We needed that. it took some reflection to realize, but we hadn't really gotten to relax since the All-Star break. Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Bilups were in uniform just days after joining the team, and each game with the new guys had been a close battle. We, and the Knicks no doubt, needed a relatively stress-free evening, and the Hornets were more than happy to oblige (as they were earlier this season, oddly enough). Chris Paul and company brought their month-long doldrums to Madison Square Garden, putting up minimal resistance and folding pretty early in the evening. (Spill some Yoo-hoo out for Hornets fans. They're in a bad way.)
Meanwhile, a whole gaggle of Knicks broke out of their slumps. Toney Douglas, starting in place of the injured Chauncey Billups, shook free of his shooting woes at the absolute perfect moment. He did what Toney Douglas do on rapid jolts to the rim and deep pull-up jumpers off screens, all with remarkable efficiency. Toney's 24-point outing wasn't the only slumpbuster, though. Shawne Williams's four downtown poops eclipsed his February-long constipation. Landry Fields finally got a bit of a rhythm in the second half. Even Roger Mason Jr., he of the single made field goal this season, arose from the bench amid cheers and buried both of his jumpers.
Pretty much everything else went swimmingly. Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire each had moments of brilliance, including some that overlapped. As a whole, this new squad finally shot well and, above all else, finally got a chance to cruise through the final minutes. It felt good for all parties not wearing Mardi Gras gold, and as sadderbudweiser said in the postgame thread, we all really needed that.
I have very few notes beyond the above (tonight was pleasant almost to the point of being dull). They can be found after the jump.
- I should probably have some insight into the way Toney Douglas works by now, but I really don't. I don't know what separates his 10-13 line tonight from his 3-21 shooting in the three previous games besides shots going in vs. not doing that. Perhaps Toney's inside opportunities got the blood flowing for his outside form. Perhaps he finds better looks with the first unit. Perhaps he's just a streak shooter. If you have any ideas, share them in the comments. All I know is I like WTDD on this particular night.
- It was great to see Landry and Shawne hit some shots as well. Landry's improvement was subtler; he just connected on a few of the shots he'd been overcooking previously. Extra E, though, experienced a full-fledged poop explosion, draining all four of his threes in the second half. Wonderful things.
- After all the "We want Melo" chanting a few weeks ago, it was reassuring to see fans at the Garden show some appreciation for their own, and not just the starters. Jared Jeffries, who pulled down four offensive rebounds in his Knick renaissance, got a nice "Ja-red Jeff-ries" chant from the crowd. Once things had gotten hand, some fans put together a "Ro-ger Ma-son" chant, and the classy vet responded with two delightful jumpers. The whole event made me very happy for Roger and mankind as a whole.
- "Back like Jeffries, wearin' the 9" is going to be a rap lyric someday, right?
- Stoudemire and Anthony made a few nice connections, particularly in transition or off Melo curls, but ran plenty of isolation as well. Amar'e's jumper was right and he made countless plays for himself and others from the elbows. Melo sank some J's, but was most impressive on his drives to the rim, alternating finesse finishes with rugged scores through contact. Business as usual, really.
- Six different players pulled down at least four rebounds. Five different players through at least four assists. Amar'e, Melo, and Toney did both.
- One of the unlikely rebound leaders (he was tied with Stoudemire for a team-leading seven, actually) was Anthony Carter. Carter burrowed in between the big men for those boards, and also pestered the New Orleans backcourt into a handful of turnovers. Meanwhile, Mike Breen informed us that Carter had once dropped out of high school and become a playground hustler in Atlanta. Then some folks from the I Have a Dream Foundation took up his cause and helped him get into junior college, setting in motion a career that took him to the University of Hawaii, the NBA, and eventually here in front of us, snatching rebounds away from David West. Excellent game, excellent story. Again, it was an evening of good feelings.
- Every active player got to spin, which meant Shelden Williams (who did very little) and Derrick Brown (who fouled two people and had a few promising drives stopped by whistles) both got to see the court.
- I don't know why Jarrett Jack and his peanut head always kill the Knicks, but switching big men onto him and giving him room to shoot did not stifle that trend. He was kind of the only 'Net to play well, though Quincy Pondexter's one-handed sweet potato on Jared and Amar'e deserves recognition.
I meannnn...that's pretty much it, babies. I'm very proud of my Knicks, very sorry for Hornets fans, and very ready to sleep on these positive vibes. Good night!