Monday, February 11, 2008

Weekend at Jimmy's

(or What Transpired w/ Lil Dolan’s Knicks this weekend)

Friday Night: Knicks vs. Spurs, Loss (93-99)
Unless you watched this game, which you probably didn’t because it was Friday night and you have a life, then you won’t likely believe this, but THE KNICKS OUTPLAYED THE SPURS. The Knicks were crisper, they were smarter, they were playing harder and they were just all-around better. Except when it mattered the most. Except in the last 2 seconds and the overtime period. Other than that, the Knicks were the better team. First, they built up a big lead by pushing the ball and helping on defense, going ahead by 18 in the third quarter. But, more importantly, the repelled the comeback bid by the Spurs early in the fourth. San Antonio took the lead and, though they previously would have wilted, the Knicks took it right back with Lee and Crawford starring. They seemingly had learned how to take a punch and led by 3 with 7 seconds to play. As the clock was about to hit zero Ginobli found an inexplicably wide-open Michael Finley in the corner. Of course, he drained the three and the Knicks were beaten before overtime even began.
This could have been the most deflating loss of the season. Only because it got your hopes so high before dashing them. I went directly up to my computer afterwards to try to put it into words but I couldn’t even figure out where to start. With the offensive execution down the stretch? With Balkman’s defensive lapse in the final seconds? With the way these guys are so snakebit? All I could do was take some pain medication and watch a western. Percosset and 3:10 to Yuma. Yes and yes. I tried again on Saturday morning to write something entertaining or enlightening about the game but was still at a loss. Just like the team.

Saturday Night: Knicks vs. Bucks (Win, 99-98)
I was dreading this game. I was thinking it would the away-loss to pair with last week’s home-loss to Clippers. In other words, the game against a lackluster opponent that we give away after a gut-wrenching loss to a quality opponent(s) that we should have beat. Everything looked on-book with the Knicks trailing big in the third. Even after the Knicks came back to tie late in the fourth the loss still seemed in the offing as the Bucks had the ball with about 7 seconds to go. Yet, they didn’t hit the winner in the waning moments. Shockingly. That gives us two wins over Milwaukee by a combined 4 points. So, no matter what happens the rest of the way, we can at least rest easy knowing that we seem to have this Milwaukee Bucks issue handled.

Monday's Starting Five

1. Paul Pierce. Yesterday the Celtics were Pierce’s team again. KG is still on the shelf and Tim Duncan and the Spurs were in town (after narrowly escaping the Garden with a W on Friday night). The Truth had 35 points as his team defeated the champs.

2. Adrian Peterson. Apparently nobody told All Day that nobody has watched the Pro Bowl since the height of Zubaz pants. Not knowing this he, according to published reports, ran roughshod over the AFC and helped lead the NFC to a come-from-behind victory.

3. Jason Kidd. With future employer Mark Cuban in the house, Kidd put on a vintage display, including 14 dimes, as his Nets upset the Mavs in the Swamp.

4. Tyler Hansbrough. I must admit that I’m not a huge fan of the Big Brough. I saw him play during the NCAAs last year in E. Rutherford and I was shocked by how poorly he moved if you pulled him more than seven foot from the hoop. It was shocking how little handle he had and how clunky his movements where. Of course, as flawed as he may be elsewhere on the court, he is 10x as dominant in the paint. Exhibit A is the 39-point and 13 rebound effort he had against Clemson yesterday. To top it off, he made 17 of 19 from the charity stripe. Perhaps he is much better than I give him credit for…

5. Washington. The Huskies SHOCKED No. 4 UCLA last night. Nobody saw this coming, as UCLA was being tipped as the “true” No. 1 and Washington was floundering. The most emblematic moment of the game was when Tim Morris of Washington, who was attempting to inbound the ball, pegged the ball directly off the face of a Bruins defender rather than be called for a 5-seconds violation. He didn’t throw it off his leg or his back. He reared back and threw it directly off his face. Clearly, Washington was not awed by the Bruins. That game was why the conference season is so important and why no one ever gives Memphis too much credit come bracket-time.

Benched. Lebron. Yes, his team was getting beat. Badly. Yes, the wood-shedding was nationally televised on the first post-NFL Sunday. However, LBJ still shouldn’t have sulked in the corner while his team huddled during a timeout in the fourth. If he wants to continue his dominance and take his game and his profile to the next level (the last MJ level above him) then he not only needs to be in that huddle but he needs to be at the center and taking control of it.