Two teams that have struggled their way through this exciting NBA season met tonight in Madison Square Garden. Oklahoma City has flailed and stuttered without Kevin Durant. They've missed a good chunk of games from Russell Westbrook as well, and now find themselves on the outside looking in on the Western Conference playoff battle royale. New York has just been flat-out bad no matter who doesn't show up. So they went and signed a few 10-day contract bros, and the results have been largely positive. Say what you will about Derek Fisher's coaching job this year, at least he is always trying something new and has coaxed some exciting contributions from end-of-bench filler guys.
Langston Galloway continues to be the most productive guard the Knicks have had all season, and while he couldn't bottle up Westbrook all night, he was able to make him work for it, especially early on. Normally Westbrook subsumes his foes as he hurtles around the floor wreaking havoc and striking terror. Tonight Russell merely engulfed the Knicks with a tireless second half descent en route to 40 entirely palatable points. Oklahoma City only managed to have two more players with double-digit scoring and had more turnovers than assists. The Thunder shot 22.7% from downtown, 40% overall.
We've seen several iterations of the 2014-15 Knicks. Sometimes there have been different versions on display during the same game. There are likely to be a few more changes before season's end, but Polyphonic Spreewell lived in the moment in the game thread saying, "This Knicks team is fun to watch." Let's take a look at some of the fun that was to be had with a few notes...
- As above, so below. Langston Galloway kept his motor running. 18 points, four boards, four assists and three steals for the newly signed rookie. His effort on defense squeezed out some back door Westbrook attacks as well as corralled some loose balls and stifled some pick and roll action with fast feet. Langston is the first guy since... I dunno... Charlie Ward that gets over the top of screens with certainty and finesse.
Galloway got throttled a few times. However, this comes against one of the most explosive guards in league history, I'm willing to give him a pass. You can really see him settling into a nice role off the bench being a reasonable defender and wonderful rebounder while helping keep the offense humming and making timely shots. Galloway isn't a reliable shot creator, but he knows what he wants and forcefully takes what he gets.
- One thing we saw from Langston a few times was a baseline drive from either corner and a slick little drop-off pass with either hand to a big cutting down the lane. Twice in the first quarter he connected with Lou Amundson, although Lou's touch around the rim was not always forgiving.
- Speaking of Lou Amundson, heck of a game tonight despite shooting really poorly. He blocked shots, took charges, kept the ball moving with mustard when he wasn't right at the rim. Exactly what you'd hope Samuel Dalembert could have figured out. Lou has a real knack for finding the seams to wiggle through and does what he can despite some clear limitations.
- The last ten-day contract guy is Lance Thomas and the 26-year old Brooklynite had another terrific game. 17 points and 5 boards against his former team. He has a weird arm-twirl on his jumper that sort of elongates his release. That is a perfect sentence.
A little deeper dive on Thomas, and we are seeing a guy who really knows how to hedge and ice pick and rolls so the initial defender can recover to the play. He utilizes some really solid footwork to make sure he can battle for every rebound, and he follows the schemes on offense, helping pop lots of actions into place, and attacking when some of the more effective options are taken away.
- In an interview before the game Derek Fisher said the he fully expected Langston Galloway "to be Langston Galloway." I guess Fish didn't want to get fined, and we know why he was there.
- It's more fun to not entirely follow what JB Smoove is talking about when he's on Curb Your Enthusiasm than it is on these Four Courses promos. He talks a lot. I like him. I bet watching that show feels like a semi-dull nut tap. Nut taps are sort of funny.
- Carmelo Anthony was the first player to hit double figure scoring tonight. It didn't happen until there was about 3:30 left in the first half. 31 points on 28 shots for Carmelo. While he didn't shoot well, you can see this guy hobbling and wobbling out there. It should surprise no one that if he played he took a lot of shots, but what may surprise you is that he rarely broke the offense to call his own number, he mostly chose wisely when he hoisted. He just doesn't have it at the moment.
The only broken play that made me want to rip my hair out was on a delayed transition in the fourth quarter. With the game still very much in the balance, Melo got the pill on the wing off a reversal, and decided to back his way from the 3-point line to the low block. he turned baseline, got bottled up by a nicely timed double and coughed up the ball, with about 14-seconds left on the shot clock. Yucky.
- At half time some kid with a mighty sounding name, who is famous for some acting thing got to take a selfie with Clyde. Jill Martin introduced the legend at the end of her Ruin This Minute segment, and Clyde bumbled on camera and mumbled "Exquisite taste in wanting to meet the Clydey." The "Clydey"?!!? I love that guy. Here's how fantastic he looked:
- Tim Hardaway had a nice little 4th quarter, nailing a trio of triples. He could really use a breakout game, and this seemed to be a bit of a breakthrough for the youngster. Hopefully he's about nine months away from consistently taking that next step toward being a true blue flamethrower off the bench.
- Completely switching gears: Kendrick Perkins is so awful it's frightening. If I had to sign either him or Jason Smith to an un-tradable contract, I'd choose Jason Smith.
Jah managed to put together a good game. He's still awful though. Everyone is playing better, and it gives him much cleaner looks, and when he hits a few he acts like he wants to play both ways. 11 points, 11 boards and six assists. Wacky stuff.
- Cole was getting abused by Shmendrick, and he ended up leaving the game early and not returning in the second half:
Cole Aldrich out for the 2nd half with a bruised (contused) left shin.— Tina Cervasio (@TinaCervasio) January 29, 2015
Luckily we had this before that happened...
Feel better, Cole!
That's their third consecutive home win! Minnesota and Philadelphia also cobbled together some wins so this victory doesn't hurt our losing efforts too much. Also the tank got taken into the shop and had a spoiler installed. Which is pretty rad. Fun to have some positive vibes. Let's ride the chill wave while it's cruising. Tomorrow we get right back at it against the Pacers, who are most certainly going to uglify the proceedings. Stay healthy, everybody. Sit out, Carmelo.