The Knicks got dumb and let the 76ers storm way ahead of them to start things Monday night. But because the Knicks have the firepower, and because the Sixers are losing savants, the game tipped the other way quickly. By the fourth quarter, it had turned into a delirious three-point bath that, like, Jackaroe said, was pretty pleasant to watch. On a night when Carmelo Anthony couldn't hit everything, other Knicks took on the brunt of the scoring, and those guys got to reap the benefits of a long and silly garbage time period. Just a few notes:
- Melo started the game truly cold and the Knick defense let the Sixers turn every corner unobstructed to find open threes and layups. And on top of that, Philadelphia kept beating the Knicks to loose balls, generally making them look like the stupid, terrible team you may remember from like 50 of this season's games. Philadelphia took a 12-point lead at one point, and it would have been greater if not for the scoring of Amar'e Stoudemire and J.R. Smith. Helped in large part by Melo's creativity out of the pick-and-roll (some great passes interspersed with some forced ones that became turnovers), Amar'e completed a couple easy finishes at the rim while J.R. hit a mess of open threes and one soaring transition alley-oop to start the game. They would've been down 20 otherwise, but they probably would have come back from that, too.
- J.R. cooled off after that. Tim Hardaway Jr. stepped right up to take his place as gunner in chief, and with a level of accuracy we hadn't seen in quite a few games. In addition to a bunch of regular weak-side catch-and-shoots off pick-and-rolls and Raymond Felton penetration, Hardaway seemed to get his hands on every odd carom and finish every broken play with a dagger three-pointer. Or, you know, as much of a dagger as one can stick in a tanking roster of D-League types. Some of those threes were stupidly hasty when the Knicks needed to run clock, but they mostly dropped, so I can only salute the kid's immoderation. Tim also flashed a little driving magic, penetrating diagonally from the weak side and striding to the rim in transition to mix things up. 28 points on 13 shots, and that's with a little chucking at the end. Hardaway needed a night like that.
- Amar'e did not cool off after that first quarter. He got most of his buckets slipping to the rim or snaggling offensive rebounds away from Sixers. Those were nice. The extra few plays where he scored off a face-up evasion-- a couple ruthless sonnings of Henry Sims and Jarvis Varnado-- were even nicer. In his first and best year as a Knick, Amar'e's ability to attack from a standstill and generate separation and liftoff over a very short distance always amazed me, and we've been seeing more and more moments of that in recent games. Amar'e's been tremendous fun to watch. 30 minutes scares me.
- Thaddeus Young plays Melo well, but got shook shortsless on several occasions. Meanwhile, Melo's shooting form looked awry like it sometimes does and he couldn't hit a single open three. Strange game.
- Two quietly pleasant performances: 1. Raymond Felton acting more and more as an off-guard and hitting three of four wiiiiiide open threes trailing Melo in transition. 2. Felton and Iman Shumpert busting up a lot of drives and entry passes with active hands. They got beat plenty (and Pablo Prigioni got beat a lot, though he was the most productive passing guard by far), but they created some easy Knicks buckets with their defense.
- Melo shot really a lot in the third quarter. 5-12 in that period, I think. That period was one of runs, where the Knicks appeared to blow it open with a 10-1 run, then the Sixers rallied with an 8-0, then the Knicks came right back with a 9-0. This game was pretty annoying until the fourth quarter. Then that lineup with Amar'e and four guards came in and just super soaked and it was over.
- I thought Earl Clark actually showed a bit of his skill as a point forward and versatile defender in his early minutes. Shannon Brown played the final defensive possessions of quarters for some reason. I assume he will end up starting a game then playing two total minutes at some point this season, because he is James White now.
- Even in a blowout win, FARTDOG gives Michael Carter-Williams a triple-double and the collective Sixer guardship of MCW, Wroten, and Anderson 63 points on 42 shots. Splendid work, FARTDOG. You'd been kinda lagging lately.
- Mike Breen gave up chocolate for lent. Clyde coined the verb "disnerve" before the game to describe what he thought the Knicks ought to do to the Sixers.
So, this one wasn't quite as smooth as the previous couple, but it doesn't matter in the Knicks' still-dubious quest to reach the playoffs. A win streak is a line without contours, and all the standings know is New York has won four straight. Gotta keep it up.