If you’re considering watching the Knicks host Portland Sunday night, let me save you two and a half hours of your life: in the dying seconds, Damian Lillard will drive to his left and hit a lay-in at or near the buzzer, just over the I-don’t-make-$23M-for-my-shot-blocking hand of Amar’e Stoudemire.
The Knicks lost their seventh in a row tonight. A furious fourth quarter rally saw an 18-point deficit with ten minutes left become a one-point lead with 4 seconds left. Then
Kyrie Irving Kemba Walker drove and hit a late last-second lay-in over Iman Shumpert Pablo Prigioni to give Cleveland a three-point lead Charlotte the win.
Last night's loss hurt. A lot. Maybe that's why this loss didn't. It disappointed, sure. But last night hurt. Last night was like getting home from work and finding out someone broke into your place and stole everything. Tonight was coming home to your robbed place and finding someone pooped in your living room. Not cool...but not the low point of the week.
Maybe I'm in shock. Maybe it didn't hurt because this game, more than painful, was a weird, ugly game to watch. At one point early in the second half, the Knicks had 2 seconds left on the shot clock. For some reason, Carmelo Anthony, the guy you want shooting with 2 left on the shot clock, inbounded the ball. Even weirder, he threw it to Quincy Acy, who took a long rainbow three. And hit it.
For much of the game, the Knicks were taking the first shots they could get, getting killed on the boards and cooking the opposite of soup. Borscht. The Knicks borschted. Charlotte was up 10 after the first and 12 at the half. The third quarter came and went and the Knicks showed all the emotional investment of a bearded dragon on painkillers. The Hornets' lead ballooned to 20. At one point Derek Fisher looked like he cursed at the ref. It was that bad. PG-13 Fisher is not a good sign.
A few minutes into the fourth, this was the dullest, worst game of the season. Minutes later, everything had turned. Tim Hardaway Jr. got going after a one-on-five fast-break bucket; soon he was hitting threes like it's his job (which it is). He scored 11 in the fourth. Carmelo stopped settling for jumpers and started driving to the hole. Prigioni turned into Gary Payton on defense, forcing turnovers and deflections and harrying the Hornet guards for 94 feet all night despite having to battle Kemba and Joey Crawford at the same time. Down two in the last minute, Pablo was being guarded by Kemba, who flopped and fell. In an Oscar-worthy performance, Prigioni dribbled back behind the line and feigned setting up for a wide-open three. But as those in the know know, Pablo passes. Siempre. Marvin Williams had to run over to cover him, leaving Carmelo open. Melo hit a three to put the Knicks up one.
Then, in the dying seconds, Pablo shaded Kemba left, no help came-- Amar'e was coming up to defend a pick and roll that never came, and Carmelo, the possible last line of defense, demonstrated a Gandhi-like passive resistance by calmly soaking in the sight of Walker's game-winning drive.
- For the second night in a row, STAT was the Knick center at the end of the game for a critical defensive possession. Samuel Dalembert needs to get dirt on Fisher the way Herb Williams had dirt on somebody all those years. Why isn’t the team’s best shot-blocker on the floor in those spots?
- Carmelo went to the line eight times. The Knicks took 22 free throws to the Hornets' 18. So...that's a thing.
- In the last Cleveland game, Quincy Acy had his best game as a Knick: 15 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists. Would he follow it up? Nope. 12 minutes. 5 points. 4 boards.
- Tough night for Iman Shumpert. Early on, he was putting up shots with no inhibition. It's like he channeled his inner Melo. He missed most of them, and when he came back off the bench he stopped shooting. You could see he was done. On one possession he dribbled past his man and instead of driving or forcing the action, he jumped with nowhere to go and forced a pass to a non-open Calderon, who air-balled a three.
- 22 points. 10 shots. So…Gerald Henderson’s an All-Star now?
- This game was such an abomination at points that Mike Breen and Clyde were reduced to discussing Acy's dunk stylings. I believe that’s the seventh trumpet in the Book of Revelation.
- At one point Breen bemoaned: "A team that has lost 10 in a row is up by 20." When you've managed to douse the eternal optimism of Mike Breen, that's no joke.
- Breen made two mistakes while discussing footage of Knick assistant coach and original-Hornet Kurt Rambis hitting a lay-in to win first Charlotte's first game ever in 1988 against the Bulls, saying the Bulls were "the best team in the league" that year, even though the Bulls were still years away from getting past Detroit. He also said it was MJ’s rookie year; Jordan debuted in 1984. And Breen kept going on about how the Knick half-court defense has been "pretty good" except for the fact that they keep fouling people. Fouling people is not incidental to defense. Fouling people as often as the Knicks do = bad defense.
- Later, after Jason Smith airballed his first shot and then hit a double-pump jumper, Clyde said, "Smith’s first ball was an airball from the corner. So he’s been very efficient with that midrange jumper." Even the Knick announcers are off their game.
- Clyde is always incredulous when the Knicks are up late with a foul to give and don’t use it, or up three and don't foul. Color me old-fashioned. I prefer the drama of last-second shots. That's why we're all here, isn't it? The drama?
- Points in the paint: 52-30, Charlotte.
- Near the end of the third quarter, STAT had taken 3 shots. Jason Smith had taken 4. Dalembert had taken 6. That look right to you?
- Apparently at some point a few years ago the Knicks signed a non-aggression pact with Lance Stephenson. As a result, they are legally prohibited from stopping him. Ever. And they must do everything within their power to let him drive unopposed to the rim.
- There was a play where Shump went behind his back nicely, leading to a 3-on-1 break. Then he lost control and the Knicks didn’t even get a shot off. If this season has an epitaph…that play’d be it. Soon as your heart swells, it rips.
- Does any site track how many goaltending violations teams commit? I’m pretty certain the Knicks lead the league.
- I can't think of any job where it helps the workers to have their boss right on top of them the whole time. Michael Jordan--give your guys some airspace, man.
- The Knicks' last possession before the Walker winner was not good. Still, in the ensuing timeout, Melo and Pablo are hugging and smiling. I want to have a daughter, go back in time, and have her marry Pablo. He’s just the tops.
- I love the Hornets' color scheme. But I’m tired of always seeing the Knicks in white. I miss the road blues.
--That hive court is SWEET.
- At one point, Lance Stephenson was walking to the bench, having been subbed out. He was passing by JR, who was inbounding the ball. As they neared each other, I wondered what would happen if they made physical contact. Would reality collapse into itself like a black hole? Or would that be the next Big Bang?
- The Hornets came in on a ten-game losing streak. They were up 20 in the third. And the crowd was dead. Totally.
- I don’t think there’s a referee conspiracy against Carmelo. Having said that...it does sometimes look like he’s one of their least favorite stars. Like, he always has gripes. And they never look interested.
The carriage turned into a pumpkin. As JRmyth wrote, "This is perfection. There's nothing else to add." Still, Portland comes to town Sunday. They say things happen in threes. They also say the third time's the charm. Tune in then to see which they's right.