if you’ve seen any of the last eleven games, you know what happened. The new coach smell was still lingering in the rafters, but they got out (yet another) atrocious start, struggling mightily and grinding the shot clock down to the nubbin just to be able to get up a difficult, contested two point mid-range jumper, Meanwhile, the Wizards pushed off of each and every miss and/or turnover, racing out to wide open layups and wide open threes. By all that is holy and good, even freaking Marcin Gortat rumbled down the court to greedily gobble all the cherries.
They were down 15-6, against a DC squad that came into the evening 19th in offensive rating, finishing with a 35-21 lead at the end of the first on 13-20 shooting, including 4-5 from downtown.
And then, things got ugly. Yes, the Knicks came out all full of piss and vinegar to start the second stanza, going on a 12-3 run. But Melo. Would. Not. Leave. The Game. He played the first 16 freaking minutes. On a gimpy knee. When he’s been complaining of intermittent pain. Forget that they’ve gone 0-7 when he sits out, all the stern-jawed talk about the playoffs being a necessary and achievable goal leads to unfathomably dumb ish like this.
You know, we were warned that Rambis was not just a terrible coach, but a pound-nails-into-the-floor-with-your-forehead, so nightmarishly awful you really need to experience it first hand to truly comprehend the Lovecraft-ian madness-level bad. A “Makes Byron Scott look okay by comparison” bad. Our T-Wolves Friends, if nothing else ,have been there before. You can practically feel them shaking their heads as a fresh new fan base recoils in abject horror.
— Patrick Fenelon (@Patrick_Fenelon) February 10, 2016
We tried, Bob. I proactively apologized and everything. https://t.co/mgaLGAw41X
— William Bohl (@BreakTheHuddle) February 10, 2016
— Zach Harper (@talkhoops) February 10, 2016
For all the complaints we’ve had when it comes to Fisher’s rotations, I don’t think he, or any sentient, carbon-based life form would purposely try to pound Melo’s knees till they resembled mofongo, or give Sasha Vujacic way more minutes than Lance Thomas. I contemplated hauling ass down to MSG, kidnapping Kristaps and shoving him in an hermetically-sealed hyperbaric chamber, just to protect him from this deranged, Cool Dad-ish madman that was now ostensibly in charge of the final twenty-odd games of his rookie year.
Then, of course, Kristaps reached his giant, Giacometti-like arms, and took us in his warm embrace and all was right in the world. Really, at this point, you give me one or two reality-smashing sequences from the Porzingawd and the rest of the game fades into a druggy, barely-remembered haze.
In the third, our Man from Latvia straight went off. 14 points on eight shots. Two delicious, twine-tickling threes to start, followed hard upon by a Duncan-esque banker over Dudley, (SIDE NOTE: if Dudley is roasting the Knicks in a small ball lineup, going five for freaking five in the first half, why the eff would you wait until the third to take advantage of the fact that he’s trying to guard a dude that’s at least eight inches taller? Because Knicks, that’s why. Let’s get back to the orgasmic KP montage.) and a pretty running hook off the dribble from he elbow. When the Knicks let Kristaps be Kristaps, I unleash incomprehensible, sub-mammalian sounds.
Let’s watch. WARNING: Time itself may stand still.
These 3 plays happened within a minute of each other. 20-year old rookie pic.twitter.com/du2BoT2HSv
— Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer) February 10, 2016
EVERYONE GET OUT OF THE WAY.
PORZINGIS GAWED pic.twitter.com/8eIf3X3bu4
— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) February 10, 2016
KP showing off now. Running lefty hook. 7'3 pic.twitter.com/ejb2gWkbzX
— Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer) February 10, 2016
And they clawed all the way back, tying it at 83-all heading into the final stanza, when things got both deeply weird and yet frighteningly familiar. A back and worth game ballooned to 10 with 1:36 to go after John Wall went to work. I mean, given this team’s FARTDOG-y tendencies, it was more or less a given that Wall was going to have himself quite a night but this was something else. Step back jumpers, a trey over both Porzingis and Carmelo, a kick out in semi-transition to a wide open Beal on the wing (we’ll get back to this in a bit). And they still came back, dangling the thought of a nice, pre-All Star break win over our heads like a cruel brute taunting a starving puppy by holding a t-bone steak just beyond its reach.
