The Knicks actually came all the way back and played some thrilling moments of basketball! It was kinda fun! Like, even the players appeared to be enjoying themselves at work! And they still lost, which is good. It took five extra minutes this time, and Carmelo Anthony played all of those five minutes to reach 46 total on the night. On a bum knee. On the first of a back-to-back. That's quite bad. Everything else was good, though.
The Knicks got to the line a bunch, rebounded well, and moved the ball pretty cleanly. They even scored in transition, a product of especially pokey defense. Everybody poked, but Shane Larkin in particular tilted the floor by darting behind the Knicks' corner doubles to poach telegraphed passes. You can trace a lot of those momentum-shifting fast breaks back to Larkin.
And so the Knicks came all the way back, not just 98 percent of the way. It was still a Knicks game, just a director's cut Knicks game. They left some raw basketballing in there. I prefer the feature version where they cut right to the collapse without getting a bunch of stops and keeping us for an extra five minutes, but this was cool in its own way.
Like LadyKnick said, we knew where this game was going. It just hit an extra bump along the way.
- The Knicks continue to stretch their legs in the Triangle. Tonight, they toyed with the pacing of the strong-side options a bit. After the ball entered the post or corner, the other two Knicks showed a bit more creativity in their follow-up cuts. They'd cross over one another after a first-option pass or delay the side pick-and-roll slightly after a fourth-option pass. They'd mess around with hard baseline cuts instead of simple clear-outs, and even get the occasional basket out of it. When Pablo Prigioni and Jose Calderon were involved (sometimes together), they did a lot of pointing guys around the floor, sometimes to places they wouldn't automatically go. A bit of experimentation, a bit of improvisation. These flecks of variety will hopefully characterize the New York offense once it's time to actually compete.
- This all comes with the disclaimer that I wish Melo would just sit down for the next 4 months, but: That was fun! Even without much bounce in his legs, Melo approached a triple-double. It seemed like Rudy Gay pissed him off early on, and the two of them ass-wrestled the night away in the high post. That constant battle got Melo good position to finish or draw help and create, and it also served as a sort of decoy, simply because that much commotion draws opposing attention from the Knicks' cadre of sneaksman. The Knicks backcourt lacks many things, but it is spread thickly and evenly with sneakiness.
- Samuel Dalembert hit consecutive jumpers at one point. If Samuel Dalembert hits three jumpers in a row, the mayor has to mail you ten dollars!
- The Kings scored 38 points in the first quarter, the most of any Knicks opponent this season.
- I think they woke up later, but for a stretch of the second quarter, Derek Fisher played all three of his point guards and two of them were dogging it without shame. Like, several Knicks are understandably prone to loafing, but Prigioni and Calderon were straight-up punting possessions for a while there. One time Pablo had a pretty easy lane to finish in transition, but instead of shooting a layup, he produced a marker, autographed the ball, then walked into the crowd and handed it to a child. You can't prove this didn't happen.
- I sometimes worry about opponents' mental states after they play the Knicks. I suspect that a number of players could be diagnosed with Knicks-Induced Mania (KIM) after a night against the New York defense; they think they're invincible superstar gods who can conquer anything without fear of failure or reprisal. Like, someone should probably keep an eye on Darren Collison tonight and make sure he doesn't try to lift a car or leap between buildings or something.
- What happened that time Cole Aldrich kept stripping the ball away from Carl Landry? Why did Landry keep showing him the ball? It was bizarre, as if consecutive near-steals could do nothing to deter Landry from his belief that Cole Aldrich is trustworthy and would never steal a basketball from him and surely those two previous times he slapped a basketball clean out of his hands were mistakes.
- Aldrich played nicely, by the way. Tackled and grappled, hooked in a few shots, ran the floor like a stack of pancakes riding a handcar, and defended as best he could. DeMarcus Cousins still killed him, because that's what he does.
- Speaking of which, we close with this moment, captured by @cjzero:
This is after Jose just randomly swiped at Cousins's head moments after a whistle. I can watch this GIF forever. I might.
The Knicks are 5-27, I think. I'm not gonna look it up! The Sixers lost, too, unfortunately, so the teams are still floating around one another at the bottom of the standings, the difference in games played muddying the truth about who is truly the tankingest tanker in the land. Portland tomorrow. Have a good night everyone!