Monday, November 23, 2009

Knicks Weekend in Review

On Saturday afternoon the Knicks beat the Nets, 98-91, in a game that was not all that exciting or interesting. Danilo Gallinari continued to be the most consistent and efficient Knickerbocker, netting 17 points on 6-12 shooting, and 3-8 on three pointers, but for some reason only managed to play 26 minutes. Al Harrington also had 17 points, on 6-14 shooting. David Lee had a rough time with Brook Lopez towering over him, and shot a poor 4-13, but he did manage 16 points and 12 rebounds, aided by 8-9 from the charity stripe. To Lee's credit, he fearlessly attacked Lopez and kept him frustrated and in foul trouble for most of the game.

Many may say this was a breakout game for Chris Duhon, and maybe he is getting out of his funk, but I think Duhon is hopeless. When the starting point guard on a high paced team has a "breakout game" and the result is 11 points, 8 assists to 2 turnovers, and 5 rebounds on 4-9 shooting, that is not good. A good game for Duhon is now any time he plays like a mediocre point guard. Ummmm hello Donnie Walsh, Allen Iverson is available for nothing. I know Iverson is not a true point guard like Duhon, but this breakout game for Duhon would be considered dreadful for Iverson. He could get 8 assists a night just driving and kicking to Gallo in the corner. Sure he may commit 3 or 4 turnovers, but he's also score 20-25 points, and draw fouls. The only thing Duhon ever does that benefits the team is pick and roll with David Lee. Lee is so adept at rolling, finding space and catching difficult passes that I think it makes Duhon look better than he really is. We saw this weekend that Hughes is just as capable picking and rolling with Lee (and maybe more so, since defenses have to respect Hughes driving and finishing), and we've also seen success with a Gallo/Lee pick and roll, so Duhon is perhaps overrated in that aspect of the game. More on Duhon later.

A nice trend that has emerged the past few games is the Knicks seem to be playing harder for the whole game, focusing more on defense, and just playing at a higher level altogether. The team has definitely been more consistent, and more committed and passionate as a whole. Eddy Curry seems to be injected with new life during his latest renaissance, notably shoving around Solomon Jones in his first game against the Pacers, and Kendrick Perkins yesterday against the Celtics. Others are attacking the hoop more often, and the team just seems better. Not good, but better.

The Celtics game was quite painful for me. I had a family get together for an early Thanksgiving, and my Dad wanted to watch the Giants game. His rationale was "why watch a game we already know the outcome of." He was assuming the Knicks would lose, obviously. I gave him a lecture about the beauty and unpredictability of sports on any given day, but I knew I had the game recording, so we put on the Giants and. On DVR late that night, as I watched the game unfold, I really thought the Knicks would win. I watched intently as Gallo threw down a monster slam and postured to the crowd, as Nate the Great finally got hot (not surprising being his muse, Will Ferrell, was in the front row filming a scene for a movie, with Marky Mark, Rosie Perez and Brooke Shields) and as KG ineffectively limped around and gimpily tried to defend a dominant Al Harrington. With 5 minutes left in the 4th quarter, the Knicks were up 89-84, and seemingly headed for victory. I was giddy with anticipation of the sure to be tense final portion of the game. Then I received the dreaded text from my dad. "We should have watched the Knicks. They went into OT before they lost again." Is there ever a time you plan to watch a game on DVR and somebody doesn't ruin it? I was deflated, disgusted, and in disbelief.  Instead of watching the final 5 minutes of regulation wondering if the Knicks would pull off the upset, I had to await the inevitable demise. Al Harrington was clutch in nailing 2 free throws to send the game to OT, but KG had the last laugh, with a buzzer beater from the top of the key that gave the Celts the 107-105 win. They had a foul to give, but once again did not give it, and were felled by the buzzer beater. Paul Pierce gets the game ball for this game, with 33 points on 17 shots, including an amazing 6-7 on threes, and also 9 boards, 6 assists, 2 blocks and a steal. He is consistently great and one of my favorite players to watch do his thing.

This was one of the few games this year that the Knicks played hard and tight throughout. They were asleep to start the 2nd half, but did not allow the deficit to get too large as they stormed back to take the lead. David Lee, Nate Robinson and Al Harrington all played great, and the Knicks were nearly able to overcome another dreadful night from the starting backcourt. Duhon and Hughes combined to shoot 3-17! That rounds up to 18%. Duhon played 47 minutes this time, for some reason, and put up 3 points and 6 assists. How is that possible? How is he starting? Why did he play twice as much as Gallo, when The Rooster was 4-8 with 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals in 25 minutes? Whyyyyyyyyyy Chris Duhon whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?!? And as for the supposed development of the young future, Toney Douglas only played 6 minutes. What kind of world do we live in where Gallo and Douglas combine for 31 minutes, and Duhon plays 47? What does Coach D'Antoni see in Duhon that I can't?

