I needed some time to think about this.
The New York Knicks lost Monday night, of course. They blew a 23-point lead and lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers. LeBron James re-entered God mode in the fourth quarter, creating for teammates, sticking dagger threes and shutting down Kristaps Porzingis on D. Kyle Korver also somehow re-entered God mode in the fourth, scoring 19 points in a quarter for the second time this season. (???) The Knicks showed a ton of grit through the first three quarters, but grit doesn’t necessarily guard the three-point line, if you know what I’m saying.
I had to work until 10, so I missed the game the first time around, watched the replay, and fell into a few hours of fitful sleep. This one hurt. But it also hurt in a good way—the “‘tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all” kind of way. I never expected to care this much about this particular Knicks squad. I never expected Tim Hardaway to throw up 28-point, 10-rebound, 5-assist games (seriously, read that line again). I never expected to scream “Why aren’t you playing Doug McDermott?” And I sure as hell never expected our 19-year-old point guard to shove LeBron, earning some of the most raucous cheers from a Garden crowd in ages.
My biggest worry now is that this game will turn out to be similar to the last soul-crushing early-season I can remember: the Paul Pierce airplane celebration game in the fall of 2010. That game knocked us out of the stratosphere after an early-season win streak, and the 2010-11 Knicks kind of floundered for a while, though that team (with prime Amar’e Stoudemire) was good enough to tread water around the .500 mark until they traded for Melo. Please don’t make another such trade, Knicks, even if this team falls off even harder. As long as Kristaps is healthy—no longer a guarantee, given his elbow—I doubt these Knicks will fall off that hard.
—Who should be blamed for leaving so many Cavs three-point shooters open? Jarrett Jack? Timmy? The coaches? Pretty much everyone. But I will say that the Knicks have been over-helping for years now, not just these particular players. As for Hardaway, he was a part of a top=10 defense last year in Atlanta. So perhaps it’s more of coaching thing.
—Seriously, let’s try not to rag on Timmy too hard for the defense. Considering the off night Kristaps had, the Knicks would not have been in the game if not for Hardaway’s 28 points. Also he now has double-doubles in two of his last three games. That’s pretty wild.
—That’s my rook!
Frank Ntilikina often has a deer-in-the-headlights look to him—that’s the curse of having soulful brown eyes. (I would know.) But he was clearly pissed about the LeBron/DSJ nonsense. As well he should have been—if you want to talk shit about Phil Jackson, just talk shit about him. I talk shit about Phil 20 times a day. He sucks. But don’t come at the French Prince unless you want him to nab 6 steals in 24 minutes.
—You know who might have helped contain Korver? Doug McDermott. He understands when to not sag off a shooter. Dougie McBuckets should have played more in the fourth quarter. There, I said it.
—No, Enes Kanter should not be using feminine terms like “queen” and “princess” to denigrate someone. Yes, Enes Kanter clapping at LeBron James is the funniest thing ever.
—If you aren’t a doctor, maybe calm down a little bit about your opinions on Kristaps’ elbow.
Knicks play next on Wednesday against a shorthanded Jazz team. They really could use a win in that one.