When I was six I pissed off an older boy, so he tickle-bullied me. He held me down and tickled me, and I kept begging him to stop and he wouldn't. If you've never experienced this, it's a nightmare: you're laughing uncontrollably, to the point that it's acutely painful, but there's no stopping it. You have no control, it feels like you're dying, and yet, you're also laughing all the while. That was tonight's tank-obliterating Knick win. Laughter and tears, smiling through the gnashing of teeth.
The Knicks' second game of the season was an unlikely road win over the presumed Eastern Conference top seed. Tonight, the Knicks' second-to-last game was an unlikely road win over the Eastern Conference's top seed. The game started off with Atlanta reading from the script and getting off to a good lead...everything was pretty normal...and then...what was that? The Knicks got hot, hitting 11 of their last 13 shots in the first to take a four-point lead. By halftime, the lead was 13, with New York shooting 57% on both twos and threes.
The hot shooting continued throughout the second half, though the Hawks cut their deficit to five entering the fourth. A Kyle Korver four-point play trimmed it to three, and late in the game a Shelvin Mack triple tied things at 87. Langston Galloway hit from downtown, then Lance Thomas did, then Gallo did again, putting the Knicks up nine. The Hawks kept coming. Korver hit a three with just under a minute left to cut the deficit to three again. Thomas missed from distance but Al Horford lost the rebound out of bounds. Galloway turned it over and after a fast-break Atlanta pulled within one. Tim Hardaway Jr. missed a free throw; down two, Jeff Teague had the easiest, wide open-est, absolute bunny-est shot from eight feet away. He missed. Jason Smith clinched it with free throws because of course he did. What's that? What's that thing? In the rearview mirror? Is that--another team? It is. It's Minnesota. Someone else is worse than the Knicks. That takes me back.
- Derek Fisher after the game: "I'm sure people are upset with us tonight. But I don't think you can ever go out there and basically try and not play your best. It's a hard thing to do and at the same time say you want to be the best. Those two things don't go together. So I thought our guys, despite our record, and despite whatever the probabilities and percentages are of us winning this game, in terms of our future, that has no bearing on these guys' lives, and their careers, and their livelihoods, who we pick next year. This is about them. And they went out and played that way." In a sense, Fisher is saying this year isn't about next year. I know that sounds bad as a fan of a team that's given you nothing to do but count your ping-pong balls before they've hatched all season. But I don't know what else Fisher could say, or should say. Coaches and players are immune to tanking. That's a fans-and-front-office thing.
- Hardaway picked up right where he left off from the Orlando game. 13 points in the first, then nothing much till the fourth, when he scored seven of his 23. Five assists for Tim, too.
- Career-high 26 points for Galloway, along with six assists and five rebounds. Six for six from downtown.
- 20 points, nine rebounds, and five assists for Smith. I'll say it. I want Jah back next year.
- An energetic 12 points, four rebounds and three assists in 26 high-energy minutes for Quincy Acy.
- Lou Amundson: eight points, five rebounds, three assists, two steals, three blocks. Lou Amundson!
- Hardaway drove quite a bit in this game, finishing 6 of 8 inside the arc. Once early on the game, he drove and tried an audacious Steph Curry-like parabolic scoop lay-up. He missed, but it was close. Tim trying to dimensionalize = thumbs up.
- Clyde said the Knicks weren't running the Triangle tonight. I thought they were, and running it pretty perfectly. The cuts, the passes, the motions, the counters - looked to me like a bunch of learners showing what they've learned. I mean, they also hit more shots than usual, which always makes you look good. But they looked good. They weren't thinking; they were doing.
- With three seconds left in the half, Shane Larkin stole the inbounds and was wide open on the baseline, 15 feet away. Did he shoot? Of course not! He tried to bounce a pass to Cole Aldrich. It went out of bounds. I am the Orpheus of Shane Larkin heaves. I know I shouldn't look, I know if I do it won't be there...but I look every time. And it never is.
"Noooooooooooooooooo," DiscountTripleCheck wrote. Tonight was my last recap this year; my first was the Cleveland win way back when. I was lucky this year to recap at least half the Knicks' wins. Tonight's could end up being more damaging than any of the blowout losses. Or they could still pick first. Or second. Or sixth. Tonight the Knicks lost to the Knicks. But they also won. May that be this year's epitaph.