I everyone is anxious to know how our "new" Knicks look. Take the jump to look at my very biased and very knee jerk reactions to the first game of the year.
Amare (I always forget where the apostrophe goes): He was a monster. I love David Lee, but this game really showed that statistics don't tell the whole story. Amare punished people from start to finish. On the first play of the game he bullied his way into the paint, knocked his defender on the ground, and dunked the ball. The rest of the game followed suit. Having a player like him is going to make such a huge difference this year. I didn't look at the boxscore, but I'm pretty sure he had 218 points.
I've always heard people complain about Amare's defense, and now I see why. It's not because of a lack of effort. He was very active, but he just doesn't seem to have good positional awareness. He gambled a lot, and got caught out of place a lot, and was late in helping a lot. He may need to look at some defensive film. He did throw somebody's shot into the ninth row on a fast break, but there was a foul before the shot.
Note: Amare caused me to involuntarily scream when he stole the rebound from an Italian player and than imbedded the ball in the Italian player's face with a tomahawk dunk.
Felton: He looked horrible in the first half. He looked great in the second half. Weird.
In the first half he threw about fifteen crappy passes. They won't show up in the boxscore because the Knicks recovered a lot of them, but trust me, every pass he threw in the first half was lazy, telegraphed, and usually deflected.
In the second half he was more himself. He ran the pick and roll successfully with Amare, Randolph, Mozgov, and Turiaf! He also blew by his defender and laid the ball in a few times. After watching Chris Duhon limp from baseline to baseline for two years, I forgot a point guard was allowed to do that. I don't really remember him hitting any threes, but I don't remember him taking a bunch either. Don't worry about Raymond.
Point of interest: Seth noted that Felton seemed to have re-shaved his head at halftime. It did look noticeably smoother in the third quarter (and so did his game).
Mason Jr.: This guy came in advertised as a sniper. I don't remember him hitting any conventional three-pointers. He did however nail a last second thirty foot heave at the buzzer that banked in. I'm not sure if he called it though. I'm not worried about his shooting though because he really didn't shoot enough to indicate good or bad.
He did play great defensively. I didn't expect that from him. He was scrappy and active, and caused a lot of problems for Milano when he was in the game. Good stuff.
A. Randolph: He definitely plays the way he's been advertised. He's an athletic freak who is very young and unpolished. He seemed lost on several plays on offense, and got caught out of position on several plays on defense. He also committed several foolish fouls. Randolph suffers from the same defensive disease as Amare. He's athletic, and so he's super aggressive tring to chase down everyone and block everything, but he's not playing good team defense. He's so young though, so I wouldn't worry too much.
In more important news, Randolph caught an ally-hoop pass off the glass and dunked it! You heard me. I'm pretty sure that's never been done by a Knick before. Someone double check for me. After I changed my underwear and came back, he caught another allyhoop and threw down again. I didn't realize I would have to buy so many packs of underwear for this season.
Mozgov: This guy was by far the most impressive of all the new Knicks. Amare was much more dominant, but we expected that from him. No one knew what to expect from Timo. He definitely surpassed my expectations.
He showed a great midrange jumper as he hit multiple fifteen footers. He moves very well without the ball, and could have had at least two allyhoops if someone was looking up. He also loves to touch his cheeks (on his face) with both hands after making a mistake.
His defense was the best part. Yes, he blocked shots, but he also played "smart" defense. I don't know how many blocks Mozgov had in the box score, but he blocked about 17 shots. Most of them were not counted because there was a foul right before the play, or another Knick bumped the shooter from behind.
Favorite Russian highlight: Milano had a three on one fast break. The first guy dropped off a no-look pass to a cutter who then dished it behind his back to a trailer who elevated for the finish... and then Mozgov swatted his lay-up out of bounds. I heard Mozgov thinking, "I must Fast Break you."
Turiaf: I read some stuff about Turiaf not playing well during training camp. That didn't show up in this game. He played very well on defense (as we expected). He had at least two blocks that counted, and several others that may have not counted. He definitely blocked a dunk attempt, and that made me jump out of my seat.
He didn't shoot any jump shots on offense, but he finished on the pick and roll a couple of times, drew a few fouls, made his foul shots, threw down a nasty but uncontested dunk, and got really excited after Danilo nailed a casual trey from the corner.
Landry Fields: He played a lot for a second round draft pick. That's a good sign for you Landry fans out there (myself included). He hustled hard on defense and frustrated Milano on the perimeter. He also seemed to blend really well with his teammates. There were lots of those "right place at the right time moments" that we got used to seeing in summer league. Nothing fancy on offense. He got to the line a few times, and just played "smart" basketball in general. He missed most of his three point attempts, but none of them were bricks. Most them were right on target but went in and out, or off the back rim, and his form looked good.
Rautins, Ewing Jr, S. Williams: None of these guys played. Ewing Jr. looked a little sleepy, and at one point I think Williams was picking at something on his warm-up jersey. Fascinating.
Quick notes on the other Knicks:
Gallo: Great game! Played scrappy defense, showed some of his post moves, and dropped several Cock Bombs from downtown.
Chandler: Great game! Obviously has been practicing his shooting technique. He hit from mid-range, and three point range, and went to the hole as well. Just what we like to see. He also hit several shots off the dribble after crossover moves which I haven't seem from him before. Looks like he's been working hard.
Toney Douglas: Great game! He and Mozgov win the "best defender of the game" award. He was missing from three, but he did a great job setting up his teammates through the pick and roll and other plays. He was also the initiator of several allyhoop dunks. TWTDD
Bill Walker: Not very noticeable. He did hit a few threes, and catch an allyhoop dunk, but for the most part he stayed out of everyone's way.
Basketball is here guys! Enjoy yourselves.