Wow. In a season full of miscues and misery, that was just what the doctor ordered. The Knicks invited the Suns into the Garden, spanked them mercilessly, then sent the league's best team packing. Shots fell and the defense clicked as the Knicks built a lead and never really looked back. A number of different players stepped up and filled their roles with aplomb. Phoenix, meanwhile, played the part of the home team, flubbing easy plays and exerting very little effort en route to their first sub-100-point output of the season. The Knicks' best stuff and the Suns' worst just happened to coincide, and I must say it was positively exquisite.
Notes, after the jump...
I mentioned that each Knick played his role brilliantly. I wasn't kidding. Check it:
- Wilson Chandler got things started by driving to the basket on offense, getting fouled early and connecting at the line. Later, he canned a couple open threes (2-3) and otherwise let the offense come to him. On the other end, D'Antoni chose to match Wil with Steve Nash, which worked nicely, as Chandler was quick enough to stay near (not in front of. Nobody does that.) Nash, and big enough to disrupt his passes and switch onto Amare' Stoudemire when picks were set.
- Chris Duhon (2-8) didn't shoot as well as he did in the previous game, but hit a pretty big three, dished out 5 assists, and spent 23 minutes on the bench. Perfect.
- Al Harrington (8-14) took a reasonable number of shots and hit most of them. He also pulled down 8 rebounds.
- David Lee registered 24 points and 8 boards, actually made an effort to defend Stoudemire, and didn't get embarrassed on help defense because the Suns hardly attacked the rim. Lee's hands were up, too, as indicated by his 4 steals.
Those Knicks did their jobs. These Knicks went above and beyond:
- Larry Hughes up and stole the point guard reins from Chris Duhon in early going, dropping 8 dimes in the first quarter and finishing with 12 on the night. He demanded the ball, directed traffic in the halfcourt set, and hit cutters with pinpoint passes. It was beautiful. Hughes's 11 points and 4 steals were just gravy. That little display of competent point guard play was tremendous. Not to continue to dump on Duhon after a win, but Larry's leadership made a massive difference. Evidence: The Knicks started the second quarter with Hughes on the floor and won the first 4 minutes 12-10. Duhon then checked in for Hughes, and the Suns promptly went on an 8-3 run. Hughes then re-entered, and the Knicks won the next four and half minutes 17-12. I'm not just saying...I'm just saying...
- I can't say enough about Jared Jeffries's play. He was mostly a garbagebro on offense (4-6, 10 points), and I mean that in the best way possible. The rest of his line, though, is what stands out. 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 blocks, and a steal are marks of a job well done by Jeffries, and he did that in just 25 minutes. Jared's quiet contributions helped keep the Knicks afloat when it looked like the Suns were poised to strike. Superb game.
- Finally, a big ol' Rooster Salute for Danilo Gallinari. Gallo asserted himself just like we hoped he would, finishing with 27 points, 10 boards, and 2 monstrous Cock-blocks. Gallo was potent from downtown (6-12, and it would've been more with a kinder rim), but didn't just settle for threes. He looked much more confident and made his way into the center of the court to participate more in the offensive flow. There were backdoor cuts, frontdoor cuts, and even a stop-and-pop banker from about 12 feet out.If you're on Twitter, hit up @gallinari8888 and tell him to keep up the great work. Gallo's shot at stardom is tied to the kind of confidence and aggression we saw him from him tonight.
The rest of the notes:
- Billie Jean King was interviewed by Al Trautwig at courtside, and finished her conversation by calling Trautwig "Babes". The following dialogue ensued:
Breen: "Did she just call Al 'Babes?'"
Clyde: "She's from the 70s."
Breen: "Don't you go call Al that now."
- King also took the opportunity to smack some tennis balls into the crowd during a timeout. One of them whizzed perilously close to Channing Frye's head, and Frye reacted with that memorable look of puzzlement we first witnessed in his "sometimes, dinner was just crackers" Garden of Dreams commercial. If you remember that MSG ad, you're officially a pimp by P&T standards (and a moron by everyone else's standards, but forget those guys.)
- Nate Robinson got very little burn in this one. The way Hughes was playing, I guess he wasn't really needed. Robinson didn't show any blatant displeasure, and actually did a nice job pushing the tempo in his 10 minutes.
- Amare' Stoudemire, who I'd typically consider to be a pretty good shot-blocker, didn't even bother to contest a lot of the Knicks' drives into the paint. Either Stoudemire's defense has fallen off or David Lee is contagious.
- Apparently some sort of rodeo is coming to MSG, and I feel obligated to pass along the information that the Garden will be "filled with the world's toughest cowboys and rankest bulls". I know P&T folks like their bulls rank, so I figured I'd share for those of you who missed the ad.
- P&T hero Frederic Weis coined the term "Knickslexia" to describe the phenomenon of reading a winning Knicks score backwards, because your tendency to assume they're losing overrides what you actually perceive. If you checked out the 71-58 score at halftime, odds are you got all kinds of Knickslexic.
- Robin Lopez is something else. No, really. He's something else.
- Clyde always mocks Mike Breen for being a ballhog on the basketball court. Do we have any evidence that these two have actually played ball together? If so, is it on video? If so, can I have it?
- Goran Dragic probably doesn't wear a diaper on the court, but he might.
- With the season's first real blowout came the season's first real garbage time. It was magical. Toney Douglas DWTDD for a sec, burying two threes and handing out a couple assists. Jordan Hill shot and missed a bunch (2-7) but looked active (to use the adjective that's gradually becoming his middle name) and showed off some of his typically fluid moves, with a jump shot to boot. Jordan Hill is pretty good at basketball. Mark my words. Marcus Landry got to spin as well, and hit a three just to ice the cake.
- Darko Milicic, despite chants from the crowd, was a DNP-BHWCSIYMHPGT. See if you can crack that one.
Tonight was marvelous. Thanks go to everybody who commented, and also to the Knicks for putting together a masterpiece of a performance in beating the league's best team. I got a little choked up for a bit there.
I'm sure we'll have video and some more excitement in the morning, but there isn't much time to bask. The Knicks head straight to Orlando for another meeting with the Magic tomorrow night. Could they possibly keep the dream alive?