Sweet, sweet relief. As WSD said in the game thread, the streak is, at long last, over. The Knicks avoided their worst losing streak of the season, see-sawing with the Wizards through three quarters, then locking them down in the fourth. Better yet, a couple of slumps were at least partially and momentarily busted. Amar'e Stoudemire led the Knicks with 30 while Raymond Felton (17 and 15) and Wilson Chandler (25 points) finally found some touch and Danilo Gallinari (17) canned some big buckets down the stretch.
Take the jump for s'notes.
- Tonight's game was very neatly segmented into quarters, I thought. In the first, both teams shot decently, but the Wizards committed TEN turnovers to fall behind 33-26. In the second quarter, Mustafa Shakur and Trevor Booker (two of my favorite rookies, although does Shakur really count as a rookie if he was a Thunderman for 10 spin-less days last year?) erased a 13-point deficit with driving, aggressive offense and loads of rebounds. The Knicks just bricked threes until Chandler and Stoudemire came alive to pull them back even by halftime. In the third, Amar'e exploded for the Knicks, Nick Young got silly for the Wizards, nobody played defense, and the Knicks gained a two-point edge. In the fourth, New York locked down, the Washington first unit reverted to shitting themselves, and Gallo and Wil iced the cake. Ballgame. Now, on to individual performances and other frivolities.
- Does anybody call them the 'Zards? If there are people that call them "the 'Zards", is there a subset of those people that call them "the Megazards"? If so, I would like to have playdates with those people.
- I wish I had more hands so I could give Nick Young's cornrows four thumbs down and also close his mouth for him.
- It's fun to see which opposing guards know how to identify the Knicks' "elbow" play. John Wall does.
- Wilson Chandler started waaaaaaaaay off-- like as off as he's ever been-- to open the game. He started 1-7 (the 1 being a pretty nice three-pointer), and hit barren frontiers of the rim on jumpers and finishes that are usually automatic (at least this season). After that, thing seriously picked up. Wilson shot 9-20 on the night, which means he hit [mathmathmath] 8 of 12 shots after that pitiful start. Perhaps because he's too stoic to do it himself, I celebrated Wil's splendid second half as rowdily as I've ever celebrated anything. I want so badly for him to succeed.
- Mike Breen: "Point brank range". Clyde is contagious!
- When things got silly, Breen and Clyde were particularly prone to tangential banter in this one. My favorite moments were their conversations about Twitter and Facebook (basically "we're old and don't even understand what those things are") and the media response to the Jets' loss (Breen marveled at the Post's "NO SUPE FOR YOU" headline. Clyde chuckled quietly, proving that he has no idea what Seinfeld is, let alone what television is, let alone what electricity is).
- Amar'e did the ol' "savin' the ball out of bounds -> can't find anybody to pass to -> throw it off somebody's foot" thing to Andray Blatche, 'cept he threw it off Andray's chinny chin chin.
- Kevin Seraphin (apparently pronounced "Kev-EEN", not "Kev-ANN", or, you know..."Kevin") came off the bench with his shorts on backwards and the logo on his bum. (In the future, the mnemonic should be "A wizards leads, never follows). During a timeout, his teammates formed a little wall around him [insert John Wall joke] and he redressed himself as inconspicuously as possible. It reminded me of the time in training camp three years ago when Al Harrington employed the same strategy while changing into his street clothes and IT DID NOT WORK AT ALL AND I WILL NEVER BE THE SAME.
- Raymond Felton did most of his scoring (10 of his 17, I think) in the first quarter. He did a much better job of attacking the rim and sinking his pull-up Js, and also did some brilliant point guard things (15 assists, 4 steals) in the open court.
- The Wiz went on a 23-6 run in that bummer of a second quarter. Shakur, Booker, and McGee (coolest sounding law firm ever) got lots of buckets by attacking ruthlessly and grabbing second opportunities while Rashard Lewis found the touch from outside.
- While we're on it, JaVale McGee is his own biggest fan. Like, by far.
- Al Trautwig interviewed three very heroic military folks during the second quarter. It should have been a slam dunk, but Al somehow managed to turn it into one of the awkwardest minutes of the 21st century. Asking servicemen what their "craziest war stories" are and a servicelady "How is it being a woman in the Air Force? Is it cool?" will do that.
- Raymond Felton, interviewed right after the second quarter buzzer: "I'm so furious right now". I liked that a lot.
- Jill Martin's "Gimme a Minute" interview with Billy Crudup was also kind of awkward, but mostly because Billy wanted it that way. Crudup said that the thing he and Russell Hammond (his character in Almost Famous) have in common was "acid" and alluded to an "illicit relationship" with some participant in his first ever film role before mercifully cutting himself off. Jill got him to reluctantly say "I'm a golden god" before it was over. I enjoyed the whole thing immensely.
- Washington's rebounding edge in the first half was 29-16. In the second half, the Knicks out-rebounded them 24-18.
- Amar'e played pretty nicely all night, but his real masterpiece was the third quarter, when he scored 15 points, including 10 in the period's first six minutes. It wasn't really anything too mind-blowing, just some excellent, aggressive moves, good patience and timing with the ball, and the uncanny touch that we were missing over the last few games. He shot 13-23 on the night, grabbed 9 rebounds and 4 steals (!?), and also dished 5 excellent assists. Twas a most excellent comeback game for Stoudemire.
- Incidentally, Felton also had 7 assists in that third quarter. Those two were working together better than we've seen in a long, long while.
- Danilo Gallinari didn't shoot very well from outside (1-5), but was pretty active in acquiring and using the ball, shooting 4-8 from inside the arc and also getting to the line for 6 of 8 free throws. Gallo's finest moment was run of three long jumpers he took off feeds from Felton and Stoudemire down the stretch (of which he hit two). His BEST moment, though, was in the third quarter, when he fought to poke a ball away and chase down the steal, then sprinted full speed into three defenders, steamrolling into some contact and heaving the ball skyward (like, toward the ceiling) to make it a shooting foul. Earn them two free throws, big fella.
- On that note, Rorschach44 put it splendidly when he said that Gallo can "sell water to a well". That man really can dramatize contact. Don't be surprised to see an EGOT in his post-NBA career.
- This girl would not stop shouting about hockey and shit. It kinda ruined the third quarter for me.
- Nick Young threw this one really bad pass. It was really really bad.
- Ronny Turiaf (who had 7, 4, and 2 blocks) had a very Ronny moment when he caught the ball about 8 feet out, searched frantically for someone to pass to, then realized he had a wide-ass open lane to the rim and went in for the dunk.
- Landry Fields, who's been quiet lately, shot just 2-2, but grabbed six boards. He rescued a few possessions with his hustle. Meanwhile, the bench crew was decent, if quiet. Toney Douglas shot poorly (1-6), but played point guard ably enough in the second quarter. Shawne Williams pooped twice and snaggled five rebounds. Bill Walker played, but I didn't know that until I saw the boxscore.
- Clyde: "The Knicks dishing and swishing them into submission!"
Boom. There you have it. It was far from perfect, but the end to a long, sad losing streak was quite sweet. Let's see if New York can carry some of this momentum into Thursday's match-up with the Heat. I'm not counting on it, but you never know!