Morning, miscreants. Although I'm just your average high-volume/low-efficiency blog commenter, I've been retroactively awarded a five year, $60mm contract to recap a Knicks game this one time in the absence of your heady and reliable veteran Seth Rosenthal, who picked a terrible time to miss a Knicks game this season.
Last night's win over the David Lee-less Warriors was the kind of game that's been a long time coming: finally, this young, athletic squad popped the clutch and straight-up ran one of the other fastest teams in the league right out of their own house in dramatic fashion. There were highs and lows, hot shooting and, uh, really hot shooting, running, gunning, dishing, swishing, puking, praying, and winning, ya biatches. A certain Knicks PG served up a sensual array of clutch circus shots, beautiful passes and outright larceny on defense, inspiring the kind of forbidden feelings so eloquently expressed by commenter zlander in the game thread. Pause that as long as you need to, then read on to re-live the glory.
Don't a two-game win streak make you wanna jump, jump?
It sort of seems like the Warriors and the Knicks are fun-house mirror images of each other. Young, fast and talented, they're teams that traditionally suck but may be on the come-up this year thanks to some savvy front-officing, the maturing of their own players and upgrades at power forward. Connected by the sign-and-trade deal that exchanged David Lee for Ronny Turiaf, Anthony Randolph and Kelenna Azubuike, the teams share a lot of DNA, and even more so than the Phoenix Suns from whence our brain-trust and star player came, the Warriors seem like our bizarro, West Coast doppelgangers. And holy shit, when we play them, do sparks ever fly. Speaking of whispering sweet nothings, these two squads seem engaged in some kind of high-velocity mating ritual for risk addicts, daring each other to just forget about things like defense or boxing out and just run and shoot all night long. Last time it burned us, as we couldn't make up ground fast enough to squeak out a win after falling behind, this time literally the opposite thing happened as we came out guns blazing and held on even as things got hairy toward the end.
How hot were we? 57% from the field, 43% from 3, that's how hot. Throw in a +15 rebounding differential, +9 on the boards and in the turnover column and 7 blocked shots, and baby, you got a stew goin'. There are, of course some caveats. David Lee might not be the most imposing defender amongst NBA big men, but with him sidelined (in a very, very shiny purple velour blazer) courtesy of Wilson Chandler's poison teef, the Warriors frontcourt became the exclusive provenance of mediocre Euro bigs, and against Biedrins, Radmanovic and Gadzuric the Knicks got pretty much whatever they wanted in the paint. On the flip side, the Warriors starting backcourt dropped a staggering 69 points and 13 assists combined, with Monta "Don't call me Moped" Ellis in particular lighting up anyone who tried to check him. The Knicks are not going to be able to win defense-free games like this on a regular basis, but last night at least, watching the ball move around crisply (70% of our FGs were assisted!) and the vaunted D'Antoni offense finally fire on all cylinders was a beautiful, beautiful thing. Let's check in on some individuals in the order of their performance, shall we?
Raymond Felton: Well look who had the best game of his career! 35 points on a ridiculous 13-17 night plus 11 assists and 4 steals. Good goddamn, Raymond Felton could not miss last night, and managed to score clutch bucket after clutch bucket to strangle nascent Warriors comebacks in the crib. Seemingly every last-second, high degree of difficulty, off-balance prayer he sent up went in, including one instance in the second quarter where he fell over backwards and threw up a foul-line area "jumper" while practically horizontal, as the shot clock expired. More importantly, he looked like the point guard we all hoped he'd become under D'Antoni: relentlessly pushing the ball in transition and keeping the tempo up, getting timely buckets and making sure the ball stayed moving whenever the Knicks had to set-up in the half-court. He got absolutely laid the fuck out by Dan Gadzuric in the 3rd quarter and just stayed killing it anyway, which I loved. Four turnovers isn't great, and honestly it could have been more if not for a few lucky bounces, but he was making aggressive passes and for the first time consistently looking to hit guys rolling to the hoop off a pick or cutting backdoor, even if not all those passes made it. Bravo, Raymond. You'll never shoot like this again, but if you play with this kind of assertiveness and speed every night, you could score 15-17 points less and still be a legit all-star candidate.