After a slew of botched free throws and a head-scratching overturning of an and-one for Afflalo, Gallo found himself with a chance to tie, and…
Why in the wide world of sports would the Wizards get stuck trying to pressure in the backcourt? https://t.co/v1tSTQn5nk
— BBALLBREAKDOWN (@bballbreakdown) February 10, 2016
Le sigh. We’re all with you, Gallo. How you separate this loss from the Memphis game or the Detroit game or the Denver game or any one of the gut-wrenching, deeply agonizing and yet wholly predictable ten losses over the last eleven games is beyond me. This team looks battered, both physically and emotionally. Everyone take a break. Play some vidyuh games. Catch up on that stack of Harper’s that are taking up space in the living room that you’ve really been meaning to plow through. Psychically reload.
Anyhoo, a few notes and we’ll get outta Dodge.
* They need to find a different way to guard the 1-4 and -5. high pick and roll. I lost track of the number of times that Calderon (or whomever) would help from the weak side, leaving a wide open Beal/Dudley/Porter. Wally and Hahn were scratching their heads at this, throughout the postgame post-mortem, but there’s a serious strategic error here, especially when they don’t have nearly enough athletic wings to be able to recover and contest the shot.
* Speaking of Rambis things that are going to make me claw out chunks of my eyeballs, it seems that Jerian Grant is (for now) out of the rotation. If one of the strikes against Fish was his inability to develop the non-KP kids, for fuck’s sake; just let him roll. Sasha Vujacic does have the benefit of cutting with a purpose, but it’s pointless because it’s Sasha Vujacic. You’ll happily let him crank out bricktastic shots whenever he pleases.
* More Rambis fun from Friends-of-the-Blog, William Bohl.
* On Galloway’s last heave, check out Afflalo’s full-on pout. Maybe he felt he should have been the one to catch iron, but he’s sulking even before the ball is in the air. That’s not a good vibe, even if, yes, he’s without a doubt far more frustrated by this ugly streak than any of us could possibly imagine.
* Reports suggested that one reason Phil canned Fisher was that he strayed from the triangle-qua-triangle. We saw this again tonight, where in the second half they seemed to ditch it in favor of a spread attack, many of which featured Melo as the ballhandler. Speaking of which, he had another nifty game, and those one-handed whip passes off the dribble are purty as heck. This is neither the time and place to really get into it, but Chris Herring has some dandy thoughts here.
* One final note, and this is going to stray a bit from hoops, so feel free to jump to the end, but I’d like to take a moment to talk about a passel of unfettered thoughts that Phil Jackson banged out on his iPad and unleashed upon ye olde social media this afternoon.
Ostensibly, this brief bit of prose is meant to offer clues as to which clipboard-clutching savant might end up taking Fish’s place. Of course, in a totally Phil Jackson-y way, it doesn’t really do that at all, save the suggestion that it might be a dude from his coaching shrub or it might not, as long as it in some way adheres to a system that leads to self-actualization. The problem is, the trendy 60’s pop psychology–namely Maslow and Rogers–that Phil references don’t really hold up because they can’t be empirically tested or even defined. Maslow and Rogers aren’t really “major” figures either, save that they were super popular right around the time Phil was starting to nosedive deep into his own spiritual quest. Plus, you can see how a nifty chart like this…
…might slot in quite nicely with Phil’s predilection for both geometrically-shaped offenses. and of course John Wooden’s very own pyramid-based self-actualization chart.
