I'm not gonna lie, this one hurt a little bit.
An underhanded New York Knicks team missing it's only bona fide star in Carmelo Anthony went into Dallas and gave the Mavericks all they could handle en route to a 109-102 loss. It was a fun, crazy contest, and given the talent disparity between the two teams, it was far closer than we had any right to expect. As xdudesquad point out in the comments, the game was pretty damn fun until the end.
And yet I am miffed -- peeved, even -- by what I witnessed from New York down the stretch. This has long been the quintessential "results over process" franchise, valuing players they felt could "get it done -- never mind the fact that they could never quite identify what "it" was, and that whatever "it" was never actually got done. It has been a staple of this team since long before Mike Woodson came to town -- forget smart, disciplined basketball and just put the ball in your stars' hands.
The Phil Jackson/Derek Fisher Knicks are supposed to be different. They preach the mystic egalitarianism of the Triangle. Win or lose, they should at least play like a cohesive unit. And they did on Wednesday, for the most part. The guards ran some beautiful sets -- many of which happened to end with the ball in the cloven hoof-hands of New York's big men, who promptly farted away the possession. Ah well...good process, bad result. Some day we will have bigs who can actually catch basketballs. And it will be glorious.
Sadly, that dream bubble was burst down the stretch of this game. When it came to winning time, Derek Fisher benched Iman Shumpert in favor of J.R. Smith, who was in full-on, "I'm winning this game myself" mode with Melo out. J.R. hasn't been good this season, but he has at least tried to curb his more...umm...Earl-ish tendencies. Not tonight.
Shumpert finally got some burn in the closing seconds, worked a high pick-and-roll with Samuel Dalembert to draw Tyson Chandler away from the basket, only to watch as Dalembert missed a two-foot bunny. It was a well-run play in the closing seconds. True, Sammy D probably isn't the guy you want shooting there, but that two-footer is about as good a look as you can hope to expect in a Calderon/Prigioni/Shump/Acy/Dalembert lineup.
Fisher called timeout following Dallas free throws, and apparently drew this up:
New York was down two on the road, without Melo, and facing a far superior team. What was the fucking point of that? Ah yes, I forgot...to make us suffer through another few minutes of dog-shit basketball. Of course, J.R. would continue to play, while Shump sat for a majority of the overtime. Results matter, after all.
- Amar'e Stoudemire matched J.R. with seven turnovers of his own. His post game is quite effective against younger bigs. Against a veteran team like Dallas -- with a good post defender in Chandler and a host a guys who know when to bring a double-team -- it was a disaster. To his credit, Amar'e did try a couple of cross-court skip passes out of the double...sadly, both resulted in turnovers. He abandoned any notion of passing down the stretch, bulling into Chandler and dribbling the ball off every appendage imaginable. I believe I saw him lose the ball off his vestigial tail at one point.
- Quincy Acy might have been the Knicks' best big man...think about that shit for moment. His defense on Dirk Nowitzki needs to be judged on a sliding scale -- he at least made Dirk work hard for his points.
- Jose Calderon (7-9 from downtown) and Pablo Prigioni (4-5 from downtown) can take all the threes they damn well please! The two of them combined with Shumpert for some pretty nifty passing -- combined 14 assists and only three turnovers.
- Pablo sneaked his way to a jump ball with Chandler, then almost sneaked his way to the ball off the tip. He had Tyson smiling more in this game than I can recall in his three years in New York. Nobody can resist Pablo's charm.
- Tyson Chandler once played for the Knicks. He no longer does.
- Jason Smith still plays for the Knicks. I wish he didn't.
And with that, I cede the floor to Thanasis Antetokounmpo for the final word: