Goodbye, ten-game losing streak! Goodbye, 11-game road losing streak! Goodbye, 4-20 references! The Knicks are now a robust 5-20. May 20th has a history all its own. At 5-20, the Knicks are moving on up to a lofty new neighborhood, one Clyde might refer to as esoteric and atmospheric.
They opened hot, thanks in part to Boston sucking, but also thanks to a banged-up Carmelo Anthony playing facilitator early on and dishing three assists in the opening quarter while taking only six shot attempts. Melo wasn't looking to cook. He was the sous chef, prepping for guys like Jose Calderon and purported frenemy Tim Hardaway Jr. The Knicks hit eight of their first ten shots and assisted on nine of their first 11 buckets and 17 of their 26 first-half field goals. Samuel Dalembert made the people say "Tyson who?" with contributions at both ends, punctuated by a drive and dunk, then interrobanged by a block that led to a Melo fast break lay-up. Sam looked so good he started the second half in place of Amar'e Stoudemire.
Near the end of the half, Iman Shumpert made a nice, sneaky, Pabloesque steal off a Celtic defensive rebound. But later, Shump tried reaching in and Pablo-ing Jeff Green and ended up with a discolated left shoulder for his troubles. Now there are MRIs pending for him and JR Smith.
The orange and blue wrecking crew was up 51-46 at the half. Five Knicks had three or more assists at the half. Five!
The scoring attack stayed balanced, led by Melo (22), STAT (20), and Hardaway (16). Jason Smith shot a confident 5 for 7. The Celtics were hanging around just enough to be safely in the distance of the Knicks' rear-view mirror. New York was up six after the third. Derek Fisher rested Melo the first half of the fourth; unfortunately for the beat writers, it wasn't a mistake, and it wasn't because Melo'd been traded. It was a rest. Just a rest.
While Melo was resting, Marcus Thornton got all short-order cook and started slinging meals all over the Boston Garden Fleet Waterhouse Parquet Thingie. The last meaningful Celtic run of the night had them down a couple points. That's when Shane Larkin hit the most comfy-looking three of his young career. With Melo on the bench, the Knicks went on an 11-0 run to go up 13. After Anthony returned, he hit a jumper to put the Knicks up 90-75. It felt like a dagger. When's the last time the Knicks hit a dagger shot?
A lovely feed from Calderon to STAT for a dunk put the Knicks up 14 with just under three minutes to play. Two minutes later, the lead was down to five, because the NBA, like NBA Jam, has some kind of computer assistance thingie that loathes a blowout. Glitches happen. Pablo missed a free throw with 20 seconds left that would have iced it. Phil Pressey, he of the zero baskets made, drove the length of the floor, alone, with no teammates in support and no angle for himself, going one on two, and somehow drew a foul. But it was too little, too late, and really, the Knicks were never in danger. Delusional as this may sound in light of their play the past few
games weeks 13 of the last 14 years, this always felt like a win. Even if at times it looked like a preseason win.
- Your star play of the game: late in the third, Calderon drove the lane and ended up on the baseline guarded by Tyler Zeller, meaning STAT had a mismatch with Rajon Rondo. Calderon waited, recognizing the mismatch-- something we're not used to Knick point guards doing-- then lobbed the ball up where only the 6'11" guy could get it. STAT tapped it in. That's IQ, son.
- Mostly, and especially early, Melo took the shots he wanted, not the shots the defense conceded. He hit 9 of 20.
- STAT stats: 9-16 from the field. 26 minutes. 20 points. Let the dazzling not be lost amongst the dross of the 2015 Knicks: STAT's a scoring beast. Period. It's especially nice seeing a guy with the tenure and success he's had continue to add elements to his game like his post moves.
- After the casual three by Larkin, he was 2-3 from the field. Quoth Walt Frazier: "Larkin with infinite range tonight." Carry on, Clyde.
- One nice change in this game: the Knicks didn't commit many fouls or stupid fouls. Free throws were even at 18.
- Be honest: is Jeff Green really that good driving to the basket? I know it's silly to think he just gets lucky every time. The man has a history of posterizing fools. But every time he drives, I feel like he lucks into a three-point play.
- Dear Adam Silver: All I want for Christmas (besides a frozen ping-pong ball next spring) is for the NBA to get rid of the rule where a guy is called for a charge after he's already passed the ball. Sincerely, Me and Tim Hardaway Jr.
- Any nominees for uglier jump shots than Evan Turner? Bill Cartwright's shot looked like someone throwing a screwball. Anthony Mason's jumper was oddly horizontal. Joakim Noah's jumper's illegal in 27 states. But Evan Turner is in the conversation.
- At one point, Larkin found Prigioni ahead on a fast break. As soon as Pablo got the pass, he dribbled away from the hoop. This drove me nuts, especially after the Knicks re-set in the halfcourt and Smith missed a shot. On the next Celtic possession, the Knicks got a steal and Pablo went in ahead of the field for a fast break lay-in. The lesson: never question Pablo Prigioni.
- One thing I will question: Pablo's taken to launching long threes very early in the shot clock. Like, the last few games. If Pablo ever decided he was tired of the Knicks, and wanted to forced a trade...is this what it'd look like?
- Whenever I see a Celtic wearing #11, I think of Dana Barros. A funny and oft-forgotten moment in Knick/Celtic lore: the time Don Nelson, as Knicks coach, put Anthony Mason on Barros at the end of a Knick blowout win to prevent Barros from continuing a streak of consecutive games with a three-pointer made, prompting then-Boston coach M.L. Carr to throw a basketball at Nelson's head after the game.
- For people like me obsessed with the Knicks bottoming out and getting a top pick, two words of caution: "Evan Turner."
- Some people just look like they're from a different time. Kelly Olynyk is straight-up 1979.
- When was the last time the Knicks and Celtics were both this bad? OK, maybe last year. But before that?
- Famous events from May 20ths: in 1993, the last episode of Cheers aired. In '97, Twista set a world record by rapping 597 syllables in 60 seconds. In 1979, the first Western pop star ever toured the former Soviet Union. Who was it? (answer at the bottom) In 1930, the University of California dedicated $1,500 for the prevention and cure of athlete's foot. In 1310, for the first time, shoes were designed for both the right foot AND the left foot. Sliced bread must have come after this, ‘cuz really...what's better than foot-specific shoes? And in 1961, Mauritania adopted a constitution. "Mauritania" sorta looks like "marijuana." Goodbye, weed references. It was fun while it lasted.
- Elton John.
Maybe we'll all remember where we were, this night, when it all turned around. Maybe this is the start of a brave new Knickerbocker world. Maybe "playoffs!" as John Stark commented. Next game is Sunday against Toronto. The last time the Knicks won a road game (Cleveland), they followed up by winning their next home game (Charlotte). Allllll the good omens!