Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Knicks 107, Wizards 93 - Recap

Boy, oh boy, is this fun or what? Sans-Melo, sans-Amar'e Stoudemire, the Knicks continue to thrive at the hands of Jeremy Lin. The first game seemed like an aberration, the second game seemed like pure sillyness, but now three games in, Jeremy Lin is turning skeptics (myself included) into believers.

No, I don't believe Jeremy Lin will continue to average 25 points and 8 assists per game, but Lin looks like a quality NBA point guard that, most importantly, is helping his team win. Lin should not get all of the credit tonight as it was a team effort on both sides of the court that helped the get the Knicks their third straight victory.

Take the jump for some notes!

The Knicks fell behind by a few buckets early on in this one due to some aggressive Wizards defense and tentative Knicks offense. Washington made a concerted effort to make Lin shoot the jump shot or drive into a wall of defenders. This led to some forced 3-pointers and a lot of east-to-west ball movement instead of north-to-south. However, Iman Shumpert brought a spart off the bench as a secondary ball-handler, and Steve Novak as somebody to spread the floor. Midway through the 2nd quarter, the Knicks got on a roll and didn't look back.

In the second half, their defense was aggressive and perfect as I've seen it all season, forcing the Wizards into some truly horrible shots. On the other end, Lin really got into the groove, and the Knicks attacked the basket with focus, either getting easy buckets or getting to the free throw line. After Washington pulled with in two points early in the 3rd, the Knicks kicked it into overdrive and pulled away.

Here's my take:

That Was Great!

 - Jeremy Lin Linsanity has spread to me. This kid has true talent, and as Mike D'Antoni said in the post-game, I don't see Lin regressing. He had another excellent performance tonight against another very good point guard - 23 points on 9-14 shooting, 4 rebounds, 10 assists, 1 steal, and just 2 turnovers. Congrats on your first double-double, Jeremy! Lin got into the groove after being tentative early on when guys like Novak started spreading the floor with his hot shooting. Likewise, the transition game did Lin some favors as he was able to get to the rim or set up teammates with easy looks. He would have had 13 or 14 assists if not for Tyson Chandler getting fouled on a lot of pick-and-rolls. Lin's best play was easily when he shook John Wall and drove the lane for the NASTY STUFF! I love this kid.

 - To me, Steve Novak's entrance into the game was the turning point. Up until then, the Knicks had problems spacing the floor, particularly with Chandler and Jeffries playing the 4 and 5. The lack of spacing didn't allow Lin to penetrate and do what he do, so the Knicks were very perimeter-oriented with little success. But when Novak came in, he was an immediate offensive spark, canning four 3-pointers, which forced Washington's defense to stay ready, thus allowing guys to cut and drive to the hoop. 19 points on 6-10 shooting, 5-9 from downtown, with 4 rebounds for Novak. I think he's solidified a space in D'Antoni's rotations now.

 - Tyson Chandler had a big game, rebounding from his somewhat abbreviated performance against Washington. For a semi-offensively inept big man, Chandler draws fouls like few others in the paint, just by being taller and stronger than a lot of guys. 25 points for Tyson on 11-14 FT shooting. Throw in 11 rebounds and he had himself a nice outing.

 - Iman Shumpert also had himself his first big game in what seems like a couple weeks. He came off the bench and gave the Knicks another ball-handler that took some pressure off Lin. His shot selection was good as evidenced by his 6-11 shooting, and he was making an effort to get to the rim more often. 17 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 steals for Shump. Though he needs to work on his dunking as he missed two more tonight.

That Wasn't So Good

 - 7-28 (25%) from 3-point land is a number that should be improved or lessened (depending on how you look at it), especially when Steve Novak hit 5 of 9 of them. Without him, they're 2-19 which is pretty abysmal. Billy Walker was kind of awful on offense, chucking 3's whenever he got the chance (1-8), and Mike Bibby can't hit anything these days (0-4). So, you could look at is as minus Billy and Bibby (a comedy coming to a theater near you), the Knicks would have been 6-18 (33%) which is decent.

 - Landry Fields had a nice game, as he too attacked the rim and made some beautiful drives (16 points, 8 rebounds in case you were wondering), but he made one very obnoxious, kind of idiotic play. On a fast break, he had a wide open lay-up, but turned sideways and threw a one-handed alley-oop to a trailing Iman Shumpert, who then missed the dunk. Fields got the rebound and got fouled going back up, but D'Antoni was very displeased with the play. Don't try and get too cutesy, Landry. Likewise, Fields was 4-7 from the FT line tonight, and is shooting just 63% from the line this year, which is pretty fucking terrible. That's a bad way to give away points.

Odds and Ends

 - It seems like every call went the Knicks' way. 33 free throws to the Wizards' 19. However, I didn't see any Wizards griping about calls that much, so I guess the officiating was good.

 - The Wizards' season in a nut shell:
  • John Wall as the ball on the elbow and is looking for JaVale McGee to post up. McGee is looking the other way, just standing there with his back to Wall. Finally, JaVale realizes what's going on, gets the ball, posts up, dribbles into the lane, and gets stripped by Tyson Chandler.
  • The next play, John Wall got a steal, and went flying down the court. At the basket, he tossed an alley-oop behind him, about 10 feet away from the basket. Nick Young came racing in and LEAPT from so, so far away and looked like he was going to throw down the alley-oop of the season (or one of). However, he realized midway that he jumped from too far away and tried to lay the ball in instead of dunking. He bricked it and the Knicks started a fastbreak of their own.
 - John Wall is the fastest player with the ball from end-to-end that I've ever seen. No exaggeration.

 - Chris Singleton looks like some kind of animal, but I can't figure out what. But he does look like one.

Well, it was just the Washington Wizards (the worst team in the league, probably), but a win is a win; the Knicks will take anything they get. Unfortunately, Milwaukee won tonight, so New York is still out a playoff spot. Day off tomorrow, but they face the Lakers at home Friday, which should be exciting/horrifying. Go Knicks!!

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