What a fun, exciting game. Just like Ray Smuckles in the comments, I found it difficult to contain my bodily functions while Danilo Gallinari went off in the third quarter and Toney Douglas' heart pumped pure ice water in crunch time. By the time Toney sank a dagger step-back to put the Knicks up three with 27 seconds left, my drawers were thoroughly soiled. It was that kind of game.
Notes and such, after the jump...
- We'll start at the end. With about a minute remaining and the Knicks up 4, Toney Douglas helped off of J.R. Smith and left him wide open for a big three. We all got very worried. When Al Harrington coughed up the ball on the ensuing possession, we were pretty certain where the game was headed. The Knicks had surprises in store, though. Up 1 with about 40 seconds to play, they funneled Carmelo Anthony into the middle and got two hands up on his fadeaway jumper, which rimmed out. On the ensuing possession, Toney Douglas did what he do. Toney drew Nene on a mismatch, threw him off balance with a stutter dribble, then stepped back and buried a 16-footer to put New York up 3 with 27 seconds to play. That pretty much did it. The Knicks hit their free throws, the Nuggets couldn't buy a bucket, and for one night, the Knicks made good on their late game opportunities and gutted out a win.
- Back to the beginning. The Knicks started this one very poorly. Denver hit all their shots while the Knicks couldn't be bothered to pass on offense. It was 14-2 in the blink of an eye. The Knicks got back in it, though. The ball started to move and Tracy McGrady came alive with a series of back-to-the-basket plays that ended in turnaround jumpers, drives to the rim, or trips to the line. McGrady ended with 15 points on 6-9 shooting, and did the best of his work in the early going.
- Topic of conversation amongst my company in the first quarter: Who would win a baseball game: the Knicks or the Denver Broncos? Don't ask how we got to that topic.
- Chauncey Billups just assaulted Toney Douglas throughout tonight's game. It was actually a lot of fun to watch Toney react and learn as the game progressed, but the rookie spent most of his time hanging on for dear life while Billups steamrolled his way to the rim. He actually ended up shooting only 5-13, but Chauncey's 14-15 from the line were a product of superior strength and veteran savvy at the expense of our beloved Toney, who sat for a stretch with 3 quick fouls. It was yet another learning experience for Douglas, which is splendid. That's exactly what this time of year is for.
- Oh, also, here's an open letter from P&T to Chauncey Billups:
Posting and Toasting
- I may be in the minority here, but I don't think the same thing applies to Birdman. That mustache is RIGHT.
- The Knicks played their 3-2 zone at moments throughout the night. It worked for a few plays, but by the end, the Nuggs were either finding open threes or finding holes in the zone for Anthony.
- The T-Mobile My Touch is the first phone that becomes 100% you. They're not kidding. I was playing with one in the luxury suite on Sunday and within minutes, I was holding a clone of myself.
- Al Harrington played splendidly in this one, particularly off the bench in the first half. Albert used nimble moves-- rather than just brute force-- to get to the rim, and also keyed the Knicks' charge by leading a valiant effort on the glass early on. The Knicks managed 12 offensive rebounds as a team (David Lee had six!), and outrebounded Denver 41-35. Pretty impressive.
- Toney Douglas' early foul woes can be attributed in part to Billups' aggressiveness, but he's also prone to picking up fouls because he doesn't seem to have the scouting report in his head. Anthony Carter, for instance, should never beat you off the dribble, because you should never be playing him that close. J.R. Smith, meanwhile, shouldn't get an inch of breathing room, as was mentioned before. Toney's defensive activity is excellent, but could still be better allocated.
- While we're on the subject, did Anthony Carter get those Samoan-looking tribal tattoos while playing at the University of Hawaii, or is he just a bro?
- Walt Frazier graced us with a blindingly red suit, which we later learned was as part of the celebration of Coca Cola's 100th anniversary or something. I would've liked to see Clyde wear a jacket made out of 100% polar bear for the occasion, but I'll take what I can get.
- Bill Walker fouls like a madman, but I kind of like it. Some of the fouls are silly (like slapping Chris Andersen in the back of the head...which was actually pretty awesome, come to think of it), but a lot of them fall into the "no layups" category. We as Knicks fans aren't really accustomed to seeing somebody drop some bodies to prevent an easy basket, but Bill the Bully fouls with purpose.