Eddy Curry and Kendrick Perkins surprisingly didn't kill each other, but Curry did bodyslam innocent bystander Rondo out of midair for a crucial flagrant foul that resulted in 2 foul shots and the ball for the C's. I don't care I like the way he is playing tough and physical and not backing down. Al Harrington and Nate Robinson should save the over the top celebrations until after a victory is sealed. Al's shirt tugging and Nate's flexing and chest bumping should be saved for actual wins.

There are obviously a lot of positives to take out of this game. Sure, the Knicks did their usual get the fans hopes up as much as possible before losing, but they should have won against one of the elite NBA teams. Gallo has been mixing up his game more and his throwdown brought a tear to my eye. Check out the video! Cockadoodledoo! The defense is much improved, people are rotating quickly and contesting layups, even if they still can't stop a legitimate center (like Kendrick Perkins, who had 16 points on 7 shots, 13 rebounds and 4 blocks and may be the most underrated player in the league). I think it is not a coincidence that the Knicks played one of their best games when Jared Jeffries was inactive. Let's keep it that way! I just wish D'Antoni would embrace the future, exile Duhon, and give divide his 47 minutes between Gallo, Douglas, Nate, and Hill. It's also not too late to sign Iverson.

The Knicks have just begun on a very ominous stretch of the schedule, during which the Knicks face the Lakers, Kings, Nuggets, Magic, Suns, Magic and Hawks in the next week and a half. They will be lucky to win more than one of those, and could be looking at a 3-17 record before they face the Nets for another win on December 6th.

And of course, Scals played great for Boston, with a 3 pointer, a rebound, and stellar D.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Knicks are Winners and Losers

The Knicks are Winners. They beat the Indiana Pacers 110-103 on Wednesday with a fantastic comeback that culminated with a 23-3 run in the 4th quarter. Angry Al Harrington finally hit some 3's, and if Gus Johson was announcing, I'm sure we would have heard giddy shouts of "My NAME'S AL HARRINGTON AND I GET BUCKETS!" If Al hits his shots he is a good player, but so far this year he hasn't been hitting shots. Hopefully he keeps up the good work against non-Pacers opponents. The Knicks outscored the Pacers 56-34 in the 2nd half, after of course being down 15 at the half. Harrington led the way with 26 points on 13 shots (Yay for efficiency!) and 4 of 6 from downtown. Larry Hughes contributed despite shooting poorly, pitching in 10 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 steals and a block. As Nate Robinson tweeted, the win got King Kong of the Knicks' collective back.

The Knicks are Losers. Even in the win, the Knicks were losers. The young talent (Gallo, Douglas, Hill) combined for 32 minutes. This is how many minutes each of these guys should get every night, but the team won so I will let Coach D'Antoni slide on this one. Gallo didn't score a point, and only took 2 shots. These younguns also combined to have a plus/minus of -35, so it worked out, but they need minutes to develop confidence, feel, and chemistry.

The Knicks are Winners. Eddy Curry returned, and played very well, with 10 points on 4 shots, and added 4 rebounds, in only 12 minutes of play. He looked strong, skinny (for him), and agile. He repeatedly beasted his way into low post position, and made a couple nifty jump hooks. He even showed that as his belly has shrunk, the fire inside it has been growing, when he had a little shoving match and heated argument after Solomon Jones hit him in the face. To Paraphrase Wu Tang Clan, Eddy Curry aint nothing to F*$k wit. The Knicks must feel like huge winners, now that Eddy may be a decent player again, or even (gasp) be tradeable.

The Knicks are Losers. In a good way. Eddy must have lost at least 60 pounds. He said the hardest part, and the key to the weight loss was giving up fruit juice. I like to think the key, and the hardest part was the two a day workouts he put in every day for the past month or so, but maybe Eddy Picante really really likes apple juice. Eddy Curry, you are the biggest loser.

The Knicks are Huge, Dumb, Stupid, Scared, Lame, Old Losers. The Knicks should have signed Allen Iverson in the offseason. They didn't, and a 2-9 record followed, with a starting point guard in Chris Duhon who boasts a PER of 7.08. League average for PER is 15. So Duhon is half as good as the average player. Iverson would definitely be better for the Knicks at point guard than Duhon. He is an above average player. The Knicks could have started him, given him 36-40 mpg, and improved their team from garbage to semi-respectable. His drives would have opened up kickouts to Gallo, he could have been a leader on a team that has no focal point, and he would draw fouls, which is one of the Knicks weak points. Sure he is bad at defense, but Duhon is awful at defense as well.

The biggest defense for not signing him is he could have cause massive headaches. I beg to differ. Put him in for 40 minutes a game, and he would be more than happy after the last season with Detroit and this years debacle with Memphis. He would be playing home games in the Garden, in front of thousands of adoring fans desperate for a star. I really believe things would have been peachy with Iverson and the Knicks, especially with a player's coach like Mike D at the helm.

