Ah, that felt nice. Sure, it was the Pistons, and sure, the Knicks could very well descend back into the doldrums in the games to come, but let us appreciate tonight. Like riise said in the thread, 'twas a night of actual, real-life ball movement. We saw awesome swing passes, gnarly pick-and-rolls, tubular penetrate-and-kicks, and radical ball movement. And the Knicks finished those plays too! New York shot a sizzlin' 60 percent from the field, marking the first time they'd hit more than half of their shots this season(!). The Knicks' shot defense on the Pistons was a bit spotty, but they made up for that by forcing 20 turnovers and converting 'em into fast break points the other way.
All told, the Knicks increased their lead in each quarter and had this one pretty much wrapped up by the beginning of the fourth. It was a splendid, refreshing evening with several excellent individual performances. Take the jump for some notes on those and more.
- Well, that was without question the Landriest game so far this season. Man oh man. Fields was cookin' soup from downtown, shooting 4-6 on the evening and 3-3 in the first quarter alone. Those makes came predominantly off Carmelo Anthony kick-outs, which was so very encouraging to see, as that's precisely the play the Knicks have needed Landry to finish all season. Fields did other exceeding Landry things, too, like snaggling 5 steals (many in the backcourt off lazy inbound passes), dishing 5 assists (including a couple nice ones in transition), and swatting Brandon Knight at the rim. Quoth Clyde: "He's having a field day!".
- Also worth noting: Fields makes perhaps the silliest "UH OH, I'M MAKING A NO-LOOK PASS!" face in the league. It kind of looks like an expression an eighth grade girl would make in her Facebook profile picture while holding up a sideways peace sign.
- Not that I've ever looked at an eighth grade girl's Facebook or anything.
- Carmelo Anthony made his return and looked much more like himself. He did get a little isolationist in the second half, but mixed that with some brilliant feeds off kick-outs and out of the pick-and-roll in the early going. Oh, and the iso stuff is much more appealing when 1. He's got a mismatch. 2. He starts on the block and spins or fakes his way to the rim. 3. Shots go in. Nice, solid 25-point, six-assist outing in Melo's return.
- Tyson Chandler scored a typically efficient 16 points (5-6 on inside looks, 7-10 from the line), and made up for a light rebounding first half by ripping down damn near everything he encountered in the third quarter. We also got a frightening glimpse of Chandler's back-to-the-basket game that included one hideous, twisting contested shot (a baby hook with some serious birth defects) that slammed off the back rim and one appallingly telegraphed pass out of a double team(?). Typically solid outing, though.
- I swore the MSG PA folks played the usual "boom-boom-chick" effects with a slight offbeat in the first half, but now I can't recreate the sound in my head and I'm convinced that I imagined it and I'm gnawing off my own skin.
- Amar'e Stoudemire missed a lot of his jumpers, but finished some nice looks inside (several of which came off nice passes from his teammates) and earned some free throws in the process. Amar'e also made a couple of slick feeds to cutters, which is something we'd loooooove to see him do more often. Oh, and he made up for a serial indifference to boxing out with a couple gorgeous recovery blocks.
- There was a scary moment (retroactively revealed with grainy footage) in which Amar'e twisted his ankle pretty badly during his typical warm-up hoppin' 'n' joggin' during halftime. He looked to be in quite a bit of agony, but was ready to go by the time the third quarter began.
- Iman Shumpert started despite Mike D'Antoni suggesting previously that Toney Douglas would be the guy, and turned in a pretty decent performance. He lost track of Brandon Knight and/or Rodney Stuckey quite a few times, but forced a couple turnovers with his defense and actually finished his drives to the basket on more than one occasion. Shump registered six assists, too, including a couple gorgeous one-handed transition feeds and a pick-and-roll dime or two (he missed a few rolls as well, but beggars can't be people who expect too much from rookies playing out of position, as they say).
- I was kind of expecting D'Antoni to go deep and give Jeremy Lin some rotation minutes, but he went with the usual eight-man rotation until garbage time. Douglas didn't do too much, Jared Jeffries played the role of defensive irritant nicely, and Bill Walker was typically impetuous and possibly drunk.
- Jeffries had two superb "big man in a video game moments". One came when he attempted a spin move and just dropped the ball mid-spin and another came when he got a backcourt steal, inexplicably decided to drive coast-to-coast and, again, just sort of forgot the ball en route to the rim.
- Switching got the Knicks in trouble defensively a few times, but I swear I also saw big men hedge screens and recover instead of switching AND guards get over picks a couple times.
- Whoopi Goldberg was Jill Martin's halftime interview and gave a few Dustin Hoffman Memorial Vaguely Sexual Non-Answers To Jill's Questions. For instance, when asked about her secret talent, Whoopi said something to the effect of "Oh, I can't say. It's nasty. It's fresh.", which waOH MY GOD I'M THINKING ABOUT WHOOPI GOLDBERG HAVING SEX OWOOWOW OWOW MAKE IT STOP
- Tina Cervasio got the much better interview in this one. She spoke to an adorable second-grader who wore a blue necktie for 300 consecutive days and raised $9,000 (I think that was the number) for the Make-a-Wish Foundation. Asked why he did the tie thing, he said he wore one on picture day and people told him it "made him look handsome". Oh, and right before the cameras cut away, he produced-- seemingly out of thin air-- a drawing of a snowman holding a basketball and yelped "Also, this!". Clyde called him a "precocious neophyte" and never has that phrase been more apt.
- Spotted: Baron Davis, noticeably bouncin' to "Sandstorm" on the sideline.
- We've heard this story before, but Mike Breen reminded us that the poster of Clyde that he hung up in his house in Yonkers in 1970 is STILL hanging, which is awesome.
- The booth calling a Toney Douglas pull-up miss: [Toney fakes] Breen: "Douglas with a nice fake". [Toney steps in and airballs a jumper] Clyde: "Huh huh huh huh, nice AIRBALL!".
- Oh, and if I heard him correctly, Clyde thinks Gerald Wilkins "was better looking" than Dominique.
- Jason Maxiell dunks like he intends to take the basket home with him as a souvenir. I love Jason Maxiell.
- I also like Walker Russell Jr. and would like to sip ale out of a plaster cast of his skull. He was once cut by the Knicks you know.
- ¡Tiempo de basura! Jeremy Lin continued his habit of putting up a lot of stats in limited time despite not actually doing that much, Renaldo Balkman made some pretty excellent finishes, Jerome Jordan continued to blow me away with his quick feet on defense, and Steve Novak hit a three.
And that is all! It was a brilliantly played game against a very bad team. Last time the Knicks did this, they didn't carry any of that momentum into the ensuing games against better teams. Raise your hand if you'd like them to change that this time around.