It brings a tear to my eye, too. Like "King Henry the 2nd" (thanks for reading, big fella!) said in the game thread, the Knicks have now won an impressive 7 straight road games. New York's latest triumph abroad was a sound double-digit thumping of the Toronto Raptors. Led by Jerryd Bayless off the bench, the Raptors threatened to make a game out of this several times, but for the second straight contest, Amar'e Stoudemire and Shawne Williams (!?!?!?) owned an entire quarter, dominating the final period to seal the victory.
Take the jump for the usual notes.
- The Raptors like to sneak up on teams with these 1 PM Sunday starts, but the Knicks were in rare form to open today's game. There was plenty of ball movement right from the get-go, and after a few early defensive lapses, the Knicks tightened up their defense and took off on a 15-2 run. Wilson Chandler did a nice job of sticking Andrea Bargnani on one end while drilling open shots on the other. He connected from outside when open, and also did a nice job of cutting to the rim when the Raptors over-committed to the Stoudemire-Felton pick-and-roll. Wil's 12 points anchored the opening period.
- I don't know why I feel compelled to mention this early in the recap, but Danilo Gallinari continued to drift in today's game. It seemed like his best, most aggressive games came while Felton and Stoudemire were struggling to gel. Now that those two are back to being the first option, Gallo has returned to chilling around the three-point arc and waiting for kick-outs. Even there, his conversion rate has been uncomfortably low. One way he might see more opportunities is to do what Chandler and Landry Fields have been doing and dive in diagonally or along the baseline when Stoudemire receives the ball around the free throw line. It's not like Gallo's hurting the team (5 assists, 4 boards, and decent enough defense on the perimeter), but he can do much more to help them. 2-7 isn't the kind of output you expect from someone with Gallo's scoring ability.
- Landry Fields, as usual, was the Landriest man on the floor. As mentioned, he did a nice job moving without the ball, finding the soft spot in the defense when Amar'e drew help. He also snaggled three steals, hit both of his three-point attempts and, most importantly, grabbed 10 rebounds. For the Knicks to survive with Ronny Turiaf injured and Anthony Randolph benched, they need superior rebounding from elsewhere in the lineup. As this list of guards averaging more than 20 minutes per game sorted by total rebound rate shows, it doesn't get more superiorer than Mr. Fields. LANDRY 4 LYFE.
- Walt Frazier's outfit included one of my favorite garments: a corduroy jacket that's mostly green with tiny specks of red, blue, and yellow throughout. I don't know how I've described that color scheme before, but it struck me today as what it would look like if you ate and then excreted a circuit board. I mean that in the best way possible.
- Speaking of Frazier, only Clyde can make "Amar'e" and "Bargnani" rhyme. Also, "Linas Klayzer".
- Also, this.
- Timofey Mozgov put one DOWN over DeMar DeRozan (documented here by the indispensable Big C), but...yeah. His inability to catch and convert passes is troublesome. He actually had more success head-butting a somewhat high pass (he got fouled) than he did trying to catch the rock with his hands. As with all of life's problems, solutions can be found in the winner of the 2000 Academy Award for Best Picture, The Replacements.
- Particularly in the second and third quarters, the Knicks granted a lot of second-chance opportunities to a Toronto front line that was just feistier in their pursuit of loose balls. Amar'e Stoudemire's 16 rebounds were impressive, but he surrendered some easy ones to Amir Johnson and Ed Davis.
- Speaking of which, I love that Toronto's young core includes guys named "Ed Davis" and "Sonny Weems" and strongly believe that they should stockpile players whose names make them sound like old white guys from '70s sitcoms.
- Jerryd Bayless was instrumental in cutting into the Knicks' lead. He reminds me a lot of Nate Robinson in that he attacks constantly, taking every lengthwise inch of floor that the defense gives him. His tendency to call his own number might irritate Raptor fans in the future, but today his 23 points (including 5 threes) and 6 assists were the only serious threat to the Knicks' winning aspirations.
- It bears mentioning that the Raptors shot like frogshit from the free throw line. They were 11-22 on the game, and Ed Davis alone spent the second quarter hitting parts of the rim I didn't even know existed.
- As was mentioned before the jump, this was the second straight game in which Amar'e Stoudemire and Shawne Williams had a quarter practically to themselves. (No, I did not expect to ever find myself saying that.) After a Barn-yar-ni layup cut the Knicks' lead to 5, it was Shawne and Amar'e time. Stoudemire set screens to force Raptor switches, then demanded the ball when he caught a mismatch, scoring and drawing fouls over shrimpy bros like Jose Calderon. When Amar'e was covered, Williams came to the rescue. Shawne's delightfully floor-bound jumper (which, following an equally delightful and oddly appropriate typo by commenter Thelonious Dunk, will henceforth be referred to as "pooping in the corner") was on the money. Extra E drained all four of his threes and scored all of his 14 points in the final quarter. Like stingy d said in the game thread, one of the main reasons that Williams is currently more deserving of minutes than Bill Walker is that he brings some other stuff to the floor besides outside shooting. He's shown some good hands and willingness to put his body on the line defensively, while Bill is prone to somewhat lackadaisical D.
- On that note, here's some quick cranial arithmetic for you math nerds out there:
1 Linas Kleiza skull = 2 Ed Davis skulls = .78 inflatable Raptor mascot skulls
I'll leave you with that. The Knicks are back in action tomorrow night against the Timberwolves. Hopefully, they can even the season series with Minnesota while improving that home win record.