Wednesday, November 21, 2007

"What Are They Doing? This is Basketball not Recess!"

And Other Leftover Thoughts and Quotations from Last Night

Knicks 82 - 108 Warriors

-Malik Rose, Mark Aguirre and one of the ballboys were the only three clapping when Isiah got introduced during the pre-game introductions. Their furiously fast-moving hands couldn't quell or mask the boos coming from the stands. It was loud.

-There was audible laughter in the crowd during the ferociously silly freestyle walking + Knicks = video montage that plays when the lights go down for the player introductions. From production values to offensive production, this team has fallen off the cliff in every observable facet.

-Stephon Marbury is still the team's most reliable offensive weapon. Curry can't seem to handle the ball in traffic or pass out of a double team. Zach Randolph's mid-range jumper is off and he is a vortex from which no light escapes. Jamal Crawford is Jamal Crawford. Meanwhile, Steph took the ball hard to the rim and shot (or was fouled in the process of shooting) seven times last night. He scored 11 points on those seven plays. Zach Randolph scored 4 more. Steph was fouled three times. Zach was fouled twice after grabbing the offensive rebound off two misses. The Knicks got an average of 2.14 points if Steph took the ball to the rim looking to shoot. Steph's relative efficiency going at the rim is especially noteworthy on a team that needed 79 shot attempts and 23 free throw attempts to reach 82 points.

-Right or wrong, the booing of Steph was impressive at the start. This was a dedication to dislike that is usually seen in college ball. You don't see this sort of passion at the pro level too often. Each time he touched the ball on offense the crowd come alive with derision. This went on for over half the first quarter and flared up sporadically the rest of the way. This was JJ Redick in the Dean Dome treatment. As you can probably tell, I still think the Knicks need Steph to have any chance of winning games and I definitely side with him in his feud with Isiah Thomas. Still, it was pretty awesome how much the crowd was on him. These are the same fans who make the Garden the best place on the Earth to play ball. This is the same passion that makes this the best-ever home court advantage in the NBA. When things are going well. No fans will be louder when a team is on DEE-FENSE. Last night, we showed the flip side. The passion doesn't go away when the team is bad. It just needs a different outlet. Last night looked darn close to sold out. We're ready. But the team isn't.

-Isiah was thoroughly out-coached by Don Nelson. Thoroughly. The lineups he was throwing out on the floor in the second half were characteristically haphazard and ill-suited to taking control of the game. He was reactionary rather than proactive. He is in panic mode no matter how cool he may seem in the post-game press conference.

-Baron Davis is real good: 39 minutes, 31 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals, 1 block against just 2 turnovers. He is a joy to watch. He didn't elicit the oohs and aahs that Iverson got when he was here but he was possibly even more impressive. He is a thick man. As soon as Mardy came in for Steph late in the first quarter (the score at this point was 15-15), Davis upped the defensive intensity seven-fold. He had no respect for Collins and overplayed him on defense. He was ALL over him in ways that he wouldn't risk with Steph. As a direct result of Davis's savvy, the Knicks had consecutive turnovers during the first two possessions with Collins on the floor (one by Mardy and one by Jamal). The Warriors went on a 6-0 run.

-Mardy Colllins is not ready. He may still be the point guard that all the fans desperately want him to be. He may. But he wasn't that guy last night. Last night he was as overmatched as Isiah. He was a liability on defense. And timid on offense.

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