That’s not to put the kibosh on what boils down to, Phil- and Psych-101-wise, as basically good common sense/sound advice. Granted, it’s more mushy, quasi-spiritual/philosophical than actual psychological theory, if a broadly appealing and uplifting one, particularly if, you know, said mystical quest has a very specific, non-theoretical, secular goal: winning as many basketball gamesas possible. It’s not bullshit, is what I’m saying.
But reading Jackson’s screed, I couldn’t help but recall a moment from my own life. I was struggling like a mofo during my first few weeks at a graduate acting program, and I couldn’t understand nor did I have much faith at all in the pedagogy. The things my teachers were asking to do were totally at odds with the techniques and skills that I had mastered (or, to my somewhat deluded 20-something self, thought I’d mastered), watching my classmates not only succeed and receive praise, but somehow take pleasure in even when they too ostensibly “failed.”
An older actor and teacher of mine was in town, and I offered to take him to lunch. Yes, I wanted to see him and whatnot, but I really wanted a friendly ear to rant and rave to, someone that knew what the hell I was talking about and would tell me that I was right, goddamn it.
So we got together at a cafe and before the menus dropped I started kvetching and moaning, shaking my tiny impotent fist at the unfairness of it all and the basic wrongness of everyone around me. He sat there, listening patiently and saying nothing for about twenty minutes, until I’d plumb tuckered myself out and totally emptied my spleen.
There was a brief pause, and then he said, “Huh. Bob, have you ever read about the 10,000 Year Clock? I was reading about this on the in flight magazine. There are some scientists that want to build a clock that will last 10,000 years, because the Atomic Clock, you see, loses a second every fifty years. Scientists want to build the a better clock, one that will keep perfect time for the next 10,000 years. Not just to see if they can pull it off, mind you, but because the environmental movement didn’t kick into gear until after the first pictures of the planet earth came back from space, and people thought, ‘Wow. That’s awesome. Maybe we should try to conserve this thing.'”
“Right,” I said, having no idea where he was going with this.
“You see, Bob. The idea is that if we have a clock that’s keeping absolutely perfect time for 10,000 years, maybe humanity will do everything in its power to still exist 10,000 years from now, just so a living person might be around to see what time it is.”
“And I think it’s the same way for acting. You have this art form that started, really, 5,000 before you, Bob, showed up, and, knock on wood, should be around for 5,000 years after you’re nothing but dust.”
“So, Bob. Every time an actor steps on stage, any stage—a rehearsal, a performance, or even a classroom exercise—he’s carrying ten thousand years of history. All the incalculable number of performances that came before and the untold billions that hopefully are stlll to come wrapped around him. That’s real power. That’s a performance that exists beyond time.”
“But the only way to do that is if you realize, Bob, that it’s not about you. Because if it’s about you, you kill 10,000 years of history. You know what I mean?”
He was and is right. And it was exactly what I needed to hear at the time.
The queston that I have is, does Phil know that? Because riffing on obscure psychologists as a follow-up to the fluffily obtuse statements he gave in the first presser about who he’ll hire feels like so much ego, or at least Phil pointing to his own degree of self-actualization and/or enlightenment out of vanity and narcissistic, intellectual self-flattery.
There’s no need to spew the Cliff Notes version of his overarching hoops philosophy on social media not when he’s already done so in what, eight books? Not that he shouldn’t be attempting to impart these lessons to his team. Like I said (see above) it’s absolutely valuable, it does work. and like any struggle against the tyranny of self, it’s a lifelong struggle. But publish it? On freaking Twitter? Why? Phil’s under no obligation to give any more hints about whom he’ll hire, and in all likelihood, he doesn’t actually know who that person will be. This scans like something else. Long story short (too late), when Phil pulls stunts like these I’m not sure that he always knows that it’s not about him.
And that’ll do it. Always nice to be recapping again, fellow Knickerbloggeristas. In closing, let’s watch Bernie Sanders drain a few from midrange.