Last night's recap was of the it's-the-weekend-and-that-game-was-awful-I-don't-want-to-look-at-my-TV-or-computer-anymore variety, so let's go over a few details I glossed over the first time around.
Take the jump or, if you'd rather forget that game happened, don't. I wouldn't blame you. Or maybe just take the jump and give me the page view but then close the tab immediately? I need them views, man. It's hard feeding three kids, two leopards, and a robot dinosaur on a blogger's salary.
- Many, many people said this during the game and before, and I can't disagree: Jeremy Lin, so far, has looked better when playing sort of recklessly. He had five turnovers last night (not awful for 41 minutes) and narrowly avoided turnover several other times, and I honestly wouldn't change a thing. He reverted to penetrating at every opportunity and testing the limits of his passing ability, and I think both his individual offense and that of the Knicks as a team benefited from his boldness as a creator. They also benefited from Milwaukee defense that was, at times, every bit as lackadaisical as New York's, but credit Lin for identifying the opportunities created by that lackadasia (that's not the noun, but it ought to be). Most of the Lin plays I didn't like came when he held the ball for a beat too long, not when he attempted a tough pass.
- Lin really does have a remarkable ability to recover his own fumbles, sometimes before they even become turnovers, then turn the chaos into a made basket. That quality really reminds me of Stephon Marbury, and I mean that in a good way. It's not pretty, but it's a useful talent to have.
- Lin also has a pretty nice ability to force turnovers (four steals) when he gambles, so he might as well just go for it.
- Amar'e Stoudemire seemed to benefit, as he has previously, from playing the five, having open space, and not having Tyson Chandler to bump into. On defense, the opposite was true. The man is a hologram on defense.
- Carmelo Anthony was cookin' soup to start the game with the first unit, then stayed on the floor with the second unit to end the first quarter and missed some pretty rough shots. It went sort of back and forth for the rest of the night, with a couple fine scoring (and passing) plays interspersed with some crappy attempts that got bailed out by fouls. Melo pulled down some tough rebounds, too, but ended up with only five total. The Bucks had 17 offensive rebounds as a team. Honestly, Melo and Amar'e probably could have gotten away with their shitty defense if they'd boxed out and kept the Buck bigs--Drew Gooden and Larry Sanders were the cheif o-bounders-- off the glass. (Amar'e had 11 boards, but let plenty of others go by.)
- This seems as good a time as any to pass this from the Milwaukee feed along, via The Rooster (and video here):
It was a weird shot attempt by Brandon Jennings and a tough, quick play for Melo (who, in retrospect, should have stuck with Ilyasova) or Amar'e (who was boxing out, but relaxed to reach for the ball) to make, but Lin's frustration is understandable. After completely losing Jennings a few times to begin the game, Lin had done a pretty solid job on him in the second half. Jennings still drilled some jumpers in his face a few times, but down the stretch, Lin finally began to make an impact, and that culminated in the above play, which could have led the Knicks to a win. No such luck.
- Landry Fields made some really, really silly out-of-control plays on offense (three really hideous turnovers), but it's hard to argue with that line of 18 points (9-12) and 7 rebounds. He made some splendid backdoor and diagonal cuts off the ball to finish easily at the basket. This was all done as the starting small forward, incidentally.
- ...and it came while the Knicks got absolutely nothing from their top two shooting guards. J.R. Smith drilled his first three, but then did almost nothing positive and was hardly involved the rest of the night (and reportedly sequestered himself on the bench). Iman Shumpert came in, bricked his first jumper attempt, missed an open pass or two, made a sloppy defensive rotation or two, then got the quick hook and didn't return until the final seconds on a play in which the Knicks fouled intentionally. It doesn't sound like there was anything wrong with his knee.
- Shumpert's miscues seemed to be part of a chronic team-wide problem of switching and rotating uncertainly. I'm not a fan of the switching, but if you're going to do it, DO IT. Shout it out and make it happen. Too often, Knicks "switch", but sort of half-ass it and end up standing next to each other in neutral space while both of their guys become free.
- I grumbled last night about D'Antoni's wild substitution patterns, and now you can take a look for yourself. Just some weirdly short stints and breaks in there, which isn't a very good look. While we're looking at it, note that the starters (Lin, Smith, Fields, Melo, and Amar'e in this case) built that first double-digit lead by hitting eleven(!) straight shots. A lineup of Melo, Steve Novak, Shumpert, Davis, and Josh Harrellson lost it. In the second quarter, a lineup of Lin, Davis, Novak, Stoudemire and Harrellson/Fields went on another big run. Substitutions went kind of apeshit after that, and the Knicks lost a little ground going into halftime. In the third, the starting unit played like shit, but a lineup of Lin, Davis, Novak, Melo, and Harrellson brought them back. In the fourth, a lineup of the starters minus Smith plus Davis almost brought New York back. The only thing I can take from all that is that Baron Davis and Jeremy Lin performed pretty well as a backcourt tandem (which, when Lin wasn't in foul trouble, went on for quite a while). Other than that, I've got nothing.
- Davis took and missed some bad shots but made some brilliant passes off crafty dribbles in the paint (his ability to hesitate and make a defender commit is incredible to watch). He had nine assists and just one turnover.
- Pretty sure I saw Josh Harrelson slap the shit out of the backboard with both hands on a block attempt. Fuck a broken wrist. #DIRTSTRONG #COUNTRYSTRONG #JORTS
- Right after Spero Dedes announced that his parents arrived at the Bradley Center (they'd been attending his sister's high school game), Steve Novak immediately got a Mike Dunleavy three stuck in his face, then mishandled a pass and committed a turnover at the other end. He nailed a transition three later, though.
- The fact that they play "Crew Love" (that's what it is, right?) after Brandon Jennings makes a basket makes the whole experience hurt that just more.
- I may have been hallucinating, but I'm pretty sure there's a KFC commercial now that features two guys looking at some chicken pot pies and just alternating saying "fresh" and "classic", which makes not one sense. Zero senses.
- To my eye, there is only one person against which Stoudemire's "help" defense in which he just gets out of the way is useful: Carlos Delfino. Amar'e "pulled the chair" on him when there was, in fact, no chair to be pulled, but somehow got Delfino to miss horribly and tip his own rebound out of bounds in the process.
- Clyde, after a loose ball almost bounced into his hands: "I was hoping to get my first rebound!"
- I cannot even fathom the number of moments in which the Knicks wrecked their own momentum by taking a bad shot or making a small defensive/rebounding error. You knew it was coming every time, too.
- Clyde's best call of the night was actually a moment in which he got tongue-tied reciting an idiom: "They're between a hard rock...". That was the Knicks! Between a hard rock, indeed.
Annnnd now I'd like to be done with last night's game (unless I think of something else). The Knicks are back at home to face the Sixers tomorrow afternoon. I'll be in the building, and I'm verrrry wary of what I'm getting into. One can only hope that they're due for a win. If they can pick up the defense with Tyson Chandler (hopefully) back while preserving any of last night's best offense, they really should have a chance. Recently, though, that's been less feasible than it sounds. We shall see.