If the Knicks have the right lineup on the floor and their opponent goes completely limp, they can gain some momentum. Especially against these ghastly Eastern Conference opponents, the random rattling of an NBA game give the Knicks at least one stretch in which they trip upward. Easy buckets embolden them to actually play competent, cohesive basketball, as if savvy offense and stout defense were there the whole time, but just needed a shake. And then they get overconfident or distracted or tired or something and stop. It's that easy. As simply as a bit of good fortune can kick-start excellence, a single breakdown or even a sub or a timeout or something can knock the Knicks off their wave for good.
It happened twice against Toronto. Twice, the Raptors went on an all-out boner parade and the Knicks thrived off their misfortune, then started to actually try, then just kinda stopped trying because uggggh it's so haaard. Back came the shaky shot selection, plodding pick-and-roll defense, and careless mismatching, then down went the Knicks. FARTDOG's tender ways surpassed their own realm, giving so much love to DeMar DeRozan and Terrence Ross, yet still having enough left over to provide Jonas Valanciunas with tiny defenders under the rim. FARTDOG IS FOR THE CHILDREN.
That's all. The Knicks suck. They get moments where they look like (and possibly even think) they don't suck, but we know better. Like Endless Paradise in the thread, I don't think anyone was surprised how that unfolded. When you suck that much, 48 minutes is enough time for the suck to catch you. Some largely unimportant notes:
- Both Tyson Chandler and Iman Shumpert got in very early foul trouble. Shumpert's poor choices in transition contributed in both cases, as Chandler got his second foul in just over a minute when Shump set him up in stride waaaay too far from the rim, teeing up a charge. Then Shump himself picked a straight line on the fast break and drew the same call. Chandler ended up playing 32 minutes-- underwhelming minutes as a floundering accomplice to FARTDOG, but 32 of them-- while Shumpert was pretty much done for the night. When Shump did return, he looked spooked, took the wrong shots, and got a quick hook. It didn't help Shump's case that Tim Hardaway Jr. was so bouncy and deliberate and VIRILE as his replacement.
- We've talked about Hardaway's manic outbursts before, but now that the Knicks are hopeless street trash and nothing matters, I find myself kind of enjoying those moments. Tim heats up fast. He gets a bucket or two and the flip switches instantly to I AM A GOD I'M AM UNSTOPPABLE I CAN DO ANYTHING I CAN THROW 80-FOOT BEHIND-THE-BACK PASSES AND FINISH FULL-SPEED UP-AND-UNDER LAY-INS OVER THREE PEOPLE AND CLIMB UP BUILDINGS AND EAT FIRE I'M GONNA LIVE FOREEEVEEEEEEERRRRRRR and it's just charming at this point. I can't get mad at that.
- Andrea Bargnani had his quarter of excellence during that stretch Chandler sat. You know how he can suddenly look like Anthony Davis for a few minutes? He did that. Pop-out jumpers, towering blocks, rebounds, and so forth. He reminds me of Tim Thomas in his ability to look like a superstar for ten minutes, then just stop. Bargnani, overall, reminds me a lot of Tim Thomas. I just realized this.
- I cannot overstate how rancid that first quarter was. I think if you charted every pass, you'd come up with a completion percentage of like 60%, or more like 40% if you deducted for deflections. Shump, Beno Udrih, and Kenyon Martin did a nice job jumping passing lanes, though oftentimes the Raptors just didn't use passing lanes to pass, and the Knicks gave the ball right back half the time anyway.
- Beno put up numbers, by the way. 15 points on 11 shots, 10 assists, and four steals. His pick-and-roll game with Chandler and Martin is still a little tentative, but as a drive-and-kicker, Beno gets the job done. And those gross pull-up jumpers are much more tolerable when they drop.
- Most of the above applies to J.R. Smith, who led the team in minutes with 43 despite feeling sick (and, ya know, knees)-- nice creation off the dribble and somewhat spotty but ultimately productive shot selection. He's been quietly okay, or at least mediocre instead of outright terrible, over the last few games.
- Beno missed a shot off what appeared to be the inside of the top of the backboard. I know that doesn't sound possible, but Beno is a pioneer, exploring the barren frontier of the backboard. When he finds something in there-- perhaps a section of the glass we never knew about that's worth NINE POINTS if you hit it-- we're all gonna look stupid for making fun of him. (Beno didn't instinctively reach for his shoulder as if to roll up a sleeve after that brick. I checked.)
- Fun stretch in the third quarter when someone riled Tyler Hansbrough and that giant, slimy neck just started attacking folks. Of course, the Knicks missed all four free throws he gave them, then fouled him right back. That became kind of a turning point actually. Tyler Hansbrough's violent outbursts are more calculating than you think!
- Clyde on perennial Knick-killer John Salmons heating up from outside: "He's been swimming upstream all evening!" I don't think we've ever heard that one before, which is surprising. Worth the wait.
- Mentioned this, but after a lot of open threes, the Raptors really ended the game at the rim. It was all tip-ins and easy dunks and stuff. Find a clip or photo of any of those baskets by Valanciunas or Amir Johnson (don't do that) and you'll see the shortest Knick on the floor by their sides. FARTDOG IS EVERYWHERE AND EVERYTHING FOR EVERYONE.
- My covetousness for players the opposition isn't even spinning is now a nightly thing. Hey Raptors, give us Steve Novak back. Gives us Chuck Hayes. Dwight Buycks would be the Knicks' best point guard right now. Quit hoggin'.
The Knicks play the Raptors again tonight, again without Melo. A bunch of us will be at Idle Hands to watch it happen. Email me if you'd like to join in (or just show up. It's fine.). The Knicks have never lost during a P&T meet-up!