there’s that.

Josh Harrellson, F 8 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | +1

How Harrellson didn’t get more burn in this one is beyond me. Sure, Phoenix’s lineup is smaller and sprier than most, but Jorts has shown time and again the ability to move his feet and stay in front of his man. He and the D’Antoni brothers must’ve gotten into a really heated barbecue debate.

Five Things We Saw

  1. Mere minutes into the game, I’d seen Stat on Nash (twice), Shumpert on Markief Morris (twice), and Carmelo Anthony on Gortat (twice). Mike Woodson’s supposed imparting of his “switch always, every time – I don’t care if it’s failed the last 20 trips down the court” ethos has been the subject of much doubt and derision lo these last few weeks. And it inched closer to point’s tipping tonight, against a player in Steve Nash who has the ability to turn most NBA big men dumb enough to switch on to him into two-legged, helpless yoyos.
  2. Speaking of which: If, when I’m 37, I’m as good at anything – walking, breathing, yelling at my kids, balding – as Steve Nash is at playing basketball, send me a clever mug or something. This game went a long way in proving why basing your diet on things not found on a dollar menu can pay some very dividends; Nash did not look like he’d played a game half way across the country the night before — a game, by the way, where he was equally as vintage, albeit in a loss. If only…
  3. While not quite as demoralizing in terms of sheer volume, once again the Knicks allowed their foes to light it up from behind the arc (7-12, or 58%) — a few of which had even D’Antoni shooting flames out of his eyeballs on the sideline. And if you think for a second that Shannon Brown’s pixie-dusted heave from the right corner in the game’s waning moments wasn’t indicative of some kind of cosmic retribution for game after game of perimeter indifference, well, you probably haven’t done as many drugs as I have.
  4. SO…MANY….BRICKS…. Seriously, can we get Gene Hackman in the Garden to measure these rims? By the middle of the third quarter, I could literally see blood coming from the heels.
  5. You’ll love this one. The Knicks finished +16 on the boards tonight. And no, I did not accidentally carry the 40. Unfortunately, enormous disparities like this are about as meaningful as boners in the grave when you give up not one, but two offensive rebounds whilst down only three with just under two minutes remaining.

2012 Game Preview – Suns @ Knicks

Suns Knicks

Phoenix Suns (4-9, 1-5 away) @ New York Knicks (6-7, 3-3 home)

Tonight, two teams in the midst of a losing streak will do battle at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks will try to prevent their streak from reaching four, while the Suns look to halt their skid at six. This will be the only meeting between the two teams this season, due to the loss of games. Phoenix and New York split the two meetings last year, with each team winning on the other’s home court.

Fundamentals
When – January 18th, 2012
Time – 7:30 PM
Where – Madison Square Garden
TV – MSG

Injury Report – New York
Baron Davis (Out) – Back

Injury Report – Phoenix
None

Offensive Rating – New York 100.1 (23rd) Phoenix – 103.3 (13th)
Defensive Rating – New York 101.5 (12th) Phoenix – 106.6 (26th)
Pace – New York – 93.8 (3rd) Phoenix – 91.1 (18th)
High PER Performer – New York – Carmelo Anthony (25.1) Phoenix – Marcin Gortat (23.8)

Probable Starters – New York
PG – Iman Shumpert
SG – Landry Fields
SF – Carmelo Anthony
PF – Amar’e Stoudemire
C – Tyson Chandler

Probable Starters – Phoenix
PG – Steve Nash
SG – Jared Dudley
SF – Grant Hill
PF – Channing Frye
C – Marcin Gortat

Keep an Eye On

1. The Creative Canadian – Steve Nash just keeps getting it done, and is averaging a double double for the season so far. Nash is the absolute master of the pick and roll, whether he makes a pinpoint pass to the roll man, finds an open teammate, or knocks down a jumper. The Suns average 0.99 PPP (Points Per Possession) when Nash is the ball handler in the pick and roll, according to mySynergySports. Phoenix still relies heavily on Nash’s 37-year-old legs to do the majority of playmaking. His assist percentage is an astouding 58.1%. the Knicks highest player in that category? Carmelo Anthony, at 28.3%.

2. Zone D – I have tuned in briefly to a few of Phoenix’s games, and they will move to a zone defense during particular stretches. I’m sure I don’t need to remind a single soul about how the Knicks responded to Orlando’s zone defense late in Monday’s loss. Stan Van Gundy switched to the zone at the perfect time, and the Knicks will need to be prepared for the potential of Head Coach Alvin Gentry showing the same look.

3. ‘Melo Point Forward – Do what you will with this statistic, but Carmelo Anthony leads the league in PPP when he is the ball handler in the P&R (1.2). However, the Knicks are only utilizing him in that situation 15.5% of the time, compare that to the 31.6% in isolation scenarios.

4. ‘Melo Milestone – ‘Melo is within six points of reaching the 15,000 point plateau.