This was the second time the Knicks fell to the Raptors in this here pre-seasoning. Toronto is the early favorite to win the Atlantic Division, so it should count for something that New York had their chances to win both encounters. I guess. Pre-season doesn't count, though, so perhaps I'm the unreliable narrator. Maybe what StarksMiddleFinger said in the game thread is what actually counts: "I'll dwell on the positives". I imagine Derek Fisher is trying to impress exactly that on the team in the locker room.
Some notes and thoughts for your consideration, if I may.
- This Montreal crowd was absolutely fantastic all game. It helped that it could have gone either way, but there were legitimately moments where you couldn't quite hear the whistle over the crowd. Great environment, wish I was there! Maybe Adam Silver should move the HEAT to Montreal. Or, I dunno, hell.
- The starting lineup seems to be official. We'll have Calderon and Shumpert at the guards, with Anthony, Jason Smith and Dalembert up front. Calderon was held out for precautionary reasons once again, and Shane Larkin got the spot start.
- While we're on Shane, he came out crisp, looking for catch and shoot chances, limiting his dribble and allowing the defense to light the path for him. He made all the right passes, and applied what seemed like perfectly reasonable clamps on the defensive end. Sadly he got dinged with two quick fouls and made an early exit after a promising start. Shane continued to deal with foul trouble through most of the game and struggled to get a rhythm going until later on. The Knicks were mostly playing from behind, but Shane has made some real inroads with regard to composure. I'd give him the game ball, but we got dropped. I hope he watches Mike Conley in video sessions, because it could maybe clarify a lot of useful stuff for his career progress.
- Melo cooked, baby. I know you know. That guy good. Problematical.
- You know who else done good? Samuel Dalembert had a damn fine game. Sam wrangled boards all over the place and was clearly feeling pretty electrified because he was in...
He finished with ten rebounds, six of which were of the offensive variety. He again shot poorly (1-5), and didn't mind getting too cute with his passes. Would be nice if he was more mindful of when to be a crafty passer and when to hold it and look for the direct line.
- At one point in the second quarter, Tim Hardaway Jr. air mailed a corner three. The ensuing Raptors possession left Patrick Patterson wide open for a wing three which was also an air ball. Directly after that Amar'e Stoudemire had a totally reasonable look at a 17-footer and... yep. 30 seconds of smelly air biscuits in your district.
- JR Smith was just terrible. Thankfully, its not for lack of effort or selfish play, and he isn't mindlessly dribbling out shot clocks only to chuck up contested step backs. When JR lets it fly, it's usually because the shot clock is winding down. The rest of the time he is actively driving to the rim, looking to draw contact, and just not getting calls or lucky rolls. So what's not to like?
I think JR is too quick to get the ball and just start dribbling it without a space on the floor he intends to attack. Thats the start of it-- he needs to be much more selective with the bounce. Perhaps restricting himself will allow his springs to really load up. In the end, JR shot 1-11 in 29 minutes and looked pretty lost. Might wanna change his wrist-kiss routine. Maybe reverse the order.
- Another guard who struggled to get a bucket was Tim Hardaway Jr, who shot 3-11 in 22 minutes and tallied 9 exhausting points. Low key, the young fella contributed across the board with two of each: rebounds, assists, steals, blocks. How bout it, folks?
- Speaking of two steals and guards who couldn't get an easy basket, Iman Shumpert must have cleanly stripped the ball from DeMar DeRozan seven some-odd times. This guy is a menace!
- Somebody needs to get me in a production meeting with whoever green lit Bill Pidto's 150 seconds of abject misery. I'm tellin' ya.
- In a separate production meeting, I'm gonna excoriate Howie Singer for letting Mike Breen say "Vass-kWez" when speaking of Greivis Vasquez. Maybe Phil Jackson can be in on the meeting and we can go on a Vision Kest.
- Shane Larkin had a crazy loose ball recovery situation where he almost went over and back, he stopped the ball in the front court, centrifugal force pulled his body back court, he hopped two feet back into the front court and snagged the ball before it got pilfered. It was wacky and fantastic.
- Derek Fisher got his first technical! Pablo got his first Canadian technical! The refs were being pissy babies. I'm sure they want their babas.
- Lou Williams dogged our farts.
- Former Rapto, Quincy Acy, is a lovable maniac and he had a sequence where he rebounded a miss, bricked a dunk, stole the ball, and flopped miraculously then unleashed a possessed howl. Satiated, the blood would flow. He finished with 8 points and 10 boards. Not too shabby.
Thats mostly it, the Raptors doubled Melo in the third quarter and it just decimated our offense. On the other end, they slowly picked and poked and figured out a bunch of different little scoring opportunities that blew the game open. We came back late, but Fisher never looked to bring his starters back out. Pre-season is the hell over with! Our first real game is Wednesday against the Chicago Bulls in the Garden. Still undefeated!