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Knicks 100, Bauru 81: Undefeated!

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It was a preseason game! The Knicks blew assignments and tripped each other and overthrew passes, but they rolled over the Brazilian club Bauru. That's good, because losing to a team from Brazil would have made for a yucky 24 hours or so, even in exhibition number one for a mostly-new roster. Some notes!

- Listen, we'll get to more important stuff, but this is the only thing on my mind right now. Rebecca Haarlow (welcome!) reported during the second half that Cleanthony Early -- who played 14 minutes, hit a halfcourt shot, and got knocked down plenty -- had his wisdom teeth extracted ... TODAY. I'm not an oral surgeon -- well, not a professional one, more of a hobbyist -- but I got my wizzies out once and have accompanied several other people through that process and know that no matter the surgeon or the extent of the operation, the patient is instructed not to exercise for at least a few days. You don't wanna get your blood pumping too much, and you definitely don't wanna get hit in the face while you have multiple gaping holes in your dang gingiva. So HOW!? Haarlow said doctors watched Early run around a bit before the game and said he was good to go. He wore upper and lower mouthguards, from the look of it. That's crazy! In that condition, I stood up too fast and started bleeding! Cle had to crash into 7-foot tall Brazilian dudes at full speed! Sheer wildness. I forgot what we were supposed to talking about.

- Oh, basketball game.

- I was very ready to offer Carmelo Anthony a y'all-he's-coming-off-surgery-it's-been-months-since-he-played-of-course-he's-rusty defense, but nope. Melo hit two shots in like two seconds to start the game, then he hit almost every other shot. Pull-up, post-up, stick-up, fruit roll-up ... they all dropped. The form looked fluid, the feet looked fleet. Looking to pass some, too, and at least pretending to make an effort on defense. He was by far the most comfortable person on the floor, which, ya know, that's good.

- Kristaps Porzingis was nervous. Of course he was nervous! Well, first he was nervous, then I think he was exhausted. In 21 minutes, we got tastes of each thing we saw from Kristaps in Summer League. When he found shots, he splashed 'em. A couple straight-on threes dropped, and even though he didn't hit that free-throw-line jumper, you could see the touch on it in rhythm. The problems came earlier, in actually finding those shots. It took most of a quarter before Porzingis caught the ball in a useful place. He spent a lot of time hurrying to get out of other people's way, and a lot of other time losing the battle for post position. In pick-and-pops, Kristaps looked like a natural. In post-ups, he still struggled to make himself a target.

Mixed results on defense, too. Porzingis got tooootally lost on some switches -- like, guarding nobody while pointing for a teammate to close out on an open man -- and underutilized his own arm length on shot contests, perhaps out of fear of fouling. And then there were moments -- hanging in the air and switching hands to stuff some poor fool at the rim, scrambling with uncanny poise to contain a much smaller ball-handler -- that reminded you he's got plenty to offer on that end right now.

Rebounding: awful. I feel I've seen enough of Porzingis now to identify box-outs as his foremost weakness. If he has any lower body strength, he misuses it.

Perfectly adequate evening for Krispy, though. We saw him very anxious, we saw him very tired, and we saw him do some splendid things. That's a rookie debut.

- Kyle O'Quinn led the team in making me giggle and send people long strings of caps-lock nonsense letters. O'Quinn's performance did nothing to dissuade my belief that I will one day regard him among my favorite Knicks ever. O'Quinn hit 5 of 7 shots, including a very clean three, some elbow mid-rangers, and some quick finishes around the basket. He also gobbled rebounds and showed exactly the sort of high-post quarterbackly tendencies we anticipated. A lot of one-handed palming, fake hand-offs (and real ones, like for a speedy Langston Galloway blind pig lay-in), and check-downs of various cutters from a step or two inside the arc. He does that.

- Robin Lopez looked like Robin Lopez, the guy from those other teams on TV. He did his best on defense, suffering through a lot of leakage from the deeply FARTDOG-y Calderon/Vujacic backcourt. He set screens, he grabbed some boards, he hit a jumper or maybe two, and he fouled someone with his ass. Fit right in.

- Hey, if the Knicks are still grinding through Triangle basics 2 months from now, I will feel distressed, but they're gonna go through the motions around now. That's what the preseason is for. Also, pasta. Preseason is for pasta.

- I was not one of those campaigning for the paint to turn blue again, but I think it looks lovely, especially with the little orange accents for the hash marks.

- Bauru took 43 threes and hit 11. An NBA team probably would've hit 20, because they were very open threes.

- People had trouble catching Jose Calderon's passes. The basket had trouble catching Sasha Vujacic's shots. I think maybe it was a bad idea for Sasha to take the #18 jersey directly off Beno Udrih's back? At least wash some of the pull-up 19-footer residue out of that thing first?

- Galloway and Jerian Grant looked fantastic together. Both got a little wild with the ball, but both created in the pick-and-roll, and both *made* guys get a little wild with the ball at the opposite end. They just swarmed. And fought for rebounds and loose balls. Grant looked awesome drawing contact around the basket, finishing one mighty and-one and making plays with his left hand a couple other times. Those two could be a thing. They could be *the* thing, even.

- Man, I do not remember Kevin Seraphin scoring 7 times, but he did that. He looked great around the basket and plenty rowdy around the other basket. One quickly gets the feeling that all the Knicks' big men can Do Things. Like, they all have distinct skills besides being tall, all the way down the depth chart. Zero galoots. That's really something!

- Derrick Williams finished a pretty amazing lefty tip-in off a hiiiigh Galloway lob. That's what he does. He also hit a three! What if he does that?

- Robin swatted the shit out of a dude. Kyle swatted the shit out of dude, then did a sort of jump-bow. Like, he hopped straight up in the air, and when he landed, he was bowing to the crowd. I like these guys!

- The Bauru coach goes by one name and looks like if Alfred Molina tried to portray Dustin Hoffman in a movie.

- Grant did not appear to have NBA three-point range. Lotta arms. He did appear to have a post-up, though. He appeared to have a lot of things:

Yo.

This is way too many words about a preseason game. Sorry. Good night!