I could really just post the above comment from gunsbound and leave it at that. We got a look tonight at just how crucial Tyson Chandler (and, to a lesser extent, Jared Jeffries) is to the Knicks. Chandler's sore hamstring left the Knicks with a Tyson-sized gap in the paint, and the Spurs strode right through that gap to an incredibly efficient offensive game. Neither Iman Shumpert (in a starting role) nor Jeremy Lin could stay even remotely in front of Tony Parker, and Parker zipped effortlessly into the paint over and over and over again. The help defense usually didn't arrive, allowing Parker to score, and when it did, it was late and not followed by the necessary rotations, leaving Spur shooters wide open on the perimeter. Tim Duncan got his points when he wanted 'em, too, because Josh Harrellson and Amar'e Stoudemire didn't have a shot against him. The Knicks just didn't really play defense. When the Spurs missed shots, it was mostly their own doing.
The Knick offense didn't have much going on either, but we'll run through some things quickly after the jump.
- Carmelo Anthony had a prettttttty different game from the one he had in Dallas. For one, he dispensed almost completely with the off-ball cuts and post-ups and just called for the ball on the wings and went to work. He started looking sharp, then went cold for a while, then got to cookin' soup in the second half. Not that any of it mattered, but it was good to see Melo hitting jumpers. He made a few nice passes out of isolation and the pick-and-roll, but also neglected a parade of wide-ass open cutters. I'm not really sure what to make of Melo's game. If I had to pick one word, it would be...um..."varnish".
- Amar'e Stoudemire waved a friendly hello to penetrating guards and helped DeJuan Blair by pointing out offensive rebounds that he might like to grab, which was nice. (On the other hand, he hit six of twelve shots, got to the line, and somehow pulled down 11 rebounds. We're cool.)
- Jeremy Lin managed a pretty decent stat line (20 points, 4 assists), but, again, seemed overly attached to the ball when on the move. Before we were all like "yo, settle down with the home run passes. You're committing too many turnovers" and now I'm kind of like "maybe toss a few more home run passes, even if you have to commit some turnovers?". I just don't know.
- Iman Shumpert started and spent a lot of time guarding Parker. All my notes on him include the phrase "under screen" except for "WHY GO AWAY FROM THE HEADBAND???" in all caps like that.
- Josh Harrellson's defense against Duncan was a noble failure and the jumper thing hasn't really been happening, but he got dirty for loose balls and wrassled for rebounds, particularly on the offensive glass (five). And stuff. Not a bad outing as a replacement starter with pretty much no back-up.
- Landry Fields played solidly in his new bench role, canning a jumper or two and gliding backdoor to finish some of the best, easiest Knick plays of the evening.
- Steve Novak didn't get much of a chance to snipe, so J.R. Smith stepped up in his place, hit four of seven threes, and looked so, so relieved.
- Is "missing a bunch of horrid shots but getting things really rowdy on both ends of the floor and ending the game with an unreasonably high assist total" becoming Baron Davis's thing? There are worse things to have be your thing, I guess.
- Davis knocked T.J. Ford to the ground at one point and Tiago Splitter stepped very hard onto Ford's head while he was on the ground. It got scary, but since Ford was reported to be okay later on, we can concentrate on the fact that Clyde called Splitter "Spurspritter" when describing the replay.
- More Clyde: "Swiss cheese defense! Cheese tasting good out there tonight!". Just go with it.
- More from the announcers: Clyde: "[Some long-winded thing about how the 'KFC Bucket Chart' reminds him of how basketball used to be played with a peach basket and you had to climb a ladder to get the ball out and stuff"]. Breen: "It just reminds me of chicken."
- Just ten turnovers! Heyyyy!!!
- Gregg Popovich evidently had tickets to a show or a date or diarrhea or something and just decided to start snarling and shouting at the ref for no apparent reason until the guy ejected him. That was a highlight.
That's really all I've got, since by the fourth quarter I was paying more attention to Renaldo Balkman's Twitter feed (he deep fried Oreos!) and videos of otters than I was the game. It was a rough one. The Knicks missed Chandler and Jeffries badly, and they looked pretty sluggish (but not too sloppy!!!) on offense. Shit ain't working right now.