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…
3 Point Bombs:
- 18 of 44 from deep is what the Knicks stroked, coming off 19 3’s in the first game against Miami. According to Elias, it was the first time in NBA history a team hit 18+ threes against the same team in back to back games. The perimeter marksmanship was the difference in the game, as the Heat only knocked down 6. Once again with Kidd and Felton sharing the floor, the ball movement was simply sublime. There were a ton of open looks, and the Knicks shooting display was that much more impressive when taking Sheed’s 0-6 clunkfest from deep into account. Novak drilled 4, JR and Kidd 3 a piece and Ray Felton knocked down a career high 6.
- (In best Mike Gundy voice) Ray Felton is a man… and he’s 28! Man, Ray brought the funk last night. He was a man possessed in the first 3 quarters, keeping the Knicks in the game in the first half and helping put the deciding distance between the two teams in the 3rd. Ray was the primary scoring option with Melo out, and he didn’t disappoint, scoring in a variety of ways, on a variety of defenders (including Bron), over and over, finishing with a team high 27. He also cut into the teeth of the D repeatedly, setting up easy looks for his teammates for 7 assists. I have no idea why Ray hasn’t played this well at his other stops, but here in NY, I love what he brings to the table.
- Speaking of other point guards I love, Jason Kidd, come on down. I didn’t watch the game live last night, and caught a ton of flack for it. So I was avoiding all text messages/emails, etc., trying not to spoil what was going on. And then I saw a single text message that showed me all I needed to know about what happened: “SCorgan: Kidd +31 tonight”. I mean, just wow. The best comparison I can make for Kidd is Peyton Manning. Kidd isn’t even as athletic as I am at this point, (and I’m a 30 year old that spends his day in an office and recently almost tore his rotator cuff throwing football at a tailgate…) but he gets more done with less at this point than anyone I have ever seen. He knows where the ball should be at all times, 5 seconds before it should be there. This gets the shooters open looks, Tyson (and hopefully Amar’e) easy baskets and puts Melo where he SHOULD be with the ball. This is key and understated with Melo, because we all know Melo will take the ball anywhere and anyway he can get it… he doesn’t have the filter to care where he should be for the most likely outcome of success, because he believes he can score on anyone from anywhere. In his head, it’s all “I’m 100% scoring this hoop”. Last night was all about Kidd getting open looks for the Knicks shooters, and they didn’t disappoint. A +31 against a team like Miami is astounding.
- My fantasy team in my keeper league is named “One Man Army” after my star and prized chip, one LeBron James. Bron and I have a complicated relationship. I want to see him and the Heat fail at everything they do on the court… but boy do I revel in his perverse stat lines. Well, last night, I felt like I was watching my fantasy team play out in real life. Bron was his usual one man army: He went for 31 points, 10 boards, 9 assists, 3 steals, 3 threes and 11-20 from the floor… and his supporting cast was so abysmal… he ended with a -17 +/- on the night. I mean, wow. The other two of the big 3 clanked their way to a 6 of 25 combined performance, only reaching a combined 25 points because they each went 6-6 from the line. With the awful all white jerseys they were sporting, you probably could have convinced me Wade and Bosh were ghosts out there last night, because they were borderline invisible. Obviously, that isn’t going to be a common occurrence. But still, Wade outdid Kidd, going for a mind number -33 on the night.
- Tyson is everywhere. At all times. Again, his 13 and 9 performance looks solid in a box score, but his impact is so beyond typical statistical measures. I’m not a religious man, but I wake up every day and thank the lord I’ve got Tyson in my life.
- The Knicks won the turnover battle again, coughing up the rock only 7 times to the Heats 14. Taking care of the ball and ball movement… that’s what the ’12-’13 Knicks do
- Sheed, minus the terrible long range shooting, played great again. After getting thrown out in the 1st quarter the night before, it’s not surprising he was fresh. Either way, it’s become apparent how much this team needs him up front on that second unit… and equally as apparent how well he fits with a sweet shooting Novak/JR/PG combo. In fact, it sounds like a perfect 2nd unit that only needs a 4 that can score in the paint…
- James White had a few great minutes last night, knocking down 3-3 from the floor for 7 points. It’s always nice when a guy pressed into action because of depth issues gets the job done.
- JR didn’t shoot particularly well, but he did do a nice job getting his teammates involved, matching Kidd’s 4 assists
- It was also extremely comforting to see Novak find room to pull the trigger against this Miami D (again) after their complete erasing of him from the playoff box score last year. Granted, this isn’t the playoffs, the Heat’s intensity and close out speed will increase when it matters. Still, that’s now 2 games this season against the Heat that Novak looks like Novak, and not that terrified deer in headlights that was swallowed whole in April.
All in all, an incredibly satisfying and validating win in a game that, for all intents and purposes, seemed like a very challenging uphill battle. If nothing else, this team is extremely resilient and littered with vets that know how to get it done. Hard not to love this team. On to Chicago we go…