Christmas, for many, is a day of rituals. Children who otherwise struggle to get out of bed every school day wake up bright and early, gifts in mind. Every year I make my mother cry (in a good way). My fiancee’s family puts apples in the bottom of their stockings and bananas at the top. There is comfort in the familiar. There was a degree of comfort in the Knicks’ 109-95 matinee loss to Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks. The game went exactly as you knew it would: close for a half, then Team Today inexorably pulled away from Team Tomorrow.
For real, this was a classic tankers vs. contenders affair. There was never a point where it felt like a contest. This was having your head in a guillotine’s lunette and waiting for the blade to drop: you can hope it somehow gets stuck, but that’s not the same as fighting back. There was really only one high point this afternoon:
It's showtime ladies and gentlemen. pic.twitter.com/dXAsN7lCbb— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) December 25, 2018
Seriously. That’s it. A 36-22 third quarter was all she wrote.
- When your opponent goes 30 minutes without a turnover, your possible outcomes are limited.
- When your starting backcourt shoots 9 of 32, your possible outcomes are limited.
- Despite those numbers, no Frank Ntilikina today. P&T’s Drew Steele with an interesting take on Frank and David Fizdale: “I really don’t like the way Fiz has handled Frank. Granted, he hasn’t played well, but [I’d] much rather him [be] in there trying to figure things out and having the staff help gameplan by having him in better positions. But if Frank is just gonna get jerked around because he just doesn’t fit with what the Knicks want to do, then trade him now. I personally think it’s dumb because they are gonna need a low usage versatile defender if the plan is go after [Kevin] Durant and Zion [Williamson] or whoever. But if Frank can’t even get a consistent role on this shitty team, what’s the point? Fizdale and the front office aren’t getting fired, sadly.” Thoughts?
- No Mario Hezonja, either. You can question Fiz’s Xs and Os, but undoubtedly the man is a caring soul.
- When opposing guards get the ball under the rim and Enes Kanter is there, they seem unbelievably comfortable going up with it over him. It’s like Kanter’s 6’11” on offense and 5’11” on D.
- The Kevin Knox floater is something I’m fully here for. Sign me up on the ground floor for that emerging shit.
- Over one stretch Milwaukee missed 17 three-pointers in a row. Long strings of missed threes will now always bring the Houston Rockets to mind. The Rockets are to missed threes what ground ball errors are to Bill Buckner. I consider this some kind of karmic reparation for John Starks’ Game 7.
- Mike Budenholzer is the first coach I’ve ever seen spend chunks of time on the opposite end of the bench from where most coaches are. He was hanging out down by the 12th man. When I teach, I always enjoy students who switch seats during the semester; it’s so ingrained in us to go where we’re used to being. Props to you, Bud. The man is willing to change things up. I bet Mrs. Budenholzer is a satisfied lady.
- A lotta NBA players elicit “wows” when you watch them. Steph Curry. Kevin Durant. Klay Thompson, from time to time. LeBron James. Kyrie Irving. Antetokounmpo’s wows are unlike anyone’s.
He hit a lay-in over Noah Vonleh where he appeared to take two steps, jump, nearly land, hover, switch hands, switch hands again and then lay it in, all before landing. I don’t want to like him as much as he deserves, ‘cuz he broke Kristaps Porzingis and ‘cuz he kills the Knicks and def enjoys it. But damn, Giannis.
- In grad school we had a class called “Americanist Colloquium,” a weekly academic buffet featuring professors from the department teaching a small sample from their classes. One week a dude taught who was full of cool mnemonic tips and quirky little writing pointers. We were all excited and many of us signed up for his class next semester. We quickly came to learn he only had a week’s worth of tricks; the rest of that semester was a slow trudge of enduring his misogyny and dullness. Lance Thomas is a professional basketball player. No one can ever take that away from him. But seeing him throw turnovers you see coming a mile away...seeing his body language on his jumpers reflecting a similar lack of confidence in himself as we feel in him...I’m reminded of that old professor, and of one-trick ponies.
- Something about D.J. Wilson reminds me of 6ix9ine and I can’t pin it down but it’s there.
- Someone on the Knick coaching staff might wanna let Vonleh know that when you’re that gifted a ball-handler, you’re allowed to bring the ball up 50 feet and then, rather than pick up the dribble and look for the first hand-off available, you can actually keep dribbling and see what unfolds. Your defender doesn’t gain superpowers once you settle into the halfcourt.
- Who was the last Knick that was as exciting and effective on the break as Knox?
- Kanter swished his first three. A few minutes later he lined up from the same spot and barely grazed rim. Such is the tao of Kanter.
- You ever see those married couples that have been together for decades, and they barely talk? Like, you see them a few tables over at a diner and they spend the entire meal eating in silence? Sometimes I think those couples know something we could all afford to know. Sometimes I imagine they’re the most suicidal people on Earth. The cameras kept showing Tim Hardaway’s parents in the stands. They look like they enjoy each other. They do not look like a couple who sit in silence over meals.
- Four-point plays used to be rare as no-hitters. Now there’s one like every game. I miss the childlike amazement I used to feel when someone got fouled on a three. Even when it happened against the Knicks, it was exciting for the novelty. Now it’s like when you’ve watched porn so long that what used to blow your mind is just one in a series of compulsive clicks.
- Allonzo Trier was back. But he wasn’t back. Ya dig?
- Brook Lopez scored 20 points but only hit one of six threes and that statement is about as 2018 as it gets, folks.
- Knox looks sooo comfortable. Not always efficient, but at this stage of his development I care more about the former than the latter. Besides, he’s 19. When I was 19, I found a nickel bag of a mysterious dark substance in a parking lot and smoked it without a second thought. Got a headache. Knox is in good shape, methinks.
- George Hill is on the Bucks. Did you know that? In days gone by, that’d mean something. I would like George Hill for the Bucks. Those days are gone.
- In the fourth Luke Kornet had picked up his dribble and was waiting at the arc to give it to Dotson. When Dotson came near around to get a screen Sterling Brown crashed into Luke and fell to the ground. For a brief, weird flash, Kornet and Dotson had more than half the court to themselves against Thon Maker. They did literally nothing. And not because Maker turned up the dial defensively. He stood there. Kornet stood there. Dotson stood there.
- The Knicks have played on Christmas Day 53 times. Today was the Bucks’ first Christmas game in 41 years. It’s nice to be reminded of teams and fan bases caring about something we take as our birthright.
"It's a big honor for us to represent the Milwaukee Bucks and the city of Milwaukee in a Christmas Day game." pic.twitter.com/bwnAUBHXZW— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) December 25, 2018
Quoth my six-year-old: “Whatever.” She’s finally old enough to have an attitude, and “whatever” has been her go-to expression of ennui of late. Next game is Thursday in Milwaukee. Hopefully Santa gets off his oppressive Phil Knight-like keyster and brings us a win. Then again, we mostly all want the best draft odds possible next June. So the Knicks and their third-worst record in the league matching up again with the Bucks and their second-best record may be our Secret Santa. See y’all soon.