Sorry, but I'm gonna be repeating myself a lot here. For the second night in a row, the Knicks fell behind big with feeble play in the first half, then stormed almost all the way back for a deceivingly close final score. As was the case in the last game, tonight's Knicks played like their 1-9 selves, trying to reconcile 3 quarters of piss-poor basketball with one period of execution. Just like last night and that stretch in November, it was too little, too late. Nobody was surprised.
Take the jump for a few notes.
- Somebody needs to help David Lee on the boards. Lee got overwhelmed by bigger guys (Chris Wilcox looked like an All-Star tonight. Yikes.), but still managed 17 boards. Jeffries, Chandler, and Gallinari have to help box out to compensate for the frontcourt's lack of size. If there was one difference between tonight and last night, it's that the Pistons didn't shoot nearly as well as the piping-hot Raptors did, but made up for it with even more (20) offensive boards. The overall rebounding edge was 51-39.
- In what has become a recurring theme, Chris Duhon and Nate Robinson both flunked running the point. Neither attacked the rim with any conviction, thus preventing the Detroit defense from ever collapsing. Nothing new. Nate, for his part, started getting over screens, distributing and hitting shots in the fourth quarter. Duhon sat for the entire fourth and most of the third. Instead of turning to Toney Douglas (which was at least worth a try, if you ask me), D'Antoni opted to go a few minutes in the second half with a five-forward rotation. Jared Jeffries brought the ball up with Lee, Danilo Gallinari, Al Harrington, and Wilson Chandler. It wasn't great, but it also wasn't any worse than what the guards were bringing to the table. If anything, the ball moved more.
- On that note, David Lee has been far and away the Knicks' best passer through the last two games. For the second night in a row, he fell one assist short of a triple-double, posting 26, 17, and 9, despite a rough shooting night from outside. Dave's got good eyes and excellent timing from his station at the top of the key, and I'd happily let him quarterback the offense if that's what works best. I'm not saying Lee should bring the ball up, but people get rewarded for cutting so he might as well be the one dishing.
- Larry Hughes made his first appearance in a while with a stint in the second quarter. Hughes, according to Alan Hahn, was not thrilled with the cameo:
"Larry Hughes calls being tossed back into action (8:24 all in the first half) "a joke"."
Hughes: "It's frustrating, really. I'll kind of leave it at that."
I'll remind you that this is the same Larry Hughes who shot 0-4 and had one of his shots blocked out of bounds off his own forehead. No further comment.
- Chucky Atkins should never, ever hit layups against an NBA defense.
- Add Charlie "Villanuev-er" to the list of names Walt Frazier mangles.
- At halftime, Lee and Gallinari had 29 of the Knicks' 37 points, which probably wasn't ideal.
- Had Gallinari not been fading and aiming his shots in the first quarter, he probably could've hit 40 tonight (same as the last game). Still, 27 and 4 on 8-16 shooting is pretty damn good for a guy who looked pretty underwhelming in the early going. Eerily similar performances to last night's for both Gallinari and Lee.
- More silliness: The Piston bench outscored the Knicks' 20-2 in the first half, while Detroit as a team managed a 13-0 edge on the fast break through the first two quarters. Oh, and the Knicks shot 4-21 (I think) in the second. Again, not ideal. Remember those emergency eye wash stations you had in high school chemistry? I needed one of those after the second quarter.
- If you're going to throw a fancy pass, don't throw it to Jared Jeffries. In fact, don't pass to Jeffries period. He doesn't want the ball. Jared knows his role, and seems perfectly content to just hang around the rim and get after rebounds on offense. He's not looking to score.
- Tonight's silver lining: Jordan Hill! Besides getting outmuscled on a few rebounds (which is to be expected), Jordan looked marvelous in a prolonged second half appearance. D'Antoni let Hill spin even into the waning moments, and Hill produced. He delivered an and-one, a nice turnaround J, and a gorgeous up-and-under boogie on the left side of the rim. Said Clyde after that last one, "I haven't seen that move much from Hill...Well, he hasn't played much."
- If you turned off this game early, you missed Ben Wallace striking the bottom corner of the backboard with a free throw.
- I have a new favorite commercial. There's this Sleepy's ad now with a kid jumping up and down wildly on a competitor's bed, then bouncing over to a Sleepy's bed. As soon as he sets foot on the Sleepy's bed, the li'l rugrat goes out like a light. Like, just drops dead. Sleepy's is selling nerve gas-laced mattresses.
And that is all. The Knicks and Pistons will tangle again on Monday night at the Garden. New York will need to take that one back to make up for tonight's stinker. I deeply, deeply hope what we saw tonight and last night is not indicative of Knicks basketball for the rest of the season. It's not a good look. More tomorrow. Love.