When David Stern suspended half the Knicks in the ‘97 playoffs against Miami for the crime of having a pulse and a conscience, the Knicks were up 3-2 with game 6 at home. New York was shorthanded that night, unlikely to win, but the buzz in the arena was as loud as I’ve ever heard. It was the song of bloodlust, 19,763 strong. P.A. announcer Mike Walczewski nearly blew out his vocal cords during the player introductions. I dreamed of the unlikely becoming reality. Nope.
Same thing tonight. The Knicks, shorthanded after shipping three active players to Dallas and having none of the three they acquired in uniform, further shorthanded by one of their active players being Lance Thomas (who earned a DNP - You’re Lance Thomas), did as well as they could against a Boston team that’s in form. There was a buzz in the building, and like that long-ago game 6 this one was still in reach entering the fourth. Then it wasn’t. Ob-la-di, ob-la-da. Life goes on.
The Knicks were at home, so you know what that meant: loud cheers for an opponent!
Kyrie introduced to the home crowd pic.twitter.com/EGjj0eBoeR— Knicks Film School (@KnickFilmSchool) February 2, 2019
The Knick starting five of Kadeem Allen, Damyean Dotson, Kevin Knox, Noah Vonleh and Luke Kornet was decidedly less inspiring to the paying customers. Still, New York came out with intent, assisting on their first seven baskets, and after a Kornet three they lead by nine. Would five fingers form into a fist? Would eight Davids smash Goliath?
The Celtics closed the first on an 8-0 run, aided by a number of Knick turnovers.
New York scratched and clawed to tie things up in the second. Kyrie Irving scored five quick points to spark a 10-0 run that created all the margin Boston would need. The West Orange native and object of affection of both the Knick and Celtic fans present was on the floor for 44 Celtic points in the first half; he scored or assisted half of them. As was the case Wednesday vs. Dallas, as was the case with many games this season, the Knicks may as well have been a wet napkin trying to stop the opponent from scoring in the paint; 30 of Boston’s 56 at intermission came there.
The third quarter could be split into three acts: the Celtics pulling away, the crowd chanting “We Want Kyrie,” and the Knicks making a nice run late. You’re not here for act one and neither am I. Act two:
A "we want Kyrie" chant breaks out at Madison Square Garden pic.twitter.com/AL88kyWGlA— John Karalis (@RedsArmy_John) February 2, 2019
Act three was spearheaded by Mario Hezonja and Kevin Knox. The rookie was especially prolific in cutting a double-digit deficit as low as five.
Alas, it was not meant to be, cherie. The Knicks opened the fourth with a gruesome twosome of possessions, in which Enes Kanter turned it over and Allonzo Trier drove aimlessly into nothingness. By the time Jaylen Brown hit a fadeaway over Dotson, the lead was up to a dozen.
Marcus Morris hit a couple of threes, and eventually Boston led 105-85. Fin, right? Wrong! New York had one life to live and lived it well: a 10-0 run cut the gap in half. It looked like they’d get closer, but after a double-team trapped Jayson Tatum in the baseline corner, Brad Stevens called timeout, and when play resumed Kyrie hit a jumper, then an awful Robinson turnover led to another Celtic basket. The damage was done, but not the insults: a “Let’s Go Celtics” chant broke out late.
- 38 minutes and a season-high 22 points along with six rebounds for Damyean Dotson. He shot well. The more he plays, the more he looks like a player.
- Knox started out just 4 of 12 but finished strong late en route to 21 points and a team-high 40 minutes. Has he busted through the wall he seemed to have hit as recently as last week? Time will tell.
- Vonleh with the numerologically pleasing 7-11-7 line. Even busted out his James Harden impression late in the game, leading to an Allen three.
- This never gets old.
- 23, 10 and 6 for Kyrie.
- 17 turnovers by the Knicks to just seven for the Celts.
- Kanter aged me 10 years tonight. Call him King Sadim, ‘cuz everything he touched turned to shit. It didn’t get any better postgame.
Fizdale says DeAndre Jordan, 30, will play for Knicks.— Mike Vorkunov (@MikeVorkunov) February 2, 2019
"I'm giving up my minutes just bc the young guys can get better," Enes Kanter said. "I'm 26. I think the guys that came are older than me right? So I don't know what that means. I don't know, man. I think it's disrespectful"
I’ve defended Kanter. I’ve worked to consider his situation as a laborer, as a human, as a miracle of stardust and consciousness. I’m done. I want him gone. Waiting till the trade deadline next Thursday to see if anyone will offer anything for him is wise. I get it. I just don’t care anymore.
- The Kadeem Allen domino effect is real: Aron Baynes rolled open to the rim for a dunk, but Knox, perhaps inspired by the newest Knick, made sure to foul him juuuust enough to prevent the basket and send him to the line, where he missed one. Props.
- Having said that — and this happened more than once tonight — the next time an opponent is driving for a breakaway, and a Knick is within arm’s reach.....how about fouling a motherfucker?
Not a flagrant. Just foul him. Try it. See what happens.
- Trier’s elbows belong in the Smithsonian. Most dangerous Knick lateral epicondyles since Bill Cartwright.
- Kornet had a couple nice midrange on-the-move jumpers and fades.
- I’m verrrry interested to see Hezonja the rest of this year. I know he doesn’t play the same position Hardaway did, but he could do some things with the minutes and freedom Tim enjoyed. There’s something there. May not be reachable. But it’s there.
- You ever notice Hezonja is almost always entirely vertical? Even when he’s pushing full-speed up the floor, he’s somehow still standing up straight.
- Can you guess the last time the Knicks held an opponent under 100? I couldn’t, so I looked it up. It was last year’s season-finale in Cleveland. I’d forgotten that the Knicks won the first and last home games of LeBron’s second stint with the Cavs. See if that consoles you when robber baron Dan Gilbert is grinning on the lottery dais after Cleveland wins the rights to draft Zion.
- Baynes, who looks like a medieval executioner, hits threes?! This is not my century.
- ESPN’s pregame lineups listed “Marcus Morris Sr.” Unless you got a junior I’m supposed to know, leave the senior shit at home.
Listening to Paul Pierce during ESPN’s halftime show try to tap-dance around those comments and claim they’re all a ploy to push AD to the Lakers, as if there’s no legit reason to beef with how the Celts treated Isaiah Thomas...man, fuck Paul Pierce.
- If you’re reading this, Papa Davis, you should know LeBron and the Lakers didn’t treat Isaiah too good either. Looking for a franchise for your boy that hasn’t screwed over Isaiah Thomas? Look no further than 33rd and 8th!
Quoth Stusningis: “Losing = winning.” In that vein, the Knicks’ next chance to “win” is Sunday afternoon when they host Memphis. No need to worry about an opponent getting Garden love. I scanned the Grizzlies’ roster and the only players on it I can see the crowd responding to in any way are Justin Holiday (the faintest of cheers?) and Joakim Noah (fire and brimstone). See y’all then.