Even if Iverson did start to stir the pot and brew some trouble, the Knicks could just cut him like the Grizzlies did, and be right where they are now. They don't even have incentive to tank, since they don't own their first rounder. Maybe if Iverson played well they could trade him to a contender with Jeffries or something for an expiring. It would have been a no risk signing, with a chance for at least a small reward.

Another worry was that Ivy would hinder the development of Douglas. I say boo to this, because Douglas has started alongside Duhon, so he could still start next to Iverson. It would be a 2 headed dynamic backcourt, instead of one dynamic player and a washed up sloth. The whole Knicks team may learn how to play hard and give your all for the W, something they seem to lack.

In the end, either way the Knicks are going to be losers more often than winners this year, but they had a chance to tip the scales toward winning, and missed out. Iverson was my favorite player growing up, I had his jersey and 3 different Reebok Answer shoe models. My first Knicks game was Knicks vs. Sixers, and I was crushed when Iverson was inactive due to an injury or something. I would have finally been able to see him in the Garden, and as a Knick, shaking and baking, driving and thriving, twisting and assisting, grinning and winning. Alas, it was not to be, and James Dolan was too afraid that Iverson's tude would lead to another Marbury situation, and turned a no lose situation into a loss.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Time to Start Rebuilding

The Knicks have struggled badly out of the gate and are 1-9. The players who I thought would be playing their butts off to earn a new contract have been playing terribly, and it is pretty clear that the team is not going to sniff the playoffs. The Knicks brass should see that the team is not fit to compete with the rest of the NBA, except maybe the Nets and the Wolves, and they also must realize that most of the rotation players will not be on the team next year.

In a look toward the future, I would like to see Mike D'Antoni either bench or greatly reduce roles for guys like David Lee, Nate Robinson, Chris Duhon, and Al Harrington, and put out a starting lineup of Douglas, Chandler, Gallinari, Hill and Curry, with Jeffries as a sixth man. I would also have Hughes play a lot, since he is one of the few Knicks who cares about defense. In the offseason quest to sign LeBron, Wade, Bosh, Joe Johnson, whoever, there most likely won't be enough money left to resign any of the expiring players, and none of them are really worth it anyway, so they may as well give the young players who have a future with the Knicks some time to grow together, learn the game, and develop. It will be rough and there will be some blowouts, but how much worse can the team really get? Not only would this give Douglas and Hill some time to learn the NBA game, it will let the core of the future build chemistry with eachother. Gallo would also be free to become the leader of the team, the star, and the one who drives the offense. Playing guys like Al and Nate, who fancy themselves as stars, destroys chemistry, since they pass only out of necessity, and stifles the development of Gallo. Watching Douglas and Gallinari play, the thing that stands out is they mostly shot good shots, when they are relatively open and in rhythm (sure Gallo can chuck some 3's, but he makes most of them). If they don't have a good shot, they pass, which keeps the offense in motion and helps everyone get in the flow of the game. It can't get worse, so why not try something new?

Curry and Jeffries must play big roles as well, not because they have a future on the team, but because they need to be showcased for a possible trade. Donnie Walsh should do everything he can to packgage Curry or Jeffries with somewhat valuable commodities (Lee, Chandler, Harrington, Hughes, Nate). They won't be on the team next year, so we might as well use them to reduce our cap number. The team can't trade Nate or Lee until Christmas, and even after they would have to agree to the trade, but with their value plummeting as the team stinks it up, why wouldn't they want to abandon the Knicks.

This is going to be a long season, and the only reason I am watching is to see some development from Gallo, Douglas, and Hill. I hope D'Antoni sends a message to the vets and reduces their roles and sets the young guns free to develop and grow to get ready to win next year.

Toney Douglas is also growing some serious sideburns and may be modelling his facial hair after the Legend Walt Clyde Frazier. Any time a young Knicks point guard is idolizing Clyde in any way, it is a good thing.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Tribute to Z-Bo

I have come into my own as a Knicks fanatic relatively recently. I admit it, I'm a bandwagon fan and when Starbury and Isaiah came to town, I had to hop on. Anyway, one of my favorite players of the Knicks modern era is Zach Randolph, AKA Z-Bo. When Zach was brought in for a junk pile, I didn't really understand the way the league worked, with salary cap ramifacations and whatnot, so I thought Isaiah got a great deal on a 20-10 lock for years to come. I didn't care about the personal issues, all I cared was that we were undoubtedly getting an offensive force of a big man, who ate rebounds like Mike Sweetney probably scarfed Krispy Kreme bread pudding (Chris Paul's fave).

I never really watched him play, except for maybe a little in college, so little did I know the Knicks were getting one of the most unique and interesting players to watch of all time. The thing about Z-Bo is, he is a 6 foot 9 Power Forward who never, ever dunks. He barely every jumps, staying planted on his behind the head "jump" shot, and boxing out and fighting so hard for board he doesn't have to jump. Throw in ridiculously long arms, a penchant for shooting at all times, and a cute pudgy face, and you have Z-Bo, or as my girlfriend used to call him, "The Bull" (a perfect nickname for the man, he had an uncanny way of plowing head first into the defense, grinding his way close, and banking up a tough shot.)

