I can't decide whether that felt like a preseason game or a game between two lottery-bound bottom-dwellers in April. Both teams shot around 40% and the overall quality of play just had that "none of this counts, right?" feel. Funny thing is it did count...like a lot. Sans Amar'e Stoudemire, the Knicks were playing to avoid a losing record and, luckily enough, they did just that with a good ol' three-point downpour. With the exception of a, uh, dry spell (sadderbudweiser is responsible for the headline metaphor. I am responsible for bastardizing it.) that spanned almost the entire third quarter, New York was deadly from distance, splashing their way to a 16-34 downtown outing.
And that was pretty much the difference. The Knicks made up for an abysmal performance inside the arc with abundant and accurate outside shooting. They also forced some turnovers and got out in transition now and then...but it was mostly the threes. The night was exciting and also sort of intoxicating. I showed up late and spent most of the latter three quarters standing and screaming "SHOOT THE J! SHOOT IT!" over and over again instead of taking notes, so it'll be pretty light after the jump.
- So, just minutes before tip-off (and while I was elsewhere, peacefully chewing on a burrito) it was announced that Amar'e Stoudemire would miss the game with a sprained big toe. It remains to be seen whether or not that keeps him out of Wednesday's game, but for our present purposes, it meant a return to the starting lineup for Wilson Chandler. Timofey Mozgov (20 minutes) and Ronny Turiaf (10) were both severely limited by foul trouble, so that left a lot of spin for guys who love to shoot threes. Toney Douglas, Shawne Williams, and Bill Walker (who hadn't played in a week) contributed meaningful minutes off the bench and shot a combined 8-16 from downtown. Thanks, benchbros.
- Meanwhile, I don't know what the hell happened in that third period. The shots were no more or less reckless than those of the first half (nor were they any less wide open), but shit just wouldn't fall. New York blew almost all of what had once been an 11-point lead by laying brick after brick until Toney finally hit a three to put them back up four with under a minute to play in the third. The Knicks shot 1-10 from downtown in the quarter, with me imploring them to keep shooting all the while. Again, it was a weird night.
- So, subtract that awful third quarter, and you've got a 15-24 showing in quarters one, two, and four. That's 62.5%. That's pretty good. The Nets probably should have closed out sometimes.
- Don't forget Landry Fields, who drained three very Landry threes in the final period. His back-to-back bombs from either corner pretty much iced the damn thing. After the second one, he even co-opted Portland's "three goggles" gesture. If anyone can get away with that, it's Landry.
- I'm not a huge fan of Kenny Albert's announcing, but I do love the way he says "EE-leven" just like his dad.
- On a quiet scoring night for Danilo Gallinari (2-5, 7 points) and Raymond Felton (4-13, 13 points), credit Douglas and Chandler for stepping up and leading the team. Both displayed the aforementioned accuracy from outside, but Toney was also very productive going to the rim and Wilson had some very nice moves for two-point finishes (though he missed a few weird ones as well. Something still isn't quite right).
- My friend and I agreed that Jordan Farmar looks kinda like a guido Bam Margera.
So...yup. There you have it. Without their leader, the Knicks got silly and it just happened to work. Eliminate Amar'e and you've got a Knicks team that can win games by shooting the lights out from downtown (except for the third quarter, apparently). Trade Amar'e, obviously.
In other news, it is now guaranteed that the Knicks will go into the All-Star break at or above .500. Hooray!