Editor's Note: Just finished watching the game tape myself. I said somewhere today that the recent streak has been the Knicks realizing they can get away with bad defense if they make their shots. Tonight, they got away with poor shooting because they locked down the Blazers. It was beautiful. Thanks to Ray Smuckles for his speedy recap. Here's Ray:
Greetings children of America! Knicks looked good from start to finish in this one (minus the start of the 4th quarter when they gave up 14 straight, and had a 23 point lead trimmed to a modest 9). It looked for awhile that we might be on the plus side of garbage time, but alas, not tonight. That aside though, the effort was there, with help defense looking especially good, and the cock strutting his crunch-time stuff.
Who says white men can't jump? (See: Lee denies Pryzbilla, old school)...- Everyone's favorite second year rookie Danilo got some nice minutes tonight (35:40). He had the icewater flowing in his veins when he knocked down a deep 3 to end Portland's almost-miracle run, then led the break and got it to Hughes for a 3-pt play on the next possession. Gallo didn't start, with Coach D' opting for Harrington instead, but we saw more of Gallo down the stretch thanks to some timely buckets, enthusiastic D, and Harrington's poor shooting night (4-15). Don't get me wrong though, Al was hustling his headband off.
- Speaking of awkward hustle, Jared Jeffries was running around possessed tonight, but the headless chicken comparison should be upgraded to blind ostrich. His length was a noticeable deterrent to a lot of Portland's efforts to score in the paint, and though he fouled out with 5 minutes to go, most of his hacks were important ones, especially a nice effort to get back in transition and stop Jerryd Bayless from converting a breakaway. Good work all around, even doing it on the offensive glass (4 off. reb).
- Any loyalty that MSG fans have for Krypto-nate may be starting to wane, as the guard play was more than passable (discussed in a moment), and no "We want Nate!" chants were flying from the rafters as he recorded his 4th straight DNP-CD. Instead, a "Jor-dan Hill" cheer gained steam for about 6 seconds, and I feel this shows that the older, wiser crowd has the Knick's best interest at heart.
- Passable guard play indeed! Duhon was a mediocre 2-7 (1-3 from downtown), but posted 9 assists and just 1 turnover while repeatedly driving and looking to keep the defense honest. His improvement in playing style is commendable over the last 3-4 games. Larry Hughes logged an 'MVP of the game' performance with 21 points, 4 treys, and 6 boards in only 31 minutes, doing a nice job running the offense at times, and keeping guys involved.
"I have earned these."
- Toney Douglas had a solid 8 minute stint in the first half, with a three, steal and 2 assists, but his return in the second half lead to an unfortunate turnover, then a shooting foul on a Brandon Roy and-1, after which the rookie was pulled. No doubt he'll learn from it, while at the same time keep doing what he do.
- Wilson Chandler was in and out of the lineup tonight, but some positives turned up while he was on the court: Only 2 3-pt attempts, of which he made both. Also, he was willing to attack the rim during the Blazers' run, and while he was only 2-5 at the line, this change of pace helped slow the opponent's momemtum. Smart decision making.
- David Lee, as noticed by someone in the game thread, recorded one his quieter double-doubles with 17 and 10, but his hustle was inspiring, as was his crunch time block of Joel Pryzbilla trying to take it to the house during Portland's late charge. He keeps the offense mixed when NY is jacking up too many 3's, with his ability to finish at the rim.
- Seemed like tonight Philly drew a lot of the stars for the unsuccessful return of A.I. to the Sixers, but we did have Rihanna, who looks even hotter when sitting in MSG. Chris Brown declined to comment.
Had Oden been present (our sympathies to Portland), it might have been a different story for the Knicks, as their greatest weakness as we know is defending the post game, but tonight they were able to "shoot 'em up and sleep in the streets," while holding Portland to mainly mid-range attempts. New York has won 4 of 5, and heads to New Orleans Friday.
Keep believing (talking to you, Sir Lawrence). We're one of the hotter teams in the East right now, and that eighth seed is only 2.0 games away...
Team basketball makes a welcome return to the Garden.