Ugh ... preseason games, am I right? The Knicks played sloppy basketball at both ends, but probably would have come away with a victory under normal circumstances. But these are not normal circumstances ... so take a bow, Quincy Acy. Acy's clutch play down the stretch inspired the other Toronto scrubs, and the Raptors pulled out the win, 100-91. Riveting stuff.
The Knicks had their hands in the cookie jar all night, nabbing 12 steals and forcing Toronto into 23 turnovers. Unfortunately, when you get caught with your hand in the cookie jar, you're gonna get spanked. The Knicks' backcourt had a dreadful game defensively, particularly on the ball. DeMar DeRozan shredded the Knicks six ways from Sunday, with 20 points. Even Landry Fields (LANDRY FRIGGIN' FIELDS) took Knick defenders off the dribble repeatedly. And the Knicks compounded their trouble with a boatload of lazy fouls, leading to 39 free throw attempts for Toronto. Rudy Gay in particular racked up 12 trips to the free throw line. I know this is the preseason, but allowing dribble penetration and fouling too often were two of the Knicks' major defensive bugaboos last year. Nights like these, even in the preseason, make me just a wee bit scared.
Let's get to the notes, shall we?
- Hey, Toronto, are you saying "BOOOO", or "BOOOO-ARGNANI"? As expected, the Raptors fans booed Andrea Bargnani every time he touched the ball. He still hasn't found his stroke from downtown -- his shots were consistently flat and short, so hopefully post-pneumonia fatigue is to blame -- but he still racked up 10 points on 4-of-9 from the field. He looks confident putting the ball on the floor and draining that 10-footer over smaller defenders. He didn't do anything particularly egregious on defense, either, especially considering the fact that the Knick guards were allowing Raptor ball-handlers free reign in the paint.
- Carmelo Anthony looked like Carmelo Anthony -- what more is there to say, really? I suppose you could complain that he was looking for his shot too often, particularly in that first half, but he was just in the zone. For what it's worth, he did defer more to open the third quarter, and the offense totally stalled out. Hopefully they'll find the proper balance as the preseason rolls on. But it sure won't happen tomorrow:
Woodson: Anthony, World Peace and Felton will likely sit out tomorrow.— Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) October 12, 2013
- I'm sad we won't be seeing the Metta/Shump/Hardaway trio play tomorrow. That group owned the third quarter -- taking the ball from the Raptors seemingly at will and turning those turnovers into fast-break points. Metta lost focus when playing with the scrubs, but he seems to genuinely enjoy playing with Shump. Here's hoping we see that lineup again, real soon.
- Iman Shumpert didn't have the stroke from long range tonight -- 0-for-3 from downtown -- so he decided to fill up every other space on the stat sheet. Let's see: 10 points, nine rebounds (four offensive), two assists, three steals. If those are the kinds of numbers he's going to put up on an "off night", then it's going to be a good season.
- Tim Hardaway Jr. continues to thwart my attempts to hate him. Once again, he had that good three-point shooting stroke early on (i.e. when he was playing with real NBA players), only to lose it late in the game when he had to assume too much responsibility. And he had two nice dunks; one in particular, off a fast-break feed from Shumpert, sent Knicks fans into ecstasy. Unfortunately, this also happened:
Can't defend dribble penetration, Timmy? You'll fit right in!
- Beno Udrih continues to struggle. He racked up four fouls in just five first-half minutes. He did play well with the Shump/Metta/Hardaway group in the third quarter, but lost it again when Shump left the game. He managed to foul out, which is something I doubt we'll see for the rest of the year.
- Speaking of fouling out, check out the lines on these two backup bigs:
Cole Aldrich: 5:26 MP, 3 RB (1 ORB), 1 BLK, 1 PF, 0 TO
Josh Powell: 12:46 MP, 2 RB (0 ORB), 2 BLK, 6 PF, 4 TO
One of these guys looks like a reserve NBA center; the other guy looks like Josh Powell.
And that's pretty much it. We saw some interesting trends and some disturbing trends. The Knicks will play without some of their heavy-hitters tomorrow, so who knows what kind of basketball chicanery we might witness. It's still the preseason, people ... let's keep things in perspective.