Knicks Latest to Fall in Cleveland, 93-98
Just one team has beaten the Lebronaliers in Cleveland this season. Quicken Loans Arena is an impregnable fortress. It's on par with the Chittorgarh Fort in India, Skull Mountain on Eternia and Fort Wagner in Glory.. And like the soldiers under Robert Gould Shaw, the Knickerbockers seemed, even if just for a moment, like they were going to win the day. They breached the outer defenses. And came pouring over the wall. The scored was tied with 6 minutes to play. It was a one possession game with four minutes to play. And with 2:45 it was still a one-score game. Nate Robinson was getting to the rim. David Lee finally canned a 17-footer after an abysmal start from the field. Al Harrington had been playing well. The team defense continued to impress (by Knicks standards).
At the last second, when Lee, Nate and Wilson Chandler came charging around a bend, there was Anderson Varejao (flanked by Lebron and Delonte West) lighting the fuse of a cannon pointed right at the onrushing Knicks. Boom. Game over. The Knicks fell short in Cleveland. Undone by a pair of timely King James buckets, a inexcusable tip-in by Sasha Pavlovic and a pair of layups by Varejao.
-Al Harrington played a solid game. He led all scorers with 26 points and his 14-point third quarter gave the Knicks the confidence to keep fighting in the fourth quarter. Although he cooled in the fourth, I'm glad that he was on the floor in the fourth. There have been too many times since the Hughes/Wilcox acquisitions, as D'Antoni's tried to set a rotation, that "Buckets" is tethered to bench late in the game. He's arguably the most talented guy on the roster and we need to keep him out there.
-The Rotation. Chris Wilcox got a DNP-CD last night and it seems that D'Antoni has settled on a rotation again. Without Duhon, we're going with eight players. I think that 8-9 players is the comfort zone for D'Antoni. I'd like to see Gallinari's minutes get upped a bit more (just 6 last night) but am OK sacrificing some of them to Quentin Richardson if we've decided that we can and will play defense.
-Nate the Great. That put-back dunk at the end of the first quarter was a thing of beauty. And the diminutive guard is holding his own at the point. With 20 points 7 assists and just 1 turnover last night he acquitted himself well. It'll be interesting to see what happens when Duhon comes back on Wednesday in a must-win game against NJ.
-Wilson Chandler dealing from the have-to. When the Knicks have to get a bucket the ball is increasingly in the hands of Will. He's not exactly wearing his emotions on his sleeve but he does seem too have a good feel for the ebbs and flows of the game. And last night, he did a phenomenal job of keeping Lebron in front of him. LBJ had more assists than made field goals (10 to 9) and I think that's because Will made it difficult for him to get into the painted area.
-David Lee's post defense. He was victimized by Anderson Varejao three times in the final three minutes (two easy layups and two made free throws).
-The officiating. Eep.