Fun indeed, "Anthony Mason's Haircut". In a physical but high-scoring affair in front of a raucous MSG crowd, the Knicks outlasted the Nuggets, extending their win streak to 8. The Knicks won with a balanced attack, as each starter made a meaningful impact on the game's outcome. You could probably split today's game ball four or five ways. Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler, and Landry Fields all had excellent offensive games, while Amar'e Stoudemire followed a rough first half with heroics in the endgame.
I fear that the majesty of this game will be drowned out by the newest Carmelo Anthony rumors, but it was a sight to behold. Take the jump for some details.
- Raymond Felton, Landry Fields and Wilson Chandler sparked a very hot start for the Knicks. Chandler and Fields had 12 and 11, respectively, on a combination of downtown bombs and aggressive drives to the rim, while Felton quietly played puppet master with 6 assists in the opening period. With Amar'e neutralized for the time being (more on that in the next note), those three still managed to lead New York to an 11-point lead going into the second.
- In that first half, Amar'e Stoudemire was outplayed by Nene. While the big ol' Brazilian (with help from teammates) handcuffed Amar'e on one end, he dominated on the other. As has become a bit of a theme, Stoudemire repeatedly granted Nene inside position such that he could score easily with or without a hand in his face. The upside of this was that Amar'e entered the break with just one foul. The downside was that Nene entered the break with 18 points.
- After building that big first quarter lead, the Knicks' Toney Douglas-led squad struggled to defend Denver's second unit. Ty Lawson proved too quick for Douglas, Nene continued to eat people, and Al Harrington made as many threes as he did funny faces*.
- *A lot of them.
- Especially in the first half, it was a very physical game. Stoudemire and Nene wrestled quite a bit in the paint (Sidenote: In an upset, I don't think I heard Clyde say "kung-fu fighting" even once. Please tell me I'm wrong), and Amar'e received an early technical for a little extracurricular elbowing. Some extra physicality by Stoudemire later on did not receive a technical, perhaps because the first T was a bit of an overreaction. Ronny Turiaf also got in on the violence, managing 5 fouls in just 15 minutes. Ronny was as rowdy (in the scary sense) as we've ever seen him, and we even caught a glimpse of Turiaf shoving Landry Fields aside when the rookie was trying to restrain him after picking up a technical. Later, Ronny was whistled for a flagrant foul after he smacked some Nugget in the face.
- Wait, has anybody ever called him "Rowdy" Ronny Turiaf? I like that a lot.
- With Shawne Williams not pooping in the corner as much as he was previously, Bill Walker was reinserted into the lineup. Neither of the two did anything in 3 minutes apiece.
- And now for Mike Breen story hour! Apparently, the scar above George Karl's mouth comes from an incident in which the 12 year-old George got bitten by a german shepherd while delivering papers. Who knew?
- My girlfriend thinks Amar'e Stoudemire looks like Jafar. After some deliberation, I actually see what she's getting at.
- At halftime, Kenny Atkinson described the Nuggets' effort as "smashmouth" basketball. I GUESS YOU COULD SAY THEY WERE PLAYING LIKE ALL STARS!
- Holy shit! I had no idea Dane Cook was in Mystery Men/that music video!
- Also, Al Trautwig called out Atkinson for having some day-old stubble. I found that way too funny.
- After that ugly first half, Amar'e Stoudemire absolutely dominated the second. He scored 24 of his 30 points in the latter two quarters, getting tough inside takes to fall and shooting confidently from outside the paint. If foul trouble hadn't held him out of a 5-minute stretch in the fourth quarter, this game might never have been close. When Stoudemire returned from that break, he quickly scored 6 straight points and saved a defensive rebound with an athletic dive into some cameramen. That second half did it for New York, and also got Amar'e to the 30-point mark for a record-setting eighth straight game. Praise, thanks, and congratulations be to Amar'e Stoudemire.
- I already mentioned their first quarter dominance, but Wilson Chandler and Landry Fields really shone for the entire game. Both were uncannily accurate (a combined 8-14) from downtown while also finding ways to score at the rim and keep possessions alive (4 o-bounds apiece). Those two also joined Danilo Gallinari in contesting Carmelo Anthony, and ended up holding him to 11-27 shooting (0-6 from downtown). Pretty splendid.
- Raymond Felton quietly had one of his point guard-iest lines as a Knick. I don't remember too much pick-and-roll play with Stoudemire, so Felton's 17 assists mostly represent splendid kicks to shooters and cutters and some fine play in transition. This was undoubtedly Raymond's assist of the night:
Some important numbers from this one:
- The Nuggets shot way more free throws (34-40), but the Knicks hardly missed any (24-26).
- New York turned the ball over only 6 times, including just two apiece for Felton and Stoudemire.
- 13-30 from downtown. That works.
- Amar'e's short jumper and Wilson Chandler's three were the big buckets in the final minute, but don't forget Felton's 4-5 free throw shooting (the 5th shot being a weird technical call on Nene) to keep the Nuggets from stealing this one back.
- The Knicks are now 4-0 when I wear a crown during the second half! They're also 1-0 when I wear nothing but a crown during the second half.
I think that'll be it. This felt like a sub-par recap, partly because this game was too exciting for words, and maybe a little because I'm flustered by the resurgence of Melo rumors. Everything else aside, the Knicks started their stretch of tough games with a win over a very good team, and that is goddamn amazing. it feels pretty great to be rooting for a 16-9 team right now.