The time has come once again for the New York Knicks to make their annual pilgrimage to Houston for yet another potential ass-whupping at the hands of the Houston Rockets. On Nov. 18 we celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the last time the 'Bockers won in Houston -- a 93-92 triumph spearheaded by Kurt Thomas' 23 points and 14 rebounds.
(An aside: Where would a 42-year-old Kurt Thomas rank among the Knicks' big men this season?)
Dwight Howard and Patrick Beverley won't play on Monday night, but that won't mean a damn thing if the Knicks' defense (28th in opponent free throws allowed per field goal attempt) can't control James Harden and his interminable trips to the charity stripe.
Harden has played four games against New York since becoming a Rocket. Here is the free throw breakdown, courtesy of Basketball-Reference:
There is virtually no way Harden is going to shoot fewer than 20 free throws Monday night. The Knicks' only hope is a radical defensive scheme I thought up 20 minutes ago while sitting on the crapper. I call it "The Putty Defense."
You remember the putty patrol from Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, don't you? They were a collection of disposable goons, dancing and flailing around the Power Rangers, just waiting to get kicked in the face. Here they are in action.
I propose that the Knicks defend Harden the same way -- constantly dancing around him, making nonsense noises, flailing the arms about, yet never coming close to touching him. When he tries to initiate contact, contorting his body in that patented Harden flopping motion, Knicks defenders should flop twice as hard, putty-style. I'm talking back-flips if at all possible -- I'm looking at you, Cole Aldrich.
The trick here is to take the very integrity of the game of basketball, as well Harden's own sense of pride, strap a metaphorical bomb to your chest, and hold them hostage. You wanna get to the free-throw line? Then you're going to have to participate an absurd flopping kabuki play that will shame us all.
As far as I'm concerned, Harden and the Rockets started this fight -- they turned the game into an exercise in Chinese water torture with their endless trips to the free-throw line, all in the soulless pursuit of wins. Well, the New York Knicks don't give a hoot in hell about wins, dagnabbit! They are the perfect team to burn this mother down, once and for all.
So dance, Knicks...dance and flail and flop like nobody is watching. Make us proud by making us feel ashamed.