I just wanna talk about Cole Aldrich, if that's okay. The Knicks played a very good Knicks game against the Celtics: quite strong, then kinda weak, but never weak enough that their huge lead shrunk to a point of worry. In the first half, the ball moved as well as it ever has. Like, ever. In any season. Carmelo Anthony spat upon a laughable match-up with Kris Humphries until the Celtics felt compelled to rush him en masse, and that opened things up for the rest of the Knicks. Everyone got a taste. Tim Hardaway Jr. stayed post-rookie-wall hot from outside (6-7 overall in the first half, 7-11 and 3-5 from downtown in the second). J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert, and Raymond Felton took turns as drive-and-kickers, eschewing many of their own three-point looks to penetrate and create better ones.
And then there was Cole. With the entire regular big man rotation absent, Cole started at center for the first time in his career and the results were sublime. Aldrich spent his 25 minutes clopping from end to end in his orange shoes, peacefully gathering rebounds while the Celtics routinely neglected to box out. On offense, Cole set one meaty, useful screen after another, both on and off the ball. When the ball came his way, he showed off a pleasing variety of moves, including a loping righty and-one finish in a basic pick-and-roll with Pablo Prigioni, a towering lefty hook that found a home in the net, and a strong dunk that rimmed in through contact. I like three shooting fouls drawn in 25 minutes, too, especially since Aldrich utters The Cole Call every time someone touches him inappropriately. That melodious "RAAAAH!" draws whistles. It also summons droves of opossums, which is a side effect arena personnel around the country will just have to deal with if Cole's gonna get minutes now. I love Cole, I loved this performance Wednesday, and I love that he got the game ball. He deserved it. That pun in the headline from foiegrastyle is dead-on. Melo led the scoring and hot shooting off great ball movement inflated the lead, but this game ran on Cole Power.
Just a couple other notes:
- Never forget that one of the Knicks' finest offensive halves started with J.R. Smith air-balling a step-back baseline 18-footer on the game's very first possession.
- Jeremy Tyler had as much of an opportunity to shine as Aldrich did, but blew it. His rebounding numbers were terrific (7, including three offensive in 15 minutes), but he didn't move as well on offense as Aldrich did, and his defense was horrid. Tyler's man-to-man stuff was all fouls, and his failure to rotate permitted some of the Jeff Green drives that ate into New York's second-half lead.
- Earl Clark looked pretty okay! He stayed shuffling his feet on defense and hit a couple jumpers, including one as a decoy off a quick dribble and pull-up. Clark drilling a three off a second-quarter kick-out was perhaps the greatest sign that New York's early ball movement had reached some sort of magical plane.
- ...although this, via BJabs, is the finest example of that ball movement, and it's from very early on (immediately after that J.R. airball):
That is peak Knicks offense. I want to take that GIF off the screen and make out with it.
- I can't. You can't do that. Don't try to pry a GIF off your screen with a butter knife. Trust me. Just kiss the screen itself.
- The Pablo-Aldrich pick-and-roll and some fine mobile passing from Shumpert plus Hardaway's persisting heat allowed the early-second-quarter bench unit to actually *add to* the lead with Melo out, which was very exciting. The success didn't quite stick later on, though I don't think Melo had to play all of those 39 minutes. Still better than, like, 49.
- Clyde says "Earl Clog". Clyde also said this. Each is beautiful in its own way.
- Felton hit a floater in the late third quarter and the entire Boston crowd didn't get up and leave for some reason? THE GAME ENDS WHEN THE GOLDEN SNITCH IS SECURED, FOLKS.
That's it. I'm pretty sleepy but I'm gonna watch some DVR things and make totally sure this Phil Jackson stuff isn't going anywhere before I go to bed. The Knicks have two nights off, then a day game against the Bucks, and then an even longer break before they reach the island of challenge amid the sea of mediocrity. That'd be the Pacers next Wednesday. But that's way in the future. Enjoy five straight for now!