...which kinda works! The Knicks are figuring stuff out, the Sixers are mostly placeholders. Their identities and achievements are to be determined. And yeah, the score of this game might as well have been 0-0. It was limp basketball-- the Knicks played some inviting defense, but the Sixers never imposed. New York's offense mostly followed the script, generating a clean product against minimal resistance. It was fine. And dull. Watching this game was like drinking four glasses of room-temperature water. Notes!
- Jose Calderon played! I like the process of accustoming my eyes to a player's habits-- gait, handle, preferred routes-- and I already enjoy the way Jose swashbuckles. For such a statistically crisp player, Calderon's pretty loose with his dribble. And in this one, he understandably took some possessions to spin the rust off his jumper and test the limits of passing repertoire. The Sixers provided the perfect unthreatening context for Calderon's first run, like a rehab assignment. He managed to look pretty gunky while still making it clear he knows what he's doing. I think he'll be good.
- Moved his feet on defense, too. Michael Carter-Williams is one of the few Sixers who demands defense, on Calderon's legs looked healthy enough to shuffle as needed. New York's pick-and-roll defense generally succeeded in steering ball-handlers toward the baseline, which'll happen against ill-equipped ball-handlers.
- Carmelo Anthony did plenty of sudden stopping, spinning, and bursting off his left leg, and looked fine doing it. I like when he makes quick decisions, and I LOVE when he creates his space off the ball, like the backdoor cut out of a funky, unraveling triangle that got him an easy backdoor finish from Iman Shumpert in the first quarter.
- Shump didn't push enough for us to really tell whether his scoring had bounced back from a dip in the previous game, but he made a tremendous nuisance of himself on defense and led the charge during a relatively important fourth-quarter stretch. He finessed a lovely, spinning floater, then actually finished in stride on a fast break. (A previous fast break saw him lose a step-- and draw a questionable foul-- because he was looking over his shoulder.)
- Samuel Dalembert does swat. He does do that. He, Jason Smith, and Quincy Acy have roughly 12 functional, prehensile fingers between the three of 'em.
- COLE ALDRICH ON THE OTHER HAND IS A DAMN MAESTRO DID YOU NOTICE HIM PLAYING A HEARTBREAKING CLARINET MELODY WHILE DROPPING HOOKS WITH ONE HAND AND THROWING FLASHY PASSES WITH THE OTHER YES THAT'S THREE THINGS
- The Knicks really wanted to inbound the ball quickly after makes. Seems like a good idea as long as it doesn't lead to sloppy passing, which it did once or thrice.
- I saw some deep post positioning (Acy, Smith, Amar'e), and I saw some good entry passes to find those guys right under the rim.
- It's easy to get deep position when you're being guarded by inexperienced 22-year-olds. It's especially easy when you're Amar'e Stoudemire, who gave us a glimpse of what he may one day resemble in, say, Israel. That man turns corners way too fast and propels himself with way too much force for any three Sixers to defend. Amar'e just gobbled up boards and spat out buckets. When he didn't feel like thrashing the Sixers solo, he worked some weak-side action with J.R. Smith to get the ball in motion.
- J.R. let his hair down a bit later in the game, but had a nice, long stretch in which all he did was work that two-man game and take sensible shots.
- I don't think every skinny basketball player necessarily needs to gain weight, but Acy raked Nerlens Noel somewhat hard across the shoulders and Noel's spine nearly tied itself in a knot. It's funny, because the kid's clearly a gem and played maybe his best game yet against the Knicks. Noel's deft and remarkably polished; he's just straight QWOP against any real contact.
- Did Clyde say something about his friend scalping tickets to the game? I've had an odd headache and a bit of vertigo all night, and I suppose my hearing Clyde's inside info on the going rate for secondhand seats was another symptom of whatever railroad spike's impaling my brain.
- Pablo Prigioni split time with Calderon, actually taking a slight majority of the point guard minutes. Shane Larkin did not play.
- Pablo shot well. I liked when Melo caught the ball in the weak high post, then kicked it cross-court to a wide-open Pablo three from the remnants of the triangle. Melo made a few more of those long or hockey-assisted feeds out of help tonight, which was something I'd been hoping to see. So that was good.
That's it. The Knicks didn't embarrass themselves against the Sixers. Jose Calderon got to stretch his legs, everybody played okay, and the team probably made a tiny scoot of progress on the path to glorious triangular harmony.