I think we can all agree that, with the notable exception of that first win in Cleveland, this was by far the most entertaining game of the year. The Melo-less Knickerbockers went into the house of horrors that is the United Center and played like goddamn howling beasts, competing well enough to win while subtly sucking just enough over the final few possessions to lose, 103-97. Really, it was the best-case scenario.
TNT decided to troll New York big time by rolling out the execrable Charles Barkley/Reggie Miller booth. But head coach Derek Fisher got the last laugh on the network by going full Popovich with his starting lineup: Jose Calderon, Tim Hardaway Jr., Travis Wear, Amar'e Stoudemire and Cole Aldrich.
As pumped as I was for that starting five, I felt there was no way they could possibly live up to my expectations. Well they did that, and more. Wear wouldn't let the Fightin' Thibodeaus stop his shine, nailing shots off the dribble and floaters in the lane. Hardaway led the team in points (23) and assists (five...what?), all while letting Jimmy Butler explode for a career-high 35. Aldrich posted his first double-double of the season, with 13 points and 10 rebounds. You can see now why Fisher elects to hold him back most nights. The tank is real!
In the end, Fisher played Samuel Dalembert and Jason Smith juuuust long enough to ensure a loss. The man is truly on some next-level tanking ish right now. Personally, he's my choice for Coach of the Year after this masterpiece.
MMiranda will have the recap later. Until then, I suggest watching this game again.