I liked that one a lot better. After a frustrating loss on Friday, the Knicks defended better, rebounded better and, as commenter BJabs pointed out in the postgame thread, found a winning equation on offense. Amar'e Stoudemire, who struggled in the previous game, returned with a fury and dropped a season-high 41 points on just 21 shots. Landry Fields joined in the personal-besting with 25 points on five exceedingly Landry three-pointers.
Take the jump for a few quick notes before we all go gorge ourselves.
- First of all, Amar'e deserves a standing ovation for a steady, dominating performance. Seriously. Get up and applaud for a second. Those other people on the bus won't judge you. The cap'n just refused to miss, dropping 17 of his 21 shots despite multiple defenders and quite a bit of contact. There really wasn't much to it. Amar'e got a few looks off the pick-and-roll, made some superb moves off the dribble, and was sopping wet from outside. It was a really terrific performance, and I didn't even mention Stoudemire's four blocks. Well, now I did.
- For the Sixers, Elton Brand was creepily dominant once more. His ability to drain short jumpers against the Knicks is automatic almost to the point of being robotic. How he doesn't do that consistently against other teams is beyond me. Brand was defended pretty excellently by Timofey Mozgov , but managed 28 points on 10-14 shooting nonetheless (although a lot of that came against other defenders).
- And hey, not a bad game from Mozgov! Starting at center, Timo logged 30 minutes, let the offense come to him (1-3), and was a force on the other end with 8 rebounds and 3 blocks. Those 3 swats were primarily feats of help defense under the rim, and they also tied Timo's personal best. Mozgov also tied an NBA record with six fouls.
- Landry Fields, though. Man oh man. We hadn't seen a truly Landry performance in a week or two, and the rookie couldn't have shown up at a better time. His 10 rebounds led everybody on the court and he nailed three big three-pointers in the game's final quarter, finishing with a career-high 25 points (10-13) in total. We almost take Landry's ability to finish at the rim for granted at this point, but the downtown stuff is seriously mind-blowing. Osborn, who was watching the Philadelphia broadcast, learned and shared that Fields leads the entire league in fourth quarter three-point accuracy at over 60%. How in hell was that statistic not brought to our attention before today? Keep gunnin' in crunchtime, Mr. Fields.
- Both Fields and Toney Douglas (who was otherwise very solid) had an inordinate number of lazy, deliberate passes that either got picked or sailed out of bounds. That's easily fixed. It's all in the wrist.
- Danilo Gallinari was in and out of the offensive spotlight all afternoon, but we got a brief early glimpse of how things go when he handles the ball a lot in the halfcourt set. Gallo started the game attacking, and a couple of good things happened. For one, he got a couple of buckets in transition and by backing down smaller defenders. For two, he drove and kicked the ball out to Amar'e for easy jumpers. For three, he drew two fouls against Andre Iguodala and got him sent to the bench. Gallo's meager 6 attempts belie what was actually a fairly active game (4-6 from the line, 5 assists), but this Knick fan wouldn't mind even more usage for the Cock. For the squillionth time, good things happen when Gallo has the ball.
- Raymond Felton shot poorly from downtown (1-6), but did pretty much everything else adequately. Even though the threes aren't falling, Ray's relocated his pull-up jumper from inside the arc. He was also typically deadly on the move, including one excellent play in which he beat a full-court press by driving straight to the rim from halfcourt. On the other end, credit Felton with catching a bit of that Toney Douglas magic and getting over screens like a champ. To my eye, the Knicks were forced into less mismatches and defensive scrambles than they usually are.
- I mentioned it in passing, but I really, really love the pick-and-roll between Felton and Mozgov with Amar'e on the elbow. Timo is a perfectly capable finisher on the roll (as well as a very big target for Felton), and teams are hard-pressed to double off Amar'e, given his propensity to splash from mid-range. We only saw that a handful of times today, but that strikes me as a creative, effective way to get Amar'e the ball.
- Toney Douglas, after missing a layup, slipped and fell on top of a little kid who was sitting on the baseline. DWTDD is contagious, you know. Don't be surprised to see that kid playing lockdown defense in the near future.
- Amar'e got his 14th technical of the season for, like, skipping after a disagreeable call. I think the league will rescind that. They can't take skipping from us.
- Wilson Chandler, still coming off the bench, looked a bit passive, but shot much better (5-12) in a 12-point outing off the bench. Something about his on-court demeanor still saddens me.
- For those of you as confused as I was when Clyde and Kenny Albert were discussing some nonsense about getting three chances to make two free throws, here you go:
• The 24-second shot clock is introduced.
• A penalty free throw is awarded following a team’s sixth foul in any quarter.
Both rules had to be adopted to make each one work. The time limit made in unnecessary for the trailing team to foul deliberately, since it would get the ball after 24 seconds. The foul limit made it too costly to foul to prevent a chance at a basket.
• The penalty for a backcourt foul became two shots – three to make two if you are over the limit.
• Three free throws to make two; two to make one eliminated.
- UPDATE: Somehow, I forgot to mention that the Knicks shot 59.7% from the field, including 11-27 from downtown. That's a very good way to win a basketball game.
It's time to go get Super Bowl snaxxx, so I'm going to leave you with that. It was a much better performance on both ends and a much-needed win to regain some distance in the standings after Friday's collapse. The Knicks are back at it on Wednesday against the Clippers.