What'd I tell you about Celtics-Knicks preseason games getting needlessly tense? Tonight's Knicks-Celtics exhibition in swanky Hartford, Connecticut was too hot for 48 minutes. It went to overtime, and the Knicks actually ended up winning the thing. Every Knicks fan will remember where he or she or it was when Chris Copeland blocked Jamar Smith's last-ditch effort to seal the historic victory for New York.
Anyway, yeah, whatever. Let's dive into some quick notes. I'll work backwards because I'm an adult and I make the rules around here.
- What do you call the overlap of ¡Pablocura! and Copelandia? Copabloandura? Whatever the appropriate exclamation, the Knicks won this one behind a positively delicious flurry of picking-and-rolling from Pablo Prigioni and Chris Copeland. Copeland ran the floor gracefully and Pablo threaded one spicy bounce pass after another straight into his paws. Cope's got the body control of an airdancer in traffic, but he managed to flail the ball through the rim with contact on quite a few possessions. It didn't look good at all, and it came after he sat the whole first half and looked awful through his first few minutes, but 21 points in 19 minutes is 21 points in 19 minutes. Cope put in a few solid defensive possessions, including that game- and beat-reporter-sanity-saving block, as well. Still can't say I see much there. Pablo, on the other hand, misplaced his shooting stroke but continued to look every bit Jason Kidd's equal in the precision passing department.
- Said this elsewhere, but this is how Copeland sets picks:
- On one hand, Steve Novak only hit 1-6 threes. On several other hands, he drilled TWO late pull-up twos, played stretches of pretty goddamn legitimate defense against Celtics big (Jared Sullinger) and small (Courtney Lee), and ripped down seven rebounds. He really ripped 'em, guys!
- Mychel Thompson didn't hit his shots either. He didn't really come close. He did pull down six rebounds, though, and I saw him contest some shots.
- Henry Sims wasn't credited with any blocks, but I swear he affected a few shots and I'm positive he splatted a Paul Pierce attempt at the rim. John Shurna didn't really play enough minutes to shurn it all the way up. He did play exactly enough minutes for Jeff Green to manhandle him at will.
- Are there takeaways to be taken away from the first unit performance in a game like this? Perhaps not, but here are a few things that stood out to me:
- Too much switching. More than in the previous game (for the starters), and it seemed like the major reason for Boston's dramatic advantage at the free throw line in the early going.
- Raymond Felton's jumper is nowhere to be found (and he took some really ghastly ones), but his approach in transition has been a delight to watch. For all the talk (or at least I've been thinking about it) of the Knicks being a slowed-down team this season, Felton's been doing a brilliant job of skirring a serpentine path up the floor and into the paint to probe for driving lanes, kick-outs, and lob opportunities. If it's not there immediately, he's done an equally nice job of feeding the secondary break or ducking out to set things up.
- Speaking of those lobortunities, we saw some more stellar alley-oops to Tyson Chandler this evening. Like, he had six field goals and maybe four of them were lob finishes. Felton, Prigioni, and Kidd have all taken to Chandler's presence wonderfully.
- We also saw Chandler attempt his first jumper-- a KG special from 19 feet out-- of the preseason. He missed it, but it happened.
- James White, playing and starting for the first time, looked okay to me. He had a tough first game shooting and appeared reluctant to pull later on, so that was no good. He looked good 'n' springy on defense and in pursuit of rebounds, though, and just...I dunno, he just looked more comfortable on an NBA basketball court than all the kids have looked. Did anybody else feel that way? Obviously, it'd be unsurprising given White's relative age and experience.
- Kurt Thomas's midrange jumper hasn't been falling. At the very least, though, the looks he's getting bode well for Amar'e Stoudemire, should he arrive with a working jump shot this season.
- Carmelo Anthony did Carmelo Anthony stuff. He and Paul Pierce did a lot of wrasslin', and Melo got the best of him on a few possessions. Melo's hands got a liiiiitttle sticky on occasion, but he mostly looked to drive, drew some contact, and kicked off some productive ball movement when doubles came his way.
- Fantastic offensive rebounding, especially early on. Dreadful shooting from the perimeter, in many cases begot by dreadful shot selection.
- "Hoyer": the Georgetown mascot, according to Walt Frazier.
- "Brass": Brandon Bass's surname, according to Walt Frazier. (Surprised I've never heard that one before.)
- We saw Felton-Kidd, Kidd-Prigioni, and Felton-Prigioni, yes? I think we did.
- No J.R. Smith tonight, incidentally. His achilles is bugging him and he got the night off.
- Was Steve Novak wearing an armband at the end there? Seems dicey to add even an inconsequential piece to such a finely tuned machine (well, not tonight). You wouldn't tie a ribbon around a mainspring.
That's all I've got for y'all tonight. Didn't count for shit, but it always feels rewarding to beat the Celtics, and we got some bonus opportunities to watch the campers. I'll admit to being a little distracted for parts of this one, so I'm interested to see what else you guys observed.