Saturday, March 27, 2010

Knicks Stink vs. Suns

The Knicks played the Phoenix Suns last night and really stunk up the joint. Playing in front of a lifeless and half full Phoenix crowd, the Knicks brought no energy or focus on defense and were diced and sliced by Steve Nash and were absolutely dominated by the Phoenix big men. The Knicks lost 132=96, so nothing really important happened in the game, and it was clear from the start, it would be the Suns' night.

All that really matters right now are the young players and guys who might be on the Knicks next season, so that'll be my main focus.

Toney Douglas looked lost out there. He is having some downs but the ups will come and it is important that he gets some experience as the season comes to a close. He needs to learn to run the pick and roll better, and he needs to learn to pass it to Gallo when he is wide open for 3.

Gallinari seemed to have got the message that he is a star in the making, and played with a vigor that is rarely seen from the Rooster. Hopefully his little duel with Carmelo Anthony lit an inextinguishable fire in Gallo to be the best. He didn't shoot well but he just moved with more gusto, ran the court like the wind, and fought hard on the glass. He finished with 16 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks, not his best night by any means but I thought he looked good.

Bill Walker made one of the most ridiculous dunks I've ever seen, but unfortunately stepped out of bounds right before it happened. It is sad but record of this dunk may be lost forever.

JR Giddens has one ugly looking jump shot, but he sure can play some D and slash to the hoop.

TMac's knee was disagreeing with him and he had to leave the gamet. I really am pulling for him to regain his health but it isn't looking good. Then again it wasn't looking good for Grant Hill a while back, so it's possible.

Watching this game made me wish I was in Phoenix, where it was 75 and sunny, but also made me glad to be a New Yorker, after witnessing the Suns pathetic fans. The place was half full, and dead quiet, in a win, for an incredibly entertaining team, that is also about to lock up a playoff spot. It was sad. Can you imagine if the Knicks had a team like that? MSG would be a madhouse 41 times a year, and even better in the playoffs. Knicks fans are the best. Unfortunately the Knicks are not.

Lastly I have to mention Robin Lopez. That guy looked really huge, really funny, and really good. He is going to be a solid center for a long time. I can only dream that one day he will be reunited with his brother Brook and form the most comical and dominant twin towers combination the league has ever seen.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Knicks Nuggets Recap: Gallo outduels Melo

The Knicks were down by 12 early, but fought right back and finished the first only down 1. Al Harrington scored with ease, and played from the inside out like he always should. Tracy McGrady was impressive, and even aggressively skied to the hoop for a facial over The Birdman Chris Andersen, but unfortunately he lost control of the ball. It is nice to see that he may still be able to recapture his past form, but it'd be nicer if he could play well in the 4th quarter, when the Knicks could use his veteran presence.

The Knicks lead looked tenuous for the entire fourth quarter, as they missed shot after shot and fould shot after foul shot. Gallinari was forcing the issue a little, but good things happened as usual. Gallo got bailed out time after time with foul calls, and he is automatic from the line. Melo was constantly looming, scoring whenever he chose. Would it be a game that the Knicks crumble against a team who knows how to finish games, or would they step up and finish it off. The missed free throws of the Knicks and the 3 point shooting of JR Smith down the stretch made things tense, but the Knicks pulled out the victory for one of the highlights of the season.

Toney Douglas drove right on Nene, crossed over left for the pullup jumper at the elbow, and swished it to seal it for the Knicks, and Gallinari finished the game with 2 free throws to give the Knicks the 109-104 win.

The story of the game was the 3rd quarter duel between Danilo Gallinari and Carmelo Anthony. Gallinari asked Coach D'Antoni to guard the best player on every team, and he got his wish last night, matching up against the indomitable Melo. Carmelo caught fire in the third, pulling up for long range jumpers at will over The Rooster, utilizing a sublime combination of shaking and baking, stopping and popping. It was not bad defense by Gallo, he had to give Melo some space out of respect for his driving ability, but it was clear that Melo was toying with The Rooster. I'm sure he heard about how Gallinari requested the assignment, and was trying to make him regret it. Carmelo set something off in Danilo, and he started calling for the ball, and draining threes. After each three Gallinari celebrated with gusto, shouting what i assume were Italian obscenities, and pounding his chest. Carmelo should have let sleeping roosters lie, but he woke the beast, and Gallo set the nets on fire.

Gallinari said after the game that he loves to talk trash, and it's part of the game. I am a horrible trash talker, and it sucks. Gallo though, really rose to the occasion and took all Carmelo's best shots and responded right back, verbally and with jumpshots. Carmelo said he was a little surprised that Gallinari talked back and thrived in their little duel. Mike D'Antoni made the good point after the game saying how Danilo now has to learn to bring that fire out on his own, instead of needing an opponent to bring it out. Guys like Kobe, LeBron are self motivated, endlessly driven to be there best possible every night. It's really rare, and we can only hope that Gallo figures this part of the game out. Gallo led the Knicks with 28 points, and Harrington chipped in with 23 points on 14 shots. Even with the Knicks far out of the playoffs, this game was heated and exciting, Clyde was on the mic, and the Knicks pulled off a sweet upset.

Billy Walker started, played well, but fouled out in only 23 minutes. His sixth foul was an inadvertent and hilarious smack to the face of The Birdman. Lots of stars were in the crowd, including Magic, Revis Island, and Jill Martin's guest for Gimme a Minute was Philip Seymour Hoffman. Carmelo is just unstoppable. LeBron is coming this year, and Melo is coming next year. Donnie Walsh must tell LeBron that if he signs with them, he will bring in Carmelo next year to be his partner in crime in the most unstoppable offensive team of all time. Douglas, LeBron, Carmelo, Gallo, and Lee would be lethal, and with Mike D'Antoni at the helm they'd score 120 a game. This is going to happen!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

I'm Back!