In 2008, Mike D'Antoni arrived and everyone wondered how The Bull would fit into the system. He seemed to be a perfect fit, with a lethal midrange jumper (unswattable) he was a big who spread the floor. He even attempted 2 3's a game for the Knicks. Hilarity ensued, sometimes he did really funny stuff like this and 20.6 ppg on 17 shots per game followed. Oh and 12.5 rebounds per game...without even jumping.

After the Knicks traded him to the Clippers, Z-Bo gave us what is probably his finest moment

Anyway, I miss the hustle and bustle and uncanny knack for rebounding that Z-Bo brought to the table. Sure he played awful defense, but so does David Lee and he is still around. I know the Knicks had to get rid of him, but maybe they could have waited until the trade deadline this year, so we could have had another season of The Bull.

In closing, riddle me this. Which person below is Z-Bo, and which person is Eddie Winslow? Or is it a trick question, and are they both Z-Bo, or both Winslow?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Stick a Fork in Chris Duhon

Just read a great post on Chris Duhon and why he sucks. I agree wholeheartedly. Check it out.

Eddy Curry is Skinny

Eddy Curry has been working extremely hard, and it seems like he has lost at least 50 pounds since his fattest days last season. It is curious that he hadn't been working hard or trying to stay in shape before now, but props for figuring it out eventually. This is a very exciting development, opening up the possibility for Curry to be a contributor, or even become tradeable.

I remember one game at the Garden, Curry was on fire early and scored 24 points in the first quarter! He didn't score much after that but the memory of that utter dominance leaves me hopeful that he will end up doing some positive things this year. The announcers in Fifa 10 say "Form is temporary, but class is forever" and hopefully Curry's past 2 years of dreadful form are over, and his class as a dominant offensive center will return. If Curry actually comes back and is better than ever, it will be very interesting to see what Coach D'Antoni does. Will he alter his philosophy which obviously is not working right now with this team, and utilize the dominant low post scorer by giving him isolations on the low block, or will he try to mold Curry into an Amare like pick and roll beast? Either way Knicks fans, we should be super pumped just for the fact that Eddy is no longer asking his chauffers to touch it, and no longer looks like this:

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ivan Drago Kills Apollo Creed, Knicks

Ivan Drago is known for his killer right hand straight, it is literally a killer punch. He is not known for his 3 point shot. For his career he is at 31%, so it really hurt when he pummelled the Knicks with a barrage of right handed shots, connecting on 5 out of 8. Drago was heard muttering to his rival tall-skinny-ugly-bad shooter who thinks he can hit 3's, Jared Jeffries, "I must break you."

Monday, November 9, 2009

Knicks Game 8 Recap

Knicks 93 Jazz 95
Record: 1-7

The Knicks are becoming a broken record. It seems like every game this season has been the same story. Knicks sink behind by double digits early, play some of the worst basketball possible, and end the half down by about 20. Then in the second half they storm back, newly motivated and inspired, moving the ball, forcing turnovers, hitting big shots and getting easy buckets. They manage to pull within single digits, the crowd gets hyped, the Defense chants start to shake the Garden....and they come up short. Whether it is double overtime against the Bobcats, overtime on Halloween against the Sixers, the quasi-comeback against the Cavs, or tonights heartbreak against the Jazz, it always ends with a loss.

Here is what you need to know about the game tonight,  bullet style.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Knicks Game 6 Recap: The death of optimism?

Knicks 91 Cavs 100
Record: 1-5

The Knicks lost to the Cavs last night in a 9 point blowout. The score is a lie, and LeBron's blitzkrieg in the first quarter left no doubt and no hope for the Knickerbockers. LeBron was untoppable, doing his best Kobe impression, hitting one contested midrange jumper after another. As was to be expected, LBJ was determined to put on a show, and would have easily outdone last years performance at the Garden if the Knicks would have been able to keep the game at least somewhat competitive. Still, 32 points from only 17 shots,  9 assists and 8 rebounds was not too shabby for the King.

The Knicks actually played LeBron well, not letting him get to the rim and keeping him off the line, but the offense just didn't work. The ball movement and flowing offense that I saw in the 1st half against the Pacers and in the victory against the Hornets, was gone. Instead the team went back to the plan of bombing 3's (28% on 8-28) and taking long contested out of rhythm deep 2's. Chris Duhon and Al Harrington struggled the most for the Knicks, shooting a combined 5 for 20. David Lee, Danilo Gallinari, and Larry Hughes both played well, going 21 for 40 all together, but the Knicks had no chance and everybody knew it. Predictably, the Knicks semi-came-back in the 4th quarter, cut the deficit to 9, the crowd started paying attention, but nobody actually thought they would come all the way back.

