That comment quoted in the headline is a pretty apt description by Kupe, I think. There's no doubt that this game against the Nets was ugly. I don't mean that in the sloppy, clumsy sense, but in the sense that failing to defend and box out and falling down sixteen in the first half to one of the league's worst teams is about as unsightly as it gets. The game ended sweetly, though, and there's beauty in New York finally storming ALL the way back and overcoming their earlier transgressions. They did it with better defense and snappy ball movement, too, which was quite pretty. Oh, and Carmelo Anthony. We'll dig deeper after the jump, but suffice to say that Melo did gorgeous things in this one. Particularly after halftime, he took what the defense gave him, created for himself when appropriate, and set the table for others when doubled. THAT was beautiful. I may have wept.
Again, they made it unnecessarily difficult for themselves, but the Knicks got it done, and that's fine by me. Take the jump for some more notes.
- My thoughts on Carmelo Anthony's performance could probably be summed up by just nodding furiously, but let's flesh it out a bit, shall we? First of all, Melo didn't play lockdown D by any measure, but he did chase Travis Outlaw (and Anthony Morrow on a few possessions) pretty diligently through screens and off open looks. Why he uses his hands so much (illegally) is beyond me, but I appreciate the enthusiasm. Ten rebounds, too. Melo looked like he gave a shit, and we'll take it, right? Offensively, Melo was nothing short of masterful. The familiar aspects of his offensive game were at their best. Travis Outlaw didn't have a chance of sticking with Anthony, as the headbanded bro repeatedly evaded him on the left side of the floor (less luck on the right) and made acrobatic finishes over the help defense He didn't rely too heavily on the midrange stuff (which is good, because he was kind of off on long twos), got to the rim, canned his threes, and dropped 39. It's kinda funny that he seemingly can't crack 40, but tonight was superb. Twenty points in that third quarter, by the way. Renaissance Melo.
- That's not the half of it, though. Throughout the night, but especially in the fourth quarter, the Nets threw double teams at Melo and he managed them with as much poise as we've ever seen from him. His best stretch of double-busting [gigglez] came [further gigglez] in the fourth quarter, when he, Anthony Carter, and Shelden Williams made sweet triangle music. On two consecutive possessions, Melo got doubled and immediately found the open Carter, who wriggled around until Shelden streaked to the rim for an easy feed and finish. Those sequences had me hopping around and screaming like a chimp. I might've flung some poo. Terrific stuff. The Knicks as a team may not have matched their intensity from the Orlando game, but I thought Carmelo Anthony did.
- Amar'e Stoudemire had himself a decent enough offensive outing, again turning efficient shooting into 20-odd points. He looked a tad springier tonight, especially in a first half flurry of jumpers (which we'd been missing of late). That defense, though, continued to nauseate. The Nets pounded on a button the Magic didn't push nearly enough on Monday. They ran the pick-and-roll with Brook Lopez, Kris Humphries and Johan Petro, and Amar'e did the usual thing where he stands in the single least useful place he can reach in a timely fashion. I swear he'd rather go sit in the nosebleeds than actually impede somebody's path after the screen. Oh, and his isolation D on Lopez (and Petro) was just horrid. He turned into a scarecrow as soon as Lopez made a move and practically sat cross-legged in the restricted area while Brook and Johan snaggled putbacks. He had one rebound against the notoriously board-averse Lopez, who had 9. Fairly distressing stuff, and it actually appeared at one point that Phil Weber was reaming Amar'e out for his laziness. I really hope it's just tired legs and that he'll be rowdy as ever on Sunday.
- The Chauncey Billups experience is taking years off my life. A line of 33 points on 23 shots (10 free throws), six rebounds, and six assists looks splendid, and Chauncey really did make some important plays. He sank a few big threes (and drew a crucial trio of free throws), made a nice pick 'n' roll feed or two (!), and looked sharp creating off the dribble. What didn't look sharp was when he didn't even bother to "create", and sort of just spewed awful jumpers at random. What's the deal with that? Is it a tic or something? He hits like one in five of those bewildering pull-ups early in the shot clock. The rest kill momentum, trigger opposing fast breaks, and make my eyeballs pop out of my head Obie-style.
- The above three scored 95 points. The other six Knicks scored 25.
- Have you heard that saying about walking/running being "controlled falling"? Nobody demonstrates that more than Travis Outlaw. If you focus on him long enough, you'll think the court is on a 45 degree decline.
- Shelden Williams really couldn't handle Brook Lopez and ended up playing just 17 minutes as a starter. He did convert those three deliveries from Melo/Carter, though (and one splendid touchdown pass-dunk from Carter) and grab some important boards. I also continue to be a big fan of running Shelden (or Ronny Turiaf or whoever) through the pick 'n' roll with Amar'e Stoudemire lingering at the elbow. That always seems to open up an easy J for Stoudemire.
- I refuse to concede that Jared Jeffries doesn't have positive things to offer on the court, but he hasn't offered very many positive things recently. Jared committed two pretty ghastly touch fouls on guys finishing at the rim. I suppose his defense was part of that third quarter run, but I haven't been impressed recently.
- Landry Fields hardly played (just 15 minutes) and sat most (if not all) of the second and fourth. This was curious, since the Knicks were getting outrebounded so badly, but Landry's inability to stick with Morrow (who, as Clyde said, caused the Knicks sorrow) is probably what grounded him.
- Shawne Williams was quiet, but he threw some nice passes, participated in the game-changing third quarter D and boxed out more than any other Knick (i.e. I saw him box out this one time). Shawne's back spasms are probably affecting his form, as he missed three pretty open pooportunities. Sometimes you just miss the bowl, I guess. I used to do that a lot, too.
- Toney Douglas couldn't make shots either, but he had a huuuuuuge offensive rebound and a pair of clutch free throws in crunch time.
- Clyde on the Knicks' second quarter malaise: "The plot sickens". Fire.
- ?uestlove sat courtside! I think that was the first time I've ever seen him at a Knicks game.
- When Mike Breen announced that Jill Martin would be interviewing Dean Cain (who is apparently a person and apparently plays Superman in something), Clyde quipped about Jill wearing her "Lois Lane glasses", which caused Breen to issue a full measure of deep, slightly creepy chortling. It only got more awkward when the Cain guy said his weakness was women and Jill said something about "going down Lois Lane".
- When Amar'e was out with foul trouble in the third, it looked like Jeffries and the Williamses were instructed to double pick 'n' rolls. Deron Williams is plenty talented enough to pass right out of those, but he usually couldn't find the roller and had to kick to the perimeter. (That often ended in a Morrow trey, but I still like the defensive strategy better than whatever Amar'e was doing.)
- This commercial for the new Ford Edge advertises that it's equipped to read your text messages. How is that even remotely appealing? Who of you wants a car that reads all conversations and probably passes all sorts of judgment? That shit's supposed to be private, Ford. The 2013 model is going to watch you masturbate or something.
And now the best part: rest! The Knicks put together a mini-streak heading into three full days of recovery. They're back to work Sunday evening in yet another match-up with those meddling Cavaliers. For now, we can revel in a win that was far too convoluted, but still enough to end March on a positive note and help build some momentum into the first meaningful April in quite some time.