Tuesday, November 13, 2007

It's Alive: Knicks versus Suns in real-time

One week ago the Knicks won a big game against Denver. They had a winning record. They were undefeated at home. Curry and Randolph were dominant. The bench was stellar.

Today, Marbury skipped out on the team after a bust-up with Isiah. There has been no mention of how soon he'll back. All the papers are saying he might never come back. As ever, Isiah is calm and guileless. Quentin Richardson is down with an injury. Zach Randolph is not with the team due to the death of his grandmother. We have a losing record. We're starting a four-game western swing. Against the Phoenix Suns.

There seemed no other choice, really, than to just get on the computer and just ride this one out in real time. I've never done this before but I'm ready to go.

Preamble: In the moments before tip-off it seems like this game is the beginning of something. The beginning of the end? Or the beginning of the beginning? Hopefully it is the latter. Whether Steph returns to the lineup or not, tonight is a huge test for those who are about to take on the Suns. They've got every excuse a professional team could possibly have: travel, injuries, missing components, top-flight competition. However, if these guys can pull this together than it will send a message to Steph, Isiah and, most importantly to themselves.

Starting Lineups:

PG Mardy Collins
SG Jamal Crawford
SF Fred Jones
PF David Lee
C Eddy Curry

I like it all but Jones

PG Steve Nash
SG Barbosa
SF Grant Hill
PF Marion
C Stoudemaire

1st Quarter
-The Suns score with relative ease on their first two trips, while the Knicks first two trips see the ball go directly into David Lee. David Lee? He passes out of a double to Jones (3) and then puts in another himself (2).
-Amare can't be stopped by Curry. Fred Jones can't stop Grant Hill. We need to outscore them. Phoenix?
-Curry is scoring and we're hanging in 13-15 coming up on halfway through the quarter.
-Suns pushing through Knicks like subway turnstiles. Amare beats the whole team down the floor and gets a gorgeous pass from Nash. Isiah calls timeout. We're losing 13-19. Um, if they score first out of the timeout then we're officially not hanging in there.
-For the sake of this enterprise, Crawford scores first. 15-19.
-Collins manages to stop an ally-oop to Marion (from Nash) by hurting himself. Nate and Renaldo check in with 6 left.
-Suns are on an 11-3 run. Stoudemaire has a dozen points already and Curry heads back in to give it another try.
-Knicks are playing some defense. But missed free throws and missed shots keep them from closing the gap.
-Even when Nate sticks Nash, their subs are dropping in shots, 19-28.

Commercial Break: well, I'm not really sure how this experiment is going. First, I'm pretty sure no one is reading. Second, if you're reading and watching the game then everything is probably a bit behind. Worth noting is that Kenny Smith is teamed up with Gus for tonight's game. He is solid, honest and earnest away from his TNT buddies. He also is big on the way the uncertainty surrounding Marbury is a problem.

-Nate doesn't seem to miss Steph. He hits a three as the shot-clock expires to make it a three point game.
-Knicks lose a jump-ball after a tie-up and then Curry misses a layup. They're going to need those points to pull this out.
-1st quarter ends 29-34. Nate is rolling and the Knicks hodge-podge lineup can beat the Suns second team. We'll see what happens when the starting five is back out there.

2nd Quarter
-Nate misses a layup to start the quarter. Argh.
-Nash/Amare stay on the bench for Suns. Jared Jeffries checks in for NYK. Hmm...Gus says this is a good thing. Honestly, I don't know. I never liked him in the starting lineup, but he figures to get a chance to show what he's got tonight.
-Knicks are missing makeable shots. Suns are making them. Knicks timeout. Super.
-Gus announces that Mardy is hurt and his return is doubtful. Great. Grand. Kenny's reaction is "wow."
-Fred Jones is battling. I'm down on his talent-level but he's showing some heart. He steals and drives for a layup. And one. But he misses the foul shot. Another missed foul shot. He's got ten points.
-Grant Hill hits a three. Knicks trail 33-47. Hill looks good out there. Funny in the orange and purple. But good. Better than what we've got. They've got vets. They've got stars. They've got role players. I don't know who is who on the Knicks. Marbury is the longest tenured player on the team. I know that. Oh, wait.
-Another timeout filled with Kenny The Jet using his buzz word: uncertainty. He doesn't feel good about things. He clearly has no idea what is going on, which is weird.
-Jeffries picks out Curry with a nice pass. Knicks are losing by slightly less than they were before the ensuing basket.
-Marion checks back in to the game. Gus notes how hard it is for Diaw to find minutes. Their best are better. Curry can barely catch up to Amare to even foul him as he bounds towards the hoop.
-The Recipe: Nash slices into the paint, makes pass to cutting Big, Knicks foul, Suns make free throws.
-I can hear my phone ringing. I know its
-At 43-55 the route could be on. Suns miss but the ball gets hot-potatoed around until it ends up in the hoop. After another Amare block, Marion scores on the break with a beauty of an up-and-under. And, Nash steals it as the Knicks try to call timeout. Gosh. Missed shot, timeout.
-Oh, goaltending. That is a new way to give them points. Two minutes.
-Even when Nash loses the ball it ends up traveling directly to the hands of one his teammates. It's uncanny. Amare drains a nice baseline shot over Lee.
-Jeffries makes another nice pass in to Curry. Kenny the Jets remarks that Eddy just needs "to do what Amare does." Yup, that's all. Who woud've guessed that it was so easy. He'll be as good in no time once he gets that advice.
-Nash seems to be playing extra sloppy. Not that it matters. Knicks trail 51-63 at the half.

-phone calls and food

3rd Quarter
-Curry picks up a foul immediately. He sits with 4. We have a Malik Rose sighting.
-Gus and Kenny marvel at the "textbook" fastbreaks that the Suns are running.
-Malik Rose uses Curry's method of defending Amare. Get beat and then foul.
-Crawford hits another runner. We're hanging around.
-Nash continues to look uninterested. He turns it over to Nate who feeds Jones. He's fouled. Hits the first and Malik Rose is called for a lane violation on the second. Way to make an impact, Malik.
-Malik stays at it by tossing up a brick. Meanwhile, Grant Hill has made consecutive buckets. There may be a country for old men after all.
-Crawford misses layup. Barbosa makes layup. That about sums it up to this point. 60-78. Suns.
-The Rook Wilson Chandler checks in. Runs off a screen and catches a pass from Crawford. He shoots. Immediately. His high-arching shot misses. Balkman tips it in. Alright, another guy with quick release? Let's see what we got.
-As Kenny remarks that watching the Knicks "is almost like an exhibition game" Chandler bounces a shot off the top of the backboard.
-It seems like the only question as the third winds down is whether or no the Suns can get their lead to 20.
-The precocious Chandler gets the ball in about the same spot his last shot (the one that hit the side/top of the backboard). This time he drives. He scores. Three touches and three shots. It is beginning to look like this trip (or as long as Steph, Zach and Q are missing) is going to be an audition for a lot of the guys trying to break into the rotation.

4th Quarter
-Balkman fouls Nash to start the quarter. Curry checks back in. I'm not sure what Isiah was saving him for to start the quarter anyways.
-Grant Hill looks like he's never owned a set of crutches. Only against the Knicks.
-In attempt to stay within 20 the Knicks put six men on the court. Joey Crawford notices.
-Nash wakes up, hits another bucket. Knicks trail by 21. Maybe that sixth man could've helped.
-Curry, once properly subbed in, ends up fouling out.

And, I'm going to head to the bench with Curry. The Knicks are down 78-99. Isiah seems to be asking Malik Rose for help on the bench. They're both smiling. I'm not.

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