Sunday’s game between the Knicks and Raptors was a tale of two quarters — the second and third, both of which totally sucked, but in very different ways.
Toronto had the most leisurely 42-point second quarter I’ve ever seen. Usually when the points pile up that quickly, especially at home, you’ll see a few spectacular fast-break moments that send the crowd into a frenzy. The Raptors didn’t need any of that; they simply executed their offense perfectly — against zero New York opposition, of course — and hit all their open shots. The excitement level in the arena never rose above the level of a Victorian Era croquet match. As a soon-to-be-35-year-old Knicks fan, the experience was akin to watching myself age in the mirror week after week — softly crushing in its inevitability.
The third was a totally different beast, as the Knicks came out defending pretty well, but couldn’t take a shot. And no, I didn’t mean to write make — I mean they went multiple possessions without taking a shot within the suddenly-restrictive confines of the 24-second shot clock. A Courtney Lee three, taken after the shot-clock buzzer, was later overturned upon review, turning a 21-5 run into a 21-2 run.
And that was pretty much it. I’m still feeling the effects of the cold medicine — and this game, to be honest — so let’s get right to the notes, shall we?
- Willy Hernangomez started the second half in place of the injured Lance Thomas, and there was much rejoicing in the Flynn household. Not because I thought the frontcourt pairing of Willy and Joakim Noah was a good idea, mind you — it most certainly was not — but because results were pretty much irrelevant at that point. Dang, though, did Willy ever disappoint. Our own Zach DiLuzio has pointed it out recently, but Willy’s turnover problem has become flat-out unacceptable. He finished with only 3 in 21 minutes, but two of them came on the kind of egregiously casual passes that have plagued him this season — one leading to a fast-break dunk, and the other on an inbound pass. Please stop doing that, Willy.
- That being said, Willy still managed to pull down 13 rebounds. The kid needs to play — with Kristaps Porzingis out right now, he’s the team’s most promising youngster. Rookies have rough patches; they need to work through them. The Knicks are traditionally terrible at letting their rookies work through their mistakes.
- Only 10 minutes from Kyle O’Quinn, who wasn’t good at all, but who deserves more playing time regardless. This roster really isn’t big enough for KOQ, Willy and Noah.
- Carmelo Anthony: 18 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, approximately 25 open threes allowed on D in 26 minutes. Despite his reputation as a one-dimensional gunner, Melo usually fills up the stat sheet in other ways. He check out early in this one — both figuratively and literally.
- Who led the team in blocks in this game? If you guessed “Ron Baker”, then congratulations — you’re a P&T All-Star. Ron blocked 2 shots, and even nailed a Kristaps Special (blocked shot followed by a made three in transition). He also became the first Knicks guard this century to not leave his man wide open in the corner on defense. It’s easy to look at his stat line and shrug it all off as garbage time. I’m sure a good bit of his success (+19) is due to garbage time, but watch him defend — he stays with his man. He stays with his man. What other Knicks defender can you say that about? Ron has earned some non-fourth-quarter minutes.
- As P&T’er Jackaroe noted, Mike Breen, along with Clyde Frazier, sounded absolutely crushed watching this game. The Knicks are blessed with one of the best announcers in the business, and all they can do is make him sad.
OK, that’s enough about this game. Fortunately we don’t have to watch them play again until...1 PM? Are you shitting me?