Top of the morning, buddies. I'm fresh off a visit to the Garden that was all kinds of exciting, and included a stretch of basketball so incompetent and precarious that I left shaking like a leaf. 8 Knicks got minutes, and each of them played an important role in an atypically even, close win over the Bobcats. After a miserable offensive first quarter for both squads, the game turned into a bit of a shootout, with the Knicks canning threes and the Cats attacking the rim pretty much at will. In the fourth, the Knicks' three-point shooting bought them a modest lead that would all but disappear in the last minute.
Some game and Garden notes, after the jump...
- There was a kid sitting in front of me with his family to whom I'd like to dedicate this recap. He was probably about 10, looked a great deal like The Goo, and was clad in a full-body brown sweatsuit. I can't really do it justice, but the kid's energy (I've never seen somebody want a shirt from the t-shirt gun so badly) and terrific insight ("Daddy, they needa get a rebound!") may have won the Knicks this game. You just didn't do it. This one's for you, brown sweatsuit Goo.
- There's a documentary out about Wat Misaka, the Japanese point guard who became the first Knick draft pick and the NBA's first non-white player in 1947. During a timeout, the Knicks brought Misaka out to center court and presented him with an honorary #15 jersey. The ensuing standing ovation was nothing short of chilling. Misaka, who turns 86 today, is maybe the coolest person I've ever seen.
- At the very end of the first half, Danilo Gallinari was set to check in, but Mike D'Antoni changed his mind and sent him back to the bench, which prompted Jared Jeffries to lean back in his chair and gesture like he was reeling in a fishing line. Danilo was not impressed.
- My girlfriend quickly fell in love with Jonathan Bender and took to calling him "Legs", which is a nickname so simple and fitting, it might warrant a shirt someday. I can already picture it. Anyway, "Legs" did little to dispel the myth of his majesty, going a perfect 3-3 from behind the arc in 15 minutes. His drives to the rim were all ill-fated, as he got stripped, blocked, or whistled for steps on each of three or four moves. No sweat, though. Jonathan's getting his feel back and finding his mojo again, but still managing to be very effective on both ends. It's really a joy to watch.
- Speaking of Bender, my girlfriend also noticed that "Legs" switched from black to white knee braces at halftime, which led me to tell her he actually has prosthetic legs and had switched those at the half. She believed me for like half a second. Don't tell her I told you that.
- Danilo Gallinari's three-point shooting (2-7) was a fraction off until late, but he made up for it by driving and getting to the line (7-10), which is exactly what he needs to do. Gallo's combination of quickness, size, and awkward gait makes him an easy foul target, and good things are bound to happen when he puts the ball on the floor.
- Same goes for Wilson Chandler, who shot a modest but excellent 2-3 from downtown. Wil got most of his looks on mid-range catch-and-shoots or in transition, and made the most of it. He finished with a marvelous 26 and 5 on 9-17 shooting, and hit a huge three down the stretch.
- At one point in the second half, an entire section of people up in the 300's did a simultaneous and very intricately choreographed dance to the Black Eyed Peas' "I've Got a Feeling". No word on what the hell it was (though I've got a guess), but it was awesome.
- David Lee! The midrange J just wasn't falling, but Dave made up for it with 15 points, 15 boards, and 7 assists(!) in 38 minutes. He also did his darndest against the much taller Tyson Chandler and Nazr Mohammed, and signaled for D'Antoni to sub him out for Jared Jeffries when he felt he was getting exploited. Great game from D-Lee.
- You know how Chris Duhon has a propensity to miss pull-up threes early in the shot clock that help swing the momentum towards the opposition? Well, he hit those last night. Du went 3-5 from downtown as part of a very solid 13, 6, and 4 game. His 3 turnovers were all careless unforced errors, but we'll let it slide in a win.
- Jared Jeffries and Toney Douglas didn't do much statistically, but both played a key role in disrupting Charlotte's passing with determined off-the-ball defense. Toney, for his part, looked ever-so-slightly more comfortable running the offense, though his sense of timing still needs some fine tuning.
- Danilo Gallinari (2) and Wilson Chandler hit three massive threes to keep the Knicks ahead in the last six minutes. Then, with 54 seconds remaining, Gallo rimmed out a three that would've put New York up 8 and pretty much iced the game. From that point forward, the Knicks did absolutely everything the could to hand over the game. They didn't contest threes. They didn't rebound. They fumbled an inbounds pass. They missed free throws. Gallinari went 2-4 at the line in the final minute, and would've been the goat if he didn't swat Acie Law's game-tying layup attempt as time expired. It was a magical night that very nearly went awry. Here's the video of the game-saving Cock Block.
- Suck it, demon-coach.
Thanks to those of you that commented in the game thread in my absence. The Knicks play again tomorrow, when they can hopefully recover from another recent loss against the Bulls.