I really need to go curl up in a ball and not think about basketball for a little while, so this will be quick.
That's how the Celtics beat the Knicks. That's the way they've done it every time since early last year. The Knicks played a pretty excellent first half. Carmelo Anthony led the offense with scoring and distributing, Amar'e Stoudemire stayed hot, and Tyson Chandler finished stuff inside off guard penetration. Jeremy Lin got to spin and didn't look terrible. The team defense was solid, and the Celtics hung around mainly cause they kept hitting threes. Things looked good.
And then, as always, everything went Chinua Achebe in the second half. Dig:
- After a brilliant 10-2 run, the Knicks got cold and stagnant in the middle of third and missed tons of long jumpers. Despite the Celtics going a massive stretch without a field goal, Boston actually chipped into New York's lead in the third period.
- Toney Douglas, who was replaced as the third guard by Lin in the first half, got the second half backup minutes and was an abject nightmare. Lin didn't play well, but at least he penetrated and helped get the team decent looks. Douglas could hardly get the ball up court, ran the offense about 40 feet from the rim, and missed all his open looks.
- This is a big one: Despite shooting terribly, the Celtics still managed to put points on the board because they got EVERY offensive rebound. In many cases, Chandler and Amar'e failed to box out Chris Wilcox and company, but on some occasions a Celtic just seemed to be in the right place at the right time (though that's probably a factor of New York's poor effort, too).
- New York got called for a ton of fouls in the second half and found themselves in the penalty with 7:43 remaining in the game.
- In crunch time, the Celtics doubled and tripled Carmelo Anthony. Melo passed out of traffic just like we've all been asking him to, but both Iman Shumpert and Landry Fields missed good, open threes in the final minute.
- On the final play, D'Antoni opted to trot Steve Novak out there fresh off the bench. It appeared that the play was run for Melo or Shump to get the ball with Novak as a decoy. But, with no timeouts, those two guys well defended, and time ticking, Fields inbounded to Novak and Novak missed a hideous turnaround three from the corner (when he probably could have passed).
And thus, even though Paul Pierce's sickening and totally typical three got waved off and he missed one of two free throws after that, the Knicks blew a game against the Celtics. There were errors-- strategic, mental, and physical errors-- but the Knicks really could have had this one. We're just snakebit, y'all. Especially against Boston.
Be kind to one another and have safe evenings. I'm gonna put my computer away and go try to forget about what I just sat through.