The Knicks just won. Simply, without much incident, they won. They did so for the second time in three Texas games, and very nearly the third time (they won some fraction of that Houston game, right? It adds up to like 2.JR wins). Still down two point guards, and without Tyson Chandler after just a few minutes, the Knicks managed to score around the rim, hit their jumpers, and control the glass while Dallas chipped in with a mess o' missed open threes. New York built a big double-digit lead and blew only some of it with foolish play, eventually pulling away by the grace of Iman Shumpert. It wasn't as thoroughly dominant as it could have been, but shit, it was a real, respectable, short-handed victory on the road against a decent opponent. It even had a bit of garbage time. The Knicks of late 2013 would scoff at such a normal win. Then fall down a staircase while pooping their pants.
- Just to get it out of the way: FARTDOG can only help you insofar as you're willing to help yourself, Mavericks. The Knicks offered up poor defensive lineups, the poor defensive lineups gave you open threes, and you missed nearly all of them, you ungrateful bums. FARTDOG does not typically do this, but FARTDOG is considering firing you as a client.
- Carmelo Anthony played one of his finest quarters of the season to open the game. Single-covered throughout the first quarter, he was cookin' soup off the catch and as a serial duper of Mav defenders. He ran a lot of high pick-and-roll, too, tossing lovely passes to Kenyon Martin and Andrea Bargnani slipping and sliding to the rim. Rebounds, too. He was on pace for a triple-double with 60 points, but didn't get there :(. The Mavs sent more help as the game progressed, and Melo took to barreling through traffic in search of a call for much of the second half. Not a good look, but the kick-out to the Iman Shumpert three-- THAT was a very good look.
- Shump didn't really show up offensively until that last stretch, but his contributions there were special. He blew diagonally by Dirk Nowitzki for a hanging up-and-under scoop, then drilled that lightly contested three to put the Knicks up 9, and for good. His defense on Monta Ellis-- as is often the case-- was subject to the whims of his helpers, but attentive throughout.
- Kenyon Martin, called into extended action after Chandler's larynx fell out, registered one of his best hunched-over, tiptoeing offensive performances of the year. (I was watching on a grainer-than-usual TV, and that became the easiest way to tell Martin from Melo. Martin stands in different places and moves around as if he's sneaking.) He caught and finished, and he threw a few perfect entry passes over the top of the defense.
- It didn't have the same glaring timeliness of Shump's buckets, but Tim Hardaway Jr. had consecutive huge buckets early in the fourth quarter. The first was an impossibly strong and balanced and-one finish in transition (off a huge Amar'e Stoudemire block of his brethren, Gal Mekel), the second a tidy catch-and-shoot three on the next possession, and right after I'd told a friend "he's gonna get hyped and brick a three on the next play." Good shit. If Tim's minutes will remain this scant, then I have no problem with him playing microwave.
- J.R. Smith joined Melo in the no-more-sets, catch-as-catch-can iso movement in the second half and offered a few more instances of dribbling out most of a shot clock, then abandoning the ball with a teammate at the last second. I won't complain, though, about 8 attempts in 31 minutes, several lovely extra passes, some weirdly dogged boxing-out, one untied shoe, and one smartly executed two-for-one because J.R. CAN read clocks no matter what we say.
- Amar'e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani played about even minutes, rebounded as much as they'll ever rebound, hit a fine enough portion of their shots as rollers and slippers, and didn't totally ruin the Knicks defensively, even in tandem, and I'm fine with that. It'd be nice if they spent less time in tandem, even with Chandler out, but things worked out overall, eh?
- Hi, Beno. I dunno, nice passes. Your good shots and bad shots are tough for me to distinguish. 2-6 Sunday night didn't look all that different from, say, 4-9 Thursday night.
- I think the Knicks could do with a little more Toure' Murry, but I'm curious how much is too much. A lot of his value is in the fact that he is so goddamn persistent and annoying on defense, and I wonder if that might abate if spread over more minutes.
- On that note, Jeremy Tyler and Cole Aldrich only played throwaway minutes (seconds, really). The Knicks' next goal needs to be more, longer garbage time so I can watch the FRONTCOURT OF THE FUTURE operate for real.
- Players in last night's game whose names lend themselves to my habit of singing four-syllable phrases in my head to the tune of "Black and Yellow": Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis (plus the usuals: Tyson Chandler, Beno Udrih, Toure' Murry, Kenyon Martin).
The Knicks were not great on their road trip, but there was a wiiiiiiiide gap between the way they looked heading into the road trip and great. They were good. Good enough, like Knuxter said. Good enough is a huge step forward. I like good enough.