First off, apologies for a late recap. I stayed up watching Randy Watson instead of writing last night. I needed some downtime after seeing the Knicks piss away a fourth quarter lead to the Pistons which dropped them to 7th in the standings. Watson was far more entertaining than the game. That boy good.
The Knicks continue to frustrate because they continue to be who we thought they were in terms of defense and rebounding. The Pistons are in the bottom half of the league in terms of offensive efficiency, scoring 103.7 points every hundred possessions, good for 18th in the league. Last night they managed to put up 112.3 points per hundred possessions without anyone going off for more than 16 points. How'd that go down? A bunch of turnovers on the Knicks' end including 8 and 5 from Chauncey Billups and Amare Stoudemire respectively - bros you know need to handle the ball a ton - which led to several fastbreak opportunities. The Knicks also gave up key offensive rebounds in the final frame leading to a monster Chris Wilcox tip dunk which sealed the game for them Bad Boys ("Bad" is open to interpretation) that had me asking, "Chris Wilcox? Really?" too, 100% dundee.
Protecting the ball was an issue from the jump. Billups inexplicably continued to force passes to Jared Jeffries, including one in transition that sailed over his head right into the never-ending arms of Austin Daye. I'll cut him just a bit of slack considering the Pistons' lineup. Detroit, being the mess that they are this year (and I do mean a mess; it's like God spilled a team) start Tracy McGrady at point guard. This put some serious length on Chauncey which made penetration and passing more difficult. McGrady even yoinked it flat out on one of Billups' drives in the first. And the story stayed the same to the final buzzer. Really, George R. R. Martin would spoof this recap as A Game of Yoinks.
Giving up offensive rebounds, especially late, was also a familiar sight. The problem is that Amar'e needs to rotate over to cover or swat away interested parties. It leaves his man free to board up against a Shawne Williams or a Jared Jeffries. Greg Monroe and Wilcox did just that, grabbing three offensive rebounds a piece.
On the offensive end, the Knicks used Amar'e differently. He's been unconscious of late with midrange jumpshots coming off curls and off-ball movement. Last night, though, he was used far more frequently in pick-and-roll situations with Toney Douglas. The opportunities proved fruitful but he mishandled some passes and bumped up his TO count. The second quarter was particularly unkind as he tallied four of his five giveaways in the frame. He did, however, have his dunk of the year in the third quarter when he got full extension and Superman'd that Monroe, possibly sending his psyche into a singularity.
Toney Douglas still can't feel his face. He did what he do with 20 points, 11 assists, 5 boards and 4 more threes. If NBA players had entrance music when checking into games like baseball players coming up to bat, I'm fully confident that he'd come in to Jay Z's Feelin' It. Toney's inside-out game was cooking. In the second and third quarters, he carpet bombed the basket from downtown. Fourth quarter, he drove through various openings off PnR situations and served four of his assists as the defense had to respect his jumpshot.
Landry Fields was as Landry as he wanted to be in limited time. Douglas' play sops up his minutes these days but he still stuffed the sheet with a very Landry 9/4/1/1 in 21 minutes.
After a slow start, Extra E really made an impact in the second half. He picked up the rebounding slack 8 of his 9 boards in said half and hit 3 of his 4 threes in the fourth. The problem was that he allowed Charlie Villaneuva to return the favor on the other end. Charlie V's outside shot pulled Extra E off the glass and led to the eventual tip dunk from Wilcox that I'll keep mentioning cause I really, really can't believe it.
If you're wondering why Carmelo Anthony's been absent from this recap so far, it's because he was absent from the game (and apparently the media session). His game started well enough. His shot wasn't falling and the offense was sticky but he got a couple of boards, assists and a steal to make up for it. But that's all he did for the duration of the game. His line for the final three quarters was 0-6 FG, 2 FT, a rebound, an assist and a block. He seemed entirely disinterested because he wasn't receiving the ball where he likes it. See, the Knicks weren't posting him up until the fourth quarter. Even then, he had difficulty getting position and committed an offensive foul. I'll let the beat writers overreact to his demeanor but I am concerned about his effort when the offense isn't ran his way. Like I said, Douglas, Amar'e and Extra E's threes had something going on with the PnR so they rolled with it. That shouldn't mean your second best threat should check out of the game mentally.
With that, let's enjoy the rest of our weekends.