Cool. A lot of us feared a reprise of the bad old Knicks-- the ones who often sank to the level of inferior opponents-- and we actually experienced that for part of the second quarter, but New York otherwise chewed and swallowed the severely shorthanded Hornets without choking. If they didn't totally fart away that second quarter, this could have been a 40-point win.
The game opened with Carmelo Anthony cooking a huge cauldron of spicy, delicious soup. He drilled eight of nine shots, scoring over, through, and around the likes of Al-Farouq Aminu, Ryan Anderson, and Xavier Henry. Melo single-handedly defeated the Hornets in that quarter, giving New York a double-digit lead...
...that they promptly squandered. New York's reserves switched aimlessly on the perimeter, allowing Ryan Anderson and NBA basketball player Brian Roberts to torch them from downtown. Even once the starters returned, a defense with a foul-troubled, tentative Tyson Chandler at center couldn't stop dribble penetration.
Thankfully, the Knicks survived the half up five, then ran their lead up to double digits almost immediately after the break. Much better defense and a nice streak of threes put New York up big, leaving the fourth quarter to the stylings of the garbage bros and the feverish slump-busting efforts of Steve Novak.
Some quick sundry notes from a win that, like Ozraider said, was just fun. Fun and almost completely worry-free.
- One of MSG's pre-written "keys to the game" was "get physical with Davis", which would have been a really shitty thing to do to a guy sitting on the sideline in a suit.
- Jason Kidd, wearing the most revolting headgear I've ever seen (a starfish-shaped bandage with a jaunty black headband) made one of the more wizardly defensive plays I've ever seen (among many other brilliant defensive reads and passes and stuff). In the third quarter, he encountered Al-Farouq Aminu dribbling full-speed into the paint in transition, effortlessly snaggled the ball from his hands--spinning 180 degrees toward the baseline in the process-- then, in the same motion, threw a short, behind-the-back outlet pass. Like, he was already beginning his passing motion while the Hornets possessed the ball. It was beautiful.
- Speaking of doing things before you have possession, I and a lot of you and some people on Twitter are noticing the same phenomenon: Some of Steve Novak's three-point struggles seem to stem from faulty catches. His accelerated release has him fumbling a lot of kick-outs and jarring the very beginning of his motion. Seems like he's over-thinking things. Even after watching him shoot 2-10 from downtown (and don't worry, most of that came after the game was already decided, when he was just chucking for the sake of it), I'm confident if he can relocate his stroke if he just settles down. Some meditation or opiate abuse might help.
- With those two fouls, Tyson Chandler really didn't play a lick of defense in the second quarter (Is a "lick" a small unit of measurement? Why is that a saying?). He elected to defend penetrating guards by just staring at them and hoping they'd get spooked. It actually worked a few times, too. After halftime, Herb Williams made it clear to Tina Cervasio that the coaching staff had strongly encouraged Chandler to be more aggressive in the second half, and he was. He played much better help D, actually got some finishes and foul calls inside, and rebounded.
- It should be noted that, along with his amazingly soupy scoring, Melo did a terrific job passing out of doubles, defending Aminu/Anderson, and rebounding in that first half. He got a liiiittle selfish and shake-and-bake-y in the second half (Clyde screamed "Move it! Move it!" while watching him battle a quadruple-team), but stayed hot enough to somewhat justify that behavior. The man was just humiliating folks off the dribble. My favorite move of his was a vaguely Jordan-esque half-spin, then half-spin back toward the right baseline to finish a sort of back-handed lay-in past three defenders.
- "UNDEFEATED! UNDEFEATED" - Josh Brolin, pretending to be a Knicks fan. More like Josh BRO-lin, right? Wait.
- I enjoyed watching Jason Smith set a screen by shoving Steve Novak with two hands, only to totally whiff the catch as he rolled to the rim.
- That second quarter, though. NBA player Brian Roberts really punished 'em. Pablo Prigioni simply couldn't keep a hand in his face and B-Rob (I'm certain people call him that) drilled three after uncontested three.
- A lot of those non-close-outs stemmed from someone blowing by Novak off the dribble. That "someone" was Roger Mason Jr. one time, which may be used as evidence in the case of Steve Novak vs. Isn't A Very Good Defender.
- Raymond Felton got all 15 of his points on three-pointers (5-6). Most of those were open makes off the catch out of Melo post-ups, and I'm fine with that.
- We got to see more of Mike Woodson's trollish tendencies, as he subbed in James White with three minutes remaining in the third quarter and the Knicks only up 16. It's the ol' "Guess what, snitches, it's garbage time. Because I fucking say it is, that's why" maneuver. Then again, the last time he did that was with Rasheed Walllace, and Sheed ended up joining the rotation. So maybe look for White to actually get some minutes soon?
- Speaking of White, we finally go to watch Flight 75/Flight 8/Please Pick a Flight Number You're Confusing the Passengers take off. He threw down a massive, one-handed, fast break slamjam in the fourth quarter. Hit a three and wore strikingly orange shoes as well.
- After Rasheed Wallace airballed a lefty hook shot, Clyde gave him an on-air talking to: "He's gotta can that left hand". Disobey Clyde at your own peril, Rasheed.
That'll be all. It was a simple, fun win over a bad, depleted team. Nice job keeping the guys rested for the second of a back-to-back in Dallas tomorrow night. Oh, and great game thread tonight, guys. Good night, you goddamn weirdos.