At least the Knicks played a basketball game today. It's pitiful, but it means something to me that they even competed against a team like the Thunder. Like SamUNCNYK said in the game thread, it could have been muuuuch worse. I think back to Christmas, when Oklahoma City stomped all over the Garden, hardly noticing the helpless Knicks trampled underfoot, and feel kind of okay with the way things went down this afternoon. Iman Shumpert and Raymond Felton buoyed them early by hitting shots they don't hit much anymore, which was important because the Thunder gamep-planned to blanket every single Carmelo Anthony touch. When those two faded away, no one else really emerged to thrive off Melo's gravity, and the Knicks themselves faded. Gradually, though. They suffered a slow, methodical death instead of a swift decapitation. And I'm kinda proud of that? Just a few notes:
- Shump really had something going for a second there, hitting three consecutive threes early in the game. After that, he reverted to near-invisibility, entering the frame only to get beat by Kevin Durant or, one occasion, to toss a gorgeous lob to Tyson Chandler out of a surprisingly crisp second-half-opening set.
- Holy shit, Raymond Felton almost had a triple-double! 16 7 and 7! And the fact that he managed to shoot 7-14 despite missing what appeared to be 113 layups speaks to how well he played otherwise! For real, I think Felton's looked better lately accelerating over picks or jinking away from them to either get to the rim (if not finish) or create a pocket in which to throw a lob. There is, of course, a very shallow baseline here, and I'm overlooking how badly Reggie Jackson torched him and all the dumb fouls and turnovers and those blown lay-ins BUT he has looked okay lately. On offense. Sometimes.
- Tyson Chandler appears to be healthy, so watching him stare down penetrators is pretty depressing. We had this conversation in the comments, and I'm sure I've said it before, but it feels like Tyson's rebelling against an environment that requires him to play superhuman defense. I think he is saving his energy and playing merely human defense because he's pissed off.
- ...which only makes Jeremy Tyler more fun. He remains wild, but I enjoy it. He lost Steven Adams with a lovely drop step and moved smartly without the ball to box out and grab some rebounds and finish a big ol' dunk. I don't even mind him taking some reckless jumpers. I just appreciate the kid's vigor.
- The Knicks can usually get production from at least one wing, but with Shump tailing off, J.R. Smith looking like Bad J.R. with some sloppy dribbles and forced attempts, and Tim Hardaway Jr. going cold from the field in 22 minutes...nope, no sir. Not today.
And, well...shit, that's all I've got. I've had this sitting open for like an hour now because I was reading and feeling excited about the news with this guy Michael Sam and, well, this just isn't as exciting. The Knicks lost. They competed, but they lost. It wasn't good, but it could've been worse. Onward.