Annnnd they're back! In a game that could've pushed the New York's streak to 5 and subdued the upstart Bobcats, the Knicks shat themselves down the stretch. In one of the uglier games I can remember, the Knicks held a double-digit lead for stretches of the second half, only to completely fold in the closing period.
Tonight's contest was a game of quarters, so I'll break it down into fourths for ya.
Notes, after the jump...1st Quarter
- Al Harrington had a touch of food poisoning today, and was reportedly vomiting in the locker room minutes before tip-off. Clearly, he knew what was coming.
- The Knicks had absolutely zero offensive flow in the opening period. Much like the previous game against New Orleans, the multiple days of rest left time for rust to form, and thing were uggggly. New York gave away 9 turnovers in the first, and would've been down double digits if Chris Duhon wasn't banging jumpers like a champ. Du dropped 11 in the first quarter.
- Gerald Wallace got all kinds of silly in the first quarter. When he wasn't getting to the line, Wallace was picking off lazy Knick passes and darting the other way for easy transition hoops. He came away with 15 points in the first, and even managed to break Al Harrington's streak of 23 straight games as the player on the court with the most revolting mouthguard habits.
- Those transition buckets were a major key to Charlotte's win. The Knicks actually played decent halfcourt defense for most of the night, but kick-started too many Bobcat breaks with unforced giveaways.
- Pretty sure Walt Frazier's jacket tonight was based on the evil half of Two-Face's suit.
- Credit the Knicks with an uncharacteristic amount of shot-blocking in the first quarter. A bunch of New York's 10 rejections came in the opening minutes.
- Through the end of the first and the beginning of the second, Eddy Curry played 6 unproductive minutes. Larry Hughes and Chris Duhon simply couldn't find him in position, and a combination of haphazard passing and failure on Curry's part to step into his catches made for numerous turnovers.
- Curry did block a shot, though, which momentarily scrambled my nervous system and caused blood to pour out of my ears.
- I really can't emphasize strongly enough how lazy the passing was, particularly in the first half. Hughes alone managed 4 turnovers in his first 6 minutes, most of which came on telegraphed passes in the backcourt. Gerald Wallace owes Larry a drink or something.
- After avoiding disaster and escaping the first half with a one-point edge, the Knicks buckled down in the third. Jared Jeffries keyed New York's best defensive quarter in a big way. Jared drew charges (did you know he leads the league in those?), blocked shots (finished with 2 on the game), and most importantly, disrupted the Bobcats' passing (6 steals on the game). Jeffries was a key cog in the zone defense that D'Antoni employed most successfully in the third. He roamed the middle of the floor and got those octopussy limbs of his on just about every airborne ball.
- With the effective zone came better passing. The Knicks were able to push the pace just a bit, and players big and small were dishing effectively.
- Clyde's summary of the superb quarter gets its own bullet point: "Parsimonious defense, harmonious offense". Terrific.
- He may be a bloodsucking, child-eating creature of the underworld, but the demon-coach sure does have Raymond Felton and D.J. Augustin playing great on-the-ball defense. Chris Duhon managed to keep his cool for the most part, but those two made everything difficult.
- The way Clyde and MIke Breen were getting all worked up, you'd think two players had never shared the same last name before. The presence of both Tyson and Wilson Chandler nearly made Breen bite his tongue off.
- Danilo Gallinari left his jump shot in New Orleans. It seems like every fourth or fifth game Gallo gets in his own head and aims his jumpers. Just shoot, Gallo. Don't think twice. Don't even think once.
- No joke, I almost got all Al Harrington in this piece. At the behest of the game thread commenters, I posted and toasted a double-decker PB&J sandwich at halftime, and it damn near resurfaced in the fourth quarter. The Knicks, once up double figures, got outscored 28-13 in a collapse well deserving of Francis the Vomiting Man.
- The Knicks simply couldn't secure rebounds, and allowed the Cats second, third, and fourth opportunities to score just about every time down.
- Jared Jeffries fouled out with under 3 minutes left on an iffy charge-block decision and the defense promptly fell to pieces. The fallback option for post defense was David Lee which, as you can imagine, did not go very well. After Charlotte came back to tie it, Raymond Felton hit two consecutive uncontested layups to give the Bobcats the edge. Jared Jeffries is the end-all be-all of Knicks help defense.
- Meanwhile, the Knicks' late-game offense was buoyed by threes from Jared Jeffries and Wilson Chandler, which is evidence enough that Charlotte was bound to steal this one. The improved passing and shooting from the third quarter went down the drain, all while Danilo Gallinari rode the pine. I get that Gallo was cold, but c'mon now.
- I've really toned down my violent reactions to Knick losses over the years, but I ended up throwing a jar of Play-Doh at the wall just after the final buzzer. Now that I think about it, that's one of the stranger things I've ever thrown at a wall, although I'm pretty sure I drop-kicked an Elio's pizza back in '04.
- 15-2 Bobcats run to end the fourth, just in case you were wondering. I guess that makes up for the big run in New Orleans on Friday.
It was just one loss, but this one really, really stung. The Knicks are at it again on Thursday against the Bulls, and they better be back in streak-building mode.