The Cleveland Cavaliers are the defending champs and return pretty much the same roster. The New York Knicks are not and don’t. Coincidentally, the Knicks lost 117-88 to the Cavs in tonight’s season opener, their seventh straight defeat against Cleveland.
For three-eights of the game they played well, but the other five eighths did them in. Early on, Carmelo Anthony’s jumper was ghee: clear and tasty. Derrick Rose was getting to the basket. When the Knicks weren’t turning the ball over — which is mostly what they were doing — they were taking shots consistently early in the shot clock. That’s good, says today’s NBA dogma. Unfortunately, the Knicks TL;DR the whole dogma, so they missed the part where you gotta hit quick shots for them to be good. While Anthony was hitting five of his first seven, the rest of the team was 2-15.
A 15-2 run in the second tied the game, but the Knicks were living on borrowed time; Cleveland was getting good look after good look, and if they hadn’t missed a million corner threes the game would have been over well before halftime. Kyrie Irving and LeBron James were too much in the third, when Cleveland put this one to bed, and the only late intrigue was Ron Baker’s Seven Minutes in Heaven and Marv Albert announcing “extensive garbage time.”
- The Cavs were led, in order of effectiveness, by LeBron, Kyrie, Kevin Love, and Richard Jefferson. That last bit will never look right to me.
- One game is just one game. I know that. Having said that ... some guys take leaps after winning it all. Scottie Pippen did. Kyrie looked leap-ed tonight. 17 in the third, many of the highlight variety. God he is fun to watch.
- You ever guard somebody you’re so much better than, you’d let them go past you so you could block their shot and get the ball back? LeBron was doing that to Courtney Lee.
- Your first Jeff Hornacek-era sub? Brandon Jennings.
- The Knicks opened the second with an all-bench fivesome: Jennings, Justin Holiday, Willy Hernangomez, Kyle O’Quinn, and Lance Thomas. Springfield will not be requesting the footage for posterity.
- I know Joakim Noah can pass. But for real. He can pass. Noah makes Derrick Rose look like Robin Lopez as a passer. On one first-half sequence, Noah grabbed an offensive rebound and dished off to Porzingis, who drew a foul. Noah’s interior passing could be a boon to KP’s offense the way Lopez was last year to his D.
- At their best tonight, the Knicks were out pushing and getting pace points, with Rose running one-man fast breaks and guys like Holiday hitting threes off secondary transition. Give. Give more.
- Iman Shumpert went down hard after banging his head into Porzingis’s hip on a drive. TNT reported Shump was having concussion-like symptoms. Apparently, hips are where Latvians keep their godlike powers. Hope Shump’s okay. He went down like he got uppercut by Little Mac.
- Felicidades a Baker y Mindaugas Kuzminskas on their first NBA buckets!
- There have been a lot of words on this site questioning the value of Sasha Vujacic. I have nothing to add about the player or the Locker Room Guy. I will add this: when Sasha Vujacic cuts his hair, I completely miss the point of Sasha Vujacic.
- Three Knicks who played didn’t hit a shot. Sasha and Noah would’ve been on the short list of candidates for an oh-fer; Lee, on the other hand, can’t be on that list too many more times if this team’s gonna succeed.
- I bet a lot of nights it’s good to be Lance Thomas. Tonight was not one.
- Ever dated someone who looks the part, and mostly plays the part, but every time there’s a real moment of truth, they disappoint? They’re never a full-on disaster or anything; they just never quite hit the mark when you need them to. I ran the full gamut of emotions re: Holiday. In the first half, I’m ready to anoint him the breakout star of the season; by the second, I’m thinking of disappointing ex analogies.
- Richard Jefferson broke free for a breakaway dunk. So the Knicks have already gotten the low point of the season out of the way.
- James Jones: anticlimax in human form.
- Earlier today I was thinking about how I’ve been watching the Knicks day-in and day-out since 1990. Then I thought, “Jaromir Jagr’s been playing in the NHL since 1990.” Then I thought, “Marv Albert’s been calling Knick games since Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X were alive.” Much respect, Marv.
“Shoulda played 6 minute quarters,” quoth AJ_in_VA. The Knicks will play eight six-minute quarters Saturday in their home opener against the Memphis Grizzlies. No LeBron or Kyrie. Things are already looking up already.