If the season ended today, Mike Woodson would either win Coach of the Year or finish second to Mark Jackson. The Knicks have exceeded the expectations of even the most optimistic fan (Bakeshow), and Woodson has gotten guys with reputations of being difficult to coach to buy into the team concept. He has masterfully blended the strengths of Chandler’s pick and roll game with the brilliance of Melo’s isolations. The team is on a record-breaking pace for fewest turnovers and most three-pointers ever made. The play calling after timeouts reminds us that Woodson can be just cerebral as his former boss Larry Brown, and he is able to do it without the baggage that comes with Brown. His goatee is immaculate and he could make more money if quit coaching and wrote books on grooming facial hair. Mike Woodson has even made me forget about another Mike who used to coach the Knicks. It has been an amazing season.
I may (deservedly) be struck by lightning for questioning Woodson’s rotation since the Felton injury, but why is JR Smith not starting? Continue reading
Last night the MVP chants at the Garden were easily the loudest I can remember for a Knicks player, and probably the loudest I’ve heard for any player (perhaps Kobe and LeBron had louder chants as visitors, but I doubt it). The MVP chants are relatively new to NBA arenas and started after Patrick Ewing retired, meaning Melo’s biggest rival in a Knicks uniform was likely Amar’e Stoudemire early in the 2010-11 season. So it’s not exactly a tremendous accomplishment to be the best Knicks MVP candidate in two decades, although Amar’e was playing well during his team record streak of 30 points per game. Still that shouldn’t detract from Carmelo’s performance a little more than a way a quarter of the way into the season.
In the last two games he has raised his game to another level by scoring 75 points and shooting 64% in only 67 minutes. The scorching play has ascended Anthony up to third in PER behind LeBron and Durant, and back to second in scoring behind Kobe. Right now Carmelo Anthony is a legitimate MVP candidate and could very well be the current favorite to win the award. Last night during the TNT telecast, Charles Barkley said that Melo would get his hypothetical vote for MVP because he was the best player on the team with the best record. Ignoring that Oklahoma City has a better record, and therefore Durant should win applying his logic, Barkley’s perspective on voting criteria is likely shared among actual voters. More broadly, voters can experience “voter fatigue” and vote for someone new or fall in love with the best story/narrative. Continue reading
Still undefeated at home
Coming off a difficult loss Saturday night in Chicago, the Knicks returned home to the Garden to face a Nuggets team which they are all too familiar following the Melo blockbuster that brought the Knicks’ MVP candidate to the Big Apple, while shipping out fan (read: “my”) favorite, Danilo Gallinari. Melo returned from a two game absence to pace the Bockers with 34 points against his former squad, as the Knicks needed another 4th quarter comeback to put away the young, deep and athletic Nuggets. In what now seems to be the norm for this team, the Knicks seemed to turn up the volume to 100 when it mattered, picking up key stops, hitting huge shots and not only trimming a late deficit, but to put away the game comfortably. As usual, Kidd was finding all the right guys, Tyson was making all the big plays and Melo and Co. hit shots when it mattered. Another nice win for the Knicks, who travel across the river to BK on Tuesday, and then “return” home for 6 straight in the Garden, where they remain undefeated. Continue reading
Ray took his talents to South Beach
As I am being constantly reminded this morning by all my buddies that are Wizards fans (I know, hilarious) down here in the DMV, last night was just a regular season game, and in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t mean a hell of a lot. And, to an extent, they are right. Come April, irrespective of which team won by 20 last night, both these teams will be in the playoffs, likely with home court and this game will just be a distant memory. But, one of my favorite things about the NBA regular season is that you get to watch a team grow, evolve, degenerate and change identities as the year goes on. So, yes… you can’t hang too much on a single game, but there were a lot of things to love about last night’s game. Miami was coming off an embarrassing loss to the Wiz on Tuesday, had a day of rest, was at home, healthy, and looking to reassert from dominance in the wake of the season opener in the Garden. The Knicks were minus their MVP candidate in Melo and coming off a tougher than expected war with Charlotte the night before. It set up to be a game that Miami just blew the doors off the game early and often… except that didn’t happen. The Knicks’ band of merry marksman were more than up to the task, with Tyson owning the paint, Kidd orchestrating some of the most beautiful offense you’ll ever see and Ray Felton straight up ballin’. The end result was a 20 point drubbing on Miami’s home court that left their “fans” waddling out in their linen outfits mid-way thru the 4th, while the Knicks faithful serenaded the visiting heroes with chants of “Let’s Go Knicks”. Happy Birthday AC… Continue reading
Two of the Knicks four losses have come when the team abandoned the Felton/Chanlder pick and roll and went to isolations for Melo. However, with Melo out for the final two minutes and some change due to injury, the Knicks offense didn’t turn into one guy dribbling with four guys watching. Felton was able to get a nice layup to tie the score at 98, and on the previous possession Jason Kidd and Steve Novak both missed open threes. Those are good looks and in other games have a better chance of going in than forced 18 footers from Anthony (as good as he is at those). I know that the looks came off offensive rebounds, so those guys probably take those shots with Melo playing, but do the Knicks get the offensive rebounds as much/easily during hero ball? The opposing defense knows the shot is going up and has an opportunity to box out, instead of having to move and switch because of the ball movement. Of course with Melo out, that also gave JR Smith an opportunity to take the game winner with Michael Kidd-Glichrist in his face like a grill from Paul Wall. Earl the Junior’s shot was the headline grabber, but the story for me continues to be the compromise between Melo the scorer to Melo the creator (directly or indirectly). Continue reading
