NEW YORK NY - JANUARY 27: Toney Douglas #23 celebrates with Landry Fields #6 of the New York Knicks after Landry shoots a three pointer against the Miami Heat at Madison Square Garden on January 27 2011 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and/or using this Photograph User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. The Knicks defeated Heat 93-88. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
The above comment by dpileofashes (edited for language so I could headlineify it) was exactly my response at the buzzer of the Knicks' thrilling victory over the Miami Heat. The Garden had played Montell Jordan's legendary hit earlier in the game, and it's been stuck in my head since.
So...how DID the Knicks do it? Well, for starters, they defended a little bit. In fact, they defended in a manner not unlike the Knick teams of the "This Is How We Do It" era. A slew of Knicks worked to make LeBron James beat himself, and the rest of the guys kept the Heat role players quiet enough to make up for Dwyane Wade's big begoggled night. On the other end, the Knicks shot just 36% (!), but Amar'e Stoudemire's steady leadership and some huge plays by Danilo Gallinari and Landry Fields (who was easily the man of the night) got the Knicks the close victory.
Tip up your cup, throw your hands up, and take the jump for some notes.
- First and foremost, the defense on LeBron was pretty superb. Without Chris Bosh, the Miami offense was very out of sync, and James opted to take matters into his own hands pretty frequently. Hands were wrung over James's propensity to isolate, but that offense is perfectly dangerous if not contained. Danilo Gallinari and Shawne Williams (and Landry Fields and Raymond Felton at times) deserve heaps of credit for standing their ground when stranded against The Bron. Both Gallo and Williams succeeded in staying in front James, contesting his jumpers, and pestering his shots at the rim. The dude started rolling toward the end of the game when he attacked the basket in transition, but shot just 7-24 on the night for 24 points (10-12 from the line). Well done, Cock and Extra E. Rats off to ya!
- Dwyane Wade really wasn't defended badly either. Landry Fields (and Felton for stretches) lost him a few times on drives to the basket, but Wade also hit a ton of difficult jumpers and off-balance runners. He was wearing what appeared to be orange-tinted shooting glasses (shooting, like, of guns) because he's been suffering from migraines and is extra sensitive to light. While some people see strange auras and faint patterns while experiencing migraines, Wade sees the basket as five feet wide.
- The game's opening play was the signature Landry-oop, only this time it was Mr. Fields throwing the pass diagonally to a high-flying Wilson Chandler.
- It was all downhill after that for Chandler. Following a second half renaissance against the Wizards, Chandler was back to bricking jumpers and looking unusually wobbly on drives to the rim. He seemed to baby his attempts from in close, and rarely got the roll he was looking for. Wil shot 3-14 on the night and just generally looked spooked.
- Gallo, meanwhile, didn't shoot especially well (5-15), but looked very much in his element. Not only was his defense superb, but he was a bona fide second option to Amar'e, driving relentlessly for one pants-wetting dunk and 7-10 at the foul line.
- As usual, the Heat did a brilliant job of guarding the pick-and-roll. Joel Anthony, who played 35 minutes off the bench and was usually in the mix, showed with gusto after every screen. Raymond Felton-- he of the spheniscid stature and short li'l arms-- just couldn't make timely passes over the aggressive double, and Miami always rotated a third man over to shadow Amar'e's roll to the rim. Both guys did a nice job of finding the resulting open shot on the perimeter, but not a Knick could hit the openest of threes. I believe New York hit only 6 of their first 29 downtown attempts.
- Amar'e still managed to pick his spots, relying heavily on a successfully on his jumper and even pooping a corner three early on. Stoudemire also shook free off curls, rolled perfectly off a few screens, and fought through help defense for buckets inside. The guy works through plenty of contact in the paint and, if you'll forgive me for grousing about the refs after a win, it's kind of impossible that he only got fouled in the act of shooting twice (3-4 at the line).
- In the end, Miami was back to mobbing Stoudemire, so it came time for some Knicks to step up and sink threes. Danilo Gallinari and Landry Fields did just that, hitting 2-2 apiece in the final 6 minutes. After watching various Knicks brick open looks through three and a half quarters, we were waiting for the other, better shoe to drop, and drop it did.
- A number of guys had solid games, but Fields was undoubtedly the star. His defense on Wade was brave, if mortal, but Fields did most of his work on the glass and with splendid opportunistic scoring. Landry demonstrated an uncanny sense for carom trajectories, positioning himself perfectly for 13 boards, including 5 possession-saving o-bounds. That opportunistic scoring came in the form of 3-6 shooting from downtown and a few excellent finishes in the paint, both in transition and off cuts. My favorite Fields moment, though it's hard to pick just one, was when Wade backed him down with just a few ticks left on the shot clock, then had the temerity to reach up and adjust his goggles mid-dribble. Fields would have none of it, and poked the ball away as the clock expired. Landry Fields does it like nobody does.
- Shawne Williams's downtown pooping wasn't quite as regular as we're accustomed to (1-4), but he played a yeoman's game, digging in nicely against James and also boxing out for 6 rebounds. The "E" is for energy and edge and enthusiasm and effort.
- Fun six-point possession: Extra E drains a three, Amar'e gets fouled simultaneously. Replay shows that Juwan Howard shoved Stoudemire out of bounds, then threw him to the ground when Amar'e boxed out vigorously (CO, JH). Amar'e hits the technical free throw, then misses the one that would've completed the two-man four-point play. On the miss, Landry Fields soars in and gets fouled on a missed putback slam.
- James Jones looks a bit like a fetus and shoots like one, too (5-8 from downtown).
- If you don't get that comparison, then you've clearly never played pick-up in a maternity ward.
- Did I mention that the Knicks went into the fourth quarter down 9? I don't think I mentioned that. They totally did. The fourth quarter score was 29-15, y'all.
- Two things down the stretch that might go overlooked: 1. The Knicks collapsed on LeBron's drive when they were up 3, and Mario Chalmers got a wide open look from outside that he just couldn't make. 2. Raymond Felton, who was otherwise very quiet, hit four big, big, big, big free throws in the last 15 seconds.
- Speaking of Mario, I was very disappointed that we didn't get MSG coverage of tonight's game. Every instance of watching that dude play without hearing Walt Frazier call him "Charmers" is our loss. At least Chris Barsh didn't play.
- No standing ovation or Garden video tribute for Eddie House. I assume they're saving all that for the forthcoming jersey retirement.
On a night when their offense continued to sputter until the waning moments, New York made Montell Jordan proud with stalwart defense and 48 minutes of grit. They'll take their streak southward for a battle with the Hawks tomorrow night. That's another team they failed to beat earlier this year and another opportunity for our Knicks to put that six-game slide behind them.
For now, we celebrate. It feels so good in my hood toniiiiight.