Well, I missed most of the second half of today's game in Paris on account of class (highlight: "The 1960s was really when memory research got its swerve on"), so forgive me this sub-par recap. Still, I think I've got this one pretty much figured out. The worn and weary Knicks were outworked by the Timberwolves, getting totally porked in hustle statistics like rebounding (62-35) and free throws (46-25). If the Wolves didn't start the game by practically giving away the ball (30 turnovers, 17 in the first half!), this would have been a blowout loss. Really, though, both teams played like mule poop. It was preseason basketball through and through, and the usual preseason maxim applies: Do not overreact to preseason performance unless it is positive performance.
That said, we've got prollums. Take the jump for a smattering of notes.
- Somebody has to rebound. No Knick had more than 6 rebounds (granted, no Knick besides Raymond Felton played more than 21 minutes, but still...) and the Wolves were treated to EIGHTEEN second chances. Gone are the days when one man could be pretty much relied upon to corral every unclaimed ball (which, by the way, is exactly what Kevin Love does for Minnesota). Amar'e Stoudemire, Timofey Mozgov, and Ronny Turiaf all make a decent effort to mind the glass, but none has that innate ability to box out on time, gauge angles appropriately, and grasp the board tightly. The closest thing the Knicks have to my idea of a natural rebounder is Anthony Randolph, who often finds himself out of position because he's contesting shots.
- And that's really the flip side of the rebounding coin. The good news is that the Knicks continued to block shots in this one. Ronny Turiaf swatted two, Timofey Mozgov bloc'd two of his own, and even Roger Mason Jr. snuck in to block a couple. More than any recent squad, this team is meeting fools at the rim and making them pay for their boldness.
- And that's point three. Timofey Mozgov continues to impress, but he's putting a ceiling on his own minutes. Timo fouled out in under 15 minutes, and a number of those calls were for silly stuff like moving screens and loose ball contact (Heheheh...loose ball contact.). Mozgov is more than welcome to foul people who drive into the lane. No layups and all that. Excellent. He desperately needs to be taught how to set a stationary screen and not to tweak people's nipples while rebounding, though, or he'll never get extended spin.
- Danilo Gallinari played a really dreadful game of basketball today. He forced a lot of really awkward, off-balance shots and couldn't even connect on his open looks (1-8 from downtown in total). Credit Gallo with grabbing 6 boards as a supplement, but games like today's just aren't going to fly in the regular season. Mike Breen reminded us that Gallo was exhausted by several straight days of constant activity in Milan, which I think is actually a pretty reasonable excuse. Still...can't happen. Not now, not never.
- Amar'e Stoudemire's jumper looked nice and wet, but he's handling the ball a bit too much for my liking. Pick and roll ALL NIGHT. Against defenders like Darko Milicic and Kevin Love, Amar'e should be able to roll right to the rim, or at least draw contact.
- Speaking of the pick-and-roll, I'd like to see Raymond Felton work with the ball a little more. Part of the onus falls on rebounders to find him in transition, but it's mostly on Raymond to hold the ball a bit and check down his receivers before he hands it off (/amateur football analogy). So far, Felton's lack of comfort with his teammates is readily apparent, as is to be expected.
- Anthony Randolph, as advertised, made some absolutely dazzling plays (a steal and coast-to-coast dunk, a GORGEOUS one-handed pass to a cutting Bill Walker), but also forced threes and committed some silly fouls. Just remember to be patient with Anthony. He means well.
- I didn't get to see much of Andy Rautins, but I did see him play some very pesky defense. In one sequence, he blocked Kevin Love's shot and THEN drew a charge after Love recovered the ball.
- Wilson Chandler looked really solid in the time that I saw him. He was unstoppable in transition and also stepped into jumpers confidently both off the bounce and off the catch.
- The ball getting stuck in the rim is never not funny.
- Does Martell Webster look like he could be 30? I say no. He could be 40.
- Halftime featured an exceedingly awkward segment about Walt Frazier purchasing hats at a hattery (new word) in Paris. The money line (while sporting a fedora):
This is the gangster look that i used to have when they called me Clyde.
- Our friend Mets2k9 sent me some notes from the parts of the game I missed. Some highlights:
Ronny Turiaf's hair situation is reminiscent of Jack Sparrow's.
The Pita I'm eating now is delicious.
HOLY SHIT, DWTDD JUST DOVE INTO THE STANDS TO GET THE BALL. HOLY SHIZNIT SETH. He also took out a plaid wearing frenchman, which i think is similar to what happened to start World War I
Man knows how to take notes like a pro.
- I am very sad that I missed Shawne Williams' chance to spin in orange and blue. It sounds as if it was magical.
Anyway, it was an ugly, ugly outing for a team that needs some rest. Thankfully, they're headed back to the States and don't play again until next week. Au revoir. We'll talk tomorrow. <3