That's a little more like it. Opportunities to watch the Knicks comfortable and without fear have been few and far between, even during wins, so New York's ability to keep the Nets at arm's length was a welcome departure. (It helped that I watched this game on replay, but I imagine the prolonged double-digit lead and taste of garbage time were a treat for y'all watching live). After a sloppy but relatively even first half, the Knicks just throttled the Nets in the third quarter, outscoring them 33-15 and generating enough momentum to breeze through the final frame.
Amar'e Stoudemire (35 points) and Brook Lopez (36) dominated their respective painted areas, but with Lucious Harris succumbing to a knee injury in the third quarter, only Amar'e received help from his teammates. Raymond Felton dazzled with 21 points, 10 assists, and 7 rebounds, while Wilson Chandler posted 27 points and 11 boards starting in place of Ronny Turiaf.
Take the jump for some brief notes on a win that was, as "zlander" said in the game thread, the kind of the thing we could really get used to.
- I feel as if Walt Frazier has toned down his suits a bit this year. That or I've just become numb to Clyde's sartorial eccentricity over the years. Either way, Clyde stepped it up and wore what appeared to be a full-body moccasin for tonight's game.
- I see the deficiencies in Brook Lopez's game, and I know I'm supposed to be all snotty about Lopez because he hails from the same draft class as Danilo Gallinari, but the guy is a monster. Save for a handful of routine lapses, the Knicks really defended him well and he really couldn't have cared less. Lopez is so patient with the ball and has such an uncanny way of finding a look at the rim when the defender relaxes or guesses wrong. Lopez dominated with or without solid man defense, but I will say that I was pleased to see the Knicks double him with some degree of success. Specifically, Wilson Chandler and co. helped Amar'e by swarming to Lopez when his back was to the basket. I've griped about letting opponents see over double teams before, and some of tonight's sequences marked a correction of that bad habit. Chandler in particular doubled quickly and with conviction so that Lopez felt hurried and was limited in his passing targets. I was also pleased to see Stoudemire front Lopez on a few possessions and swivel around to stop the entry pass when the Nets worked the ball around the perimeter.
- On our end, Amar'e was equally but distinctly brilliant. Amar'e battled Lopez's patience and finesse with sheer will and decisiveness. There was much less of the freezing and over-dribbling we've seen in the past, and more quick moves leading to easy (well, easy for Amar'e) buckets. He shot jumpers quickly and confidently, scored promptly off of catches on the block, and, most impressively, ran some perfect pick-and-rolls with Raymond Felton. All of this, too, came without the usual sprinkling of charges, cough-ups and mis-dribbles. The 35 points, 9 boards, 2 assists, 2 steals, and 1 block were terrific, but the lone turnover is probably my favorite part of Amar'e's line. Great game.
- I'm not saying that Travis Outlaw looks like Dave Chappelle. I'm just saying that if they made a movie about Outlaw's life (probably just titled Outlaw, since that's badass), Chappelle would have to be on the short list to play him, right?
- A first quarter alley-oop from Raymond Felton to Danilo Gallinari got me out of my seat on DVR replay. I imagine if I'd seen the thing live, I would have stripped completely naked and somersaulted into the street.
- John Turturro sat in the booth with Clyde and Breen during the first quarter. I can't remember MSG ever doing that with a celebrity before. Turturro called Landry Fields "laundry".
- Felton just looks more impressive game by game. Tonight, he continued to shoot well when opposing guards ducked under screens, and that probably helped open up those aforementioned pick-and-rolls with Amar'e. The threat of Ray scoring drew enough attention for Stoudemire to cut to the basket unimpeded and throw down a couple of his signature "there-isn't-a-defender-in-sight-so-let's-see-if-we-can't-bend-this-rim" dunks. Felton also called for D'Antoni's "Elbow" play quite a bit. Felton would dump the ball to one of his two bigs on either side of the high post (usually Stoudemire and Chandler), then streak around the outside or straight down the middle for short passes and hand-offs. He was able to shake free for some short floaters and other easy buckets, and also connected more with Amar'e and Wil from the wings. Felton's finest moment was a stretch starting at around the 4-minute mark of the third, not long after Harris went down. In less than 60 seconds, Felton canned a floater, snaggled a backcourt steal and broke away for an easy layup (although I could swear he was trying to dunk), and then ran one of those scintillating pick-and-rolls with Amar'e. That flurry of Felton put the Knicks up 10 and was pretty much the point of no return for New Jersey.
- Danilo Gallinari started nicely, but faded a little and relied more on the three later in the game. To be fair, he was taking some good open looks, and just rimmed out a few. To my eye, Gallo also did a very solid job of staying in front of Travis Outlaw.
- At halftime, the most badassest five year-old boy ever was honored for rescuing five individuals when he awakened them during a housefire. The fact that the li'l rugrat was barely old enough to understand Jill Martin's interview questions makes it that much more impressive.
- Starting at "power forward", Wilson Chandler had some early trouble keeping track of genuine big men like Kris Humphries around the basket. As the game progressed, though, Wil used the mismatch to his advantage as well. He gradually went away from the outside shot, instead opting to pump fake, put it on the floor, and knife his way through the Nets' flimsy interior D. Chandler also had 3 really impressive blocks and 11 equally impressive rebounds. I feel like I haven't given enough attention to Wil's remarkable ability to snag boards with one hand. I've noticed him one-handing boards quite a bit, and it's something he does with mind-boggling ease. Really helps to be able to do that when you're in a crowd and/or have have Troy Murphy humping your leg.
- I would guess that Travis Outlaw smells good. Just my intuition. Can anybody confirm or deny?
- Clyde mocked a traveling Troy Murphy for doing the "hokey-pokey", then later deemed Landry Fields "so tenacious, so sagacious". Rhymes for every occasion.
- Anthony Randolph ran around, hit a jumper, and had an unbelievable block, all in just 4 minutes!
- You can look at Toney Douglas's measly 3 points and wonder why he didn't do more, or you can be happy that he attempted only 1 three-pointer (and hit it) in 16 minutes, and made a decent effort at playing point guard.
I think that'll be all. Be happy that the Knicks are back above .500 for the time being, be happy that they won convincingly at home, and be happy that it came at the expense of a division rival. Up next is a trip to New Orleans on Friday that should be verrrry interesting.