Some Leftover Knicks-Timberwolves Notes and Links

Because I was brief last night, I just wanted to toss out a few more idle thoughts and some links from elsewhere on the cyberweb. So, some things:

- I think I mentioned this in passing last night, but as much as Ricky Rubio did a nice job of jumping Jeremy Lin on the perimeter or pushing him to his left, Lin still got plenty of chances to drive into the paint and create for himself. Once he'd penetrated, though, he came short on a couple open layups and, on other occasions, drove to draw contact but ended up just nestling in Nikola Pekovic's chest (which is sort of a misleading thing to say because Nikola's entire body-- including his head-- is a chest). While some of his struggles must be attributed to solid defense, a lot of those mess-ups came on plays we'd already seen him finish dozens of times. That's where sore, tired legs seemed to be a factor. With more energy and greater lift, more of those inside finishes would have dropped and more fouls would have been drawn in the paint. Or at least that's what I'm telling myself this morning.

- It was a treat to see Landry Fields post up Luke Ridnour a few times. He got the ball poked away at least once, but also finished the play once or twice by turning quickly toward the rim for an easy attempt. If he can draw the mismatch, that's a terrific way to employ that bulk he added over the summer.

- Like I said last night, Shump took some bad shots and committed a couple of awful fouls in the first half (the totally useless backcourt slap of Kevin Love as time expired in the second quarter was the most damaging), but was the guy making shots-- including some finished layups!!!-- in the fourth quarter until Steve Novak stepped up. There was also one play in the second half worth mentioning in which Shump took the ball coast to coast without every actually possessing it. He knocked it away from someone at the opposing three-point line, then prevented Minny from regaining possession by repeatedly slapping the ball off the floor (not dribbling) and jumping high to tip it further down court. After three or four slap-bounce-tips, the ball had reached Minnesota's basket and he finished calmly at the rim.

- Speaking of Novak stepping up, you can read about that simple, perfectly executed play here. Part of the beauty of that set was that the Knicks got a shot off very promptly, thus leaving the Wolves with more than a shot clock remaining and too much time to play for the last shot.

- Jared Jeffries made two long corner jumpers in the third quarter. Elsewhere, in the North Pole, an infant harp seal suddenly found itself in need of oxygen. It frantically searched for a hole in the surface ice and eventually found it, only to be plucked from the water and devoured by a hungry polar bear.

- Jeffries and Shump spoiled around half a dozen Minnesota possessions by slapping the ball away from a Minnesota big when mismatched on the block (and make no mistake-- even if he starts at "power forward" Jeffries getting backed down by Kevin Love is a mismatch).

- I wonder if Shump would consider walking on his hands and handling the ball with his feet? It probably wouldn't work, but I think it's worth a try.

- I'd forgotten about this, but the Knickerblogger recap reminded me: The Knicks got boned out of yet another possession because of referee error. Jeremy Lin drove to the basket and a whistle blew right before he missed a shot. The whistle, turned out, was a (reasonable) technical foul call on Tyson Chandler for getting too rowdy with Pekovic. The T-Wolves got their free throw, and then...the ball. Whatever the Knicks were doing before Chandler got the T was negated. Not really sure how that makes sense, but let it be known that the best way to defend the Knicks is to irritate Tyson Chandler into wanting to throttle you.

- This was the second consecutive game that the Knicks won despite missing crucial free throws down the stretch and shooting terribly overall (13-22) from the stripe.

- I worry just like everybody about how willing Carmelo Anthony is to blend into this freshly free-flowing offense, but let's not pretend like there haven't been some iso possessions in all the wrong hands. We saw Steve Novak shooting turn-around fadeaways and Bill Walker and Jared Jeffries trying to create off the dribble last night. Lin can't create everything for everybody all of the time, and that's one of the many ways in which Melo can help. A good motto for the fully-staffed for the Knicks would be: "We don't always go iso, but when we do, we prefer that Carmelo Anthony go iso". Or something.

- Novak is a fairly bad defender and quite prone to losing track of the ball when he ought to be helping, but we did see him snatch some nice rebounds in traffic, so that's good. He has at least 1.5 dimensions.

That's it for the moment! Just wanted to flesh out what was kind of a bare recap last night and keep the discussion goin'. Hope y'all are having pleasant, infection-free Sundays.

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