Hey, they did it! On their second stop of a four-game road trip, the Knicks finally shook their losing streak, taking one from the struggling Kings in Sacramento. The Knicks followed a horrifying first quarter with a dominant, hot-shooting second, then made enough big shots and timely stops to avoid a Sacramento comeback bid and stay afloat until the final buzzer.
Amar'e Stoudemire led the way with 27 points and 10 boards for New York, while Danilo Gallinari dropped an incredibly efficient 27 of his own (Don't peek, but Gallo's secret to success is given away in the headline of this post, courtesy of game threadsman "StarksMiddleFinger"). Details on both of those Knicks AND MORE after the jump!!
- Because it was "Glee" night in Sacramento, we got to see the Knicks' starting lineups announced a cappella style. Last night, when I was dreaming of Landry Fields's name being melodized by a chorus of angelic voices, I had no idea I was predicting the future.
- That first quarter was like something out of a
Knicks game nightmare. New York went 5-23 from the field due to the usual problems: Raymond Felton couldn't find an open teammate, nobody moved when Amar'e Stoudemire had the ball, and outside shots simply wouldn't fall. On the other end, Tyreke Evans repeatedly bulldozed Landry Fields and the rest of the Kings strode to the rim at will. After 12 minutes, it was 27-14, and eyes were a-rollin'.
- Between quarters, the Knicks must have partaken in a mass ingestion of some wonderful combination of PCP and Michael's Secret Stuff, because the second quarter saw an abrupt uptick in energy and confidence. All of a sudden, threes fell, fouls were called, and the Knicks were able to spin Sacto turnovers and missed jumpers into fast break offense. Danilo Gallinari, who'd rimmed a pair of open threes and taken a seat in the first, dominated the second frame with 15 points on a suddenly wet outside game and seven (!) free throws. "Suddenly Wet" also happens to be the name of Gallo's hair tonic of choice- a substance that, as astute P&T Twitter friend netw3rk noticed, was applied sparingly for the game. He'd struggled with the full-on slickness and seen intermittent success with the natural softness, so perhaps it's all about striking a balance? Anyway, the Knicks scored 40 points in the period and led by 5 at the half. It was as if the first quarter never happened.
- By the way, Michael's Secret Stuff should be the title of a Space Jam porn adaptation. Are there any sexy versions of Space Jam out there? Don't answer that in the comments.
- To nobody's surprise, Ronny Turiaf took Timofey Mozgov's starting spot and, to nobody's surprise, Turiaf played a quiet but effective game on both ends. On the Kings' end, Ronny matched up pretty ably with DeMarcus Cousins and others, all while pulling down 7 rebounds in 30 minutes. Offensively, Turiaf moved well, didn't look to score much, and played a whole bunch of point-center, which I loved. Ronny's a talented enough passer from his station at the top of the key and the Knick wings are crafty enough off of screens that a high post offense (with the appropriately furry and piratical Turiaf playing the role of Vlade Divac) isn't out of the question. That presence, combined with Turiaf's ability to run the pick-and-roll, can really make Amar'e Stoudemire's life easier. Amar'e can just outsource all the rolling and ball-handling to Turiaf and streak in at the end of plays to finish. At least, that's how I see it. Then again, I've been on that PCP/Secret Stuff combo since dessert.
- I should also mention that Turiaf played most of the third quarter with a tiny bead of spittle suspended in his chin fur. Naturally, this conjured images of Ronny hunting wild Sacramento River salmon at halftime.
- I should also also mention that when Carl Landry's contact lens fell out, Turiaf made a concerted effort to help him find it on the floor. My friend and I both marveled at Turiaf's helpfulness and agreed that Kevin Garnett would have urinated on the fallen contact and poked Carl in his other eye.
- It was agreed upon earlier today and re-hashed during a commercial break that there should be a bar/restaurant called Amy's Wine House.
- Danilo Gallinari showed a lot of savvy to earn his 17 trips to the foul line, including head fakes, dribbles when the defense wasn't set, and some timely flailing. If there's one thing I would have liked to fix, it was Gallo's tendency to lean and double-clutch when drawing contact at the rim. That's a bit of a habit for Gallo, and he'd probably get more calls and score a couple more points if he went up strong allllll the time.
