Thursday, March 12, 2009

Lose Some. Win Two?!?!?

Clutch play, seriously, brings Knicks back for OT win @ Detroit

Antonio McDyess taketh. And Antonio McDyess giveth. In a strange twist of fate star-crossed former Knickerbocker was the story of the match. He single-handedly (seemed to) put the game out of the Knicks' reach by scoring 12 points in an eight-minute stretch of the fourth quarter. He was dominant. He looked like the sort of player for whom a team might have even decided to trade Marcus Camby, Mark Jackson and Nene to acquire. Oh. Wait. McDyess was a monster on the boards (he had 22 on the night) and around the rim. And he nailed a few of those 18 foot jumpers that made him a rich man's David West before his knees didn't make the move with him to New York in 2002.

Nate Robinson - playing the duration of the fourth quarter - battled McDyess down the stretch but seemed destined to come up on the short side of the final tally. The Knicks trailed, 98-101, with 12 seconds remaining. It was over. And I was OK with it. The Knicks had played phenomenal defense, for them. They had turned the ball over just three times. And coach D'Antoni had finally benched Chris Duhon. There was a positive takeaway in all phases of the game. Except for the win column.

But then Richard Hamilton fouled Larry Hughes as he attempted a game-tying three pointer. Three free attempts. Three makes. Tie game. 10 seconds to play. After getting the ball inbounds (against a Knicks out-of-bounds defense that is increasingly formidable acceptable), Rodney Stuckey drove to the lane. Five seconds. The defense collapsed. Four seconds. He pushed the ball into Mr. McDyess, who was alone under the rim. Three seconds. But he couldn't control the ball. Two seconds. It trickled out of bounds. And, we were all being treated to some free basketball.

Before the OT session got underway I commented to a fellow (surprised) viewer that if the roles were reversed - meaning the Pistons had just come back to force extra hoops - the Knicks would crumble and lose by ten points. He concurred. I think. Or at the very least he humored me. I'm pretty sure. The Pistons being built of sturdier stuff did not fold. McDyess quickly regained the lead, in fact. But the Knicks were not to be turned away. This relentlessness is best exemplified by Quentin Richardson, who hit two big buckets in the extra session. He was on the floor for his defense, I guess. But came up big one night after not getting a second of run.

Other Thoughts, Observations and Things Better Left Unsaid
-The benching of Duhon in the fourth quarter is a watershed moment for this club if it hopes to reach the postseason. Duhon's game has gone over the cliff. Nate is an even bet to score 30 points every night. Last night he dribbled towards the paint before kicking to Hughes for three-point attempt that would send him to the line for the game-tying free throws. Nate didn't venture much farther (if even that far) than the foul line but the defense is so aware of his speed that players shifted enough to get the ball to Hughes. Hamilton had sloughed off enough that he committed the foul as he lunged back to his man to contest the shot. Duhon doesn't make that play right now. He needs to sit when we need to make plays.
-The game was won by Larry Hughes, Nate Robinson and Wilson Chandler. Lee was on the floor in OT and Duhon started but this team has moved beyond the pick and roll. That wave has crested and rolled back.

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