Line: Knicks -8
The lowly and Bakeshow-approved Bobcats are a tough team to read. They have a respectable record of 7-9, but they have the third worst point differential and are third to last in Hollinger’s power rankings with a plenty of ground to cover to get to 27th. Based on scoring differential, they probably are not as good as their record, but are certainly better than last year’s record-setting team (a team that gave the Knicks far too much trouble). However, they have only played 16 games and the 45 point loss to the Thunder skews the numbers more than it would in 82 games. If they lost to the Thunder by 20 points instead of 45 points, their point differential would be 24th rather than 28th. Still comfortably in the bottom third, but shouting distance to a team like Milwaukee. Charlotte is also playing .500 ball at home with five of their seven wins coming at the Time Warner Cable Arena, and only one double digit loss. Bottom line, the Bobcats are somewhere between mediocre and really bad, like Sacramento Kings bad (but not historically bad). Continue reading
In the fourth quarter of Wednesday night’s win over the Bucks, Knicks fans thought they were going to catch a glimpse of something more rare than Sasquatch, the Loch Ness Monster, and Jerome James playing meaningful minutes combined: a Steve Novak dunk (check out the 1:25 mark of this video for proof). Obviously, Novak is known as a bit of a one-trick deep threat (83% of his field goal attempts with the Knicks have been three pointers). So when he actually managed to get a steal near mid-court (career average 0.6 steals per 36 minutes) with an open lane to the hoop, I found myself holding my breath and preparing myself to accept the majesty of a Steve Novak dunk as it burrowed it’s way into my irises, with the hope that the image would be permanently seared into my retinas. Alas, we were not so lucky. Well, apparently, Steve caught some flack for it on twitter, and has taken a solemn vow to work on his dunking. We are all very familiar with Novak’s “Discount Triple Check” antics. However, if he’s going to be adding a new wrinkle to his game, I have some celebration recommendations he might want to try out.
The Ref is not impressed, 'Sheed. But I was entertained.
The Knicks made a meal out of a game that looked like it was going to be another ho-hum Sunday matinee blowout today, but ultimately prevailed over the Phoenix Suns to improve their home record this season to 7-0 and 18-1 (!!!!) since Mike Woodson took over the helm from Mike D’Antoni last year. To my never-ending glee, today’s victory runs the Knicks record to 12-4 on the year, where they hold sole possession of first place in the Atlantic Division (in December!) and sit one half game behind Miami for the best record in the Eastern Conference.
The first quarter saw the Knicks’ lock down defense hold the Suns scoreless for a 5 minute period in the middle of the quarter, which allowed New York to jump out to a 21-6 lead. The Suns closed the gap to 24-20 before the clock showed all zeroes, but the highlight of the early-going was Rasheed Wallace’s hilariously quick 85-second ejection. Rasheed got the first technical for getting a little frisky with Luis Scola in the low post. He was unhappy about the call and performed the Ritual Rasheed Wallace Referee Following Dance, as Goran Dragic toed the line to take his free throw. Having already seen ‘Sheed get teed up once this year for screaming his trademark “Ball Don’t Lie!” at the top of his lungs once this year, I was really hoping Dragic would miss the shot so we could witness Rasheed’s reaction. He did not disappoint. As the ball careened off the rim, Wallace threw his shoulders back, puffed out his chest, turned his face to the rafters and bellowed “BALL DON’T LIE!!!!” Needless to say, his day was done. It was really pretty awesome. Continue reading
Line: Knicks -11
These noon Sunday starts are killing me and don’t offer much opportunity for research. The Suns are awful defensively and give up the highest opponent’s three point FG% putting the D right in the Knicks wheelhouse. I’m conservatively choosing the Knicks and three out of four of us picking are also taking the Knicks.
AC: 25 Masons on Knicks
Aaron: 25 Masons on Knicks
Bakeshow: 50 Masons on Knicks
Mike: Staying Away
SCorgan: 50 Masons on Suns
AC: 1,185 Masons (5-3 on picks)
SCorgan: 997 Masons (6-3 on picks)
Aaron: 975 Masons (7-5 on picks)
Mike: 709 Masons (3-6 on picks)
Bakeshow: 680 Masons (5-6 on picks)
Did someone lobotomize J.R. this offseason and remove the knuckles from his head?
To be quite honest, there is very little of note that happened in this game. The woeful Wizards (now 1-13 on the year) strolled into town on a Friday night seemingly content with getting their first win of the season the other night, got their asses handed to them by a vastly superior team, and rolled right over. The Knicks went up 26-17 in the first quarter and both teams seemed to take this as affirmation of their respective castes and settled into going through the motions. The Knicks moved the ball well (24 assists on 43 field goals) and the Wizards did not (11 assists on 35 field goals). The Knicks were solid from behind the arc (12-29) and the Wizards were not (5-18). The Knicks took care of the ball (8 turnovers) and the Wizards did not (17 turnovers). The Knicks beat the Wizards pretty much every way possible. At the end, the Knicks coasted comfortably and improved their undefeated record at home to 6-0. With so little drama in the game action, let’s head straight to the bullets.