- I've never heard Joey Graham talk, but I imagine that he sounds just like Snagglepuss. I aspire to never hear an interview with Graham so I can go to my grave with this fantasy intact.
- At one point, Mike Breen mentioned Stacey Augmon, who's a Denver assistant coach. The following conversation ensued:
Roommate: "Female assistant coach. I don't like it."
Me: "Stacey Augmon is a guy."
Just saying I've got a hostile work environment. (Also, he was joking. Chill.)
- J.R. Giddens crossed Carmelo Anthony right out of his socks, then finished at the rim. It was wonderful. J.R. Giddens=Captain Rowdy.
- In a halftime interview with Jill Martin, Philip Seymour Hoffman refused to give a straight answer when asked if he thought LeBron James would join the Knicks. This leads me to believe, that Philip Seymour Hoffman isn't part of LeBron's inner circle, which both surprises and disappoints me.
- Tina Cervasio, in a feat of investigative reporting, revealed that the Big Apple Circus elephants were stationed a stone's throw away from the game action. The imminent possibility of a stampede only made the game more exciting. Seriously, the prospect of Knicks basketball and elephants running amok is like P&T encapsulated in a single perilous calamity.
- I don't mean to pick on Toney, but he could do a better job running the break. Seriously, though, that last shot absolved him of all wrongdoings. DWTDD.
- If the Nuggets aren't going to play Renaldo Balkman, then can we have him back? And by "we", I mean me and my housemates, who could use another Super Smash Bros. player.
- Clyde's marriage advice: "Compromise. Communication". Duly noted.
- It should be mentioned that the Knicks benefited from some questionable calls towards the end of the game, the most egregious of which was a David Lee charge that would've fouled him out of the game that got overturned by a side referee. Clyde always says, though, that it's the aggressor that gets the calls, and this was no exception. New York fought harder than Denver, and got some calls in the process.
- Malik Allen strikes me as the kind of guy who wears a Kangol.
- And now for the main event. The Danilo Gallinari-Carmelo Anthony match-up got plenty of hype leading up to the game, and it didn't disappoint. The highlight of the evening was the third quarter, in which the supremely talented Anthony and the supremely cocky Gallinari traded hoops and words for a few minutes. Gallo started with back-to-back threes, then a minute or two passed before things picked up. Melo sank a long two, Gallo came back with a three, Melo hit another J, Gallo drew a foul, Melo hit an open three when Gallo tried to cherry-pick, then drained a short jumper. Gallinari had the last laugh, though, burying another pair of threes to give himself 17 points on the quarter (to Anthony's 12). There was plenty of shit-talking between the two, but they smiled and high-fived at the beginning of the fourth and had a respectfully brotastic embrace at the end of the game. Oh, and you can be damn sure that Clyde found a way to rhyme "Melo" and "Gallo".
- If you ask me, Gallinari followed through pretty nicely on his request to defend Anthony. Carmelo got different looks- a zone, Walker, Giddens- but spent most of his touches battling with The Cock. I took note of pretty much every possession on which to the two matched up. There were mistakes, for sure. Gallo conceded the baseline a few times, which is a recipe for disaster against a forward as powerful as Anthony. Most of the time, though, Gallinari was pesky and aggressive enough to force Anthony to make catches near the perimeter. Gallo kept his feet when Anthony tried to shake him, and limited his opponent to mostly long twos with a hand in the face. Granted, Carmelo Anthony is an otherworldly scorer and connected on plenty of those contested jumpers, but that's still preferrable to dribble drives and easy inside buckets. The team as a whole benefited from the fact that Gallinari didn't usually need help. All things considered, I think Danilo Gallinari put in a hell of an effort and backed up his words. I was proud of the young rooster.
And that's really the upshot of the evening. The Knicks played with grit and determination, and I think a lot of us felt a rare rush of pride in our young guns. This was one of the feel-good nights of the season, without question. The Knicks aren't back in action until Friday against the Suns, so we'll have a few days to marinate in the win.