Oof. Is it too much ask for the Knicks to stick to the same script? An awful start and failed comeback would've had me perfectly at ease this evening. No such luck. New York flipped it up tonight, just to keep us interested and mess with our heads. They played a strong, cohesive first half, the Garden crowd rocking all the while. Toney Douglas got the start and looked sharp from the outset. Danilo Gallinari was connecting, Al Harrington was driving, and Larry Hughes was wreaking havoc on both ends. In a season of otherwise solid second halves, though, you bet your ass the Knicks picked this one to tank after halftime. The previously adequate defense completely crumbled, and the Knicks made bonehead play after clumsy mistake en route to a blowout loss.
It sucked. Notes after the jump..
- Like I said, Toney Douglas started this one. He took Larry Hughes's spot in the lineup (noteworthy that it was Hughes, not Chris Duhon), and played very nicely. Toney continued his accurate shooting, canning pull-ups from either side, finishing near the rim, and draining a couple threes as well. His 23 points were an early career-high. He posted only 1 assist to 3 turnovers, which reflects both slightly rough point guard play from Toney and utter inability to finish from Toney's teammates. On the other end, Ghostface had a bit of trouble striking a balance between fouling Mike Bibby and staying in front of him. By the end, though, his defense looked sharp. Overall, Toney Douglas did what Toney Douglas do. I have a feeling TD's got a bit more point guard savvy than his line suggests. It'll just take more reps and a better sense of his teammates to make it work.
- That point about Douglas's teammates not finishing was actually a major theme of this game. Several different Knicks found new, wonderful ways to deny Toney his assists. I'm talking missed layups, dropped passes, silly turnovers, and all sorts of things you'd see in a typical JCC ballgame.
- I've never seen David Lee rendered so ineffective. His shot attempts were pretty limited (4-9) and he simply couldn't hang with Al Horford. I usually cut Lee slack for suffering against legit centers, but Horford isn't even that big a dude. Davd looked weak out there. Clyde quipped that Horford was "Bogarting" Lee around the basket. If we're sticking with the Hollywood metaphors, then Lee was Beckinsale-ing.
- Speaking of which, where the hell is Darko Milicic? Everybody's been asking after Darko in the comments, and I just don't have a good answer. Perhaps he's hurting and I didn't see anything about it. In any event, New York could have used him to maim Horford tonight.
- Like the Knicks, the Hawks switch pretty much everything on defense. They just do it with a lot more conviction and better angle management. You know what I mean? The Knicks always look like their tripping over each other when defending the pick. The Hawks got it right.
- Danilo Gallinari's start was nice, including a steal and fast break dunk that made me soil myself. After that, Gallo faded into the background. The Cock just couldn't get touches, and attempted only 8 shots in 31 minutes. I kept forgetting he was on the court. I won't discount his steal and 7 rebounds, but Gallo desperately needs to make more of an impact out there.
- I harp on Al Harrington's accessories way too much, but I might as well add that this mouthguard that's half blue and half white just makes Al look like he's missing teeth. I think it's squashing his brain as well. Some of those fouls and shot attempts were remarkably poor.
- To be fair, Harrington did a decent job backing down Josh Smith's wiry ass a couple times (but not enough), and did a better job on Horford than Lee did (including a delightfully emasculating chair-pull. Malik Rose is smiling up in heaven. What?).
- Chris Duhon can't buy a bucket right now. Shit, he can't rent one. I don't think he could even test drive one. I don't think he could even window shop for one.
- Wilson Chandler really did his darndest on Joe Johnson. Wil kept a low profile (in a good way) on offense, focusing his efforts on staying in front of the dastardly Armadillo Cowboy (®). Johnson was actually held to 8-19, but it felt like he was hitting tough shot after tough shot.
- Speaking of which, watching Jamal Crawford from the opponent's perspective is still a wild experience. The feeling is identical, yet opposite. Instead of lamenting his shot selection but celebrating his improbable buckets, I found myself celebrating his shot selection but lamenting his improbable buckets. He can be positively infuriating in either light. I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for Jamal Crawford. Soft in the sense of compassion, but also soft in the sense of aortic decay. He's that kind of player.
- I'm looking forward to Eddy Curry's return. He really does look as svelte as I've ever seen him, though I think like a quarter of that weight was in his head, and I mean that literally. Jeez.
- The only real rotation Knicks with decent plus-minuses? Douglas (0), Gallinari (+4), and Jared Jeffries (+1). Just saying.
And with that, I'll wash myself of this one. Goodnight, y'all.