The game had 2 main highlights for me. First was Danilo Gallinari singing Beyonce's "Halo" to Al Harrington on the jumbotron in a player karaoke segment. Not only can he shoot, he can sing too! The second was Kevin Rudolf's halftime performance. Not because it was good, it was the most terrible live performance I have ever seen, and maybe the worst of all time. The New York fans, frustrated with their team, and not afraid to speak their mind, mercilessly booed this so called artist. Check out the video, it was a great moment of a group of strangers coming together for a common cause.

I can feel my optimism waning every time I watch the team. There is a war waging between my head and my heart, and each dreadful performance is a crushing blow to the heart. My brain is shouting "The Knicks don't have enough talent to compete with teams like the Pacers and Bobcats on a nightly basis, how can they ever expect to be in a game with teams that are actually good? It is not optimism to believe the Knicks will win their next game, it is delirium. The Knicks are losing right now by 30 in the 3rd quarter TO THE BUCKS! The GM passed on an uber talented point guard in Brandon Jennings to pick a confused and awkward Power Forward which happens to be one of the only positions that the Knicks actually have a starting caliber player!"

But the heart is resilient, and fights back with admittedly weaker arguments, "Jordan Hill was 3-5 on two long jump shots and a nice pick and roll layup last night. Gallinari is a rising superstar who just needs more touches and more opportunities to shine. Nate Robinson, arguably one of the Knicks best players, has been out the last few games. Mike D'Antoni just needs to figure out the right rotations. Maybe the team is just in a flukey collective shooting slump. The team won 32 games last year, how could they have gotten worse when they added Darko, Hill, Douglas, and a healthy Rooster? And finally, it's a long season, it's still early, give it time."

Right now I am very upset. The Knicks are a bad team. But I remain steadfastly hopeful. They could get hot from deep and go on a 5 game winning streak. They could win 10 of 12. None of this is likely, but it is undoubtedly possible. Let's embrace hope, cheer on the team, and see what happens. At least we can do a little witnessing of our own, watching The Rooster crow his way to becoming the best 3 point shooter of all time.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Game 6 Preview: Knicks vs. Cavs

Knicks (1-4) vs. Cavs (3-3)

Finally, after 3 relatively lifeless home games, we will have some excitement, suspense, and intensity from the home crowd. With that being said, it is too bad that it takes an opposing player to get the fans excited about the team. Oh well I will take what I can get. I have been to Knicks vs. Lakers for the past two years, and was a witness to Kobe's 61 point masterpiece (I was very close to the Lakers bench, and pre game yelled at Kobe "You are going to have a terrible game Kobe, Q-Rich is gonna SHUT YOU DOWN!", I was wrong), but have never seen LeBron in personand am very geeked up to see what Lebron will do to follow up last years 50 point near miss of a triple double, in what could be his last time to the Garden on the visiting side (fingers crossed). As much as I want to see LeBron and his grandeur in person, I am more excited for the Knicks opportunity to upset the Cavs, coming off a tough loss last night to the Chicago Bulls.

The Knicks will have some tough matchups coming into this one. The Knicks have been playing smallball, starting David Lee at center and Wil Chandler at power forward. The lack of size could be a big problem against a frontline for the cavs featuring 7'2" Shaq, 6'11" Anderson Varejao, and 7'3" Big Z, Zydrunas Ilgauskas (I spelled his name without checking, I was 8th grade spelling bee champ, hope I got it right.) There is a silver lining to these size mismatches, because the Knicks will have a considerable advantage in speed and agility. Shaq is notoriously bad at defending the pick and roll, and David Lee will play a huge part, by either banging open mid range j's with Shaq reluctant or too slow to close out, or burning the Diesel to the hoop off of pick and rolls. If only the Knicks had a point guard who could attack the basket and get layups off the pick and roll to force Shaq to hedge a little.

If the Knicks do stick with the lineup of Duhon, Hughes, Gallo, Wil and Lee, who guards LeBron? Hughes is the best defender, but is much smaller than the King, Wil is the best fit, but then Gallo will be on the tough banger Varejao, and Gallo has length but would foul out in about 3 minutes guarding James. It is not going to be easy, that is for sure.

The Garden is a magical place when it is packed and the fans are into the game, and tonight should be absolutely electric. Will the fans cheer loudest for LeBron? Probably, but I'm sure the De-Fense chants will be roaring as well. I look forward to some "we want LeBron" chants too. The Knicks are cleary the inferior team in this matchup, but the Cavs are on the second game of a back to back, LeBron twisted his ankle and hurt his thigh last night going into the stands, and maybe Shaq will be extra tired and lazy. Let's just hope for a close one, and maybe even a duel down the stretch between Gallinari and LeBron.

Optimistic Prediction:
Gallinari lights it up going 7-11 from beyond the arc, and scores 15 in the fourth to seal the victory for the Knicks.

