So many things are so messy and so wrong with the Knicks, but for a night, it all felt so fresh and so clean and sooooo right. I don't know the Nuggets well enough to determine if they were sleepy or hungover or just terrible or what, but the defense they played in New York Friday night was like FARTDOG's cousin. Denver guarded shadows and lines on the floor instead of New York's picks-and-rolls, so the Knicks ran those plays incessantly and, well, scored incessantly. The Knicks played smartly, crisply, and very quickly, enjoying a hockey-like, turnover-heavy pace in both directions. I don't have much in the way of individual notes beyond just telling you everyone (but Iman Shumpert. Sorry, Iman.) played well. Everyone shortish created deftly out of the pick-and-roll. Everyone tallish followed through with confident buckets. Everyone in between (Carmelo Anthony) scored smoothly from everywhere. That simple. But here's a bit more detail on a few guys before I fall asleep:
- Raymond Felton created with ease all night. For a stretch there in the second quarter, he got his own shot going, too, against a Denver defense that treated him much like he treats opposing guards. Although to be fair, I thought Ray-- everyone really-- looked much livelier collapsing into the paint and getting hands on some reachable pick-and-roll passes. Denver's 23 turnovers weren't all accidental. But back to Felton: The man said at halftime he'd been in a funk because of some off-court problems, and, well, I hope all is well, and I hope he can keep playing well. In that order. We only know fragments of what goes on with these guys. They have lives. Lives affect jobs.
- I love when Melo gets to play just 33 minutes like that. I love when he drops 31 points on 21 shots, too, but that's beginning to feel normal. The nights of rest are special. (Side note: Most of his shots dropped, but it felt like a weird majority of his misses were WAY off. No?)
- Wally Szczerbiak subbed in for Clyde for the very first time and, to my ear, did an excellent job. He alternated cleanly with Mike Breen, made fair and thoughtful comments, and offered personal playing experience with some of the guys on the floor. He also called Timofey Mozgov a "large mammal", so I was gonna enjoy his performance no matter what.
- Breen, meanwhile, refused to confirm Jill Martin's suggestion that he doesn't have any tattoos, which I take as confirmation that he does, in fact, have a tattoo of Elroy Jetson punting a watermelon on his lower back.
- Toure' Murry played some actual minutes and just got cooked repeatedly. Did he not? Like over and over and over.
- Melo blowing by Anthony Randolph to finish and draw a foul on Mozgov was a nice little nod to 2011, I thought. Happy to see Wilson Chandler healthy and playing well, too. And I hope you're doing okay out there in the world, Eddy.
- Amar'e Stoudemire got moving after a somewhat shaky start-- a couple legitimate dunkenings, some jumperating, even a bit of defensifying. He and Tyler are a nice tandem, I think. They orbit around each other pretty well.
- Jeremy Tyler looked very composed again on some finesse stuff away from the rim, and also finishing one baseline cram on a gorgeous feed from J.R. (who's shown a heightened sense for when to attack weak-side seams). This was my favorite Tyler play of the night, though, via Ruka35:
Sp...oh hold up a sec let me grab this...in move. Boom.
- I hope Metta World Peace feels okay with his garbage time role right now. I suspect he doesn't, just based on Twitter and his demeanor on the court and stuff. Metta's hard for Woodson to work with at this point. It seems like he's healthy at the moment, but he's sooooo streaky on the floor that I can understand the tendency to just set him aside. It's tough.
- But yo, forget everything I said. Forget this entire recap. Friday night was all about one man, and that one man is Orlando the hero dog. I wrote about Orlando's story here, but in short: Orlando is a very handsome guide dog who helped save his owner's life when he fell in front of a train late last year. The Knicks honored Orlando with their monthly (I think?) Sweetwater Clifton award. They put a damn medal around his neck and HE WAGGED HIS TAIL:
I hope he understands at least a tiny bit what a good dog he is. The tail-wagging is enough for me to believe he does. Good dog, Orlando.
Good dog to you too, Knicks. If only for one night. Mike Woodson's situation is still grim, the Knicks are still quite bad and dumb, the schedule ahead is still frightening, and unfortunately, the points don't roll over like Clyde Abides' mom hoped. but Friday night was real fun. Good dog.