Yeah. We all needed that. I and Russ in the game thread and any Knicks fan who watched that game had to feel relieved, refreshed, and just...good. The Knicks faced a team that, despite how they'd looked against New York previously, is very, very bad, and they absolutely squashed them. The offense moved, the defense rotated, rebounders rebounded, and, at least for a night, all was well. Losing streak over.
Take the jump for some quick details and individual notes.
- Tyson Chandler was the undisputed MVP of (the non-garbage time portion of) this game. Byron Mullens was like "hey I'm Byron I'll be your opponent today. I'm really looking forward to guarding you and competing for rebounds with you" and Tyson was like "WHAT I CAN'T HEAR YOU OVER THE SOUND OF ME DUNKING INTO YOUR MOUTH". Chandler got every rebound on both ends and dunked every dunk and was just awesome and dominant and awesome again. Big ups to the guards for hitting Chandler with a few nice feeds and also (seriously) missing shots when he was in good rebounding position.
- Amar'e Stoudemire came alive! He did the usual thing where he misses a bad, rushed hook then picks up two fouls and heads to the bench in the first quarter. In the second, though, he got rolling as the only frontcourt starter on the floor. He and Mike Bibby connected for a few pick-and-roll feeds and finishes, and he drained an elbow jumper or two as well. Amar'e went on to misplay a couple of feeds from Iman Shumpert in the third quarter, but added more finishes in transition and on second opportunities as the game progressed. And by "finishes" I mean the type of above-the-rim, one-handed tomahawks that one typically expects from Amar'e Stoudemire. It was an immense relief to see him do that, because folks were talking like he physically couldn't do that anymore. 18 and 8 for Amar'e in 29 minutes, plus some rebounds and decent defense against Tyrus Thomas and Bismack Biyombo.
- The national story from this one is going to be that Carmelo Anthony scored only one point, and indeed he did (on a technical free throw that nearly rimmed out, at that). Melo, one game removed from his dismal yet heroic yet dismal outing against the Nuggets, blended right in to the offense. He made quick passes, fed open teammates, and pushed the ball up court off his 11 defensive rebounds. When Melo shot, it usually came off the catch following good ball movement, and when he isolated, he did so at appropriate times (like, matched up with Gerald Henderson in the high post). Despite all his good looks, Melo was still ice cold from the field-- understandable, given his sore wrist and the Wolverine claw-thing covering it-- and responded in kind: He stopped shooting! After four misses in the first quarter, he attempted (and missed) just three more shots the rest of the game. But again, he handled the ball, made snappy passes to others, ripped down boards, and just generally made his presence felt in realms other than isolation scoring. A fine one-point game.
- Yet another exceedingly Landry game from Landry Fields. He did all the Landry things you love to see him do: cutting, driving into seams, speeding ahead in transition, drawing fouls, pulling up for mid-range jumpers. Just a wonderful game. Five assists, too!
- Iman Shumpert shot 1-9, but like six of those were good looks. Kid just couldn't get a layup (or dunk) to fall. He's got a weird habit of trying to score with his off hand (left hand, middle hand) when he doesn't have to and, for whatever reason, hasn't learned how to convince the refs that the contact he's drawn constitutes a foul. That 1-9 wasn't nearly as bad as it looks, though.
- Cool pick-and-roll stuff, Mike Bibby! And good job hitting that three!
- Jared Jeffries swished two long jumpers in the first half. Elsewhere, twin fawns got separated from their mother in a bitter alpine forest. In the second half, Jeffries attempted two more long jumpers; one barely grazed the rim and the other airballed long by about seventy yards. The young fawns ambled out of the forest and back into the custody of their relieved mother. All was right with the world.
- Not very good shooting Bill Walker, but that one pass you made was cool! You know the one. The cool one.
- Toney Douglas hit some nice shots off the dribble! 4-7!
- Garbage time! Jeremy Lin did some great drive-and-kick plays and also hit some cool fading floaters! Steve Novak benefited from those kick-outs and drilled all three of his three-pointers! Renaldo Balkman did a cool dunk! And Jerome Jordan lost a defender with a pump fake and drove baseline for a dunk! Garbage time was wonderful.
- Mike Breen on Renaldo Balkman: "He's just a cool dude."
- One time Tyson Chandler slapped the ball off Toney Douglas's face and I didn't think that was cool.
- Some pleasant team stats: 50 percent shooting, 26 assists on 39 field goals. 53-33 rebounding edge, including 13 offensive rebounds. 26-33 from the free throw line. Every single active Knick played and scored.
So, you know, you don't want to read into a cruise of a win over the Bobcats too much, but the Knicks have had roughly two other wins like that this year. Certainly worth being happy about, and I am. It felt really good, and it didn't feel unnatural or flukey. The Knicks just moved the ball, hit their shots, defended, and rebounded. Basketball. On to Cleveland!