Knicks 101 - Cavs 98
LeBron declares he will be joining the Knicks next season (i can dream)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Knicks Game 5 Recap

Knicks 89 Pacers 101
Record: 1-4
Box Score

I was sitting in the Garden, in the 3rd quarter, Knicks up 7, thinking of the glowing things I would write about the Knicks intense defense, crisp ball movement, and David Lee's dominance. Unforunately, the Knicks somehow, inexplicably, let the Pacers come back and take the lead. When Danny Granger fouled out with the Knicks down by 4 and over 3 minutes to go, I again began imagining writing how this was the turning point of the game, how the Pacers could not function down the stretch without their only good player, and how the Knicks to stormed back and win the game.

But here I am, once again trying to find bright spots in a game that the Knicks should have won, but let slip away. Playoff teams don't lose like the Knicks lost last night. They should have extended the lead and put the Pacers away, but they let them hang around and ended up losing. They only scored 33 points in the second half! 3 players on the Pacers had double doubles, and the Knicks were frequently beasted on the glass by the likes of Roy Hibbert, Dahntay Jones, and even Solomon Jones. Hibbert was allowed to just stand under the basket without anyone getting a body on him, an finished with 7 offensive rebounds. Offensive rebounds are usually a result of leaping, hustle, and strenght, but for Hibbert, it was a matter of being really tall and just standing under the hoop. The Knicks did a good job of defending Danny Granger, but he was essentially the only player on the Pacers worth paying attention to, with Troy Murphy, Mike Dunleavy, and Tyler Hansbrough all out with injuries. TJ Ford hit some tough shots down the stretch to help the Pacers pull away, and Dahntay Jones had a high flying, rim rocking slam, but the Pacers didn't play very well really, and there is no excuse for the Knicks not to wipe the floor with a lowly Pacers team missing 3 of their best players.

David Lee had 18 and 12 at halftime for the Knicks, and I was envisioning a huge 40 20 game for him, but he only ended up with 20 and 19. Lee was still the best player for the Knicks, as everyone else pretty much sucked. Lee was the only player on the team over 50% from the floor, and the rest of the team was at 36%. Danilo Gallinari and Al Harrington were pretty bad, going 10-26 combined, and 2-9 from downtown. The Knicks seemed to be playing well, moving the ball on offense and moving off the ball well also, but they did take some misguided shots.

I'd still like to see Gallinari get more involved in the offense. There were a bunch of times when he was being guarded by guys like TJ Ford (5'11"), and Brandon Rush (6'6"), and yet the Knicks never looked to get the ball to Gallinari in the post. I think the 6'10" Gallo could have made easy work shooting midrange jumpers over these shorter foes, but I guess he is told to just stay beyond the arc. Interestingly enough, Gallo was the only Knicks player to have a positive +/- rating on the game at +3.

Larry Hughes was back to his usual self, going 2-10, and Chris Duhon was just lobbing the ball toward the rim and hoping for the best, going 4-13.

At least the Knicks played solid defense, with 7 blocks (2 each for Lee and Harrington), and 8 steals. Too bad the Pacers one upped them with 8 blocks and 9 steals.

I left the garden with my head down, dejected, depressed, and disappointed in what I had witnessed. If the Knicks can't beat a banged up Pacers squad, I can't imagine what is going to happen tomorrow when the Lebronaliers come to town. Hopefully they muster whatever led them to that comeback against Philly, or the win against New Orleans, and bring their A game on Friday. Let's just hope this is Lebron's last game at MSG as a visitor.

One more note: My section got chosen to play crowd volleyball, where 2 adjacent sections battle it out by smacking beach balls back and forth over a net between the sections. My section won of course. Our prize? Thunder sticks for everyone!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Knicks Game 5 vs. Indiana Pacers

The Knicks go up against the hapless Indiana Pacers tonight at the Mecca. The Knicks are using the same starting lineup that led to an early lead in their first win on Monday vs. the Hornets. Danilo, DLee, Duhon, Ill Wil, and the risen from the dead Larry Hughes.

I just scored a ticket so I'm heading to the game now. Go Knicks!

Optimistic Prediction:

Knicks 132 Pacers 110

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Danilo Gallinari: The Rooster is Crowing

Knicks fans can be very pessimistic, kind of like Mets fans, and with good cause. The team has not been very good for a long time, and most years they have been comically bad. We need to realize that every year could be the year that the Knicks fortunes turn. They may not have the most talented lineup, and they may have near infinite odds at winning the title, but crazier things have happened.

But I wanna talk about Danilo Gallinari. Pretty much every person I know, knows what I think about Gallinari. I compare him to Larry Bird, Dirk Nowitzki, and Kevin Durant only half jokingly. I know he probably will not ascend to become and NBA Legend, but he might, and he will definitely in time prove himself to be at least a starter on a good team. In ESPN fantasy basketball, Gallinari is the most added player in the past week.

