Wow. What a game. Totally worth the late night fever. I thought about holding this recap off until daylight, but I might as well use this victorious buzz as fuel, eh? Anyway, the Knicks equaled their win total from last season and, hot DAMN, number 23 was a good one. The game was close throughout, starting sloppy but finishing with some fantastic possessions (and tough calls) for both teams. The Knicks won on a David Lee offensive rebound that turned into a Crawford-Curry alley-oop. Lamar Odom airballed the potential game-winner for the Lakers. More on that later. Here are your game notes:
- MSG was hosting its three-man crew tonight for the telecast, with Kenny Smith accompanying the usual Breen-Clyde tandem. I, for one, am a fan of the three-man crew. As much as I love Clyde, most of what he says is repetition. He has a trademark line for almost every scenario. Kenny is much more conversational. Because he's younger, he can better relate to today's players and encourage banter amongst the broadcast crew. I like having the two color guys, because you get just enough of each one's personality. Your NYK reader, Rodge, on the crew: "Cramming three good announcers into one booth and waiting for them to announce well is the Knicksiest thing they could've done." Touché.
- Jerome James has GOTTA be out of the starting lineup by after the all-star break, right? His presence fucks up all the defensive matchups and he throws off the rhythm of the offense. It's like a 5 to 10 point handicap built into every game. If he's just gonna sit after 2 minutes (which he's done in, I believe, every single one of his starts), then he might as well not start at all.
- Speaking of the matchups, we saw James guarding Odom, Marbury guarding Radmanovic, Marbury guarding Odom, Q guarding Smush Parker, etc. early in the first quarter. It just ain't right. Isiah played 10- TEN!- guys in the first quarter because of all the mismatches.
- New York had only 17 points in the first quarter, mostly because they were taking far too many threes. Luckily, the Lakers were doing the same, with equal incompetence. The Knicks shot 35 percent in the first and the Lakers 29 percent.
- Nate made a 6 minute cameo in the second quarter after supposedly playing extremely well in practice yesterday. I was impressed. He played under control and had one gorgeous dish to Curry for a dunk. And of course, when Nate sat down he was nothing but electric in cheering on his teammates. It's easy for the media to harp on his immaturity, but his utter energy, no matter the situation, is what makes him such an asset.
- Eddy was way too much for Bynum and Turiaf to handle early on, but got in foul trouble and had to sit for stretches.
- I'm gonna add a little to my oft-repeated Law of Frye. When Channing Frye does not hesitate, he does not miss...unless it's a three pointer. Not his shot.
- Steve Francis sighting! The man they used to call Franchise showed up to play. He got to the line and even crossed up Sasha Vujacic to drive to the hole on one play. Even Steve looked surprised after that one. He looked pretty healthy, and was actually getting some lift on his shots. He's starting to look less expendable, especially with Marbury hurting.
- Marbury's still hurting, and did some more damage to his big toe later on in the game (shoes?), but had 9 assists, and was really making the offense flow in the first half.
- Kobe, who was surprisingly quiet in his first and last meeting with the Knicks this year, hit an impossible fadeaway three at the first half buzzer to put L.A. up by 5.
- Q had missed his first few shots, but got very hot. He's another guy who brings a great amount of passion, no matter the situation. He willed himself into a few timely threes and picked up a technical after arguing a call. You'll take the tech when he's bringing that kind of heat to his performance. Q does so much for this team.
- Clyde, pressed for time while sharing the color commentary duties, pulled off one of the most robust, flowery, Clyde-ish sentences of all-time. I might have the order of the words slightly wrong, but it was basically, "Kobe isn't shaking and baking or wheeling and dealing right now, but he is posting and toasting." That's THREE Clydeisms in one sentence. Can't stop. Won't stop.
- Fordham University in the house, y'all. Mike Breen (a Fordham alum) repeatedly pointed out the presence of fellow Rams, Smush Parker, Denzel Washington (courtside), and radio announcer, John Andariese.
- Jordan Farmar (Jewish, no?) trimmed down his troll hair, and he looks pretty slick now.
- One more reason to love the Hawks' Joe Johnson. He was in the house to catch some NBA Action on his off night. I love seeing stuff like that.
- How on earth does Steve Francis shoot such a good percentage on his free throws? He puts the strangest rotation on the ball. It looks like he's throwing sliders when he's at the line.
- Phil Jackson kinda reminds me of Gene Hackman in the Royal Tenenbaums. Probably the glasses.
- Stevie played a big role in the fourth quarter when Steph was aching. At one point he threw a shit-diculous over the shoulder pass to a spinning David Lee for the lay-in. On another occasion, he put a hard foul on Smush Parker, which got called a flagrant 1. To Steve's credit, he immediately tried to brace Parker's fall on help him up. The mood was about right for a brawl sequel, so it was a good veteran move on Steve's part.
- Final plays of the game...Knicks have the ball with more than a shot clock remaining, and Q misses an ill-advised three. David Lee, however, grabs the O-bound and, as mentioned, Crawford throws a thunderous alley-oop to Eddy with 7 seconds remaining. The Lakers call timeout. The way things have been going the last few weeks, I assume the Knicks are going to lose. Inexplicably, the best the Lakers can offer is Lamar Odom dribbling out the clock and putting up a contested fadeaway as the buzzer sounds. If I'm a Lakers fan, I'm shitting in my britches right now.
- My player of the game award (I think I'm gonna start doing this) goes to Jamal Crawford. Jamal played about as well as he can play without dropping 52 points. He shot a solid 9-17 from the field and hit 2 of 5 threes to score 24 points. More importantly, he was getting into the outer paint (his "hot zone") and sinking some floaters, rather than attempting long fadeaways. I guess "sinking some floaters" is a bit of an oxymoron, but you get the point. Also he proved to be a burden for Kobe to defend, which may have contributed to the Mamba's relative quiet on the opposite end. Props to Jamal for a fine, balanced performance.
- Other stat lines: 19 points (3-8 from downtown) and 12 bounds for Q. 14 and 7 for Frye off the bench. 19 and 7 for Curry. The Knicks shot 23-32 from the line and only turned the ball over 11 times, compared to 21-24 and 15 for Los Angeles.
Anyway, this may have been my favorite win of the Knicks season. A sloppy first quarter surprisingly evolved into a fast-paced, back-and-forth spectacle with the underdog Knicks emerging victorious. The Knicks, for the most part, stuck to their game in the second half, driving to the hole, and either kicking, finishing, or getting to the line. They've got 23 wins, and boy does it feel good. Goodnight, everybody. Warriors tomorrow (today). Peace.