Monday, December 26, 2011

Knicks 106, Celtics 104

It was a wild opening game to the 2011-12 NBA season, and when the final buzzer rang out, the Knicks had defeated the Boston Celtics for the first time in their previous eight tries.
Nathaniel S. Butler/ NBAE/ Getty Images

It wasn't always pretty or even, but the Knicks pulled out a tough win in a game that had most fans' blood pressure soaring in the second half.

After a dominant first half, in which the Knicks moved the ball crisply and cooked the Celtics from outside, Rajon Rondo and Brandon Bass took over as the Celtics' entire team woke up and took the lead. The fourth quarter which found the Knicks in an eight-point deficit, turned out to be a battle of wills in which Carmelo Anthony's was the greatest.

Jump for more notes

I'll first start off by saying that I didn't get to watch this entire game. My family decided that they were not interested in watching the Knicks at noon on Christmas day. Thus, I had to spend some time with them, and couldn't view the entire thing.

I'll tell you what I did see though:

First Half
  • In the first half, the Knicks were rolling. On offense, everyone was passing willingly and playing harmonously; methodically moving the ball and their bodies until they found the best shot. On defense, they gave up their fair share of points, but made the Celtics work for their points. From what I saw, there wasn't a whole lot of easy baskets for the Celtics in the first half.
  • Of note in the first 24 minutes, Toney Douglas and Iman Shumpet looked splendid. Though they both shot poorly, reflecting their questionable decision-making, the backcourt buddies flat-out played well from an overall basketball perspective. Toney Douglas looked the best we'd seen him at point guard in this abbreviated season. 19 points, 4 assists and 3 steals is good despite his 8-19 shooting. Shumpert had 11 points on 3-13 shooting, but injected energy onto the team and defended Rondo admirably for a rookie.
Second Half
  • The second half very much resembled the way Knicks-Celtics games played out last year; the Knicks' energy took a nose dive, and Rajon Rondo ran amuck, leaking out for easy layups or zipping bullet bounce passes through multiple Knicks defenders.
  • What was even more concerning was the way the Knicks' offense stagnated and let the Celtics corrall rebound after rebound. Brandon Bass packed and ate Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler's lunches, scoring 20 points and grabbing 11 rebounds in 27 minutes. There was a lot of standing around and watching, which there is never an excuse for, regardless of how long a team has been together.
  • The Knicks defense regained just enough balance to hold off Boston in the 4th quarter, allowing only 17 points and giving up only two to Rondo. As I've said before, the hero of the game was this man:
Carmelo Anthony's 4th Quarter
  • For the game, Anthony had 37 points on 10-17 shooting, with 4-7 from beyond the arc and 13-15 at the free throw line. He also snaggled 8 rebounds and dished out 3 assists. But his 4th quarter was a gem, scoring 17 points on 4-5 shooting and going 7-8 from the FT line. Enjoy

- Some other odds and ends:
  • Amar'e Stoudemire had a quiet, but efficient night. 21 points on 8-11 shooting. However, the big guy has to grab more than 6 rebounds. I do want to give STAT credit for hitting a few big shots in the third quarter to even keep the Knicks afloat, and he had a big block on Brand Bass in the final minute of the game.
  • Landry Fields I think is slowly starting to get it. 7 points on 3-7 shooting isn't terrible, and he made good cuts, but simply didn't get hit with passes on them. Nobody really rebounded that well for the Knicks, but Fields can always be productive in that way. He too needs to get more than the 3 he had yesterday.
  • Kevin Garnett sort of choked/shoved Bill Walker in the neck after the final buzzer, which caused a little skirmish. To me, I just believe KG has a hard time expressing congratulations to former teammates.
  • With the injuries to Iman Shumpert and Jared Jeffries (check here), expect Mike Bibby to get some big minutes in the backcourt, with Balkman, Harrellson, and maybe even Steve Novak getting some minutes at the forward slots.
 The next game is Wednesday against the Golden State Warriors. Every game is important, but the Knicks absolutely will need to carry momentum with them.

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