That game thread comment from terzergoss encapsulates things pretty nicely. The Knicks played okay and did what they had to, beating the sorry, depleted Nets and holding fast to the seventh seed. It could've been a lot easier, though, as the Knicks had to rescue themselves from some prolonged lapses in the middle two quarters.
After Carmelo Anthony built the Knicks a double-digit lead with an absurd 21-point first quarter, the Knicks got a bit lax and sloppy ("Lax and Sloppy" is P&T's version of "Franklin and Bash" premiering this summer. Or is it more like "Ren and Stimpy"?). First, it was Mike Woodson doing a bit of presumin' and letting a lineup that included Toney Douglas and Bill Walker-- both unearthed from the bench-- log some time. The Knicks managed to survive those rotational hijinks, but then realllly sputtered in the third quarter, scoring just 14 points. New Jersey would go on to cut the deficit to as few as five points, but the Knicks strung together enough makes and stops to survive. It was the Knicks' final game in the state of New Jersey ever (or at least until I found the Teaneck Sewercats), and they won it in front of a crowd that may have included a greater proportion of New York fans than the Madison Square Garden crowd did on Tuesday night.
Take the jump for just a few notes.
- Man, was Carmelo Anthony cookin' soup in that first quarter. He was drilling mid-range jumpers off the back-down, threes off the catch, and tough finishes off the dribble. His heat checks stopped in mid-air and attempted heat checks of their own, and both of 'em went in. All told, he had 21 points on 8-10 shooting and four three-pointers in that period. It was pretty fun. He quietly shot 3-11 in the latter three quarters, but whatevz.
- Tyson Chandler did Tyson Chandler things. He crammed a bunch of dunks, missed a couple other dunks, ran a few more of those hiiiigh pick-and-rolls to draw contact, made one gorgeous pass to a curling Iman Shumpert (like curling across the paint, not curling a barbell, though that would've been cool), snaggled six offensive rebounds, yelled a lot, and had a beard.
- One habit of Chandler's that I don't like: Setting a good pick to draw a miswitch, then chilling right under the backboard behind his miniature defender. I know Tyson's not totally comfortable backing guys down, but why draw Sundiata Gaines in the paint and not go after him?
- Mike Bibby, starting in place of the ill Baron Davis, played a decent enough game. He kinda got torched by Sundiata Gaines a few times, but did okay on the other end. He shot just 3-10 from the field, but made simple, precise passes and racked up eight assists to just one turnover.
- Landry Fields produced one gorgeous diagonal drive that culminated in a hand-switching finish at the rim annnnd that was about it. He made a few nice defensive plays, I guess.
- Iman Shumpert played a pretty nice game. He kept turning his ankles and limping, but wouldn't leave the game. He had a quiet but efficient outing, hitting all four of his shots inside the arc and pretty much shutting down MarShon Brooks. I hope all his feets are okay.
- The fact that Brooks's first name is properly stylized as "MarShon" makes me want to do that to the rest of the Nets. They fit it quite nicely. GeRald Wallace and Green. JorDan and DeRon Williams (and JorDan Farmar). SunDiata Gaines. JoHan Petro. ArMon Johnson. ShelDen Williams.
- And then there's Bro OK Lopez. He's different.
- J.R. Smith's attempts weren't any better or worse than the ones he was pulling against the Celtics, but they just wouldn't fall this time. That's J.R. Thankfully, Earl showed up in the fourth quarter and drilled four big jumpers (including two consecutive, identical pull-up leaners that book-ended a startlingly similar shot from Gerald Green).
- Armon Johnson's got a nice little lefty floater.
- Steve Novak bricked his first couple attempts, but hit a couple big threes in the fourth and ended up 3-8 from downtown. There was a moment where Toney was leading the break and Novak was trailing and I thought Novak might actually cut to the basket, but Toney got tied up and Novak looked like he was headed for the wing anyway. I want to see this guy attempt a lay-up so badly. We have no proof that he wouldn't try to shoot a form jump shot from right under the rim.
- Toney didn't really do much.
- Nor did Bill Walker, who looked to have put on a little weight in his time off (which happens when you get surgery and chill for a while). He did have one cool and-one drive during garbage time.
- Jerome Jordan is a Knick! The BayHawks lost their first round series to Austin, and Jerome apparently got recalled immediately afterward. I didn't see this reported anywhere, so it was a pleasant surprise to see him lope off the bench for the final few minutes. He dunked, too! Hooray Jerome!
- I don't really remember Josh Harrellson doing anything besides dropping a pass, getting blocked, then recovering and laying the ball in. I'm happy to report that the Jortstache is alive and well, as is Josh's handsome black eye.
- Melo had a BIG block (possibly a foul) on Gaines in transition during the second quarter. It nipped a 7-0 run, led to a Bibby three, and I feel like it was super important.
- The Knicks had two turnovers early in the third quarter, and Mike Breen was going on about "that look on Mike Woodson's face" and how "he's got some pretty good facial expressions". When the camera turned to Woodson, we saw that he was standing DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF the announcers while Breen was chattering about his face. Can the broadcast booth be heard from the sideline? If so, I imagine Woodson would have turned around and given Breen his patented "I can't believe you just did that. I and my beard regard you with the utmost disdain" face. That's really his only face.
- It was pretty nice that the Nets missed a ton of open threes in the second half. Anthony Morrow was 2-8 from downtown on the night, which was quite fortunate.
- With 7:29 remaining in the fourth quarter, Breen and Clyde were chattering about something, and some low voice suddenly said "that's nice" on the air. I suppose it could have been Clyde, but it really didn't sound like him. I really want to get to the bottom of this.
- I don't know if he was famous or something, but there was this guy on the sideline texting on his phone and wearing a shirt that said "Talk". He got hit in the face with the ball while he was texting.
And that's all! The Knicks maintained their one-game lead on the Sixers and, with an Orlando loss, drew within three games of the Magic. The Celtics won the division, though, so that's out of the question. Yeah. Good night, friends.