They always find ways to make us sweat, but at least we're not sweating in vain this year. The Knicks won their fifth straight road game, outlasting the Pistons in a game that was, as "hopelessknickfan" noted, unnecessarily long and frightening.
Missing both Ronny Turiaf and Toney Douglas, the Knicks needed something extra from their core players, and got that in the form of 50+ minute efforts by Landry Fields, Danilo Gallinari, Raymond Felton, and Amar'e Stoudemire. The Knick starters (a.k.a. those four plus Wilson Chandler) each shone for stretches to secure the win.
Take the jump for notes.
- Walt Frazier's sponsored advice to the Knicks was to "make it wild" (Breen: "Clyde, that was your M.O. in the '70s!"). Aside from sounding like the title of an Andrew W.K. track, that phrase pretty accurately described what the Knicks did in the early going. They moved the ball crisply in the first period, finding open outside shots while the Pistons scrambled in vain. Before foul trouble limited him, Wilson Chandler was the star of that quarter (which feels like it happened months ago), notching 13 points, including three
wet moist soggy catch-and-shoot threes. All told, New York had 10 assists on 11 baskets, which signifies splendid early ball movement.
- The Pistons made it wild as well. Rodney Stuckey, Richard Hamilton, and Tayshaun Prince used screens and backdoor cuts to find easy buckets from all over the floor. Hamilton and Prince worked a frustratingly effective two-man game while Rodney repeatedly ran Raymond ragged on romps to the rim. Felton gets a pass for losing a step on screens because he was ill (more on that later), but the rest of the Knicks had a pretty sorry showing. Whether they couldn't keep up (Landry Fields) or just didn't feel like it (Bill Walker), New York gave away plenty of open looks.
- The eerily somber Detroit crowd participated in a few "Go Pistons Go" chants that were monotonous and unintelligible enough to sound like a Haftarah reading.
- Tracy McGrady made it wild in the second quarter, scoring 13 points on some impressive shots. In the third, a sleepy-looking, 6'9'' forward wearing the number 3 played a few minutes for the Knicks. Sources tell me this was Shawne Williams making his Knicks debut, not McGrady switching to last year's threads at halftime.
- Williams, Roger Mason Jr., and Anthony Randolph all spun at points in the middle two quarters. None of the three made any significant impact on the game's outcome.
- Amar'e Stoudemire made a few of his signature isolation boners (6 turnovers), but he was otherwise amazing. 37 points (12-20 from the field, 13-15 from the line), 15 boards, and 7 assists in 54 minutes are the mark of a team captain imposing his will. Stoudemire ran a handful of successful two-man plays with Felton, but his points came mostly on rugged, athletic moves to the basket in the midst of several defenders.
- The two teams treaded water until the fourth quarter, when the Knicks finally regained the lead. After struggling with his shot all afternoon, Raymond Felton drained three consecutive three-pointers to put the Knicks up 6 midway through the final period. From that point until the end of regulation, the Knicks gradually relinquished their cushion due to a combination of sensational play by Tayshaun Prince and pretty horrid defense by a few Knicks. Danilo Gallinari was the main culprit, letting Prince take him left over and over again. The spindly one made Gallo pay by canning short jumpers, draining running hooks and drawing contact for trips to the line. This continued into the first overtime, in which Prince scored 7 of Detroit's 10 points. Gallo's most egregious defensive error came at the end of the first OT, when he bit on Prince's hesitation move, then let him stroll right to the rim for a layup, fouling him in the process to tie the game.
- Gallinari would eventually negate his defensive blunders by splashing two consecutive threes in the second overtime. Then Wilson Chandler hit another three and Landry Fields ic3d the cak3 so the Knicks could take home a win. This came after New York blew chances to break the tie at the end of regulation (Gallo missed a three) and at the end of the first overtime (Chandler missed a three). Catch my drift? Aside from Amar'e's antics, the success of the Knick offense came down to whether or not they were connecting from outside. The Knicks shot 15-38 on the game from downtown, and that ended up being the difference in a game that was otherwise pretty even. I suppose it worked, but 38 threes is SO many threes, even with ten extra minutes to chuck.
- Osborn nailed it in the game thread: Rodney Stuckey looks just like a black version of Mac from "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia".
- One of my notes reads "Ben Wallace chin ponytail". I don't really have anything more to say on that one.
- Raymond Felton, as mentioned, looked uncomfortable all game. Contrary to what Clyde and Breen hypothesized, it turned out that Ray's struggles were fart-related, not back-related. A stomach flu is, if you ask me, a pretty decent excuse for repeatedly getting beat by Rodney Stuckey. I don't see "delusions of grandeur" anywhere in the symptoms of the stomach flu, though, so 11 three-point attempts is just poor play by Raymond. Credit Ray with nailing those three huge ones in the fourth quarter, though, and for slogging through 53 nauseated minutes to lead the Knicks to a win. They really couldn't have done it without him.
- Landry Fields rushed some shots early (0-6 in the first half), but overcame that en route to another equisite performance. Fields finished with 16 points, 11 boards, 6 assists, and 2 steals, and also came up huge in crunch time. There was that dagger three in the second overtime, and had it not been for Gallo's aforementioned defensive foibles, Fields's tip-in near the end of the first overtime might have been the game-winner. Words fail to describe how fun it is to watch a guy who is simultaneously the smartest and scrappiest player on the floor.
Eventually, you'd like to see the Knicks just blow somebody out, but the fact that they keep surviving these spotty efforts should be encouraging. Against bad teams, New York seems to do just enough to win, and today, stretches of hot shooting, a manly performance by Stoudemire, and ten extra minutes were enough. 9-9 it is. Get some rest, Knicks. You deserve it. The Nets are up next.