Did you think they would win? I wasn't even considering a win, basically from halftime on. I like to think that I'm a seasoned Knick fan at this point, but they got me again! It's shame-on-me this time around. Late in the game, down four, Knicks ball, a dangerous pass was poked away, JR Smith scrambled to recover, it spilled into Iman Shumpert's raking claws, and in that moment they had me. I was gripped, I thought we could win! It would have been a three-on-two going toward the rim with a pass headed in Carmelo's direction. So, of course, Shumpert instantly threw the ball away. Like Tomahawk Stomp said, "Do you even Knicks, bro?" Amateur hour for me.
If not for this ludicrous race to the finish we wouldn't have had some truly wonderful Shumpert medleys.-- the double back tap situation, furiously denying Brandon Knight any touches, and giving Giannis Antetokounmpo serious grief as the Bucks tried to wind down the clock. Iman really put in work, and his play is now teetering on the edge of being more than just a hot streak. In memoriam to Cleanthony Early's knee surgery, let's clean this game out.
- The frightening and most major news of the day is that Cleanthony isn't the only one with knee troubles. Carmelo Anthony has very clearly been dealing with a tender knee. The always-on-it Chris Herring notes:
Melo says he left knee has been sore since the Cleveland game. Yikes.— Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) November 19, 2014
Carmelo went to the locker room to have his knee taped up at one point, and although he came back fairly quickly, the guy was just slow to react, dramatically slow to get up off the floor and looking for ways to take pressure off his bum wheel. There has been talk of lightening the load on Melo by playing him at the three, but the team just lacks competitive two-way players up front. One way they may want to explore lessening the stress is by shaving some of his minutes.
Despite this bit of info, and playing with some foul trouble, Melo hit 38 minutes en route to 26 points. As usual he did it with efficiency and variety-- some catch-and-shoot threes, up-and-under moves and dribble pull-ups. Melo quickly attracted double teams in the post, and may have lacked the propulsion to make his way to space and find an open man. He once had to force a time out, and once threw a wild skip pass out of bounds.
- Iman Shumpert is really the story of the game for the Knicks. Shump put up tremendous numbers, and is just constantly making good decisions. He is really helping the whole team get the offense flowing, and it seems like it's only a matter of time before it clicks and we're all on board. He had a few miscues, but they never unraveled him like they would in the past. Iman's confidence is high right now and he is making tons of plays on both ends, even though he gets visibly angry. Shumpert needs wins more than your average NBA player, a scary trait to have for a team leader.
For Shump: 21 points, 8 boards, 8 assists, 3 steals. Nice little bounce-back game from the injury. Starting to really look like a Triangle force. If the season ended today, I don't see a chance of the Knicks letting Shumpert slip away in free fgency.
- The other star of the game was Milwaukee's Ersan Ilyasova. While Jabari Parker showed that he is a sensational talent, the Bucks play a deep rotation, similar to New York's, with at least eight players getting 20+ minutes. As such, Parker was never fully unleashed. Ilyasova was kind enough to introduce us to our first official FARTFISH of the season. Oh yes, the FARTFISH, the Freindly Alliance of Really Terrible Forwards Inviting Shot-Hitting. Ersan had a bevy of open looks all night and scored 20 points in as many minutes on a mere ten shots. Nobody bothered to close out on him, and he very confidently lit New York up.
- Amar'e Stoudemire and TIm Hardaway Jr. force a lot of stuff-- drives into traffic, isolations, pull-up jumpers. One thing they don't force is their man out of preferred comfort zones on defense. While they had nice numbers on offense, and helped spur the late rally, I'm just confused by what the hell they think about on defense. They always bite on the first juke, they never hold their ground on a drive. Tim maybe has time to get it together, but it's been disconcertingly bad for much too long. Not that anybody else did much, but these guys are killing me. I see the value, and I see the void.
- Oh, lordy Shane Larkin was no good. He was basically the friendliest defender in the game today, and accomplished less than nothing on offense. I fear the workload is starting to get to the neophyte. Bargs is all the rage, but Calderon is the guy we need.
- Zaza Pachulia and Samuel Dalembert have practically the same exact basketball sensibilities. They must drive their teammates crazy. I was surprised Sam didn't get some minutes later on in the game, because he had a solid first half. That does lead us to one trend of Fisher's coaching style, though. He sticks with the guys that sparked the run. I've always felt like that's the sign of a good coach. Play the guys that are playing well, not the guys who you would pre- suppose should be in the game at a given time and/or scenario.
- That was kinda it for the Knicks. Nobody else really accomplished anything, and they just couldn't get stops, failing to play basketball in absolute perfection as the clock wound down. Positive takeaways are limited to Shumpert's continued success, the Triangle starting to take shape and the fact that we get to lace 'em up again tomorrow against the Timberwolves.