Tonight the New York Knicks met the Cleveland Cavaliers in a game that was like what happens when you face a boss in a video game for the first time. You get smacked down. 126-94 smacked down. In the first buzzworthy game of the Phil Jackson era, the buzz died, quickly and completely.
Each team started hot. But as the Knicks fell back to Earth, the Cavs ascended unto the heavens, led by their Big Three. Kevin Love had 16 in the first quarter, Kyrie Irving was getting anything and everything he wanted, and LeBron James was conducting the symphony while laying down the occasional sick solo. Kristaps Porzingis checked out about midway through the first, but had to return two minutes later with Carmelo Anthony in foul trouble and the Knicks down 32-15.
Cleveland was putting up a 50/50/90 half, helped in part by New York turning the ball over; they devastated the Knicks in transition, secondary transition, transition metals, transition phrases, transition epithelium, etc. The orange-and-blue’s best sustained play all night keyed a 9-1 run to cut the lead to eight. But then a late Cav push led by LeBron pushed it back to 15 at the break, and an 8-0 run to open the third ended any dream of deliverance. From then on it was all about Cleveland having a blast and the Knicks having played their worst game of the season.
- Kraft = cheesiest. Kyrie = craftiest. The way Cleveland uses Irving is the way I imagine Derrick Rose could ideally be employed. He’s as gifted a second star as there is in the league.
- Remember when the Cavs traded for Love and there were all these hypotheses about him heaving full-court flings to LeBron and drilling threes and generally resembling an overqualified third banana? Tonight was that.
- LeBron took more free throws than field goals and only one fewer foul shot than the Knicks.
- After the vintage performance last night in Miami, Carmelo had a vintage Iman Shumpert game. Eight points. Zero free throws.
- No Knick looked comfortable tonight. None.
- A late Shump three gave the Cavs 20 on the night. They finished with 22, a record for a Knick foe.
- One of the worrying trends this year for the Knicks continues to be the free throw disparity.
- Jeff Hornacek went with a wholesale five-man lineup change with 10 minutes left. Mindaugas Kuzminskas, Willy Hernangomez, Kyle O’Quinn, Maurice Ndour and RON! Baker: in any game of chess, half the pieces are pawns.
- I dream of a world where Porzingis is strong enough to get post position regularly inside or on the outskirts of the paint, rather than 3 to 5 feet outside it.
- The Knicks turned it over a lot early. I wanted to say they turned it over a lot in the early going, but I couldn’t tell if that’s one word or two, and when I looked up the noun form it said “easygoingness” and ain’t no way I’m doing that.
- With tonight’s loss, the Knicks dropped four games behind the Cavs in the standings. Talking about games behind feels mad retro. In that vein:
- Tristan Thompson with the Rodman-esque line of zero baskets, 3 points, and 20 rebounds.
- Shumpert is the anti-Rod Strickland. Meaning he’s the worst finisher around the basket I’ve ever seen for a player of his size and alleged, overrated athleticism.
- Early in the game LeBron went flying in for a dunk against Porzingis one-on-one and as the confrontation neared I felt ready for the Lord to take me.
- Porzingis missed 10 of 15 shots, committed five fouls and was -18 tonight. And that led the starters in plus-minus.
- RON! hit a long two right off the bench and a three-pointer late. Ignore the five misses in between.
- Othella Harrington was in the crowd tonight. I was kind of excited/moved to see that. I’ve no idea why.
- The camera found Herb Williams in the crowd, too. He had his phone out. You know he’s doing reconnaissance for James Dolan. Once a mole, always a mole.
- Does the Lance/J.R. Smith trade go down as a “good for both teams” deal? J.R. was a big part of Cleveland winning it all last year. New York needs Thomas more than they’d need Smith. Also, I don’t think J.R. would have survived the years here that Lance has.
- A Marxist perspective: ever notice when games are competitive, you rarely see three teammates all fighting for the same rebound, but in garbage time, you see it kind of a lot? Capitalism in the flesh.
- A question for Maurice Ndour:
- Watching Birdman Andersen always makes me wish more players got some color in their tattoos.
- If Sasha Vujacic were bringing the ball up the length of the floor and LeBron locked onto him all-out for 94 feet, how far you think Vujacic could get?
Quoth kaisersoser37: “We were most likely not gonna win this game.” Word. The only news to come out of tonight was that an MRI on Rose showed no structural damage. He’s day-to-day. Tonight the Knicks got smacked down. We’ll see if they get up and get going again when they open a five-game road trip Friday in Sacramento.