Not sure what to say right now. It's been a while, guys. Let's process this together.
The New York Knicks played a basketball game ... this much we know. They played a quality Wizards team on the road. The game counted in the standings. There was absolutely no incentive to lose. The Wizards played at essentially full strength, and they played their damnedest to win.
But they didn't win. The Knicks won, 117-110, on the strength of a titanic performance from Carmelo Anthony and the clutch, dogged play of reserve, non-starter Langston Galloway. John Wall (25 points) and Bradley Beal (26 points) were great; Melo, Galloway and the rest of the Knicks were simply better when it mattered.
Weird, right? Let's get to the notes:
- A few months ago Jared Dudley made a bit of a stink when he publicly declared Carmelo Anthony to be the most overrated player in the NBA. Apparently Melo reads the news:
Carmelo, on Jared Dudley's comment abt him being most overrated player in NBA: "It got back to me... I had this gm circled on my calendar."— Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) November 1, 2015
Would that be enough to break Melo out of his early-season shooting slump? In a word: you bet your ass. Melo and Dudley earned double technicals in the first half, and Melo proceeded to pour kerosene all over our nation's capital and then light it ablaze, War of 1812-style. His scoring was equal parts prolific and efficient: 37 points on 11-18 shooting (4-5 from beyond the arc) and 11-12 from the line. T'was a rare game indeed for fair Melo:
Thank you, Jared Dudley.
- What's left to say about Langston Galloway?
Perhaps we should leave it to his teammate to sum up his game:
Melo: "That's the Langston we know, the Langston we fell in love with. He came up with big shots, big plays. He was a big part of this win."— charlie widdoes (@charliewiddoes) November 1, 2015
The kid was clutch as hell last season, when nobody was paying attention to the Knicks, and he's right back at it this season. Galloway has that 2012-13 J.R. Smith "You know this fourth-quarter jumper is going in" shine with the added bonus of not being J.R. Smith.
But there was so much more to Galloway's game than just a big shot. His defensive presence helped calm the game down in the first half when Wall and Beal were tearing through New York's other guards like Kleenex. He maintained his composure running the offense, even with the Wizards pressuring every pass -- the Knicks finished with 18 turnovers, only one of which belonged to Galloway. And he did stuff like this:
Galloway is the Knicks' best point guard, shooting guard, whatever. He always was.
- The Knicks' second-best guard on this night: none other than Sasha Vujacic, who closed the game in the backcourt alongside Galloway. He shot poorly (2-10) but grabbed six rebounds and was steady with the rock (four assists, one turnover). His defense may be bad, but it isn't Jose Calderon-level bad. The Machine is doing its job.
- Speaking of Calderon ... screw it, not tonight.
- For the first time this preseason, Jerian Grant looked like a rookie. Washington defenders closed hard on every post entry pass, and Grant was tapping Morse code messages to the Wizards before every pass. It's one of the reasons I prefer him on the free-wheeling second unit for the time being -- fewer mechanical Triangle sets, more freedom to do what he does best. One thing I do like about Grant: when he gets the ball leading the break, he dunks that shit. He's the first Knick to consistently hit fast-break buckets since the reign of the emperor Marcus Aurelius.
- I wouldn't read too much into Kristaps Porzingis not finishing this game. He was his usual, solid overall self, and actually had his first decent shooting night (3-6 for eight points). Lance Thomas was simply playing too well to take out, which was as strange a sentence for me to write as it was for you to read.
- The stench of Paul Pierce still hangs over these Wizards. They're polluted, like Michelle Pfeiffer's womb in Scarface. Dudley is annoying. Drew Gooden is really annoying. Marcin Gortat sets dirty-ass screens. Wall nearly punched a ref late in the fourth, yet didn't earn a tech. Beal ... I just don't like his face.
- Underrated hero of the night? This kid:
Here's Odell Beckham Junior, Junior. Has a Sharpie goatee, and has been loudly cheering for NYK all night. pic.twitter.com/VIZSXZmclo— Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) November 1, 2015
As Polyphonic Spreewell pointed out, it's hard to believe this is only Game 3 of 82. This felt like a damn playoff game after what we suffered through last season. Enjoy it, friends. Carpe diem. Carpe Knicks!