A lot of Knicks fans are Gallinari doubters, and also hate on Mike D'Antoni and Donnie Walsh for selecting him over the likes of Brook Lopez and Anthony Randolph. Brook Lopez is great, and it would be nice to have him, but I would rather have Gallinari, whose potential is much higher. For some laughs check out this forum Danilo Haters

All you haters, if you haven't noticed, the Rooster has been crowing for the Knicks this season. He went from sub to playing 37 minutes a game in just a few games, and already has a 30 point game. He shot 44 percent on three pointers last season with a hurt back, and despite upping his attempts to nearly 10 per game from deep, he is still shooting at that clip. He has shown he can drive and set up teammates with easy buckets, and that he can contribute on defense with blocks and steals. He also has some good low post moves, and no matter who guards him it will be a mismatch in favor of Danilo, except maybe Lebron. Anyway the future is bright for Il Gallo, and to all the haters i leave you with a quote from a wise old teacher I had in high school, Mr. Kaufman, "the proof is in the pudding."

Here are some highlights showing the rooster crowing.

Danilo can shoot 3's well

Here is Danilo showing off his driving and dishing, some swishing, and also running the pick and roll.

Optimistic prediction: 
All Star game for Gallo this year.

Knicks Game 4 Recap

Knicks 117 Hornets 111
Record: 1-3

Box Score

The Knicks finally got a win last night, and it was a solid all around team effort.  David Lee led the Knicks in scoring with a quiet 28 points, Al Harrington dominated the 4th quarter with 13 points on his way to 24 total, and Larry Hughes continued his quest to make me feel like an idiot, with another efficient shooting night. Hughes finished with 20 points and 6 rebounds on 8-13 shooting.

The Hornets did there best after falling behind early, and went into the 4th quarter with a 4 point lead, but the Knicks stormed back and won somewhat comfortably in the end. Chris Paul and Emeka Okafor were the standout players, with Emeka dominated early and putting up 24 points and 10 rebounds, and CP3 leading all scorers with 32 points to go with 13 assists. Paul had only 3 points at halftime, but you knew that he was going to start attacking more on offense and as the game got down to the wire, he was nearly unstoppable. But it wasn't enough as the Knicks played tough interior defense and had enough offense to outlast the Hortnets.

Danilo Gallinari had a pedestrian statline compared to his 30 point masterclass on Halloween, shooting a poor 2-9 from the field and 1-6 on 3 pointers, but he did add 5 assists, 2 steals and a block. It was nice to see Danilo driving and finding teammates when his shot wasn't falling. A few flashy assists had me wondering if it was Gallinari or Larry Bird out there.

Jared Jeffries only played 16 minutes, which may mean that Coach D'Antoni is realizing that he is not very good at basketball, and can't really do anything well. Coach D did put JJ on Chris Paul in the 2nd half, and it immediately led to a flurry of swished jumpers from CP3, so it would seem Jeffries is good for nothing at this point. Jeffries also fell driving to the hoop and somehow busted up his eye, and was on the ground for a good 15 minutes.

The biggest story from this game has to be the play of Larry Hughes. I still yelled out "NOOO!" as he shot at least three times, but everytime I was made to look like a fool as the ball swished through the net soon after. I guess it will take a few more games like this before I am a true believer, but the Knicks have looked great with Hughes on the floor.

The Knicks started Duhon, Hughes, Gallo, Chandler, and Lee, in a small ball lineup, and this looked like it worked very well, with Chandler guarding power forward David West. The ball movement throughout the game was excellent, and the Knicks played aggressive, unselfish basketball. The Hornets actually attempted more 3's than the Knicks! If the Knicks showed their potential to be a solid team last night, and it seems like Coach D is starting to figure out his rotations. Let's hope they follow it up with a win tomorrow against Danny Granger and the Pacers.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Knicks Game 4 vs. New Orleans Hornets

The Knicks face the Hornets at MSG tonight at 7:30. Chris Paul will be looking to bring his A game under the bright lights of Broadway, so I expect some fireworks from this game.

The Hornets rely heavily on Paul to run the show, and he is backed up by newcomer Omeka Okafor at Center, and All-Star David West at PF. On the wings the Hornets have a dearth of talent, featuring washed up sniper Peja Stojakovic, enigmatic freak athlete Julian Wright, and average at best Mo Peterson. The bench is very thin, so maybe the battle of the benches could win the war for the Knickerbockers.

I am worried that Chris Paul will have his way with Duhon, so hopefully Toney Douglas and Larry Hughes (yeah last game convinced me that Hughes can still play) get a bunch of minutes at the point. I liked the small ball lineup the Knicks used last game to comeback, so it will be interesting to see if Mike D goes to it some more tonight.

I never want to predict that the Knicks will lose, since this is an optimistic blog, I gotta hope for the best, but this game will be tough. Chris Paul is a dominant player, and superstars tend to shine the brightest at the Mecca. But Gallinari is the savior and I think he will build on last games 30 point performance and maybe put up a triple double (ok maybe not).

Optimistic Prediction:
Knicks 105- Hornets 98 (Gallo with 11-17 fg, 7-11 3pt, 37 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists)

The Demigod of Diction - Walt "Clyde" Frazier

I went to the game Saturday, which kept me from hearing Clyde's commentary, so I don't have any new quotes. But I do have a great article I found while digging through the SI Vault.

