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Rockets 118, Knicks 99: “Thankfully for the Knicks no one is paying attention to this game”

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NBA: Houston Rockets at New York Knicks Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight most of the sports world was focused on the Chicago Cubs trying to end a 108-year-old World Series drought. I envy them. Anyone who sat through the Knicks getting pummeled by the Houston Rockets 118-99 tonight understands, fractionally, what it’s like rooting for a lost cause. If you missed the game, go outside tomorrow around 6:00 a.m. and root for the moon to stay out. That’s what being a Knick fan tonight felt like.

It’s easy to assume it all boiled down to (Harden offense = tripleplus good) + (Knick defense = tripleplus bad) = (Rockets win). And Harden was at his serpentine best throughout. But even when he sat, Houston’s lead grew. So don’t get it twisted. Yes, the Rockets won this game. Easily. But more so, the Knicks lost. Terribly.

Early on, both teams were hitting over half their shots. But the shots the Rockets were hitting were sometimes worth three points; the Knicks’ were almost all twos. Also, Houston got to the line, and when there they mostly connected. The Knicks didn’t, and didn’t.

At the half the deficit was 17. The crowd had started to boo after Houston’s last possession ended with 10,000 offensive rebounds and a putback. It’d been the kind of antsyfying flaming-bag-of-poop half you hope gets your team all ornery and angried up to take it out on their opponents in the second half.

Nope.

In a league where everybody makes a run, New York didn’t. A Harden leaning three at the end of the third over Justin Holiday, who had a foul to give but didn’t, put the Rockets up 22. The moon surrenders. The sun rises. The Rockets beat the Knicks. Same as it ever was.

Notes:

  • Sam Dekker went down hard after catching the business end of one of Carmelo Anthony’s roundhouse shot blocks. Later on he was all alone on a breakaway when he tripped over his own feet, fell, and had the ball bounce off his face and out of bounds. He still had a better night than the Knicks.
  • Courtney Lee had to leave the game with a cut on his arm in the third. Easily the most memorable thing he did tonight.
  • Four games into the season, a number of Knicks look out of sorts. Because Lance Thomas is Lance Thomas, his out of sorts looks mad more out of sorts.
  • The box score says Melo scored 21 points, hit most of his shots, and grabbed seven rebounds. The box score could not be any less connected to the experience of watching his play tonight. Some nights you need someone to light a candle. Melo’s play was more cursing the darkness.
  • Kristaps Porzingis played 28 minutes. He made zero shots. He took three. Discuss.
  • Your lone ray of light: a new Porzingis nickname should be “Reality.” Because when he plays center and opponents try to score from anywhere in the paint, it’s just not happening. Reality is where dreams go to die. KP is where paint attempts do the same.
  • This was the third 30-point game for Harden this year. This was the third 15-assist game this year. Kindly send all correspondence regarding his defensive flaws to IDGAF.
  • As the final buzzer sounded, Mindaugas Kuzminskas hit a 35-foot three. Mike D’Antoni may not have liked this. He may have said something to Brandon Jennings. Jennings may not have liked it. Trevor Ariza may have pushed Jennings’ face against its will afterward. This may have been the most spunk the Knicks showed tonight.
  • At one point as the game was slipping out of reach — early on — the Knick offense was Holiday and Sasha Vujacic jumpers. Sigh.
  • Going forward in life, what is Porzingis’s role, defensively, with this team? Is he a tweener on D - too slight for 5s? Too slow for 4s? What do you think?
  • Derrick Rose and Jennings played together some. Need more of a sample size to assess.
  • Lot of people loooved the Lopez/Rose trade. Too early to judge? Yes. Too early to miss what RoLo brought on offense? Too early to note Joakim Noah’s hands are an abomination unto the Lord? No.
  • Maurice Ndour’s hands, on offense, may not quite be an abomination. But they’re def a sin.
  • When Tyson Chandler was acquired, one of his supposed positive traits was his leadership. As soon as the Knicks began to collapse, though, Chandler took on the look of a hostage. I mention this because Noah has 3.95 years left on his contract, and it sounds like the next CBA, unlike the previous two, will not include an amnesty clause. I really hope his intangibles are all that. ‘Cuz if not...being from Hell’s Kitchen will only get you so far.
  • Tonight, introducing “The Three Faces of the Knicks In Transition”:
  1. A four-on-two results in no shot. The following possession devolved into a Lee runner baseline brick.
  2. They had a chance in the third, down 14, out in transition, for a wide-open corner three to cut Houston’s lead to 11. Melo fed Lee in the corner instead of Ron Baker for an elbow three. Barely grazed the side of the rim. Hell hath no fury like a Ron scorned.
  3. In the fourth, Ndour and Holiday got out on a two-on-one. Ndour pushed, then passed back to Holiday. Holiday looked like he was going for the lay-up, then passed it back to Ndour. By “back,” I mean both that he tried to give it back to Ndour, and that he literally threw it behind him, to his back. They say it’s always the passer’s fault. But Ndour seemed unaware that getting the ball back was within the realm of the physically possible. Turnover.
  • Last night, Porzingis doesn’t play most of the 4th in a tight game. Tonight in a blowout, he was out there. Not. Getting. Shots.
  • D’Antoni brought Harden back in the game with eight minutes left, up 20. He was four rebounds shy of a triple-double, so that may have been part of it. Another part of it is probably he enjoys showing New York what a Pringles team led by a Pringles player can look like.
  • My fiancee, upon seeing D’Antoni for the first time: “He has a horrible, evil look to his face. When he talks, I want him to stop talking.”

Quoth $100M Contract: “Thankfully for the Knicks no one is paying attention to this game.” Bet your ass people will be paying attention Friday, when Rose and Noah return to Chicago for the first time as enemies. Robin Lopez will be there, too! And maybe the world champion Cubs! Maybe 2081 will be our year.