And that's why we have the Nets, friends. New Jersey's finest played without Lucious "Devin" Harris last night and couldn't hang with our Knicks (who, to be fair, were without Al Harrington). As is becoming a preseason trend, the Knicks clicked through the middle two quarters and gained enough ground to compensate for the sloppiness that bookended the action. During the second and third, the Knicks spaced well on offense and finally ran the pick-and-roll successfully. On defense, they switched and doubled with gusto while minding the boards as well.
More, after the jump...
Given that the middle two quarters were unmistakably the most successful, it puzzles me how the Knicks' starters (Robinson, Duhon, Lee, Chandler, and Jeffries) managed to be the only five players with positive plus/minuses. I need to pay closer attention the rotation. Some other things:
- I'm not gonna beat up Lawrence Frank for not wearing a tie to last night's game. Preseason is a casual affair, after all. I watched the game completely naked except for an oven mitt.
- Danilo Gallinari shouldn't attempt less than 15 shots in a game, especially if it's the preseason. Gallo looked sharp early, but seemed hesitant after missing a few jumpers. He ended up shooting 3-8 (2-6 from downtown) for 10 points. It wasn't a bad performance, but Gallo's hesitance to impose his will is palpable. I'm all for being a team player, but a scorer of Danilo's caliber is welcome to assert himself.
- David Lee was in midseason form, notching a double-double at halftime and finishing with 20 and 14. He, Jared Jeffries, and Darko Milicic also did a solid job handling Brook Lopez, who was held to 4-10 shooting.
- Two more David Lee points: 1. I have no question that Lee is strong enough to be one of the league's best outlet passers. He's always been a bit lazy with them, though. With a little instruction on timing and placement, he could be a real weapon in igniting the fast break. 2. Dave's got enough handles to put the ball on the floor when defended by a larger player. He showed off a gorgeous spin move from about 12 feet out when Lopez was checking him, and I see no reason why that shouldn't be the norm. Lee faced up and drove all the time in training camp.
- If I were coaching Jordan Hill, I'd tell him to hold the ball with two hands and not even think about releasing it. Get up in the air, draw some contact, then make the attempt. Hill continues to find himself in decent position, but gets anxious and rushes his shots. That's why he gets blocked so often.
- New and improved version of a classic Clyde rhyme: "Dishin' and swishin' in transition".
- The Knicks are at their best when Chris Duhon runs the pick and roll confidently and effectively. The best stretch of this was in the late second quarter, when New York spaced the floor beautifully and gave Du room to hit rollers with precise, undeterred passes. The Knicks finished the half on a 13-2 run.
- I miss the old MSG music. They've changed it up again, and the new tune sounds like the music from this dinosaur computer game I used to play.
- Jill Martin's halftime interview was with the actor Leon, also known as the guy who played Derice Bannock in Cool Runnings, and it was an ordeal. His favorite recent movie? Leon doesn't go to the movies. His favorite NYC burger spot? Leon's a vegetarian. The worst money he ever spent? Leon couldn't say. The conversation finished with Jill and Leon awkwardly trading lines of "Ain't To Proud to Beg" and wishing they were elsewhere. It was quite a spectacle, and I'm proud to be one of about six people lame enough to watch the halftime show of a Knicks-Nets preseason game who got to see it.
- Have you ever dreamed of sitting courtside at a Knicks game with David Duchovny? Me neither. In fact, I'm fairly certain that there isn't a sentient lifeform on earth that's dreamt of that. Things I'd rather do than sit courtside at a Knicks game with David Duchovny: play croquet with Frankie Muniz, hunt wild boar with James Spader, or share a cobb salad with Rene Russo.
- Larry Hughes didn't play in the first half, and shot 0-3 in the second half. He's now 0-for-everything in preseason play.
- Props to Jared Jeffries for taking the ball to the rack when matched with Yi Jianlian. Jared's drives weren't pretty, but he got by that goof with ease.
- Nate Robinson's defense is going to get him punched this season, and I mean that in the best way possible. Nate's using his quickness to hound point guards the full length of the court, and he's still doing that thing where he turns his back to the ballhandler. I don't know what the purpose of that strategy is, but it definitely succeeds in irritating the opposition. Rafer Alston was getting fairly frustrated, and looked like he was trying to kick Nate a few times.
- Bobby Simmons' shameless 0-8 shooting, all from outside, leads me to believe that he'll be a Knick by season's end.
- My favorite Toney Douglas shot is when he uses a pick to pull up for an 18-footer. It's well within his range and keeps defenses honest. If Toney hits that consistently, he'll have a much easier time feeding the cutter in a less crowded paint area.
- Clyde called Jared Jeffries "Jefferson" at one point.
- Joe Crawford and Chris Hunter in a furious battle for the final roster spot, as each tries to out-clap and out-high five the other during timeouts. I'm hardly kidding. Watch the two of them when a timeout gets called.
- Marcus Landry made a late appearance and hit two fairly crucial threes. Well done, Marcus.
The Knicks kick off a stretch of three games in four nights tomorrow night at the Garden. It'll be Maccabi Tel Aviv tomorrow, followed by the Celtics (again) and Nets (again) on Tuesday and Wednesday.