The 2015-16 Knicks season is underway, and what a way to get under it! It almost doesn't feel right, like we're not supposed to have wins. As AJJA DE MANN said in the game thread; someone was tricking us. Alas, New York definitively ate Milwaukee's food tonight. Venison medallions and a very salty moose burger. Hopefully the first play of the season sets the tone for what is certain to be 82 consecutive flambé's.
Last year the team's first set piece would have been a shot clock violation. On this evening, the Knicks did whatever they wanted all the time. Seven players reached double figures, led by Derrick Williams' 24. Basically every Knick that played contributed and they ran the Bucks off their home floor. It will probably be another 30 years before the Bucks start the season at home because of this massacre.
This type of fantastic production simply can't be duplicated regularly, right? It is something that could pop up more frequently if the Knicks continue to play with this pace and sincerity, though -- diving for loose balls, constantly slinging the ball to the open teammate, defending with purpose and of course knocking down open shots. A scorching 122 points is better than all but one of New York's point totals from last season.
- Sasha Vujacic got the start. The MSG production crew caught him high fiving before the tip-off and The Machine is obviously a huge fan of the backhanded one-tap dap. Sasha has a habit of just collapsing behind incoming screens, and calling for help or a switch after setting up a hammock and laying down. That gave a guy like Khris Middleton enough time to wiggle his ears, tie his shoes together, drive John Henson to a more welcoming jewelry store over in Brown Deer and knock down the open triple.
- Carmelo Anthony had a jumpy game and couldn't really get in a groove. He still drew some double teams and we got to see that the swipe-swat is alive and well after he slipped a Michael Carter-Williams layup into reverse. A meager eleven points broke a streak of 16 consecutive games scoring 20 or more on the Bucks for Melo. Early in the game, those crazy kids in the stands started to count down the shot clock too early, as they often do in Milwaukee, but Melo didn't fall for it. Kudos for being a smarty pants. Unfortunately things were going poorly at that point.
- As you may have noticed, that's when Derrick Williams came in. And he just can't be tamed! Mixing it up with rumbles to the rim in transition, some bursts into space for open catch and shoots and just plain bullying his way through dudes to get to the free throw line -- it all helped galvanize the team. After a rugged first six minutes for the starters, Derrick and the bench dominoes started to come in and they were rolling! 21 out of the 27 first-quarter points came from bench guys.
- Kyle O'Quinn was a bench guy and did a magnificent job quarterbacking the defense. He hollers and stalks around the floor on both ends. It's the type of vocal presence the Knicks have sorely missed since Tyson Chandler roamed around. I like to imagine that O'Quinn finishes every single play with a declarative grunt. It's the basketball version of a rapper that says "RAH" at the end of a verse.
- Speaking of stalking around the court, I really love when Robin Lopez turns into the Incredulous Hulk and stiffens himself as he stomps quickly up the court after a whistle. You can always find uses for a ravenous madman.
- Midway through the third quarter, the Knicks stretched the lead to as much as 20, at which point the Bucks went to a halfcourt press that fell back to a 2-3 zone. It sparked a few turnovers and the lead was cut to 13, but Milwaukee started to get tired and shortly thereafter, Langston Galloway hit 3 consecutive triples from the right wing.
Ultimately, missing Giannis Antetokounmpo and some others proved too much for the Bucks to overcome. Milwaukee missed the spark that made them such a long antlered berserker. They aren't as bad as they played and the Knicks probably aren't as good. I wonder if this is a major learning experience for Melo; he doesn't have to do everything for the team to be successful. Tomorrow is the home opener against Atlanta. Good game, good game, good game...