Wednesday, November 12, 2008

"Extraordinary play, provocative play for the Knicks. Heroes abound" - Walt Frazier

Knicks Hang 132 on the Grizzlies

Well, you lose some. You win some. When you score over 100 points, you win them all. When you score less than 100 points, you lose them all. This seems to be the way this Knickerbockers squad is built.

The shots fell tonight for the Garden-grown squad down in Memphis tonight. Boy, did they ever. The Knicks hit a franchise-record 19 three pointers en route to putting up the highest single-game score of any team thus far in the 2008-2009 season.

Thoughts on the game:
-Wilson Chandler was a beast. He got to the rim. He hit three pointers. And he missed just one shot on his way to scoring 27 points. Before the game MSG aired a thirty-minute show about Bernard King and a game like this for Chandler can't help but make me think of No. 30.

-Jamal Crawford is no longer hot. He's just a top-flight shooter. He's not a reckless gunner anymore. Fingers crossed. He shot 50% from the floor tonight (and scored 25) and is shooting 50% from beyond the arc so far this season and has 25 makes from three, which early on is tops in the Association (a handful of guys are trailing with 18 made 3s). Crawford's shooting 30 for 58 in the team's last three games. So, if you're in a fantasy hoops league you should try to trade for him.

-Juxtaposing tonight's win with last night's loss it's clear that it's all about the rims. If the iron is kind than the other team will eventually be far behind. With Zach Randolph at center, and three guards on the floor a lot of the time, this team is all about jump shots. The offense is predicated on moving the ball around the perimeter and shooting early and often if anyone has an open look. The Knicks missed makeable shots last night and couldn't grind out half-court sets when they needed to. Tonight the second, third and fourth quarters were blurs of made shots from all around the floor and the other team couldn't keep up or slow the game down enough to slow down the Knicks. When we make shots we win. For better and for worse (and last night's loss to the Spurs is a stark reminder of the latter), this team is that simple right now.

-D'Antoni tightened the rotation, not getting Mardy Collins and Anthony Roberson any run until the game was already in hand in the fourth quarter. I like the counter intuitive strategy of shortening the bench on the second night of back-to-back games. It forced the team to get rolling together in spite of any fatigue whereas moving guys back and forth to the bench may have made it harder for them to loosen up and heat up. Moreover, Collins shouldn't be in the rotation anyway. He is a homeless man's Duhon. And, if Duhon is, at best, a poor man's Chauncey Billups then maybe Mardy is a third-world Billups. Regardless of his socio-hoopanomic status, Mardy doesn't need to play in non-mop situations since the Knicks have Duhon, Crawford and Nate all playing big minutes and capable of running the point. Roberson is a different story, but shouldn't really be playing every night in the first half of games unless things have gone awry. He's best viewed as poor-man's Eddie House. He should be the Plan B spark-plug for night's when Robinson isn't catching fire. Roberson went 3 for 3 from deep in his limited minutes.

-The Knicks now have two road wins this season as compared to eight all of last season. Through 8 games they've got 25% of the road wins they accumulated through 82 games last season. These wins are the key to staying close to the .500 mark and keeping relevant in the East as long as we can. Which will hopefully be all the way through the third and fourth weeks of April.

The Post Is Prologue

WWOD? Preview of Knicks @ Grizzlies

Where: The FedEx Forum in Memphis.

When: The game tips at 8:00 p.m. and can be seen locally on the MSG network.

Who: The Knicks (4-3), who you know, and the Grizzlies (3-5), who you don't.

What: A regular-season NBA game played by two opposing sides which will be declared a victory for the participant who tallies more scores during the 48 minutes of play.

Why: Because the schedule says so.

Wednesday's Starting Five

1. Al Horford & the Hawks of ATL. The second-year center (or power forward) out of the Dominican by way the University of Florida had a monster game as the Hawks topped the Bulls. He had the sort of game worthy of $54 million over four years. Horford scored 27 points, grabbed 17 rebounds (6 of them off the offensive glass), swatted 6 shots, dished 3 assists and committed one act of thievery. THAT is a ballgame. And the Hawks are off to a shock-start at 6-0. Building upon last year's hard-fought, moral victory loss to the Celtics in the playoffs they look like a tough out every single night.

2. Tim Lincecum. With the 49ers still red-faced with embarrassment and anger about the closing moments of their loss on Monday Night football and the Warriors mired in high-speed mediocrity (in spite of Stephen Jackson's best efforts), the City finally has something to cheer for: A Cy Young Award-winning pitcher. 24-year-old right-hander Tim Lincecum went tops in voting among National League pitchers for the annual prize. The compact hurler - he's 5-foot-11 and 160 pounds - received 23 out of 32 first-place votes. And, he did so playing for a team that was terrible. Only Steve Carlton (of the '72 Phillies) won the Cy while pitching for a crappier squad. Tiny Tim posted an 18-5 record with a 2.62 ERA. He led the league in strikeouts (265) and, perhaps most importantly, was the feature of a Sports Illustrated cover story in July.

3. The Los Angeles Lakers. Along with the Hawks, the Lake Show is undefeated six games into the season. Six games and six wins for Kobe and co., including a come-from-behind W over Dallas last night in the Lone Star State. The last time they opened up 6-0 was in 2001-02 when they won the title. Clarence Weatherspoon and Charlie Ward were still key contributors for the Knicks that season. Which means that both then and now the Lakers are much better. Kobe scored 27 last night, including nine in the fourth, but it was former Knickerbocker Trevor Ariza who slammed home the go-ahead dunk after collecting an offensive rebound early in the fourth quarter. The Lakers never surrendered the lead once they had it.
4. Michael Finley. This dude is 35 years old. Going on 53. He played college hoops at the University of Wisconsin before Jean Nicolet had even explored the area. Which is strange if you think about it. Anyways, Finley has been around the NBA long enough that there were Starting Lineup figurines made in his likeness. And, like that once popular line of merchandise, we thought Finley was a thing of the past. Of course with the Knicks in town to play the Spurs, Finley hit several key shots and was perfect from behind the arc. Beginning with his first-quarter-ending 3-point shot and right on through his back-breaking 3-point shot midway through the fourth, Finley was partying like it was 1997.

5. Allen Iverson. It's true that Chauncey Billups hasn't lost yet in a Nuggets uniform while the Answer was on the wrong side of his first two tilts as a Piston. That much is clear, your honor. But I have no doubt that Iverson has the potential to provide a greater impact this season than Billups and he showed a little bit of that last night. Facing the Kings, just the sort of team that previous Pistons teams have taken too lightly, Iverson picked up his team after a slow start and brought home the win with 30 points and 9 assists.