It has been a long hiatus for me from the blogosphere, but the thousands of emails begging me to come back finally proved too much to resist. It has been nearly two months since the utterly depressing loss against the Raptors killed all the optimism in my heart, but as this dreadful season is dwindling, my spirits are rejuvenated and I'm ready to blog it up.

While my blogging output dwindled, I remained just as dedicated to our Knickerbockers, and am very happy with the evolution of the team lookking toward the future. It all began with a momentous trade deadline, which saw the team ship out fan favorite Nate Robinson, fan least favorites Jared Jeffries and Larry Hughes, and enigmatic rambunctious rookie Jordan Hill. My thoughts on this were good riddance to Nate, Hughes, and Jeffries, but  I was sad to say goodbye to Hill before he was given a real chance to shine.

For me Nate was always an entertaining player, but also eternally frustrating. I am happy that he was sent to Boston to play for a playoff team with a roster and a coach that may just whip his ass into shape, and also that he will get a million dollar bonus for making the playoffs. The return for the Knicks has been more than I ever expected. It was upsetting that they could not wrangle a 1st rounder in return for Nate, but I have been pleasantly surprised by what they did get. Eddie House is a good teammate and provides leadership, but he has mostly been relegated to the pine, so I'm not going to elaborate on him. Billy Walker was the real prize in this trade, and he will surely have a spot on  the team next season. He is, simply put, a beast. He skies to the rim like no Knick I have ever seen before, slamming with abandon over all foes foolish enough to stand in his way. He also has an unorthodox, but sweet jumper (my friend Meiny played against him in highschool and told me he just rained 3's all day), can play some D, and has a knack for the game. Walker was a top prospect who was derailed by multiple knee surgeries, and was the 12th man for the Celtics, but given the opportunity with the Knicks he has showed that his athleticism has not been negated by his surgeries, and he looks like a  real solid player for the future, and a cheap one at that. Walker has had four 20 point outings in March, and for the month is averaging 12 points and a steal in 27 mpg. Recently JR Giddens made his debut for the Knicks, and I also like what he brings to the table. I don't know much about his game yet, but I do know he is confident and fiery enough to talk trash to former teammate Paul Pierce after canning a jumper, and Mike Breen said he has the chance to be a Bruce Bowen level defender. Last night JR had 10 points and 9 rebounds (4 offensive) in the win against the Sixers. He is another player i would love to have back for next season.

The trade with Houston was more of a blockbuster, but all the Knicks received was a dilapidated Tracy McGrady,and the Spanish Fly, Sergio Rodriguez. I was a big fan of this trade, and when T-Mac exploded in his first game in the Garden, I was elated. Alas, he has sputtered lately. He looks slow, can't get by battered big men like Kevin Garnett off the dribble, and can't really hit jump shots. He is a ball stopper on offense, and unless he has a miraculous rehab program in the offseason, I can't see him being more than a bit part role player next season, but I believe in miracles, so let's hope for the best. The Knicks had to give up a 2012 draft pick and the right to swap another, but if they get LeBron and his sidekick, it won't really be an issue, and that was the point of the trade anyway. Risky? Somewhat, but the rewards outweigh the risks by a long shot. The Spanish Fly was brought in from Sacramento as part of the deal, and while he was given the reigns to the offense immediately, it didn't last. Sergio showed some positive signs, and was a very nice change of pace from the turtle like pace of Chris Duhon, but besides a case of cleptomania in one game that saw the Fly nab 8 steals against the Bucks, he didn't do much and also is now benched. 

The best result of the trades has been the emergence of DWTDD, Toney Douglas, who has shown he can score, defend, talk a mean game, and elevate the play of his teammates. It seems like it should have been this way since day 1, but Toney is now the starting point guard, for what I imagine will be a very long time (unless we can nab Chris Paul away from NOLA in the future, of course) Last night Toney scored 14 of his 22 points in the 4th to drag the Knicks out of the jaws of defeat, and propel them to victory. At one point he scored 13 straight for the Knicks, and is averaging over 18 ppg and 5 assists in his last 5 games. Toney's heart, quickness, and dedication on the defensive end is what I love most about him, being a defensive minded point guard myself. With Gallinari, Chandler, Douglas, Walker and Giddens the Knicks have 5 youthful talents who all revel in mixing it up on the defensive end, and all have legitimate offensive games to boot. Throw in LeBron and Bosh and the Knicks would be a defensive big man short of a title. Maybe with a draft pick purchased in  the late 1st round like last year, Donnie Walsh can find that Center the team needs.

The team was getting painful to watch, with Duhon slugging around, Jeffries missing layups, and Hill and Douglas languishing on the bench. Now it seems that the youth movement is finally in full swing, and the veterans on the squad like Duhon are helping the youngsters develop from the bench, instead of hampering them by playing undeserved minutes. While the playoffs are out of the question, we all watch with an eye toward the future. Now the future does not just mean twiddling our thumbs until July 1st, AKA LeBron Day, but watching the development of a couple legit NBA ballers who are hungry to play and win, and finally getting a chance to shine. It's good to be back on the blog, and believe it or not, it's a good time to be a fan of the New York Knickerbockers. Now that spring is in the air in NYC, my dark wintry view of the knicks present has transformed back into the sweet sunny optimism I am used to. The youth resounds and abounds, and everyone knows I love untapped potential.