That was confusing. After a three months of berating Chris Duhon and a full night of fawning over Al Harrington trade rumors, those very two Knicks co-piloted a convincing win tonight in Atlanta. Harrington dominated the first half with 25 points through the opening quarters, while Duhon was steady throughout, dropping a cool 25 and 10 in jaw-dropping, head-scratching, brain-melting fashion.
Details on those fellas and much more after the jump...
- Danilo Gallinari sat tonight because of a sore forearm. You might remember Matt Barnes decking Gallo into the Magic bench on Wednesday. Well, that apparently didn't feel too good on Danilo's shooting arm. The word is that there's no serious damage and Danilo should be back soon. In related news, I didn't commit infanticide this evening.
- The Knicks started this game down 11-0, at which point many people probably turned off their televisions. I, in fact, had yet to turn on my own. I arrived mid-way through the first, when the Knicks had nearly erased the deficit. That being the case, I feel no responsibility to go back and watch those first few minutes and rehash them for you, and I'm very happy about that.
- After all that, the Knicks actually finished the first quarter leading the Hawks 35-34. Once the Knicks started hitting, it became an old-fashioned shootout. The killer combo of Al Harrington and Chris Duhon had 28 of the Knicks 35 points in the first quarter. They each hit 3 three-pointers. I couldn't make this up.
- Harrington, overall, did his part to answer a lot of the criticism that's fallen upon him since the Tyrus Thomas rumors blew up. Al didn't suddenly become unselfish or anything, but he did manage to drain a lot of the shots we tend to scold him for taking. Al finished with 27 points on 11-17 shooting, including 4-8 from three on the night, and was nothing short of brilliant in the first half. If there's anything to buoy our demands that he be dealt, it was his stark drop-off in the second half, in which he was 1-4 by my count. Sticking with the here and now, though, Al Harrington was key in the New York victory tonight, and we thank him for that.
- Chris Duhon was something else entirely. First, let me remind everybody that Du has caught two months of grief not because he's a bad player, but because he consistently failed to flex his muscles and assert his bounty of point guard talent when it counted. At least that's how I've felt. Anyone who saw his stretch of brilliance early last season or his passionate play in training camp this September knows Chris possesses the skills to be an effective lead guard. For perhaps the first time this season, he showed that. Duhon not only ran the pick-and-roll brilliantly, he looked for his own shot both from the outside and, most importantly, at the rim. When David Lee's roll to the basket was shut off, Du would take off and glide to the rim for acrobatic lay-ins. It was a sight to be seen, and something we've been waiting on for months. Hats off to Chris Duhon, and here's hoping his newfound mojo is here to stay.
- Josh Smith got pretty frustrated with Al Harrington's savior-like play in the first half, and eventually blew his top. Smith's already got a chronic case of Meanface, but he took it to another level after a non-call and eventually got tossed by Bob Delaney. That didn't help matters for a Hawks team that just couldn't get it done on offense.
- Oh, can we all agree to call Josh Smith "The Flying Pug"? I'd really like that nickname to stick. My attempt to anoint Marvin Williams "Milk" (since he was a bad choice over Chris Paul and Deron Williams) didn't really pan out. I need at least one of my Hawks monikers to amount to something.
- That "Two Generations of Cool" thing with Frank Sinatra and Jay-Z concerts is on MSG tonight, and Walt Frazier and Kenny Albert had the following conversation in that vein:
Kenny: "Clyde, did you ever see Frank Sinatra in concert?"
Clyde: "Once, I did."
Kenny: "And how was it?"
- The Knick defense and shot selection was superior to their previous game against Atlanta and, well, about 15 other games this season, but the Hawks also deserve recognition for failing to make shots from absolutely everywhere on the floor. They shot 4-23 as a team from downtown and I'm pretty sure I saw someone miss a tip-in from inside the basket. Sometimes the rim's got a lid.
- I don't think I'd want to play pick-up ball with David Lee. At least not in a game where you call your own fouls.
- Just to emphasize how well Duhon played tonight, I should mention that he personally generated two of Clyde's favorite rhymes. Du was both "swishing and dishing" and "driving and thriving" this evening, whereas he'd spent the first 19 games totally rhyme-free. If anything, he was "chucking and sucking" or something.
- Also, Clyde used the phrase "scoring extravaganza" twice tonight, which is exactly two more times than that phrase has been used by any other announcer in the history of color commentary.
- Shit, Clyde was on fire tonight. "Ain't that Pachulia"? That's goddamn brilliant.
- There was a fun little stretch in the third quarter during which Al Horford and Al Harrington kept going one-on-one with each other to determine who was the superior "Al H.". If I could pick one adjective to describe the showdown, it would be "mouthguard".
- We shouldn't forget Wilson Chandler in the midst of all this Harrington and Duhon hooplah. Wil put in hard work against Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams, and finished with 18 points on 8-17 shooting. He kept himself to 1-3 from downtown, and instead did a nice job attacking the rim. He even caught an alley-oop at one point, which made me feel a little like the announcers in Semi-Pro. I hadn't seen an oop in a long time.
- A monstrous 17 and 18 for David Lee. Top-notch, David.
- Larry Hughes had 10 in the fourth quarter. Marvelously done, Lawrence.
- Other than Hughes, D'Antoni kept his bench rotation typically short. Tonight, it was just Marcus Landry, who did nothing of note in 6 minutes, and Toney Douglas, who played some excellent off-the-ball D, shot 3-5 for 6 points, and pretty much did what Toney Douglas do.
In summary, I can't say I saw that coming, but I'm plenty happy with the results. Next game's Sunday against the Nets, who thankfully recorded their first win of the season tonight against the Bobcats. Consider that a bullet dodged. Everybody have a splendid night and I'll talk to y'all tomorrow.