I was at the Knicks-Celtics game last week and I have to say, it was one of the most boring games I've ever been to. By the time I got to my seat, the game was 5 minutes old and the Knicks were already up by double digits. It could not be plainer that the Celtics were not trying at all. The most noteworthy part of the game came during a timeout, when Russell Wilson and a few of the other Seahawks and Broncos players in attendance were shown on the big screen. The Garden crowd feeds off energy, and that night it was in danger of dying from starvation. If all Knicks games were that boring...well, we would probably be championship contenders. Oh well.
Player of the Week - Tim Hardaway Jr.
What more can be said about this kid? You already know that he's better than his father and Kobe Bryant. His three point shot is deadly, but he's even better when he takes it inside the arc. Right now he's averaging 9.2 PPG and shooting .521 from 2 point range. The only other rookie guard to ever average exactly 9.2 PPG and shoot over 50% from two is the late Hall of Famer Dennis Johnson.
This week was Hardaway's best week yet as a pro, at least until his rough shooting night in Milwaukee. THJR scored at least 16 points in every other game, highlighted by his 29 point performance against the Cavs. In doing so, he became only the third Knicks rookie since Patrick Ewing to score 16+ in four consecutive games, joining Mark Jackson and Channing Frye.
Opposing Player of the Week - Lebron James
David Stern certainly had his fair share of ugly moments in his 30 years as commissioner of the NBA, lowlighted by Sonicsgate and Tim Donaghy. However, he was undeniably the most influential commissioner the league has ever seen. The NBA's popularity skyrocketed under Stern's watch, in large part due to his marketing brilliance. In 1984, the league's fans were almost entirely American. Thirty years later, basketball is the second most popular sport in the world, with fans across Europe, South America, and even one crazy little superfan in North Korea.
Stern's marketing savvy was on display one final time on Saturday night, when he scheduled Lebron and the Heat to come into the celebrity-filled Garden the night before the Super Bowl. I'll never truly like Lebron as long as he's in Miami, but it's been enough time since the Decision that I can appreciate just how talented he is. In front of what was certainly the most electric Garden crowd of the season, he put on a breathtaking show, scoring 30 points, to go along with 6 steals. In the past thirty years, that's only been done by an opposing player four other times in MSG. Lebron himself did it back in 2007, MJ and Hakeem both did it in 1986 and it was also accomplished in 2008 by...John Salmons? Okaaaaay...
Bluecheese's Rambling Stat of the Week - (WARNING! May not end in a coherent thought)
Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 29 points against the Cavaliers on Thursday night. It was the most points by a player named Hardaway since Anfernee Hardaway scored 31 for the Suns in a 111-102 loss to the Clippers on November 10, 2001. That game was the Clippers first 111-102 win since February 3, 1998. In that victory, Pooh Richardson was 2-2 from the field in 8 minutes. It was the first time Richardson shot 100% while playing exactly 8 minutes since April 16, 1993, while playing for the Pacers, in a 100-94 win over the Knicks. Richardson's backup that night, Vern Fleming played 30 minutes and went 0-7 from the field. He was the first reserve to go 0-7 or worse in 30+ minutes of playing time since Sidney Lowe on March 20, 1990. Despite the poor shooting performance, Lowe still had a great game, racking up 17 assists. It would take another 15 years for a player to come off the bench and have 17 assists, with Brevin Knight matching the feat on March 12, 2005. Despite Knight's performance, the Bobcats fell to the Lakers 117-116. The next game the Lakers scored 117 points came a mere 17 days later, when they beat the Knicks 117-107. Jamal Crawford had 9 assists in that game. The next time Crawford had exactly 9 assists in a loss was just over a year later, on April 13, 2006. The leading scorer for the Knicks that night was Nate Robinson, with 32. Nate's performance was the last time a Knicks 1st round rookie had ever scored at least 29 in a game...until Hardaway did it on Thursday night.
Last Week in Jared Jeffries History
On January 30, 2010, the Knicks fell to Jeffries' former team, the Wizards, 106-96 despite 17 points from Jared. Despite the fact that Jeffries only scored 17+ in a game thrice in his career, this rare scoring outburst was only the second most impressive thing he did that night. Jeffries played all 48 minutes in that game, the only time in his career he accomplished that feat. To this day, he remains the last Knick to be on the court for the entire duration of a ballgame.
Last Week in Jared Jeffries Shot Tracker History
The Last Time it Happened...
The Knicks blowout of the Cavs on Thursday night, immediately following their blowout of the Celtics two nights earlier, was the fifth time this season they've won a game by at least 25 points. This is only the 4th Knicks team with at least five 25+ point wins in their first 46 games. The other three: '52-'53, '69-'70, and '72-'73. All three of those teams made it to the NBA Finals!
The Knicks Did It First
There were a few non-Knicks stats that would have been fairly impressive last week, had the Knicks not accomplished them first:
1. On Monday, the Spurs outscored the Pelicans 38-19 in the 4th quarter. The last team before the Spurs to outscore a franchise in the midst of its first year with a new name 38-19 in the 4th quarter: the Knicks, when they did it against the expansion Toronto Raptors in a 125-79 win on April 15, 1996.
2. On Super Bowl Sunday, Nikola Vucevic grabbed 11 rebounds in a 96-89 loss to the Celtics in the only NBA game played that day. The last player before Vucevic with 11+ rebounds against the Celtics: Tyson Chandler, who had 13 on Tuesday.
3. On Saturday, Kevin Love scored 43 points and pulled down 19 rebounds. It was the second time he reached those numbers in a game this season, the other coming in late December. The last player before Love with two games of 43+ points and 19+ rebounds in one season: Patrick Ewing, who did it twice in '89-'90.
4. On Friday, the Nuggets lost to the Raptors 100-90. Meanwhile, the Bobcats beat the Lakers 110-100. The last team before the Nuggets to lose by 10 to a team that scored exactly 100 points on the same night that another team won by 10 over a team that scored 100 points: the Knicks on December 31, 1950. That night, the Knicks lost to the Celtics 100-90 while the Tri-Cities Blackhawks beat the Fort Wayne Pistons 110-100.
5. On Thursday, David Lee shot 10-15 from the field in a win over the Clippers. The last time Lee shot such a high FG% against the Clippers: December 18, 2009, when he shot 12-18 as a member of the Knicks.
6. On Wednesday, the Hawks-Pistons game was postponed because of a snowstorm. The last NBA game postponed due to inclement weather: the Knicks season opener last year, due to Hurricane Sandy.
Movie of the Week - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
It doesn't take a genius to figure this one out.
The good: Tuesday and Thursday's blowout wins
The bad: Saturday's loss to Miami
The ugly: Raymond Felton and the loss to Milwaukee.
Actually, is it just me or would that make for a pretty good movie title? Coming soon to theaters, the story of a lost penguin: Raymond Felton and the loss to Milwaukee. I think I should stop now, I've gone too far.