Monday, March 15, 2010

A Tale of Two Cities: Memphis and Dallas

"It was the best of times, it was the blurst of times; it was the weekend of payback wins, it was the weekend of listless losses; it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity; it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness; soon is the July of hope, it was the winter of despair; we had Lebron and Bosh before us, we had nothing before us; we were all going directly to Finals, we were all going the other way."

Friday Night: Knicks 112-119 Grizzlies
Despite my fond pregame recollections of Cast Away, I didn't watch this game live. Me and the lady friend trekked out to Montclair, NJ in a torrential downpour (without the aid of functioning windshield wipers on my car) to see The Levon Helm Band perform at the Wellmont Theater. When she bought the tickets, my date mistakenly thought the show was at the Loews Theater in Jersey City. Although both venues are restored 1920s movie palaces, one is a single subway stop away from the increasingly furnished WWOD? HQ and the other requires designated driving, mapquesting and gasoline purchases. Thankfully, taking a trip to see Levon is not like buying a ticket to see the Knicks. He's always giving it his all.

After an eclectic performance that was at turns raucous (Mardi Gras Day) and heartrending (Long Black Veil), complete with rave ups (Tennessee Jed) and spare takes (Attics of My Life), Levon and his band (that included Donald Fagen of Steely Dan on Friday) closed with a poignant encore of "I Shall Be Released."

Shortly after I landed back on the couch in front of my television, with the Knicks at Grizzlies game queued up on DVR, I was wishing to be released. From viewing another walk-through defeat. Former Knickerbocker and evergreen confuser of hoops quantifiers, Zach Randolph was picking up where he left off when these teams met earlier in the year (and he rolled the Knicks for 30+/20+).

This entire affair hinged on a run midway through the first when the Zach Hole netted three straight scores for the home team while the Knicks, namely David Lee, failed to match him. Z-Bo opened up the early margin to 17-10 and the Knicks never really closed that gap. Before you could say "I didn't realize Mike Conley was this good," the Grizz were up 28-18 and the rolling towards more than 60 points in the first half. Having drifted off to sleep during halftime, I missed the Knicks pull close at the end thanks to Renterbocker Bill Walker and lost and found again prospect Toney Douglas.

The passionless open and the late scoring spurt (nearly 40 fourth-quarter points) was reminiscent of the Z-Bo/Crawford teams coached by Isiah Thomas. And, speaking of Randolph it was that initial 7-point lead that he staked his team to that ultimately proved the difference as the Knicks managed to pull within five points with less than a minute to play. They wouldn't get any closer and Memphis would win, 119-112.

Saturday Night is Alright for Fighting
Just when you thought that this group had no memory. Like the Pacific. They come out and avenge an ego-rattling home defeat (remember that game in January that the Knicks lost by 50 points?) by plowing the Mavericks in Dallas, 128-94. The Mavs were riding the crest of a 13-game winning streak and the Knicks had been throttled by each wave that rolled in like an overmatched 8-year-old with a boogie board. But the Knicks played hard. Like professional basketball players. With pride and with a purpose and they flat-out beat Dirk and the Mavs. The Knicks won every quarter by at least five points and they put the game on ice in the third quarter by outscoring Dallas, 33-18. The rout was on.\

Of course, the same logic that I use to overlook every bone-crushing defeat probably should negate the impact of this win. Of course it should. Of note, Toney Doulgas started this game. He continues to impress down the stretch and makes one wonder why he was totally abandoned so many months ago. Also of note, this was such a blowout that Chris Duhon appeared on the floor for the first time in a few weeks. Seeing him play again, makes one wonder why he wasn't abandoned so many months ago.

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