We've gotten used to the Knicks scrambling ahead after poor starts, but that hasn't been the case against the Pistons this season. Just like they did in London, the Knicks got a running start into tip-off, promptly dumping a double-digit deficit on Detroit. New York's lead would swell above 20 behind some preposterous three-point shooting out of sharp ball movement and liveliness on the defensive end.
Even with a big lead, New York's careless play to end the half was enough to send Mike Woodson into halftime fuming and making scary faces. I figured there'd be enough fur flying in the locker room to ensure a consistent energy level in the second half, but no such luck. Like Tomahawk Stomp mentioned in the thread, the Knicks spent most of the latter quarters neglecting the tools they'd used to build their lead. The Pistons might have come back-- or at least cut it to single-digits-- had they continued to miss open threes. They're the Pistons, though, and once New York collected themselves enough to run some sets for open three-point makes, the game got back out of hand for good. It would have been nice to keep enough distance to get Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler ample second-half rest, but I guess I can be happy with Melo's 10-17 shooting for 27 points-- his first really efficient scoring performance in a few games-- and Chandler's third consecutive 20-rebound outing. I guessssss.
So, it was another blowout win-- New York's fourth straight double-digit victory-- but this time the Knicks did their work early and coasted into the final buzzer. It was enough. LAS NOTAS:
- Without Tayshaun Prince, the Pistons don't really employ a person who can even pretend to guard Carmelo Anthony. Kyle Singler tried his best and got took a few times (blocked Melo from behind the first time, though), then the Pistons started sending help once Melo made his move. Per usual, Melo's three assists fail to describe the amount of creation he did out of collapsing defense. He kicked out of the post, he kicked off the dribble, and-- these are my favorites-- he threw a couple direct lasers across the court to feed shooters whose men were cheating*. My favorite such play came in the first quarter when Melo isolated at the right elbow and noticed that, even with no Knick in motion, Iman Shumpert's defender had begun to creep inward, then zipped the ball to Shump for the quick open three. He scored, too, of course. Plenty of face-up work over Singler, but also a bunch of three-point looks off the catch and a few pick-and-roll ball-handlings in the second half.
- *Out of context, this could mean Melo provided food for gunmen with adulterous husbands. Just something to think about.
- Melo also played a couple unorthodox but effective defensive possessions against Jason Maxiell, who noticed his size advantage and attacked with maximum iell. On several confrontations, Melo played tight, then sort of hopped out of the way and took a swing as soon as Maxiell made his move. He managed to alter a couple shots while demonstratively avoiding a foul. Straight-up swatted one of his hooks, too.
- Tyson Chandler got his 20 rebounds. He owned up to gunning for that stat at halftime, but it was clear that was the case from the outset. That's something he could do pretty much any night against a bad team, but...ya know, not complaining. Definitely helpful, though I thought it obscured an otherwise sub-par game. Chandler mishandled several easy feeds in the early going, gave Andre Drummond a couple easy looks down low, and shied away from a few help D opportunities before asserting himself more as the game progressed. This is all nitpicking, of course. Chandler set screens aplenty, finished with the violence after those early fumbles, and played plenty of great defense.
- Jason Kidd drained his first three off a Melo hockey assist, then missed the following six. He did justify his presence with some of the usual help defense and extra passin'.
- Raymond Felton very quietly played a terrific game. He probed relentlessly for seams off the dribble and over Chandler's picks, then kicked and lobbed and kicked and lobbed and only pulled up only occasionally (2-5). Attapenguin. (The defense on Jose Calderon and Rodney Stuckey could have been better. Whatever.)
- The Pistons flustered Amar'e Stoudemire with fast-encroaching help on a couple occasions. He still played great, though, posting another efficient-ass offensive performance with 20 points on 14 shots in just 28 minutes. His best stretch came during the second quarter, when he established prime post position against Drummond and Charlie Villanueva for a couple point-blank finishes off the turn and one gorgeous fall-away jumper. Lots of excellent activity on the offensive glass, too. This was his highlight of the evening (note the passer, haterz!)
- Iman Shumpert seems to have settled into his nightly allotment of 15 to 20 minutes, a couple weak-side threes, a couple diagonal drives, a couple pick-and-roll feeds, some good defense, some bad defense, and some shouting-ats via Mike Woodson.
- J.R. Smith-- who may actually have been convinced the paint is hot lava-- has now attempted 40 threes in his last three games. As long as those come off the catch (most of them did), I don't really have a problem with it. Could probably drive more, but an open three is an open three. Better threes than long twos, and that goes for everyone (and they lived by that rule in this one). I liked that little flurry of tip-outs in the second quarter, too. J.R. also air-balled a free throw in this one. He also attempted to hijack the kids game at halftime. He did too much for this recap. He's gonna get his own post, probably in the morning.
- Steve Novak hit two threes, one of which was semi-important follow-up to a J.R. three that made damn sure the game was over down the stretch. Both those late shots came out of Felton/Amar'e pick-and-rolls.
- Pablo Prigioni reverted to some of that over-passing, which worked sometimes (a shot fake so convincing I was mistakenly following the ball to the rim when J.R.caught the extra pass and lined up a three) and not other times (an entry pass to the back of Chandler's ear). You can shoot, Pablo! You don't have to hold the ball for four seconds, make triply sure nobody's going to contest you, check down every single receiver, THEN shoot. You can just pull! We just talked about this! (Pablo, of course, did hit the one three he attempted, but he really had to be baited into taking it.)
- Ugh, a whole 1:31 for Ronnie Brewer. Garbage time is seriously ruining our opportunities to watch Brewer play for less than one minute a night.
- This was another in which the Knicks committed more turnovers than usual (15), but won the rebounding battle. They also got out-fast-breaked (fast-broke?) and out-points-in-the-paintsed by comical margins of 22-3 and 62-32. The Pistons dominated the paint and still lost by double digits because the Knicks hit so many goddamn threes.
- I think we've heard this before, but it was genuinely touching to hear Mike Breen tell Clyde how crushed he was when Clyde got traded to the Cavs. It's weird, but I often forget how much older Clyde is than Breen.
- Zany mishaps: 1. Breen accidentally called Drummond a "270 year-old 19 year-old" before correcting himself. 2. An inadvertent buzzer brought a premature end to the third quarter, meaning J.R. Smith got a second attempt at a halfcourt buzzer-beater (he didn't even get the second one off, but the first one was close. What if it had gone in?). 3. I just dropped a Tostito down my shirt.
That is all. Good game, good home stand. Good job, Knicks. Mini road trip comin' up now: Washington on Wednesday, Minnesota on Friday. Could stretch this win streak to seven if they keep this momentum alive.