The Knicks worked pretty nicely for stretches against the feisty Boston Celtics, but dropped to 1-2 in preseason after some late-game blunders. Mike D'Antoni opted to shelve his starters for the entire fourth quarter, and the Knicks' bench squad couldn't hang on against the likes of Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. Amar'e Stoudemire led the way in his Garden debut, notching 30 points in just 27 minutes.
Take the jump for full game notes and player evaluations at a fourth-grade reading level.
- With the exception of a pretty lame third quarter, the Knicks defended decently in this one. The guards had a bit of trouble chasing Ray Allen around the perimeter, but Danilo Gallinari and friends did a nice job staying patient and contesting Paul Pierce through a number of ball fakes. All the while, Amar'e Stoudemire and Timofey Mozgov (in a starting role) stepped up to any and all visitors to the paint, rotating to deter penetrators and contesting those who dared attack the rim. There were plenty of active hands and deflected passes as well, especially from the second unit. The Celtics were legitimately flustered at times.
- Though ball movement came and went, the offense also looked pretty crisp. New York didn't pick and roll as much as you'd expect (and prefer), but utilized a lot of drive-and-kick to find and connect on open three-pointers.
- That third quarter (particularly the latter portion) was simultaneously troublesome and promising. It was troublesome in that Raymond Felton and his frontcourt helpers couldn't keep track of Rajon Rondo wiggling into the paint for easy lay-ins. Felton played him way too tightly, and guys like Mozgov got flat-footed when Rondo gathered to attack. After a quick start to the second half on the other end, the Knick offense looked a bit sluggish and careless, and the ball movement got even worse.
- Therein lies the hope, though. With the offense stumbling, Amar'e Stoudemire put the team on his glistening, chiseled shoulders [faints, wakes up] and bullied his way to 16 points in the period, most of which came at the line. It's been a long time since the Knicks had a weapon to wield when the game got ugly and team basketball just wasn't working. Amar'e gave us a preview of that ability tonight. With Kevin Garnett long since ejected for complaining, Amar'e decimated Semih Erden and the rest of the C's depleted frontcourt. There came a time when tossing Amar'e the rock and letting him operate in traffic was the only option, and he willed his way to the rim and to the line. Good stuff.
- More Stoudemire to start the individual notes: I noticed early in the preseason that Stoudemire wasn't always diligent about contesting midrange shooters. Against whoever AJ Milano has attempting jumpers, he could get away with that. Against, Kevin Garnett, no such luck. I loved Amar'e's hustle in the paint, but he was repeatedly a split second late in shot contests. Sort of a reverse-David Lee situation. On the other end, I love Stoudemire's midrange, but I don't think we want him to fall in love with it. In this one, he started a little shot-happy, then focused on driving as the game progressed.
- In Timofey Mozgov's starting lineup head shot, his neck was significantly girthier than the widest part of his head (incidentally, is that called a great circle?). This isn't the case in real life, so I'd like to know how much weight was placed on his skull to produce such an effect. It had to be at least a ton, if not a tonne. I'm not sure which is bigger, though. There's a lot of math in this bullet point.
- Mozgov started and started strong. He was, as I mentioned, disruptive on defense, and scaled back the silly fouls (4 fouls in 15 minutes is an improvement. Really!). Save for a weird bout of point-center ambition that didn't end well, Mozgov also got some work done on offense. He buried two big boy midrangers (not like the chip shots he'd been sinking earlier in preseason) and even threw an alley-oop TO Raymond Felton. You read that correctly. Timo stayed steadily stellar in his brief appearance.
- Raymond Felton racked up a few dimes (6, actually), but still looked a bit out of sorts running the offense. You can see him learning where to find his own shot in the offense (transition, I think, will be his time to score) and also the proper angles at which to feed Stoudemire off of screens. I don't think anybody who was watching their first Knicks game of the year was impressed, but I'm pretty sure Felton is getting the hang of this situation a little bit at a time. If anything, I'd like to see him hold the ball and experiment a bit more. I think I said that last time.
