Mar. 14, 2012; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks players celebrate on the bench during the second half against the Portland Trail Blazers at Madison Square Garden. Knicks won 121-79. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE
That was a remarkably breezy opening to the Mike Woodson era, eh? We must first thank the Blazers, as chellepretty did in the game thread, for curling upl and listlessly accepting a beating from the Knicks. They're in a bit of turmoil themselves, but they haven't made that big move yet. So, Portland didn't offer much resistance, but the Knicks looked energetic and upbeat for the first time in a couple weeks. They defended well as a unit, moved the ball quickly (though not always neatly) on offense, pushed fast breaks whenever possible, and got massive bench contributions to beat the Blazers by an absurd 42 points. They held Portland to 29(!) points with stout defense in the first half, then just pulled out the stops and let Steve Novak and J.R. Smith go skeet shootin' in the second half.
There probably isn't too, too much to take from this one, but it was a big relief nonetheless. Take the jump for some individual notes.
- Things I think I saw from Woodson: 1. A relatively quick trigger in terms of calling timeouts and benching guys who'd made multiple errors. We saw him give Jeremy Lin, Baron Davis, and Landry Fields relatively quick hooks at various points. Clyde got super excited over the fact that Woodson played ten guys in the first quarter, but D'Antoni had actually done that on occasion this season. 2. Some really nice plays out of timeouts-- a slick cut to get Amar'e Stoudemire an open dunk, a (failed) baseline alley-oop to Fields, etc. 3. Beard.
- Jeremy Lin had a quiet night. The Knicks just didn't need much from him. He had just six points and six assists in 23 minutes. He did have two steals, though, and made several of those assists on loooong lob outlets in transition. Six turnovers in 23 minutes is perhaps a few too many.
- As Lin's replacement, Baron Davis took one dribble into the paint, kicked out to the perimeter, and watched a teammate hit an open three. He did this many, many times.
- Carmelo Anthony looked especially cheery and played his best game in a while. He got his first layup attempt stuffed, then got one to fall in transition, then got ridiculous for the rest of the half. We saw him drill three of six three-pointers off the catch, finish a few more transition run-outs, and make some beautiful extra passes to open teammates (seven assists). 'Twas a very nice outing after a very weird day and a lot of booing when his name was announced. Had Melo hit open jumpers and passed like that all season, Mike D'Antoni would probably still be employed.
- Landry Fields had a decidedly un-Landry evening. His moves weren't too outlandish, but he just couldn't get his shots to drop. The best thing he did all night was stand up with all of his limbs and teeth intact after getting flagrantly sky-thumped by Marcus Camby.
- Amar'e Stoudemire looked terrific! He hit seven straight shots to open the game and was 8-10 overall. By my count, Amar'e hit one or two jumpers, but got everything else off good inside looks from his teammates-- transition dunkz, lay-inz off basket cutz, easy finishez off mismatchez, and the like. 17 points off ten shots in just 25 minutes.
- I'm pretty certain we didn't see a Lin-Davis tandem at any point.
- Early in the game, Melo could be seen kicking Jerome Jordan out of the bench seat closest to the coaches.
- Jared Jeffries returned and played some brilliant defense in 14 minutes. Some great hands and feet against Aldridge, plenty of poke-aways, and one drawn charge. Oh, and he rimmed in a couple of assisted lay-ups. Welcome back, Jared!
- Iman Shumpert nailed some of his jumpers and got to the line ten times in 26 minutes. Folks (and Mike Breen) got a little grouchy when he tried some fancy dunks in garbage time. Not the coolest thing Shump's ever done.
- The second half offense was like that movie Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever, but with J.R. Smith and Steve Novak draining threes instead of Antonio Banderas and Lucy Liu running around shooting guns at things. Both guys pulled early and often in transition while Mike Breen peeked through his fingers and dry-heaved into his microphone. Novak went 6-10 while Smith went 7-14. We'll call that a tie for least conscientious.
- Mike Bibby, Jerome Jordan, and Josh Harrellson each got garbage time minutes. Bibby tossed four assists in just seven minutes, Jorts hit a three, and Jerome sank two of the most scintillating free throws I've ever seen. PANJEROMIUM.
- I guess it's worth mentioning that the Knicks still managed to lose the third quarter. The Blazers momentarily started hitting threes and stuff and went on a bit of a run. Woodson interrupted it with a timeout, much to the delight to that faction of commenters who despised D'Antoni's tendency to let the Knicks play through opposing runs.
- Also probably worth mentioning that the Blazers quietly grabbed 16 offensive rebounds.
- Tina Cervasio's interview with two guys from the New York Red Bulls-- one of whom was named "Dax"-- pretty much amounted to "So, soccer, eh? That's where you kick the ball and stuff? Tell us about that!".
- The Blazers committed 23 turnovers. The Knicks scored 30 fast break points.
- Pretty silly that the first thing the Knicks did after D'Antoni left was shoot 19-38 from downtown.
- Clyde thinks Luke Babbitt should be right-handed, just because. Sorry, Luke. Clyde has spoken. Time to start strengthening that right hand, because you are no longer permitted to be a lefty.
- Raymond Felton, huh? Not much of a revenge game, though he did grab six steals, mostly at Lin's expense.
So, I don't know that I want to read too much into a blowout win over a bunch of guys who looked borderline hypoglycemic, but that was still a lovely ending to a very upsetting day. Just to see the Knicks enjoying one another's company and playing lively, entertaining basketball was a big relief. We'll see where this goes, but tonight was fun in its own sort of bittersweet way.