The hour was growing late, the Knicks had just closed the first half by giving up a 42-22 run to the 76ers, and I really wanted a gyro. When watching the 2016-17 Knickerbockers, it is imperative to treat yourself whenever you can. My favorite takeout place closes at 10 PM, so I didn’t have time to wait to finish the game and the postgame thread — I had to go at halftime.
And I have a confession to make, Knicks fans: I very much considered eating in that restaurant and missing much of the second half. Takeout is fine and all, but I ordered french fries, and didn’t want to risk the fries getting soggy. Are these Knicks worth soggy fries? Hell no.
Alas, I had a job to do. I packed up my gyro and fries and headed back to watch the Knicks blow a fourth-quarter lead, bungle several critical offensive possessions, and fall to the Sixers, 105-102. The game was fairly exciting and the Knicks climbed a rung in the tank standings — as P&T’er SomeoneFamous noted, Dallas’ win later in the evening gave them the 7th seed! Nobody here has to be told that “7th seed” refers to the the draft and not the playoffs. That, plus the gyro, plus the surprisingly crispy take-home fries, made for a pretty decent evening.
— Lance Thomas led the team in points, with 21 (on 8-16 shooting, 3-5 from beyond the arc). He also led New York in fourth-quarter scoring, with 7 of those 21 coming in crunch time. He also tied for the team lead in rebounds, with 7. He also nabbed two steals, and caused Robert Covington to fumble away the inbound pass with only a few seconds remaining and the Knicks down by one. The dude was raining depleted-uranium anti-tank ordinance all over the arena. It’s almost impossible to imagine the Knicks losing to such a wretched team despite getting this kind of transcendent all-around performance from a role player. SIKE! It’s still pretty easy to imagine. Knicks, after all.
— New York’s other forward, Carmelo Anthony, was nearly as bad as Lance was good, forcing his shot on an evening when he was ice cold (5-18) while many of his teammates were shooting the rock exceptionally well. I don’t blame him so much for that butt-ugly iso brick in the waning seconds — if you re-watch the footage, Rose missed a wide-open Kristaps to dish to Melo in the post, and then all four teammates cleared so far out that he couldn’t have passed even if he wanted to (which he probably didn’t). Was that called from the bench? The Knicks ran a magnificent ATO play one possession earlier, leading to a painfully open miss from Rose. Also, the final three-point try from Courtney Lee (a.k.a. the Knicks’ best three-point shooter) was yet another quality look out of the timeout that simply missed. Run quality offense? MISS. Run iso-Melo? MISS.
— Melo, after the game:
Anthony: “We play the same way throughout the course of the game and then teams make adjustments. (But) we’re still playing the same way."— Laura Albanese (@AlbaneseLaura) March 4, 2017
Harsh. The Knicks indeed have been starting every game on fire recently, only to fall off precipitously toward the end. Are they triangling too hard? Are they failing to make adjustments? Or are they just soft as pudding? I’m not afraid to rip Hornacek when there’s a good reason, but as I said, Hornacek called plays out of timeouts to get dudes open, and they missed. Dude can’t call a timeout on every possession. Sometimes the players have to execute.
— The one non-Lance-related pleasant surprise of the evening was the second half put together by Kristaps Porzingis, who seemed destined for yet another lost game after picking up two reallllllllly quick fouls. Whatever was wrong with him in the first half got fixed during the break, because he came out scoring and defending with verve — 12 of his 18 points came in the second half. When Kristaps is off he tends to jack up a ton of out-of-rhythm threes even when they aren’t going in, but tonight he only took 2 of his 12 shots from outside the arc (0-2 from three, 6-10 from two). If the threes aren’t falling, go inside, young man. This would have been a good night to give him a chance to take a shot in the clutch...or so I thought, at least. He wound up with zero field goal attempts in the final 4:30.
— Nine points total from the Knicks’ bench. Kyle O’Quinn couldn’t make a layup to save his life. Please get well soon, Willy Hernangomez. You make these games much more palatable.
— Oh, didn’t the Knicks sign a young scoring guard recently? Someone who maybe could have given them some scoring on the second unit? Nah, that probably didn’t happen.
— “Breen: Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot has a nickname in the Sixers’ locker room — it’s TLC.”
Clyde: “There was a group called TLC, I think.”
From here the Knicks return home to take on the Golden State Warriors, who are undoubtedly pissed after losing two games in a row for the first time since Don Nelson was in charge, I think. That should be fun.