- Danilo Gallinari still hasn't quite found the range since the game in Milan, but he did a much better job of getting to the line (6-7) this evening. I was also pleased to see Gallo and Wilson Chandler help out on the defensive glass (Gallo had 6, Wil had 5). It stifles the fast break a bit to have those two lingering around the backboard, but it's well worth saving possessions.
- Toney Douglas looked nice this evening. I still find myself yelling at the TV when he misses his screener cutting to the rim, but he's definitely an improved passer. The one area there's no doubt about is his defense. Toney Douglas continues to do what Toney Douglas do, whether that means hounding the ballhandler (though, again, LEAVE RAJON RONDO OPEN. EVERYBODY.) or getting his hands in to deflect passes and strip big men. He also let himself get wrecked on a few screens to draw some cheap calls. I eat that shit up. DWTDD.
- Toss Landry Fields and Andy Rautins in the conversation with Toney as well. Neither of those two did all that much with the ball (Andy tried, but Ronny Turiaf kept dropping his passes), but both were pesky as hell on defense. The rooks are learning to do what Toney Douglas do.
- I'm still waiting for Bill Walker to start missing jumpers.
- Anthony Randolph, as usual, made his presence felt on defense and had a few nice finishes, but was good for a handful of "Whoosah" moments as well. When Anthony muffs a crosscourt pass or blows a wide-open dunk, just rub your ears and breathe deeply. He's learning.
- I'm still not really sure what Roger Mason is up to most of the time. I need to focus on him in some of the upcoming games, because my notes are pretty much "miss J, miss J, make J, miss J, make J, etc.". He must be playing defense or something, but he's doing it very quietly.
- There was a brief conversation in the comments about Toney Douglas's sideburns, and I'm more convinced than ever that Toney could get pretty damn close to Clyde's facial hair setup if he didn't shave for a few months.
- Speaking of Clyde, his line of the night came when Semih Erden couldn't handle Stoudemire: "He's making him look like a Turkey out there".
- I've never seen "Boomer and Carton", but the commercial in which "Carton" (which is apparently the name of a human) is brandishing a blaring siren and shouting "LET'S GO YANKEES" into a microphone leads me to believe that I probably wouldn't enjoy it.
- Before the game, MSG showed us that when Stoudemire and Felton met the Celtics' captains for a pre-game handshake and meeting with the refs, they had the entire team stand behind them because of unity and whatnot. My initial reaction was that that was some hokey nonsense the Celtics might do, but then I remembered that the Knicks are actually trying to be good this year and it's probably okay. In any event, when asked, Amar'e said "It's a New York thing. We trademarked it". Neat. Ubuntu, I guess.
- At one point in the second quarter, the referees suddenly realized that they were supposed to be issuing technicals when players complained, so they T'd up roughly half of the people on the court, which included an ejection for Kevin Garnett. Timofey Mozgov was one of those reprimanded, to which Mike D'Antoni appeared to shout something to the effect of "HE ONLY SPEAKS RUSSIAN!". I'm sure they'll tone down the enforcement of those rules as time goes on, but if this trend holds for some reason, then let me put on my Matt Buser hat for a sec and tell you to stay far away from KG in your fantasy leagues because he will not be playing basketball this season.
- Whenever you create a player in an NBA video game, they always have these fluffy, mullet-like haircuts available in the customization section and I'm always like "what the hell kind of basketball player has hair like that? It's [year that is not 1991]!". Semih Erden. That's who.
- Ronny Turiaf got hisself kneed right in his Les Roberts. Gian, ever the scholar, put it on Youtube.
- Would you have put the starters in to close the game, or were you happy with Andy Rautins and company misusing the shot clock, missing free throws, and waiting too long to give fouls? Not to sway you or anything.
- Luke Harangody, by virtue of some prodigious rebounding genes, is an NBA player if ever there was one. I'm also pretty sure he dislocates his shoulder every time he shoots a jumper.
- I've definitely mentioned this before, but the Chase commercial that mentions a "Sethasaurus" is the best commercial there ever was.
- Halftime of a Knicks game is juuuuust too short to play a full game of FIFA. I'll have you know that I was up 1-0 in the 80th minute when the third quarter started, though.
And on that note, I leave you. The Knicks play Boston again on Saturday in Hartford.