A stranger at a party offers you a strange drink. It's a color you've never seen before, and it's smoky, and it smells funny. The stranger tells you it will take you on a wonderful ride, but if you drink it your night will end in painful, retching vomiting. Which experience will be what you remember: the pleasant journey? Or the bitter end?
The Knicks' 105-104 loss in Boston was satisfying until it wasn't...at which point it was deeply, morosely unsatisfying. They led most of the way, shooting over 50% for the first three quarters. Early on, especially, they were moving the ball crisply, sharing the wealth and not turning the ball over. Kristaps Porzingis ruled the opening minutes and then Carmelo Anthony went to work; combined they scored 21 of New York's 31 first-quarter points. Meanwhile, Boston was getting mad open looks, even (often) right at the rim, but that figured to end eventually, right? And whatevs: to quote a Clyde-ism, all the Knicks had the knack tonight. Let the good times roll.
New York was up five entering the second half, when a Melo deuce and Porzingis three in the opening minute pushed the lead to 10 and led Boston coach Brad Stevens to call time. After all the premature first quarter/third quarter Derek Fisher/Kurt Rambis timeouts this year, it was nice to see how the other half lives, if only for one night. Soon after, though, the Knicks began remembering who they are, or maybe the Celtics did, and soon enough New York was turning it over left and right and Boston was off and running; in less than two and a half minutes, an 11-0 Celtic run saw them retake the lead. Kyle O'Quinn came in and settled things down, dishing and swishing and blocking shots, having a real positive impact, meaning he's set to embark on another daisy chain of DNPs.
Late in the third, Jose Calderon drove all the way from the three-point line to the basket. He missed, but Carmelo tipped it home. That's not the point. Jose Calderon drove all the way from the three-point line to the basket. It was like watching a turtle cross one end of Queens Boulevard to the other during rush hour and not get hit. The adrenaline must've been pumping, 'cuz Jose was invigorated after this flashback! On the next possession he hit a three, and on the last possession of the third he drove again, forcing the defense to collapse and throwing the pass that led to the pass that led to an Afflalo three that put the Knicks up 87-81.
During one stretch in the fourth, Porzingis and Galloway missed consecutive lay-ups on the left side of the glass. Then Calderon missed a short jumper from the same side, then Galloway missed another running lay-in from the same side. Eventually the Knicks remembered there's a whole other half of the court you shoot from and they started scoring again, but the Celtics tightened up their defense, something teams that play defense actually do. While the Celtics scored between 24 and 28 in all four quarters, the Knicks only scored 17 in the ultimate quadrant. Still, a Galloway steal and lay-in gave New York a 100-92 lead. Boston fought back to within one, after Galloway's attempted entry pass to Robin Lopez (who was in the game instead of Porzingis, because #Knicks) was deflected, and Lopez or Galloway stood there watching Evan Turner hustle and save the ball to Jared Sullinger, who threw ahead to Jae Crowder alone ahead of the field for a lay-up. Avery Bradley was also alone head of the field, because accountabillibuddies stick together.
A Melo midrange jumper bounced high off the rim and in, restoring the three-point edge. Isaiah Thomas drove and found Sullinger underneath for a lay-in with just over a minute left, and after a Lopez miss Turner hit a pull-up over Lance Thomas to put the C's up 103-102. Anthony hit a Dirk fadeaway to put New York up 104-103. After a Celtic timeout, Bradley got the ball. Crowder looked like he was setting a pick, only he didn't, only it didn't matter because Lance Thomas didn't switch and Galloway got stuck behind Bradley, who drove to the hoop and hit a tough shot over Thomas. The Knicks didn't call time, Melo dribbled till there were three seconds left, Crowder used the foul the Celtics had to give, and on the next inbounds, you, me, the Celtics, 20,000 Celtic fans, and people who've yet to be born knew the Knicks, unlike the Celtics, would go the predictable route and have Anthony launch a contested 30-footer instead of maybe seeing what that 7'3" guy could do against Turner, who's eight inches shorter. Beggars can't be choosers, though, so even though the destination was duh - a loss - and the method of execution was duh - an unlikely Hail Melo at the buzzer - at least the journey was pleasant most of the way.
- All five Knick starters in double figures. 87 points on 49% shooting. Calderon was aggressive driving; Afflalo hit some big shots; Carmelo had 30/7/4; Lopez went for 12 and 12; Porzingis had 15 points in 20 minutes. Why only 20 minutes, as he had but one foul? You tell me!
- In the second quarter Bradley, guarded on the perimeter by Porzingis, crossed him over and blew past him for the lay-up, but KP recovered and blocked the shot* off the glass, giving the Knicks possession. I repeat: the 87-inch man RECOVERED after the blow-by and got back in time to stuff the small quick guard and give his team the ball.
* Joe Flynn pointed out that Robin Lopez actually got the block, but that if he hadn't, Porzingis would have. By my count, I've suffered through - literally - 10,000 days as a Knick fan in my lifetime. So I offer zero apologies for embracing fantasy over reality. In my headspace, Patrick Ewing won three titles in NY, Xavier McDaniel's #32 hangs from the MSG rafters, P.J. Brown was expelled from the NBA in 1997 and panhandles underneath the Tappan Zee Bridge, and KP blocked that shot.
- Galloway provided some good energy tonight. His scoring line looked ugly - one make, six misses - but he had a big steal and fast-break bucket to put the Knicks up eight late and did a number of things that don't involve hurling an orange spheroid through an orange cylinder. I feel like Galloway is feast or famine. When I get super pumped, he struggles; when I'm like "Whatever, dude," he wins me back. I just want to know who I'm loving, Langston!
- Fast break points: 30-4 Boston!
- Points in the paint: 60-32 Boston!
- Isaiah Thomas, Evan Turner, and Jae Crowder all killed the Knicks, which is something I've seen before. Tyler Zeller had 12 and 5 and I watched the entire game from start to finish, including rewinding some bits, and I swear I don't remember seeing Zeller even once during the game. Creepy.
- If you ever run into Afflalo, do me a favor and ask him why he runs out to contest Marcus Smart shooting three-pointers. Ever. Smart shoots 28% from distance. YOU WANT SMART SHOOTING. ALWAYS. That's death-and-taxes shit.
- Moving cameramen back off the baseline has benefited Porzingis as much as any player in the league. Sooo many times he goes in for a drive, gets hit, goes flying and my eyes instinctively start to shut in horror...until I remember the baseline is now clear.
- Jerian Grant's offseason should consist exclusively of eating, sleeping, enjoying his wife and baby, and practicing floater after floater after floater and pull-up after pull-up after pull-up.
- If you believe in parallel universes and the afterlife, there are an infinite number of hells where Isaiah Thomas spends eternity getting whatever look he wants against the Knicks. It is possible our world is one of these hells.
- When Sullinger and Porzingis go at it it looks like what I imagine a fight between the number 0 and the number 1 would look like.
Quoth Ewing's Flat Top: "That figures." And it did. It really did. Next game is tomorrow night at home versus Detroit. Come for the journey! Stay for the inevitable soul-crushing conclusion!