IS THERE A PROBLEM? SHANNON'S GOT THIS
NEED A KEY DEFENSIVE STOP? SHANNON'S GOT THIS
TOKEN CLUTCH FREE THROWS TO END THE GAME? SHANNON'S GOT THIS
NEED SOMEONE TO WATER YOUR FICUS WHILE YOU'RE IN RENO FOR THE SPONGE COLLECTORS CONFERENCE? SHANNON'S GOT THIS
IS YOUR SHITTY CAT STUCK IN A TREE? SHANNON'S MOST DEFINITELY GOT THIS
WATER JUST BROKE BUT YOU'RE MILES AWAY FROM A DOCTOR TO DELIVER THE BABY? YOU ALREADY KNOW SHANNON BROWN WILL TREAT THAT CERVIX RIGHT
(Thanks to Bronx Chica for the GIF. Sorry if I upset your browser.)
...so, that was an odd game. You could slot most of this season's Knicks games into one of three or four categories, but this one had a flavor all its own. We watched hours of the two teams trying to give the game to each other interrupted by torrid runs from one side or the other to create the illusion of momentum. There was never momentum. The game was just a nauseating spiral toward a funky ending that saw Shannon Brown fall sidelong into the clinching plays. This game was stoned, like Norman said. And the Knicks came away with a win, which is the stondest part of the whole thing.
For a detailed illustration of this game's trajectory, just fling a bouncy ball into a toilet, but here's a quick outline as an alternative: The Warriors started the way the Warriors should start against New York. The Knicks abandoned good shooters over screens, and the good shooters hit good shots because they are good at shooting. The Warriors splashed themselves to a quick double-digit advantage.
The second quarter brought an unexpected, prolonged explosion-- rapidly pulsating bursts of scoring euphoria. I don't know where the hell it came from but with Carmelo Anthony mostly benched due to foul trouble, the Knicks lunged into an early run of 12-0, then another run of 15-0 to end the half. First Pablo Prigioni's quarterbacking in transition fed a series of buckets for himself and Tim Hardaway Jr., then a Raymond Felton-driven lineup forced a flurry of turnovers, continued to feed Tim, and otherwise deferred to J.R. Smith at his slashing-est, spinning-est best. J.R. had 14 points in the second quarter to the Warriors' 12 as a team and finished with 19 on 11 shots in the half. The Knicks somehow led by a dozen at the break.
The Warriors played an abject mess of an offense after the first quarter-- 5-8 from downtown in the first frame, 5-23 threafter-- and left a lot of free points on the table in the second half. They still cut predictably into New York's lead, though, setting up a tight fourth quarter. "Tight" score-wise, and "tight" in the way both teams played, that is. The Knicks stood around and watched Melo force jumpers, as is their wont. Mike Woodson shuttled guys in and out of the game at a rapid pace, as is his wont. The Warriors blew chip shots as...? I don't know, but it happened.
Amid rampant ugliness, the Knicks kinda showed a bit of something. Amar'e Stoudemire spearheaded a titanic offensive rebounding effort, including a one-handed snatch 'n' smash that highlighted the whole evening for me (here's the GIF via BJabs). Felton and Iman Shumpert actually did some denying around the perimeter. And, yeah, when a well-guarded Curry tossed an unexpected pass at Draymond Green, it was Shannon Brown-- he of the questionable on-court, let alone on-roster, presence-- who pounced on the crucial loose ball and sunk a couple free throws just to rub it in. There were some efforts in there. Some grit, even. The Knicks are liable as anyone to fall asleep in crucial junctures of crucial games, but their timely attentiveness bought them this rare win.
- First thing: I never saw Carmelo Anthony hurt his left hand, but apparently his hand hurt. Nothing's broken, though. I don't know how that relates to a dreadful night on the floor, but...Melo had a dreadful night on the floor. Poor form on good shots, and a lot of flat-out poor shots right through the final stretch. His final play was dribbling out a shot clock only to get stripped by Andre Iguodala. Not much useful passing out of the post, either, probably because the Warriors have the personnel to defend him one-on-one. Nice rebounding game, though, and not just numbers-wise. Those were some quality snaggles.
- For a while, both Amar'e and Tyson Chandler looked pretty flaccid on the glass, so it was a delight to see Amar'e get pissed off and wrassle for everything later on. After too much time spent neglecting box-outs and watching caroms fall all the way to the floor, Amar'e got to scrapping and made a huge difference. It's nice to see Amar'e have a positive impact on a mediocre offensive game fraught with illegal floor moves and inhospitable bounces off the rim. Terrific effort. Couple of nice kick-outs during that magical second quarter, too. The Golden State bench treated him like he was Melo and he responded well.
- I have no idea what got into J.R. during that second quarter (perhaps just better spacing with StruggleMelo out of the frame and Pablo running point?) but he morphed suddenly into his peak creative self off the dribble. It was either J.R. knifing in halfcourt sets or Pablo and Tim using each other to get open looks in transition plays. And it was beautiful. One of the strangest, prettiest offensive segments of the season.
- I don't know why Iman Shumpert doesn't get to guard the ball more-ore-ore-ore. This is an echo from 2012 and 2013.
- Amar'e's putback was my favorite, but the play that felt the biggest to me was Hardaway's catch-and-three from the left elbow to put the Knicks back up six with just under four minutes to go when it felt like the points had totally dried up and the Warriors were about to storm ahead. "huge huge hge huge hge," I wrote in my notes.
- I think Amar'e took a breather right after one of his finest stretches just for knee-resting purposes. I don't really follow the logic behind the Pablo-Felton swappery in the fourth, but it kiiiinda worked? Felton made some bizarre turnovers and Pablo got cooked defensively at least once, so I guess it was a tough choice. And yeah, sorry, I know Shannon Brown is a saint, but putting him in for defensive purposes is questionable on its own and multiply questionable when there is time on the clock and the Knicks don't have timeouts. It all worked out, though. Mike Woodson is a mad genius and my failure to see the light is my own problem.
- The trivia question was about the former Knick with the highest winning percentage as a coach behind Phil Jackson's. The answer is Scott Brooks, but before our announcers got there, Clyde refused to engage in any "straining [his] brain" because he's 69 now (happy birthday, Clyde!) and just doesn't have it in him. Breen suggested he'd stayed out too late for his birthday and Clyde didn't totally deny it, though he did suggest turning in early was the best idea before a "six o'clock fracas" (Pacific time).
- Something something about the Celtics bringing out pictures of "sexy girls on the beach" instead of thundersticks to distract free-throw shooters. Clyde.
That's it. Strange game. Knicks won. Good, necessary win. One game back. In Shannon we trust.