Saturday’s matchup between the Oklahoma City Thunder and New York Knicks lost a whole lot of juice once it was revealed that Kristaps Porzingis would be sitting out with a sore knee. Sure, the Thunder were vulnerable, having just played a three-overtime game in Philadelphia the previous evening. True, Steven Adams was also out for OKC. But the Thunder still had way too much firepower for a New York squad missing their two best players.
Enter Michael Beasley: ultimate wild card.
Supercool Beas is the basketball equivalent of cutting the breaks on your own van full of gasoline. Nine times out of 10, you’re going to incinerate yourself. But every once in a while, that truck full of gasoline finds its way to your opponent.
That’s what happened Saturday, as Beasley led the Knicks’ offense with 30 points (on a tremendously efficient 11-18 shooting), 5 rebounds and 4 assists. He started the game hot, then turned the scoring jets back on in the third quarter after Paul George had tied the game at 56 all. And the passing! Usually Beas is a veritable black hole of offense—the light of passes cannot escape his gravitational pull. Scientists can only detect the Hawking radiation of turnovers. (Am I doing physics right?) But on this night, Beasley was finding the open man with dishes of all sorts of niftiness. It was really marvelous to behold.
Compare that to opposing forward Carmelo Anthony, who apparently has some history with the Knicks. Melo shot a paltry 5-18 on the evening. He had 12 points at halftime and was shut out in the second half. Rough. But that’s what happens sometimes when you enter Michael Beasley’s house.
—Ron Baker has hit more than half of his three-point shots this season. Sure, that only works out to 9-16—Ron hasn’t played that much—but it’s a positive development following the horrific shooting we saw in his rookie year. Ron was on the warpath Saturday, chucking 4 triples, and hitting 3 of them. He even tossed up the rare Ron Baker heat-check three (his lone miss). Burgundy finished with 11 points.
—Doug McDermott probably doesn’t think of the trade that brought him to New York as “The Carmelo Anthony Trade” and in the fourth quarter he showed the world that he was more than just a throw-in, splashing back-to-back threes to put the game out of reach. Doug is shooting 41.5% from three this season, by the way. That’s pretty good.
— ...but not as good as Courtney Lee, who has (in my opinion) stamped his place as the Knicks’ third-best player after Kristaps and Timmy (sorry, Enes Kanter, but you’re just too easily neutralized by certain matchups). Lee is shooting 44.8% from three this season following yet another 20-point performance Saturday.
—This might be a trivia question some day, so write this down. Six Knicks scored in double-figures in Carmelo Anthony’s MSG return. Who were they?
—ANSWER: Beasley (30), Lee (20), McDermott (13), Baker (11), Kanter (10), Jarrett Jack (12).
—If somebody asks that as a trivia question, that person is an absolute madman. But I respect it.
This team don’t quit, y’all. Now they just need to get Kristaps (and Tim Hardaway Jr.) healthy, and learn how to win on the road.