The Bulls just played four overtimes then traveled to New York, and the Knicks didn't come out running them around like maniacs? I'm still trying to make sense of that. In an even stranger twist of fate, the Knicks airmailed a trio of berserk jump shots and got down by ten points almost immediately. Thats a sign of dead legs, right? Why did the Knicks have dead legs? Shortly thereafter Kirk Hinrich came in to relieve an uninterested Derrick Rose. He promptly unfurled some of his own air ballistics and that was the tide of change.
From then on the Knicks unloaded on the Bulls and stymied every run they threatened to make. New York cruised to the victory and got back to .500 in the standings. As Muruju noted in the game thread, it really feels good. It's just basic competence, but there's something exciting here!
- Melo has been too loose with his "tricky" passes lately. He also clunked the hell out of a few shots in the opening minutes. Aside from that, Melo lopped and chopped the beef and served up quite a splendid stew. Gritty rebounds, sizzling jumpers, and the sauce was hot. Mike Breen labeled my favorite play a scoop, but I assure you this is a ladle.
- Lance Thomas is the slowest burning garden starlet I maybe have ever seen. Lance-sanity is here, folks. The numbers don't jump out at you, but the contributions are always there and nearly flawless on a nightly basis. He's just a defensive artery clogging, clean ball stripping, athletic body jostling, knockdown shooter. It does not seem like it's going away anytime soon. Let's get ready to storm the castle if they don't re-sign him in the off-season.
- I hate when Jose Calderon is in a sudden hurry. It's this weird, false aggro-hustle that leads to a dribble handoff or something plain. If you jog, jog, Jose. I know you just want to grab a rebound and push to the top of the key then fan out to the wing. It's cool.
The Knicks did manage to skewer the Bulls on the break 20-4, despite Jose's lapses in loping. Calderon even contributed to the cause! At one point he got beat off the dribble and Rose got a layup, but the Knicks pushed off a make! Practically unheard of stuff, but the increase in tempo is a game or three away from becoming something the Knicks "do".
- When considering what allows the Knicks to push more often, one thing to look at is their bench unit. Kyle O'Quinn, Lance, Derrick Williams, Langston Galloway and Jerian Grant. Those guys were the guys at the beginning of the year and the chemistry seemed to be there. Now Derek Fisher has gone through the revolving door and finds himself back at the beginning. Rough patches aside, maybe that implies he has some good instincts! It's not perfect. Jerian Grant hesitates so much, it gives me motion sickness.
- Extra special shoutout to Langston's ability to push all the way to the rim in transition and finish through contact.
- Kristaps Porzingis getting doubled in the post is so cool. He hasn't shown that he can take over a game singlehandedly but lots of guys just see cookies when he's got his back to the basket. It never seems to help the defense, though. It's like he has a huge "don't push" button on his jersey.
Another testament to his Por-synergy is that he set the Triangle coordinates a few times to emphasize a mismatch for a teammate. One time he lofted a gorgeous over the top feed to Carmelo for an easy bucket. Wild ripping rebounds and quick strike blocks are something he still gets when he isn't scoring, so this kid really has it going right now.
- Arron Afflalo continues to overwhelm all the mice and has even done work on some ROUS's. Bleeding the block has given him room on the wings to line everything up and can three-balls. He also herks and jerks his way around the lane and rattles in all sorts of fall away jumpers. Arron is hitting his stride and has been indispensable. Indefensible as they say.
- Speaking of that name. Aaron Brooks is a sidewinder and I don't trust him.
- Speaking of trust, I trust Robin Lopez and Lance Thomas at the foul line more than Jose Calderon for some reason. It's just for right now, but I thought I'd mention it.
- My favorite reciprocal score was 97-79. We saw it with around five minutes left and the Bulls officially waived the white flag.
Knicks are on a small winning streak here. If .500 feels this good, I'm awfully curious what being higher than that feels like. Winning is a hell of a drug, and the Knicks look more elated than they have in years! Knicks face the Magic at home on Monday. It's a winnable game, but this certainly feels like thats the kind of game that could get icky. Let's keep this rolling, the Knicks. Don't trip.