MENACE. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
That got out of hand. The Knicks opened their west coast road trip with a swift and thorough disemboweling of the Phoenix Suns. New York led wire-to-wire, riding a preposterous three-point shooting performance and utter indifference by the Suns to a blowout victory. As heino vanderjuice noted in the game thread: Take that, John Hollinger!
We'll just skip over any Amar'e Stoudemire story lines and cut right to some quick game notes.
- Interesting pre-game chess in this one: At the last minute, Alvin Gentry decided to go small, starting Steve Nash, Vince Carter, Josh Childress, MIckael Pietrus, and Grant Hill. Yes, that's Steve Nash and four wings. Mike D'Antoni countered by replacing Ronny Turiaf with Toney Douglas in his own starting lineup. Sticking with the chess metaphor...that's a lot of pawns. Switching to a Wire metaphor now, something something about "smart-ass pawns".
- The key match-up resulting from all the small-ball was Hill on Amar'e Stoudemire. The
mummy veteran Hill did a superb job of meeting the bigger Stoudemire early and wedging him out to the perimeter. Once Amar'e caught the ball eighteenish feet out, Hill moved his feet well, kept his hands up, avoided contact, and...still couldn't really stop him. Stoudmire shot jumpers right over Hill and put the ball on the floor for some acrobatic finishes around the rim. The cap'n finished with 23 and 9 in his old city.
- The Knicks as a team had a pretty splendid offensive evening, with the lone blemish being 18 turnovers. New York had 12 turnovers (double what they had in the entire San Antonio game) in the first quarter and a half of this one. Obviously, it tapered off from there, but...yikes. Walt Frazier: "What is this, NBA Follies!?".
- I can only assume that Clyde once owned a
VHS Laser Disc film strip entitled "NBA Follies" back in the day. In fact, he made it himself and narrated the whole thing.
- The real story in this one was threes, threes, and more threes. New York did a nice job of swinging the ball crisply and the Suns, who were mostly undersized to begin with, didn't really bother to close out much. The Knicks got tons of open threes, and the usual crew got ridiculous from outside. Raymond Felton hit 5, Shawne Williams pooped 4, Toney Douglas DWTDD thrice, and Bill Walker and Landry Fields each hit both of their attempts. The team as a whole shot 17-33 from downtown. That'll win you a basketball game.
- Not to be overlooked, though, is New York's 59-34 rebounding edge. The Suns are an awful rebounding team, and the Knicks made sure that was readily evident. Landry Fields grabbed 10 for another ho-hum double-double and Raymond Felton snared 10 of his own for...
- ...His first career triple-double! Congratulations, Raymond! Besides his 5-10 outside shooting, Raymond did a superb job of hitting the defensive glass and pushing from the backcourt, as well as providing the usual assists.
- I still think Mickael Pietrus looks like Rocket from City of God.
- The Knicks, as they often do, switched absolutely everything on defense. The Suns in their sorry state couldn't really capitalize. Give Felton credit for being a damn good post defender, even when he's giving up close to a foot in tallness.
- In the second half, the Suns started Hakim Warrick, so D'Antoni went with Shawne instead of Toney (adding height while maintaining the "Extra E" quota).
- Clyde and Breen had a long conversation about how frequently friends, other announcers, and other old farts express admiration for "The Kid Fields". They kept repeating that phrase: "The Kid Fields". Not "The Boy", but close.
- The Kid, by the way, is so goddamn terrific it makes me blush sometimes. Aside from his usual greatness, he had a gorgeous series of fakes leading to a pure baseline J in the second half. It was a Kobe move. No joke.
- Ronny Turiaf has a remarkably short temper for such a friendly man-beast. He picked up 4 fouls (including at least one for just shoving a bro) in 13 minutes.
- Once the game was clearly done and Raymond had secured his triple-double, D'Antoni emptied his bench for some extended garbage time. A line-up of Andy Rautins, Roger Mason Jr., Toney Douglas, Anthony Randolph, and Timofey Mozgov didn't really do too much in three or four minutes. Rautins drained a three, Randolph managed to squeeze in a few questionable decisions, and Timofey slipped a screen nicely to dunk home a feed from Felton. There was nothing of note until...
- BAM! Mozgov got tangled up with Robin Lopez, got aggravated, and delivered a razor-sharp Soviet elbow to Robin's furry mandible. He was immediately ejected and sent to the locker room while Lopez mean mug'd and shot exclamation points out of his hair. That quick ejection snuffed out what could have been the most entertaining fistfight in the history of human confrontation.
- Those poor, poor Suns. It's a shame to watch such a lovable team flounder like that.
That'll be all, babies. It was a pretty simple win over a crumbling team. While the Knicks head further west to the tightest place on the fuckin' planet, I'm heading west myself for a li'l vacation tomorrow (actually, in about three hours). I'll still be posting somewhat regularly, but expect a little more of Gian and/or Charlie doing recaps over the next week or so. You're welcome for my absence.