After a disheartening swing through Texas, capped by Friday night’s drubbing at the hands of the Houston Rockets, Knicks fans were starting to grumble. We’ve seen this sort of thing before. Coming home for a Sunday matinee against a thoroughly depressing Pistons squad (Corey Maggette and Charlie Villanueva figured prominently and Kyle Singler started) allowed the Knicks to regain some of their early season form, catch their breath, and improve to 5-0 at home this season, as they cruised to a 121-100 victory.
The early-going was dominated, once again by Carmelo Anthony. Following up on this 19-point and 18-point first quarter performances in New Orleans and Houston, respectively, the Knicks’ scoring machine went 6-7 from the floor (good for 15 points) in the first quarter to give the home team a 10-point advantage after the first period.
Before the game, MSG played some snippets from Mike Woodson explaining that the Knicks’ defensive lapses started at the perimeter, where the backcourt was allowing too much penetration, causing reliance on help and rotations that could not consistently be accounted for. The early portion of the second quarter proved Coach Woody prescient, as Will Bynum torched Pablocura! several times to whittle the Knicks lead down to 3. With the Pistons peskily hanging around, Woodson brought the grown-ups (read: Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler, and Raymond Felton) back in, and the ‘Bockers turned a 4-point lead into a 20-point lead going into the intermission.
The Knicks came out flat and a little too happy with themselves in the third quarter, allowing Detroit to close the lead to single digits. Ultimately, the difference in this game was the Knicks excellent long-range shooting, as the team finished 17-33 (51.5%) from deep. This key stat made its presence felt just as the Pistons were starting the make the Knicks sweat, with consecutive Steve Novak long-range bombs sparking an 11-3 run, to give New York a virtually insurmountable 86-72 lead heading into the final quarter. The fourth quarter was a mere formality, as Novak continued his scoring spurt and Tyson Chandler terrorized the Pistons on the interior. For good measure, Rasheed Wallace poured in 11 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter, cementing a Knicks’ victory against his old running mates.
- Speaking of Rasheed, after a Charlie Villanueva missed free throw, he bellowed his customary “Ball Don’t Lie!!” so loud, it was picked up on every microphone in the place and I’m pretty sure was audible in the nose bleeds. It was fucking hilarious. He promptly got T’d up. Well worth it.
- I finally got an MSG feed on my league pass broadband and found it extremely odd that there was a Brookyln Nets commercial on the MSG airspace. That seemed like an oversight. As part of the Knicks diaspora, I’m beholden to whatever feed the League Pass Gods decide to give me, and they apparently love to give me away feeds. Has this been going on all year?
- The one shot that Melo missed in the first was on a lay-up attempt that was blocked by a swooping Andre Drummond . I’m aware of some of the “soft factor” concerns with that guy going into the draft last year, but he has some gifts. I came away very impressed with him. He’ll never be polished offensively probably, but if he gets into killer shape (he’s a little soft in the middle it looked to me) and it clicks, he can have a very fruitful career as an NBA big man. He’s got shotblocking and rebounding to spare. He could form a terrifying frontcourt partner with the high-skill/low-athleticism Greg Monroe.
- Good lord, is it good to have Steve Novak back. In the first half, as he missed a few jumpers, I started thinking: “maybe Amar’e has to take Novak’s minutes when he comes back, if this guy keeps shooting like this.” It was a dark time.
- As discussed above, the perimeter defense is really starting to break down. Besides Will Bynum abusing Prigioni, Brandon Knight ate Raymond Felton’s lunch a few times this afternoon and finished 21 points on 8-13 from the floor. There were at least two disconcerting backdoor cuts where the Knicks’ guards just completely lost sight of their men. Hopefully Shump comes back strong and helps solidify this.
- Where the fuck has Ronnie Brewer been? Seriously. I suspect that swollen knee might be bothering him more than he’s letting on. We need that guy to help out with some of the perimeter defense issues. In other news, get well soon, Shump.
- Finally saw Camby and Rasheed on the floor at the same time. I think that’s actually a good lineup, as it allows Rasheed to play the stretch 4 on offense (which he’s probably better suited for) and shores up the defense a little (even if Novak has to play against a small forward). Woody said he liked a 3-big rotation, but I think everyone is clamoring for more Camby, even if only 8-10 minutes per game. For the record, it seemed to work today, as Camby’s presence and solid work on the glass contributed to stemming a mini-run the Pistons put together in the beginning of the second quarter.