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So, yes, to echo what several of you commented and what Joe just angrily emailed to me, I cannot go to Knicks road games anymore. I'm in D.C. for the night and climbed to the top of the Verizon Center to watch some tiny Knicks get embarrassed by some tiny Wizards and...never again.
I don't have much to say about the game, I'm afraid. I blame being up in the nosebleeds, being with a friend I hadn't seen in several months, and being utterly unable to remember a game's events anymore without taking notes for the lack of detail to come. I saw the whole thing, though, and I'm positive it sucked. The Knicks, as you well know, had-- at least until that Pistons game-- made a habit of spending the first few minutes of every game yawning and stretching while the other team raced out to a big lead. Eventually, they'd collect themselves, stop switching mindlessly on defense, run some offensive sets, and run away with the game. I think we all found that strategy precarious and knew it would sink them eventually, and tonight was that night.
The Wizards deserve credit: They are a bad team, but they don't give up easy baskets. They sent a parade of capable wings to hassle Carmelo Anthony and wall off his paths to the rim and, as several teams have this season, swarmed the Knicks' pick-and-rolls in hopes that they'd miss their open outside looks. They did. They also missed a heap of point-blank finishes (Iman Shumpert's back to his steady one-missed-dunk-a-night production) and a few too many long twos.
The disparity in success rate on open outside looks is why, I suppose, I am merely grumpy and not ladling magma into my ears after paying to watch that game. The Knicks have their off nights from downtown-- live by the three, lose to the everfucking Wizards by the three, as they say-- and, aside from Melo and Raymond Felton, this was one of those off nights. J.R. Smith couldn't connect and Jason Kidd remained in his crevasse-deep rut of a shooting slump. Meanwhile, Martell Webster, who is a good shooter and should not be left open, got left open and did good shooting. Trevor Ariza, who is a poor shooter and can usually be left open, got left open and did unpoor shooting. Those two combined to hit 10 threes in 16 attempts and, ya know, that'll do it. There are nights like that. Chris Singleton hit several jumpers on purpose. Ariza had a goddamn four-point play.
Of course, Washington hitting an unusual portion of their jumpers would hardly have mattered if the Knicks didn't also offer them ample easy buckets. New York's good for a couple shit-streaks of switch 'n' double-happy halfcourt defense and poor transition D, but all that looked worse tonight, at least in person. The streaks were longer and shittier. The Knicks only bothered to hedge or trap or do anything other than dazedly accept a perilous switch* on a few possessions and their transition defense was hideously, egregiously awful on waaaay too many Washington fast breaks. Like, there were times at which I thought the Wizards were just playing through a whistle, because the Knicks appeared to have stopped participating in organized sports. And yo: Correct me if I'm wrong, since y'all had replays and announcers and whatnot, but I thought Amar'e Stoudemire played better interior defense than Tyson Chandler did. Chandler let Emeka Okafor get loose around the basket and routinely failed to deter guard penetration, while Amar'e also sucked but at least had a few blocks.
So, farts. You can only play so much half-assed basketball before someone catches you and pantses you completely. The Knicks had their late-game push in motion to end the third quarter, but then the Wizards bolted back ahead and blew it open for good to start the fourth. That was bound to happen eventually. Not the end of the world, but not really the kind of loss the Knicks can stomach with the landslide of a schedule that lies ahead. A few mostly trivial notes:
- I didn't realize how bad it was at the time, but Nene may have saved Carmelo Anthony's whole life. Melo was HIGH off the ground when a hard foul in the fourth quarter sent him horizontal and falling fast. The big ol' Brazilian got under him (intentionally, it seemed) to brace the impact, and for that we him a thousand thanks. Best Knicks draft pick ever?
- I like the Verizon Center and their various entertainments. At one point, they had people running around the arena tossing burritos into the crowd (one girl came all the way up to my section. I waved my arms and said "Please throw me a burrito, miss" and she shouted "Stand and get excited!" and I said "No, I am more diffident than I am hungry", and then I did not receive a burrito).
- I gazed with childlike wonder at an inflatable blimp advertisement (as in an inflatable blimp bearing an advertisement, not an advertisement for inflatable blimps. I wish it were both, because that would be super meta) during the halftime show, which was a bunch of kids from Jewish day schools playing five-on-five. It was Jewish Heritage Night, you see, which the girls sitting next to us celebrated by screeching "LOOK THEY'RE ALL WEARING HATS" at the young halftime competitors.
- In the fourth quarter, I liked that the Wizards mascot-- the guy in the blue gimp suit, not the giant fuzzy snoutbeast-- banged a drum to initiate the "DE-FENSE" chant instead of the arena relying on the PA system for that purpose.
- Amar'e Stoudemire really dominated in the paint for a while there. I was as dazzled with his moves and counter-moves in person as I have been on TV. He seemed to struggle more when neither Melo nor Chandler was on the floor and none of the other Knicks could hit jumpers to create space for him.
- Why did Amar'e and John Wall get double technicals? I saw a little kerfuffle, but no actual altercation.
- They had a promotion where, at certain points in the fourth quarter, if a Knick missed both his free throws, everyone in the building would get a free Chick-Fil-A sandwich. When J.R. Smith sank his second free throw after teasing everyone by bricking the first, I unthinkingly screamed "YEAH! FUCK YOUR CHICKENS!", which is both: 1. Inconsiderate and 2. Kinda disingenuous because, during that millisecond of tension, I found myself kinda rooting for the chicken sandwich. Again, I must never go to another Knicks game at an opposing arena.
- There were plenty of Knicks fans in the building. They/we got their/our cheers and "MVP" chants in early, but the Washington faithful really came alive down the stretch, and that made me happy. I like for home crowds to be home-friendly, at least for teams I don't hate.
That's all. It sucked. To have snuffed a five-game win streak with such suckery was especially unpleasant. It's like Still-illmatic said in the game thread: This is why we can't have nice things. We move on, though. Minnesota on Friday.
*Originally typed "perilous witch" here, and, honestly, if a perilous witch had showed up-- a feasible event, since I imagine the Wizards naturally have some witch groupies-- the Knicks would have accepted her and let her shoot like 4-6 from downtown.