Amar'e Stoudemire: It goes without saying, but Biedrins, Radmonovic, Gadzuric are cannot slow down Amar'e Stoudemire. He got the ball closer to the basket than he ever has as and simply tore shit up, notching 26 points on only 12 (!) shots, with 11 boards, 4 assists and two blocks to go with. It should be noted that while the Warriors are downy-soft and largely indifferent on defense, they couldn't even really attempt to double Stat for fear of getting burned by one of our many, many hot shooters, and when they did try, Amar'e made them pay with timely passes. This is an object lesson in how a D'Antoni offense works, with the "floor spacing" and "hitting open shots" and such. Good stuff. Amar'e also blocked someone's shot in such a way that the ball ended up perfectly at rest on top of the shot clock, which was highly comical.
Gallo: He came out shooting cold but looking spry and active, taking his business to the rack and moving very well without the ball, managing to notch 10 points by halftime despite missing his one and only 3 point attempt of the game to that point. Pretty quiet in the third and again cold to start the fourth, Gallo finally caught fire in the clutch, Cock-slapping the Warriors with eleven fourth-quarter points including three absolutely lethal, run-killing three-pointers. He didn't exactly fill up the stat sheet (aside from 23 points, just one assist and no rebounds) but for the third straight game he played with some fire in his belly and no hesitation to take big shots.
Ronny Turiaf: Could I love this man any more? In his return to Golden State, Safari threw a block party (3 rejections officially, but it seemed like many more) and showed off his truly exemplary high-post passing skillz on he way to 8 assists. It's amazing how much better we play with him in the game, on both ends of the floor. Here's hoping we continue to feature him as the secondary distributor on the team, 'cause the man is just aces at finding cutters and making smart passes without hesitation from the high post.
Landry "Danger" Fields: He did what he do, with 9 fairly efficient points and very solid 8 rebounds, good for second on the team. In no way is this a knock on Fields, but it's nice that for once Landry can turn in his standard very solid game and it's only the fifth best performance on the squad. Maybe it's because everyone else seemed to do what Landry Fields do last night, namely play like they had more than two brain cells to rub together.
Wilson Chandler: Meh. Wilson was active on the glass, particularly on the offensive end, and his hustle was definitely noted. But cold shooting (4-12, including 1-4 from three) and some bad decision-making down the stretch make you wonder how long it will be until a headier player (cough, Landry) takes those crucial late-game minutes when mistakes come at a huge cost.
Bill Walker: Bill Walker pretty much just gets buckets. He chipped in eight very efficient points, but it's a good thing he's so money because his defense is, uh, lacking. And D'Antoni is not shy about tearing him a new one when he blows an assignment, which is often. But no matter, dude puts the ball in the cup despite looking like he moves in slow motion. Cool.
Toney Douglas: Ruh-roh. Toney Douglas once again could not hit the side of a barn, going 1-6 for only 4 points in 20 minutes. It's gotta be his back, or something. Right? Shooting 27% from downtown is not WTTD, or at least it should not be, nor should making terrible decisions on the fast break. Playing mischievous, thieving defense is WTDD, but he needs to be made to understood that getting right up in the grill of guys like Monta Ellis and Steph Curry is not actually a great idea.
Anthony Randolph, Timofey Mosgov: Oh dear. What are we going to do with these two?? Two big men who have gone from being drooled over at the beginning of training camp to sitting
shiva for next to Roger Mason Jr., who has been legally dead for several weeks, at the very end of the bench. I haz a major sad about this, but it's probably the topic of a different post. In light of his return to Golden State, I was definitely hoping that at least Randolph would get a his usual five minutes to run around the damn place playing like a man being stung by invisible bees. But no, DNP-CD for the both. It didn't matter against the tissue-paper interior of the Warrirors, but something really has to be done about this. Amar'e, Turiaf and Wilson Chandler are simply not enough frontcourt depth to make it through the season. At least one of these guys is going to have to step it up, as their combined 5 points and 5 rebound per game averages is just not getting it done. I continue to be mystified at how Randolph, who has done things like score 28 points and get 13 rebounds against the Magic in an actual NBA basketball game, has fallen off so hard that he literally cannot be let off the bench anymore, but there you go.
So yeah. YEAH. Boom. The Knicks win and it feels so good. Coming up to round out the November schedule:
Let's get back above .500 before December, shall we?
Seth will be back soon, I presume, and I will go back to my usual seat on the sidelines. It's all good though, 'cause I can wear the fuck out of a nice suit. Enjoy your Saturday, and let's take Blake Griffin's lunch money tonight.