Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Each Knicks' Loss is a Snowflake

Jazz Outlast Knicks, 98-103

Every defeat of the Knicks' long season is idiosyncratic and inimitable. And like snowflakes, they all blend together as soon as you look at them in a group. But before last night's loss to the Jazz in Utah flutters off, joining the impenetrable veil of our Dolan-caused snow blindness let's take a look at a few of it's special traits:

No Retreat, No Surrender
After surrendering 44 first-quarter points and trailing by 14 at the close of that period, the Knicks battled back. They outscored the Jazz by 10 in the second quarter instead of letting this one get away from them entirely. Lately, very lately, the Knicks have displayed a resiliency that has been missing in recent years. And, I'm not just talking about the empty late-in-the-game run that makes the score look more respectable than it should (see the team's last stop in Memphis). I'm talking about taking a stomach punch early and not going to a knee. The Knicks didn't throw in the towel last night after being done 14 after one and they didn't take a knee after Denver came out like gangbusters early in last week's tilt.

The Old Man and the See
Tracy McGrady still has tremendous court vision and anticipation out on the floor (when he is out on the floor). He sees lanes for cutters. He can draw a foul. And he knows when he's got a defender wrong-footed enough to get by him. His savvy seems an innate skill (that someone like, oh I don't know, Chris Duhon does not possess) and benefits this team. Sometimes one timely basket set up by an insightful pass can be the difference between a scoring drought and staying in the game. If McGraddy (and/or his team's training staff) could decipher what is the optimal way to use him in a game that lasts more than two hours in real time then I think that he can be an important member of a good team. He's not there yet and D'Antonio still doesn't quite seem to know what to do with him in the second half but each night you can see signs that this guy knows how to play basketball.

Buckets of Paint
Announcer Gus Johnson used to refer to Al Harrington as "Buckets" for his ability to knock down shots in quick succession. Generally Johnson would opt for this handle when Harrington was dialed in from the perimeter. But lately, Al has been playing in the painted area. Perhaps the emergence of Danilo Gallinari has pushed him inside. Harrington grabbed 17 rebounds last night. And, while he did still somewhere find the time to launch 9 three-point shots, he has gotten his rebounding average back up to over 6.5 per game which is 2 boards better than he's been over any month since early in the season. His interior play was a key (albeit undersold when compared to Gallo's heroics) part of the recent win over Denver. For his own sake, I'd like to think that we're watching the emergence of the veteran version of Harrington down the stretch of this season.

“No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible.”