Check it out.

Here are some excerpts from the article. It is amazing and a must read for all Clyde fans.

On Clyde's lifestyle changes as he grew older:
"On the other hand, there are intriguing signs that Frazier is reducing the voltage of his storied life-style. In recent months he has taken to smoking a pipe. He has also been seen now and then wearing neckties. His new apartment is done in beiges and browns, a far cry from the dominant lavender of his previous place. He still sleeps in a mink-covered round bed, but the nine-foot mirror that was on the ceiling of his old bedroom is gone. As for choosing granola over brunettes, Frazier allows, 'After playing one game in an evening, I sometimes don't feel like playing another.'"
On apartment hunting:
"Before Frazier could get into his new apartment, his personal life was investigated by the building's board of governors, one of whom worriedly asked him, "What about these wild parties you give?"

'I don't give wild parties,' Frazier replied evenly. 'I go to them.'"

And a Clyde pickup line:
"'Why don't you catch my act at the Garden?' he asks women who strike his fancy. 'If you're lucky, you can catch my act off the court, too.'"
 Also he wrote a book that is about how to be cool like him. Look here for more info. One of the things he says in his book, when asked how he gets women while rocking a beard and mustache:
"Girls are thrilled to go through the forest to get to the picnic."

Knicks Game 3 Recap

Knicks 127     76ers 141

Game 3 was the home opener for the Knicks, and it came on Halloween night against the rugged 76ers. I snagged some last minute tickets off of Craigslist and excitedly scurried cross town along 32nd street to the Garden. Not only was this the home opener, but it was Danilo Gallinari's first start of the season, a night I did not want to miss.

The Rooster did not dissapoint, dropping 8-16 from beyond the arc for a career high 30 points. It looked like my 35 point prediction for Il Gallo had a chance to come through, but things went quiet for Gallo in overtime and he remained at 30. Still, Gallo gives the fans reason to be optimistic. Whenever he shoots a three, you just know it is going to swish, kinda like how when Jared Jeffries shoots, you just know it is going to bounce over the backboard. Al Harrington had a big game in his new role as sixth man, dropping a career high of 42 points on a super efficient 16-22. Al only attempted four 3 pointers out of 22 shots, and was constantly taking it the hole with agression, a very good sign. Larry Hughes also had a great game. I know i bashed him after the preseason, but I have to give him props for this game. He was dishing, taking good shots for the most part, and playing aggressive defense. 7 for 11, 18 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists and 4 steals have me thinking Larry might be the teams answer at point guard for now. I just hope he keeps his shooting under control like it was this game.

On the bad side, the Knicks defense was and is pathetic. They let up 40 points in the first quarter and 70 points in the opening half. The 76ers are a quick and athletic team, and they drove to the hoop as often as possible. The Knicks went with their two trademark defensive schemes, the Matador and the Swiss Cheese, letting the Sixers finish at the hoop uncontested. They shot 61 percent! Diminuitive point man "Sweet" Lou Williams was 10-12 and 7-8 at the charity stripe, leading the way with 27 points, 10 rebounds (!) and 7 assists. Andre Iguodala almost had a triple double as well, with 32, 11, and 7. The Knicks almost let up an extremely rare double triple double.

David Lee was apparently benched for much of the 2nd half, and the Knicks saw the most success with the small ball lineup of Al, Gallo, Chandler, Hughes and Duhon. Interesting lineup of 3 tweener forwards and 2 smaller guards. Nate Robinson sprained his ankle and was limited to 20 minutes. Starbury made an appearance courtside, and stood up and filmed a bit with his iphone, but when the usher realized Steph was supposed to be in the 2nd row, Steph decided that this was unforgiveable, and left after the 1st quarter.

The Knicks fans lost faith, and the Garden was pretty empty while the Knicks made their ferocious comeback. The true fans who stuck it out at least go to see a good show, as the Knicks once again stormed back to force overtime on a clutch drive and layup by unlikely hero Chris Duhon. I and everyone around me at the game were all hoping for a Gallinari 3 to win it, but it didn't happen. In overtime a super hyped up Harrington fouled out, and the Knicks lost all the momentum and lost big.

This game has me questioning David Lee's value to the team. He was out for most of the 2nd half, and the team played so much better without him. He is a force on offense and on the glass, but maybe his defense is so suspect that the team is better of without him. I love David Lee and his game, but he has to step it up on defense. I don't know how much I trust +/- stats, but Lee was -36 on the night, but far the worst on the team.

The main thing to take from this game is that Gallinari is awesome and is ready to be the star. I think he will continue to build confidence, and start utilizing more of his game, including post ups and dribble drives. Who knows, the Rooster may average over 25 ppg this season.

Next game is tonight at MSG against Chris Paul and the Hornets. Let's see if the Knicks try to put Jeffries on CP3 to frustrate him with his length. Maybe Gallo will go for 40 this game.