- Amar'e Stoudemire's 27 points represent sweet jump-shooting, determination on drives to the rim, and a couple of important hoops down the stretch. There was still a lot of isolation from Amar'e, but he looked more committed to asserting his will and scoring even with contact. On the other end, Stoudemire wasn't quite as dogged. He got unearthed quite a bit by the smaller but feistier Carl Landry, who snaggled 6 offensive rebounds and wedged his way to easy buckets. He also got bopped in the face by a particularly acute rebound, cracking his goggles and taking a day or two off my life in the process. The team, we learned, travels with one extra pair of specs. I assume if two pairs break, that's grounds enough to assume that the ball has been fitted with a retina-seeking device and bench Amar'e for his own safety.
- Samuel Dalembert, who usually kills the Knicks, couldn't find many minutes in this one. DeMarcus Cousins soaked up most of his and Jason Thompson's court time and looked solid, if a trifle overzealous. Cousins has an impressive game and I like his style, but he could be a lot cooler by just...being cooler.
- Both Cousins and Landry Fields would be starters on an All-Plural-Noun-Surnames team, right? Who else?
- Landry Fields
could not chose not to match his giant statistical output from Denver, but had 10 points and 5 boards, and played a role in forcing Tyreke Evans to hoist jumpers later in the game. Also contributing to said jumper-hoisting was Evans, who played the role of "Jumper Hoister" with all the recklessness of a latter-day Larry Hughes. Two thumbs up.
- Timofey Mozgov's inability to catch a pass is pretty impressive. If he doesn't demonstrate that he owns ten working fingers in the near future, I'll have to assume he has flippers, and then I'll resort to making obnoxious Baikal seal jokes and it'll get very ugly very quickly. Keep your eye on the ball, Timo.
- At the beginning of the season, I'd have told you that Toney Douglas was a combo guard and Raymond Felton was a point guard. Now, I wouldn't hesitate to call Toney a shooting guard and Felton a combo guard. Neither passed with much aplomb, but both shot well (Felton continued to do so while Douglas broke out of a mean funk with a couple of big jumpers).
- In reference to an unclear foul call, Mike Breen remarked "I thought it was going to be Head!". If neither that nor Breen's "Head now getting some penetration" line later on made you snicker and pick your nose furiously, then you probably won't like this blog.
- Walt Frazier may have outdone himself in the mispronunciation department. Usually, Clyde's garbled player names are up for somedebate, mostly with regard to the specific faux-netics and exactly how many "R"s he added. Tonight, Clyde plainly and unmistakably referred to Beno Udrih as "Uterus" for the entirety of the game. I don't think that can ever be topped.
- Sacramento's comeback was a bit discouraging, and they might have gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for those meddling missed jumpers. On the other hand, the Knicks' late-game offense elevated from "utterly useless" to "mostly incompetent", which is a small improvement. It seemed like Felton handled the ball and tried to penetrate a bit more down the stretch, which is fine by me. He's got the finishing ability to make some tough late-game shots, and, at the very least, can kick out to the perimeter. The pick-and-roll could one day be the reliable late-game maneuver (and, thanks to some blindingly bad defense by Mr. Uterus, Ray and Amar'e ran a sweet one in the final minutes), but it's typically the one play the defense tries to prevent down the stretch.
- Aside from one magnificently timed block on Cousins, I remember absolutely nothing that Wilson Chandler did. The box score tells me was 5-9 (with just one three-pointer) for 13 points and 4 rebounds. That, to me, is a pretty ideal game for Silent Wil.
- Did you feel it? That little something missing from the court tonight? Mike D'Antoni is quietly shifting toward a shorter rotation. Bill Walker deservedly assumed all of Roger Mason Jr.'s minutes while Anthony Randolph was a DNP-CHNIWTDWH (let the games begin!). That cuts it down to 9 men, with Mozgov barely making an impact. Who knows what will come of Randolph and Mason and how things will change if and when Kelenna Azubuike and Eddy Curry return, but don't be surprised to see that gradual pruning of the rotation.
- If I had to guess, I'd guess that Paul Westphal fancies himself some Croakies. Even if I didn't have to guess, I'd still guess that.
- 15 three-point attempts and 39 free throw attempts means the Knicks were doing something right, and it also means Alan Hahn won't be grumbling and whimpering in his sleep tonight. Much better, Knicks.
That'll do it. The road trip continues Friday against Golden State. Is it time for a new, happier streak?