It felt like a trap game going in, and it felt like a trap game going out. If that sounds like a digestive metaphor, then you're on to something, because this game was poop. The Cavaliers weren't expected to pose much of a challenge, and they didn't, really. Cleveland shot poorly, defended the perimeter poorly, and allowed the Knicks plenty of opportunities to run away with the game. Banged up and gassed (and/or gassy) from some high-profile losses to Boston and Miami, the Knicks couldn't summon the effort to capitalize. Like commenter King Henry the 2nd said, it didn't look like anybody wanted to win for the first 48 minutes, so naturally, we got another five. Once overtime rolled around, there was little doubt that the desperate team (Cleveland had lost ten straight) would vanquish the one that just wanted to go to bed.
Take the jump for notes.
- For the second straight game, Amar'e Stoudemire faced a very determined defender as well as ample help from bystanders, and struggled mightily. Anderson Varejao prodded Stoudemire into a petulant rage, and not the good kind. As we've seen previously, a frustrated Amar'e drove directly into the defense, forcing difficult shots (8-19) and surrendering the ball to various thieving hands (8 turnovers). Varejao is a pest, and Amar'e may have been shorted a call or two (he took just 6 free throws), but it was still a bummer of a performance. Credit the Cavs for keying in on Stoudemire, and also remember that Amar'e was playing in some pain, having suffered a "stinger" after Varejao chopped him in the neck.
- The Cavs, reputed to defend the perimeter poorly, were true to form. The Knicks got oodles of open looks, and were able to connect in the first quarter. Raymond Felton buried three from outside, Danilo Gallinari canned his first attempt, and the Knicks as a team were able to negate their seven first quarter turnovers with five threes.
- After that, the turnovers continued, but the shooting did not. New York would end up with 19 boners and 11-34 shooting from outside on predominantly open attempts. Not a single Knick shot well from outside, save for Shawne Williams, who pooped twice consecutively from the corner and was perhaps the lone Knick to play very well, and Amar'e Stoudemire, whose outside touch isn't exactly a harbinger of victory.
- The other notables: Danilo Gallinari (1-10 from downtown, no free throws) and Toney Douglas (1-5 from three). Again, nobody shot well, but those two were the most visibly off. That kind of performance by Gallo is very discouraging after two pretty nice showings. With Amar'e shackled, his outside touch could have made all the difference.
- Walt Frazier, who I'm pretty sure has never heard of the internet, floored all of us with a gem of contemporary trivia in the first quarter. He mentioned that Daniel Gibson and Keyshia Cole were married and expecting a child, which was a positively baffling fact for him to have acquired (especially considering that he was later under the impression that Kevin Durant is on the trade block). Eventually, it came out that Clyde's girlfriend is a big Cole fan, thus explaining his brief foray into pop culture. It was a startling experience, to say the least.
- While we're on the topic, Gibson posted a delightful line. "The Bosom" shot 4-20 from the field, but 3-8 from downtown. That means he was [calculating...calculating ] 1-11 from two-point range. He shot 1-7 in the paint. Scouting report: CLOSE OUT.
- I mentioned Shawne Williams in passing, but he deserves his own bullet. Extra E took his couple of poops, and also ripped down 7 rebounds in just 21 minutes. He was perhaps the only Knick who really looked like he gave a shit. It's not a good sign when a guy who looks like he's half asleep is the one who appears to care the most. Incidentally, his back-to-back pooping-in-the-corner threes have been dubbed "deja poo" by our very own stingy d. I hope to reuse that.
- Clyde, reacting to boos from the Cleveland crowd after an unfavorable call: "The reticent crowd finally showing their wrath!".
- Mike D'Antoni expressed intention to go to his bench more, and I guess he kind of came through. Toney Douglas played 23 (awful) minutes, which is about his season's average but up from previous games. Same for Ronny Turiaf, whose 15 minutes were below-average (obviously, since he used to start) but his most in weeks. Williams's 21-minute spin was the only major departure from recent rotations. Bill Walker (still injured?), Timofey Mozgov, and Anthony Randolph all remained bench-bound. With the benefit of hindsight, I kind of think that was a mistake.
- Raymond Felton's line (23 and 11) was decent, and his jumpers kept the Knicks afloat in the second half, but he struggled with the pick-and-roll. Surely, part of the problem stemmed from plain old weariness and a torso that's probably just a giant bruise at this point, but Felton's struggles were eerily reminiscent of November. Cleveland stacked their defense to contest Amar'e's rolls to the rim, and Felton couldn't make them pay by penetrating or threading the needle. Granted, that's a lot to ask, especially with Amar'e reverting to his habit of slipping every single screen. Set the pick, big fella.
- It didn't help that there was almost nothing doing away from the ball. Landry Fields and Wilson Chandler weren't getting their usual buckets off of backdoor cuts, for whatever reason.
- The Knicks had symmetrical troubles defending the pick-and-roll. Varejao sets a mean pick, and Toney and Raymond had a great deal of trouble staying with Mo Williams and Breast Gibson through screens. Williams alone pretty much won the overtime period by repeatedly creating off Varejao picks.
- Stoudemire had a chance to win it in regulation, but his little step-back jumper caught front rim. A week ago, the Knicks were getting all the breaks down the stretch. Last night, not so much.
- Clyde: "Antawn Jamesurn".
That'll be all. Stinky, stinky game. The good news is that these spent Knicks don't play again until Wednesday. the bad news is that it'll be against Kevin Durant (unless he gets traded, of course) and the rather vivacious Oklahoma City Thunder. After that, it's Chicago, Miami, and Orlando. Poop.