Kurt Rambis has made plenty of questionable decisions in his short stint as interim coach. Starting Sasha Vujacic in place of the injured Arron Afflalo is the flagrant-two of questionable decisions. Before tip-off it was downgraded to a flagrant-one because- what can you do? While the league office reviewed the basketball reasoning, $a$ha pinched someone's debit card and cashed in 23 times.
- That was Sasha's best game of the season by a gazillion million miles. Vujacic's previous season high was 13 which he's managed twice so far this year. He last did that against Boston. But he has averaged a measly 1.5 points per game in his past ten appearances. Nevertheless, 23 points on 8 shots, (6-7 from deep) is a ton of unsustainable fun.
- On the other side of the ball, Devin Booker annihilated that floppy Ma¢hine en route to 32 points. One point for each year Sasha has been alive. Devin will be 20 just in time for next season.
- While Sasha will get the headlines and plenty of praise will unjustly be heaped on the coach, the real separation was generated by Carmelo Anthony. The Big Kahuna steadily cinched the lariat around easy buckets from various ranges. A nice helping of boards and- despite only getting one assist- he kept the pill popping around to various teammates. His lone assist of course fed the Machine. If you're a hungry scoring hippo, it's long been known that Melo will feed you.
- Despite fluke being the catch of the day, it might not relegate Jerian Grant and Langston Galloway to spot work at the end of the bench for the next couple of games. Though the Suns offered only the most feeble resistance, Jerian (especially) and Langston attacked and had some things popping off.
The reason for optimism lies within the several times that Rambis went with three-guard lineups. He did it early and often, and it helped shuttle the ball around a little more freely with drive and kick opportunities. Like the above tweet indicates, the Suns were positively atrocious on defense, as they have been for a while. Many of their players seemed either totally checked out or just generally clueless.
Of course Afflalo will return, so there aren't too many tea leaves to read. Grant and Galloway just managed to have some moments, and they also made some blunders. Grant was often caught jumping to pass and both guys got lost on defense but they hopped the Suns' turnstiles just the same. Grant in particular had some excellent finishes at the hoop. Here on a nice Triangle split, he jukes behind Archie Goodwin and slips underneath Mirza Teletovic. His athleticism and aggression will pay dividends eventually.
- Speaking of guys who will pay dividends eventually, Kristaps Porzingis had a rough go. Between Tyson Chandler repeatedly manhandling him and his own foul woes, Kristaps never got on track. A sad state of affairs, as I'm sure Rambis will trash him in one sentence and pronounce him the one true king in the next. A foul plagued 22 minutes, where he did manage to shoot 7-8 from the stripe.
- Walt Frazier had some especially good rhymes on the telecast tonight. The scarcely executed "matadors and picadors" followed a clear run to the rim when Devin Booker split a pick and roll and "vim and vigor pulling the trigger" for Sasha's hot shooting as the production crew cut to commercial. He also called PJ Tucker, "Tuckles".
- This is the first time this season that a Knick has had double digits in assists at the end of the night. That shouldn't surprise anyone, as they rank 26th in the league in assists per game at 20.1 per game. That slots them right in behind these very Suns. Jose Calderon served up a twelve stack of passcakes. Including a few alley-oops to Derrick Williams. Derrick also did a nice little Aaron Gordon impression to close out the affair:
It was a walkover in the valley of the sun. The Machine was coined "$a$ha!" in the game thread, and I thank Rubbercons for that. Next up on this road trip the Knicks face the ego-maniacal warlock Chris Paul and the Los Angeles Clippers. It's a Friday night schedule loss, so dust off your scimitars and play Robert Randolph's album backwards while the Silence of the Lambs plays at half speed on your Roku.