Going into Wednesday's game, the Knicks slapped down another new starting lineup, one we hadn't seen up to this point. It appears Coach Fisher is trying to get everyone reps in every situation worth considering. It wasn't a game that actually mattered-- as JRMyth noted in the game thread, "a preseason game but it's a start." These Knicks need everything they can get to build on, and a win isn't going to solve all their woes, but a win certainly should help shepherd them forward.
First and foremost, let's discuss the game-winning play. We saw a succulent sideline out-of-bounds into a triangle featuring Carmelo Anthony, with Pablo Prigioni and Cole Aldrich as the set-up men.
Carmelo Anthony ended up with a mid-range post up iso, just off the left block. Once in his kitchen, Melo chopped some necks, and tossed it into the cauldron! The key to this play is that Melo received the ball through action and Aldrich was decoyed across the lane to the right baseline, preventing Marcin Gortat from double-teaming early in the possession and forcing Melo to get rid of that thing. From there, though, the soup was on.
It was not, however, all delicious stew in this clunker. Some notes...
- Shane Larkin got the start in place of the injured Jose Calderon and nearly committed a turnover directly after controlling the jump ball. Shane also did a good job of reading the front and back of John Wall's jersey all game. He was the perfect height for it. Shane was a little more under control though, and tried to create with purpose, but it's plain to see that he needs to work on exerting his patience, then finding the correct passing or driving lane. I honestly have faith, if not patience. And there's plenty of time for him to spin and figure things out. I believe it's called garbage time.
- Jason Smith, who has flashed some intrigue here and there since the birth of his baybay, was a dead mouse in the massive cat-paws of Nene in the early going. He was able to can a few jumpers, and sort of turn the tide, but his game just lacks oomph right now. Thankfully he naturally gravitates toward the correct spaces, and appears unselfish. Before long he could prove to be a useful hub for lots of actions out of the triangle.
- Speaking of cat paws, Samuel Dalembert contested at the rim with feline quickness and the dexterity of a blood spatter technician that was also a serial killer-serial killer. Sammy gets feisty and wants to make sure everyone knows that he means business once in a while, and tonight was that moody night. He swatted three shots right at the rim, and somehow managed to dish out 5 assists, despite flitting away some of the laziest passes of the pre-season. He had one gem of an outlet to Larkin that got insufflated by John Wall and crammed with two hands. Sam's reaction was (if I may) catatonic. In just under 25 minutes he did little else of note and was a net negative.
- The Knicks used five unique lineups in the first quarter alone, my favorite of which was Pablo Prigioni, JR Smith, Iman Shumpert, Amar'e Stoudemire and Cole Aldrich. The most interesting lineup of the game, to me, was probably Pablo, JR, Cleanthony Early, Carmelo and Cole (used midway through the 4th).
- The first quarter was disjointed and stoned. Many a Knick perused the floor for the most careless pass they could imagine. Their hazy approach led to clean swipes from Nene and John Wall. A few lookaway mishaps also led to transition opportunities for the rest of the 'Zards.
- John Wall gave us the business right from the jump. He drove constantly to the middle of the paint and looked to score or kicked to the baseline, corners and wings for clean looks. Somewhat miraculously, the Knicks managed to stay close.
-This guy was behind the Washington bench:
- In the second quarter Coach Fisher tightened the rotation a smidge, using only three unique lineups. The defense also adjusted to John Wall's forays into the paint, daring him to go baseline, which seemed to confuse the entire Washington offense. This helped contain him a bit in the half court.
- Iman Shumpert won an Emmy for his episode of the Beginnings series. Al Trautwig broke the news to him, which was taped before the game. The normally boisterous young man transformed to a downright bashful little guy. It was pretty heartwarming. Underneath the bombast, he's got a big heart. No wonder he was so perilously affected by last season's dreck. We love ya, baby! Keep ripping fools who dare handle loosely around that old wily shumpertooth! Gnarling and snarling.
- After this tribute, in the actual game, Shump proceeded to nail two dribble pull-ups and a three. How serendipitous! Later on, Shump was inserted for the final defensive possession and he mauled Wall, completely disrupting the play and forcing a rushed heave that didn't connect. Kudos on this play also go to Cleanthony Early for rushing out to Wall, who was gathering the loose ball near half court, then containing the dribble for a beat, disrupting the now broken play even further, and allowing teammates to rush and contest the final shot.
-The Knicks on the floor for the last stand were Pablo, JR, Shump, Cle and Melo. It's almost as if Fisher doesn't want to get kicked to the curb.
- Marcin Gortat hollered "Hell Yea" several times. Most noticeably after the Knicks were called for a defensive three second violation. The Hammer got right underneath the rim and hollered it two or three times. He's a kook, and I dig it.
- At the half the Knicks snuck out in front for a one-point lead. Bill Pidto annoyed the hell out of me for slightly over 150 seconds, but I didn't let it ruin my night.
- Cole got some good burn, and made some funky-butt shots, including a majestic left hand, underhand up-and-under twisting scoop shot. He got some serious stinky crunch time minutes and contributed mightily in his 20 minutes. If he wasn't perceived as a goober, he'd be getting more minutes. All hail.
- The third quarter led to a series of turnovers and boneheaded garbage. and the Wizards opened up a bit of a lead. Knicks crawled their asses back into the game though, and ya know what, I wanted to win the damn thing. So I said to the TV, "Hey get Carmelo in there, ya bums! Lets win one of these meaningless games for once in our pointless existence."
- Sure enough, I Fished My Wish™. Carmelo hopped up off the bench and headed to the scorer's table. The rest was preseason history, and won't matter hardly at all. Oh and in case you didn't already know, Melo deboned the Wiz, and is a bonafide superstar in this league. Talk as much shit as you need to, but recognize this guy is a huge scary beast who feasts on your glazed donut face ass bones.
- There wasn't too much else to take away from this game. Pablo snuck in 11 points without missing a shot, including three triples. Amar'e Stoudemire busted out 13 points and 8 boards to go along with five turnovers. Both teams were missing key contributors (Bradley Beal, Jose Calderon…
Pog Pairs, Androgynous Balgona). This game served as one of our last looks at newbies and rooks, while painting a clearer picture of what to expect during the regular season with regard to rotations. I like the ball movement, and the effort on both ends. This team leaves a lot to be desired still, but with any luck we'll be rounding the corner of decency by December.
Final tune up comes Friday in Toronto. Robert Randolph becomes you.