Can't disagree with Tomahawk Stomp on that headline quote from the thread. Tonight was a really, really good time. Every Knick that stepped on the floor contributed meaningfully on both ends of it, and New York notched just their second wire-to-wire win of the season. Though they gave up a ton of points in garbage time and won by just 15, this game wasn't nearly that close. For the second game in a row since Mike Woodson became head coach, the Knicks locked the opposition down in the first half. Indiana came out with the sluggishness and the Knicks punished 'em for it with smothering defense, forced turnovers, and easy baskets the other way. This time around, they actually added to their lead in the third and led by as many as 32 points in the second half.
I'd like to put down my computer and celebrate, so the notes'll be quick. I'll probably add more tomorrow.
- Woodson-y things: Relatively quick subs again, relatively little switching defensively but plenty of hedges and traps, and, for whatever reason, considerably more energy on defense and around loose balls than we've seen all season. Also, the Knicks continued to look sharp out of timeouts. They ran a couple really nice lobs and got Jeremy Lin some wide open jumpers on inbound plays.
- Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire shot poorly, but both, in an incredibly important turn of events, played solid defense and contributed in other aspects of the game. Melo's defense on Danny Granger was terrific-- hyperactive and overzealous at times, but genuinely irritating even before Granger got the ball and a major reason he finished with just 9 points. Melo also pulled down seven rebounds and point-forwarded a few times, tossing a lob here and a bullet entry pass there to add five assists to his line. Amar'e looked a little earthbound on his inside attempts, but did other little things like getting a hand in David West's face, laying out for a loose ball, and making a couple nifty dish-offs near the basket.
- Lin bungled a couple plays with lost dribbles and telegraphed passes, but played a very nice game otherwise. He had the ball in his hands plenty and made some fantastic entry passes, some of his signature lead-lobs in transition, and earned himself six free throws. Sank his jumpers, too.
- It was a balanced team effort and stuff, but Tyson Chandler led the Knicks on both ends. On defense, he draped himself over Roy Hibbert and harassed him into 2-10 shooting on mostly inside shots. On offense, Chandler's hands (taped wrist and all) were as soft as they've been all season. He finished his easy plays at the rim, but also got friendly rolls on a couple tough attempts an arm's length from the rim with a defender all up in his personal space. 'Twas another dominant outing from a man whose feet I would probably kiss if I ever encountered them.
- Landry Fields missed open shots again, but played very touchy-feely defense and started a number of fast breaks by tipping out rebounds and slapping away Pacer dribbles.
- Jared Jeffries did a very nice Tyson Chandler impression in just six minutes (?) of playing time. His highlight plays were an incredible sequence in which he put backcourt pressure on Darren Collison, then sprinted downcourt to swat a wide open Hibbert at the rim and an equally incredible sequence in which he drove all the way from the three-point line to hit a layup.
- You are ridiculous, Steve Novak. Just ridiculous. 4-8 from downtown, and some genuinely scrappy effort on defense and around the glass.
- J.R. Smith got rowdy again in garbage time, but even before that, played nicely. He hit several important jumpers in the third quarter and, amazingly, pulled back on a fast break, ran clock, and sent a timely pass to Steve Novak in the final seconds of the third quarter. Woodson pulled him in the fourth quarter and appeared to give him a bit of a talking-to after he got T'd up for hanging on the rim after an alley-oop reverse dunk from Iman Shumpert.
- Shumpert shumped. He pestered the shit out of George Hill defensively and made some gorgeous diagonal drives (and finishes!) going the other way.
- Baron Davis was cookin' soup in the first half, including an absurd off-balance jumper to beat the first quarter buzzer, but strained his hamstring and had to leave the game. He'll be out for the weekend. I'll post on that in the morning with the most recent updates.
- Josh Harrellson came in for garbage time and managed seven points-- including two gorgeous slipped picks and an open corner three-- in just seven minutes.
- Mike Bibby also joined in the garbage time fun after loud chants (egged on by Jeffries) for him to come in the game. He hit a three. Jerome Jordan got to play, too.
- Clyde sang a little Isley Brothers when mentioning the fact that David West is from Teaneck, then could be heard singing along to The Temptations while Mike Breen was leading into an interview segment.
- With Davis out, Shumpert ran a bunch of point in the second half. He didn't try to create too much, with the Knicks creating most of their offense by just playing four-out and swinging the ball around the perimeter.
- Edie Falco, speaking to Jill Martin about making a living at halftime: "I would have done anything back in the day. Well, not anything."
- Clyde, while discussing what a nice guy Steve Novak is: "He's always coming to the game and touching my suits."
- Clyde, announcing a Steve Novak highlight package: "Let's take a look at why they call him 'Novakaine'. He's lethal, folks". I'm no doctor, but I don't think lethality is something people look for from Novocaine.
I'll be back in the morning with some additional thoughts and updates on Baron's status. Tonight was another terrific, dominant outing against a team that came out unprepared for such energy from these Knicks. Everybody played a role on offense and defense, and just played with a palpable air of vigor and joy. I don't know what about the coaching change incited such a total turnaround in enthusiasm, but I'm not gonna argue with it. Nicely done, Knicks. Got another one with the Pacers tomorrow, and they're likely to come out extra pissed off this time around.