As is indicated in the headline, and as latrell chokewell restated in the post-game thread, the Garden crowd was chanting Timofey Mozgov's name in the closing moment's of Sunday night's win over the Pistons. On any other night, you'd assume that the fans were just begging for Timo to get some garbage time spin. It was not any other night, though. With Wilson Chandler and Shawne Williams respectively sidelined due to a strained calf and a strained relationship with other members of the Williams clan, there were extra frontcourt minutes to go around. Mike D'Antoni gave Mozgov a handful of those minutes, but Timo wouldn't let go. 40 minutes, 23 points, and 14 rebounds later, Mozgov was treated to chants of his name, and even a few gleeful "M-V-P!" cheers while he took free throws.
Oh, and other guys played, too. It was a bizarre evening, even if you subtract the big Russian's sudden emergence. The Knicks played offense in much the same way they have in the last few games: pretty crisp execution, decent activity, but a dearth of makes. The open shots were there; they just wouldn't fall. The Pistons, meanwhile, hit damn near everything. Though they were short-handed as well (sans Rodney Stuckey, Rip Hamilton, and Ben Wallace), the Mighty Mighty Piss-tones were not lacking for offense. Raymond Felton and Landry Fields got shook off screens over and over and over again, and Detroit just kept canning jumpers. Ben Gordon alone hit SEVEN threes and Charlie Villanueva did his dirt as well off the bench. This game was a pretty even see-saw until the fourth quarter, when the Knicks finally tightened up their defense, the Pistons imploded, and things headed rout-ward in a hurry. Danilo Gallinari and Amar'e Stoudemire played a huge role in that, and they shan't be overshadowed just because Timofey came to play.
Take the jump for a little more on the win.
- First of all, Mozgov. What did we see? We saw a shaky start: 0-4 from the field, some rushed attempts, and a couple quick fouls. We then saw Timo stay in the game despite the fouls and make his mark. From that point forward, we saw an expert job filling lanes and making himself available for passes. We saw clean, two-handed catches and effortless tomahawk dunks. We saw alley-oops. We saw an ability to hang and draw contact. We saw a nifty turn-around rainbow and a steady, stagger-legged baseline J. We saw dogged, determined rebounding, although his positioning wasn't always great. We saw a few rookie mistakes. We saw flashes of defense with plenty of room for improvement (mostly stuff early in the possession. I thought he gave up ground too easily). All in all, we saw a solid, promising ballplayer. And since this is clearly where we were headed: We saw pride. We saw power. We saw a badass mother who don't take no crap off of nobody. Timofey Mozgov earned himself a spot in the rotation in this one. We'll see what he does with it.
- Amar'e Stoudemire, playing with a sprained knee (that he appeared to re-injure in the fourth), was excellent. No Piston was quick enough to match him, so Amar'e put the ball on the floor time and time again and made sharp, decisive moves to get buckets, draw fouls, or pass out of help defense. Between whistles, you can tell that the big fella is hurting: he limped around, tested and flexed his joints, and pensively pedaled an exercise bike when subbed out. In live play, though, Amar'e didn't betray much pain. He was quick off the floor and made all of his favorite moves with the usual success. Amar'e Stoudemire's got heaps of Junior Bevil in him as well, but you and I and he already knew that.
- Your third star for the evening was none other than Danilo Gallinari. Gallo posted 29 points on TWELVE shots, including four threes and a sparkling 11-11 at the foul line. He did his work early and late, scoring 11 in the first period, then draining two big threes to help shake off the Pistons in the fourth. I don't have distinct memories of Gallo's defense (appearances by Mozgov and Anthony Randolph can be distracting), but Tayshaun Prince shot just 6-17, so...um...jorb well done? Anyway, this was Danilo's finest game since he was cookin' soup back in mid-November. Here's hoping he keeps it up.
- Oh, and Gallo put one DOWN on Greg Monroe's head and face. Get some:
- Yeah, Anthony Randolph played. Anthony's return to action was much less dramatic than Timo's, but he did gangle his way to 5 rebounds in just 9 minutes. After a decent stint in the first half, Randolph wasn't seen again until the fourth quarter. I wouldn't be surprised if he's headed back to the bench once Chander and E return, but there's no denying that he's capable of making an impact on defense and loose balls. What you also can't deny is that his presence on offense is akin to a daddy long legs' presence in your bathtub. Anthony's teammates are all like, "What is that? Do we give it the ball? Do we ignore it? Do we kill it?" and shit gets creepy and/or unproductive very quickly. Randolph just looks ridiculous in a halfcourt set, and I think it's perfectly justifiable that he sit until his sense of self in space is sharper. That probably requires some coaching, if not some advice from Mr. Mozgov.
- Don't let any of tonight's magic fool you into thinking D'Antoni is getting soft and playing a long rotation. Five men played more than 35 minutes, Toney Douglas played 17, and everybody else played under 10. Coach has single-handedly resurrected the icepack industry in the Tri-State Area.
- The whole "Madison Square Gordon" thing has always been annoying, but...um...Ben Gordon kind of does run shit when he plays at MSG. He missed some ugly ones, but also sank some blind, sky-scraping parabolae over defenders that were as impressive as they were ill-advised. What is it about the Garden? Something about the smell of Ranch 1 chicken and residual urine from 1971 must get Ben feeling RIGHT.
- Like I said, Amar'e was seen humming away on a stationary bike in the tunnel when he wasn't playing basketball. The MSG broadcast showed one person snapping point blank photos, another chatting with Amar'e, and a third offering him a bottle of water. That last person would probably get along with my mom.
- I like this thing where Bill Walker passes up threes and drives and draws contact. I also like the thing where he just shoots the threes, though. I'm easy to please.
- Q: What do a Danilo Gallinari dagger three-pointer, a Danilo Gallinari slam dunk, and a Danilo Gallinari bout of pasta farts have in common? A: He makes the same face after all of them. Legendary stinkface.
- At halftime, Jill Martin really couldn't get Jerry Stiller to stop talking. It was adorable.
- I feel like DaJuan Summers definitely doesn't color in the lines.
- I've said this before, and I'll say it again, Detroit. If you're not going to play Jason Maxiell, then give him to me. Not to the Knicks-- to me. I want to ride around on his shoulder.
- Clyde's moment of the night came when Raymond Felton's pass sailed through Mozgov's hands and directly into Stoudemire's: "He missed the goose, hit the gander!".
Yeah. It was a zany game. The Pistons really shouldn't have stuck around as long as they did, so credit them for staying hot through three quarters, and credit the Knicks for putting an abrupt end to that in the fourth. Fun was had by all. Things could get real very quickly against the Mavericks on Wednesday...or they could get EVEN ZANIER. For now, good night.