Hi! I went to the Knicks game last night. They lost to the Nets, but/and it was fun! They kept the game close, then Cleanthony Early missed a pretty sad final attempt. It was my first live Knicks game of the season, and I have some insightful and educational notes to share:
Let's get the basketball out of the way:
- First through third quarter: Whatever whatever whatever. I kept noticing that the Knicks seemed to be playing smart defense -- sending Deron Williams toward the corner, then attempting to trap him there -- but couldn't really execute. Shane Larkin would get into position too late, or Jason Smith would lumber directly onto someone's foot, or whatever. I sat right behind the Nets' first-half basket and repeatedly found myself thinking "well, they did the right thing, the just aren't good at doing it." I don't know. Even 75 games later, I might still be so affected by Mike Woodson's switch-everything defense that even utter mediocrity looks good.
- I entered the actual basketball area seconds after tip-off, moments after Markel Brown got smashed to the floor by an unfortunately placed Langston Galloway foul. It's very weird to step into a room that full and bright and silent and tense without knowing why it is that way.
- Cleanthony Early scored all 14 of his points in the fourth quarter, right? He finished at the rim, then started hitting some jumpers and that awkward alley-oop, and things kinda blossomed from there...almost. I was disappointed to see him hesitate and waste a beat on a few touches after he'd already established his heat. Catching a serendipitous tip-out behind the arc with 1 second on the shot clock and trying to ditch the ball instead of firing quickly was a very rookie mistake. Still a fun quarter for him, final airball notwithstanding.
- Hot damn, were the Knicks' possessions before that a mess. Turnovers and one horrid Lance Thomas floater, some of them coming out of timeouts. They weren't going iso and they weren't running sets. They were just trying to invent an offense on the fly and it looked terrible.
- Langston Galloway talks the most by far. Well, Jason Smith talks the most to refs and opponents, but Galloway directs his teammates the most.
- These fans paying homage to Jeffrey Gamblero with neon outfits were evident around the arena, and it was a really nice tribute. RIP.
- My friends and I were debating which timeout contest we'd like to participate in when the obvious choice strode to centercourt and won $10,000 without doing a damn thing. His choice was to either attempt a free throw for the money or let his opponent attempt a free throw for the money. On one hand, he looked like a big-time coward for deferring his one chance to shoot on the Garden floor. On the other hand, OBVIOUSLY pick against someone else to hit a single shot on their first try in front of 20,000 people.
- Okay, this is totally separate but I must share because I loved it:
I live in Brooklyn, and have gotten to know all the dogs in my neighborhood. One of them is a big Redbone Coonhound named Raul who lives around the corner. He's not actually named Raul, but I call him that because he howls a distinctive howl, often in the middle of the night, that sounds like "RA-OOOOOOOOL." He's also got giant balls, but that's beside the point.
Raul's owner is a tall, sturdy, sorta woodsy looking guy who always wears the same thick plaid jacket and plain gray baseball cap. A young man, but rather taciturn. He's never smiled or shown any interest in talking to me when my dog wants to check out his dog's tremendous nutsack.
Yesterday, as I was headed out to catch the train into Manhattan, I walked by Raul and his owner, who was unpacking a giant cardboard box on their stoop. Right as I passed, the man reached into the box to reveal a large dog bed that was printed in EXACTLY THE SAME PLAID as his own signature jacket. And he suddenly grinned ear to ear, his face aglow like a child unwrapping a Christmas present. That image is going to carry me for the rest of the year.
- Back to the game: The Knicks attempted the most half-assed April fool I've ever seen. There are worse pranks, but none quite as perfunctory on this scale. The people with the t-shirt guns came out in the first half, then kinda stood there for a moment not doing anything. The PA guy whined "Oh no! We forgot all the shirts!" then waited roughly half a second before shouting "APRIL FOOLS! WE HAVE EVEN MORE SHIRTS!" Nobody gasped, nobody cheered.
- Did you know Cody Simpson is a famous Australian recording artist? I did not! The nice women sitting behind me SURE AS FUCK knew.
- I saw a very tall man walking around the concourse who looked exactly like Brook Lopez, but older anda a few inches shorter. I cannot figure out who this man is, but if he's not actually related to Brook Lopez then some cosmic phenomenon is afoot.
- The guy sitting next to me was either the world's greatest Ricky Ledo aficionado or Ledo's friend/relative. He hated Jason Smith.
- Ledo had some moments, by the way! Had a few successful first steps and threw one or two of those passes that caught my eye in Summer League.
I had fun. Good job, Knicks.