Here are some excess notes I have from last night's stinkpuddle of a loss to the Hawks.
- Something that dawned on me as I fell asleep last night: The Knicks would have won if Mike Breen was calling the game. I know this for a fact. Nothing against Spero Dedes, but we needed a few "all of a suddens" and even a "BANG!" during the comeback last night.
- Baron Davis has struuuuuggled with the ball, but I'd wager he's even more of a drop-off from Jeremy Lin defensively than he is on offensel. To my eye, a lot of the Knicks' troublesome switching has been the result of Davis being unable to cover even a spot on the floor.
- I don't think my brief mentions of Iman Shumpert in last night's recap included enough hyperventilation about how good the kid looked. Holy shit. Jumpers fell, drives to the basket were mostly fruitful (he did rim an easy one out), and the defense was sharp as usual, but it was more than that. The kid was FIERCE. Viscous, even. On a night when New York's resident guy-who-can't-stand-losing, Tyson Chandler, appeared unusually disinterested, Shumpert looked furious. It showed in his body language-- clapping violently after makes, practically spitting on the floor after errors-- and also in his effort. There was one second half play in particular in which Willie Green simply cut baseline from right to left but managed to completely lose J.R. Smith (who may or may not have blacked out) in the process. Green found his way to the left corner to catch the ball with no Knick even close to him. He got and made his wide open shot, but not before Iman, who was at the opposing elbow, RACED over to issue a belated but probably still terrifying close-out. Anyway, Shump hit his jumpers and played another remarkably efficient offensive game-- even more so this time around-- and I was especially struck by his ferocity out there. Really, really impressive stuff. I love that guy.
- Though he didn't have quite that same "I HATE THIS AND EVERYONE" demeanor, Carmelo Anthony played a pretty intense game as well. He made some errors, including some crucial misses and a bad pass in the fourth, but on a night when the Knicks needed him to go iso and create a lot for himself, he did just that and did a pretty gritty job of it. I was surprised with his ability to just blow by Josh Smith on that sore groin, and also pleased to see him fighting for position off the ball and poking away passes on defense. He stuck with a lot of plays to grab rebounds, too, though that's nothing new.
- There were definitely occasions in which a Knick missed Steve Novak open on the perimeter, but, as was discussed a lot last night, Steve's mostly having trouble getting open. I think we've said this before, but New York probably needs to get more creative with their sets when Novak is on the floor, because teams know that all they have to do is over-commit and cling to his chest and he's got nothing. The problem is compounded when you have Novak guarding someone like Smith (or even Willie Green, or anybody who plays facing the basket) on the other end. There was a moment where Smith caught the ball cutting to the rim in transition. Novak had okay position, but flapped his arms in terror and scurried out of the frame. Jim Todd (that's a Knicks assistant coach) said it at halftime: "If Novak's not shooting the ball, we might as well not have him on the floor."
- Clyde, on Jeff Teague: "Teague is ambidextrous. Left hand, right hand. Very adept with both hands." Still not really sure what Clyde was trying to say there.
- I think I'd like to see Baron Davis post up more. Because he's not exactly blowing by folks off the dribble, dislodging smaller defenders (like Teague) with his ass might actually be the path of least resistance to the paint.
- 1. I still love the Atlanta organist. 2. The Atlanta PA guy yells "TWOOOO MINUTES!" just like the guy in Miami, except nobody shouts "DOS MINUTOS!" afterward, which is a shame. That's the only thing I like about Miami.
- Bummer of a sequence: 4:40ish in the third quarter. The Knicks double Smith in the corner and force him to take a bad, airballed shot. Melo fights for the rebound but loses it out of bounds. The Hawks inbound into the backcourt and Chandler appears to knock the ball off Teague's leg, but Atlanta retains possession. The ball goes in to Zaza Pachulia. Melo swats his attempt inside, but Pachulia gets the ball back and finishes an and-one with a foul from Chandler. The lead goes from six to nine. Poop.
And those were my leftover notes. I'm ready to move on from this one and am hopeful that the Knicks do the same and find some way to win tonight against Cleveland. New York's pretty banged up, but so are the Cavaliers.