So...uh...anybody else down to just forget that one entirely? I, for one, would be perfectly willing to strike that game from the record and never mention it again after tonight. Before we commence pretending, though, I'll quickly recap the evening's calamities.
The Knicks played pretty nicely through a quarter and a half. The team wasn't shooting well from downtown, but there was a concerted effort to push the action. David Lee and Al Harrington slashed and drove with gusto, and the squad as a whole had the pick-and-roll working nicely when they weren't fast breaking. In a peculiar turn of events, it was the bench squad that eased off the throttle a bit. The second unit came in mid-way through the first quarter and the ball movement immediately slowed. There was far too little off-the-ball action, which wasn't helped by the fact that shots continued to miss badly.
On the other end, New York did a decent job to start. They switched just about everything, which didn't work too badly, given the positional ambiguity of the starting five. Dwyane Wade was forced to either shoot jumpers or pass, which boded well for a team that's used to getting torched by #3.
The Knicks were down 4 after the first, despite shooting 1-13 from three. Things didn't look too bad...yet.
At some point in the mid- to late-second quarter, everything came crashing down. From that point forward, the offensive was awful and the defense was awfuler. There isn't much more to say. They didn't attack the basket or move the ball on offense. They didn't communicate or help on defense. Effort hit rock bottom, and this could very well have been a 30-point loss if it weren't for a late flurry of threes by Danilo Gallinari.
That's pretty much your game. 20 minutes of promise followed by 28 minutes of suck. A few player profiles, after the jump...
- David Lee simply couldn't defend Jermaine O'Neal, who appears to have re-grown some of the muscles in his legs and finished with 22 and 12 on 10-12 shooting. O'Neal repeatedly got clean looks at the rim despite Lee's efforts, and quickly forced the undersized Knick into 2 early fouls. This is going to continue to be a problem unless Lee suddenly sprouts up 3 inches or somebody else takes the burden of guarding the opposing big man. Defense aside, Dave probably had the most auspicious season-opener of any Knick. While the team was clicking, Lee's cuts were spot-on. He was able to catch and finish, even in traffic, and his 22 points (9-13) reflect a hard-nosed performance around the rim. Lee stepped out to shoot less than he did in preseason, but managed to can at least one mid-range jumper that I can remember.
- Chris Duhon did an excellent job running the pick-and-roll early, but completely fell asleep when the team started to slack a little. Du made it clear that he wanted to be more of a leader this season. I would've liked to see him show that.
- Wilson Chandler's second half wasn't bad, but he relied far too much on the three-pointer in the first half. There's no need for Wil to shoot 6 threes (1-6) in any game, but I doubt that will be the last time.
- I vaguely remember Al Harrington playing well, but his line (5-14, including 1-6 from downtown, for 15 points) disagrees.
- Danilo Gallinari spent the entire night hovering around the three-point line, which was a mixed blessing. Gallo started cold but eventually found his stroke in garbage time, and ended up shooting 7-13 from downtown. Props to Danilo for returning to form in the fourth quarter, but the man desperately needs to dribble now and then. The kid's got plenty of athletic talent, so being passive and shooting only once from inside the arc is inexcusable. I demand full-throttle Cock every night.( _ ).
- Tina Cervasio mentioned that Darko Milicic was "looking forward to playing with freedom" (Word.). Darko looked the part. He played pretty solid D, even when switched onto smaller players, and may have even surprised himself on offense. Darko followed a nice lefty finish with a spinning righty hook and stared quizzically at his non-dominant hand, much to the delight of the Knick bench. Darko scored just 4 points on 2-4 shooting, but pulled down 7 boards and snaggled 2 steals in 17 minutes. The big bro left the game after appearing to hurt his leg in the third quarter, but it didn't seem to be anything serious. I'll let you know if I hear anything abou tthat.
- Toney Douglas looked alright in garbage time, but didn't exactly DWTDD in his first-ever NBA minutes. He let Dwyane Wade burn him more than once, fouled Daequan Cook on a three-point attempt, then picked up a backcourt charge after steam-rolling Carlos Arroyo (I think). Toney only played 6 minutes on the night. He'll get 'em next time.
- Pretty sure that wasn't Nate Robinson out there, just some short guy they pulled off the street.
A few other things:
- Kenny Albert and the word "Jabbawockeez" were made for each other.
- I really hope a P&T citizen wins that pizza party with John Starks. I'm not gonna demand that the winner invite me to join, but I'd be pretty hurt otherwise.
- We learned that Wilson Chandler and Quentin Richardson ate dinner in Miami last night, and Q apparently gave Wil plenty of encouragement for the coming season. That's genuinely swell of him, and I'll add that Quentin is looking quite svelte.
Alright. My thoughts are in writing. I will now take an icepick to the part of my brain that remembers tonight's events. Seriously, though, tonight sucked, but that's just what Knicks basketball is like. It's a quirky, unpredictable team. There will be more games like tonight's. There will also be games in which New York looks like a playoff team. It wasn't a great start to the season, but it's also not the end of the world. There will be a new game and a clean slate on Friday, when the Knicks head to Charlotte to take on the Bobcats.