Friday, February 10, 2012

Knicks 92, Lakers 85 - Recap

Coming into this game I didn't think the Knicks really stood much of a chance of winning. Obviously missing Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire, I didn't think the Knicks could match the Lakers ability to put points on the board and contain a team while missing its top guns.

Photo by Getty Images
In my preview I mentioned three things I'd be watching for:
  • The Knicks ability to guard Kobe Bryant -- 11-29 FG shooting for Kobe, despite a hot streak at one point.
  • The Knicks frontcourt vs. the Lakers frontcourt -- 19 points, 7-18 shooting, 10 fouls, 5 turnovers between Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.
  • The Jeremy Lin factor -- Well, he was alright, I suppose....
 This was one of the best wins of the season. Take the jump for some notes!

The Knicks came out with a clear plan in the first half. On offense, they pushed the pace and Jeremy Lin had a 7-0 by himself. On defense, the Knicks doubled Bryant when he got the ball and either Gasol or Bynum if they got it down low. The Lakers chucked jumpshot after jumpshot and if it weren't for a few tick-tacky fouls, they would've scored like, 3 points in the first half.

In the second half, Kobe Bryant got hot which was to be expected. He hit his usual ridiculous Kobe shots and it got a little bit scary. But credit the Knicks and D'Antoni in every way. They lost the rebounding battle, but they fought hard, rotated well, and when things were starting to tilt in the Lakers' favor, D'Antoni called timeouts and regrouped the guys. On offense they'd either hit the big shot or get a big offensive rebound. It was just enough to hold off a tired Lakers team.

That Was Great
 - Holy shit, Jeremy Lin is amazing. He's so overwhelmingly awesome that he's actually made me delirious from all the laughing and cheering I did. Coming into the game I was so, so nervous for Jeremy. It seemed that the bar had been set too high; there was no way he could live up the hype. But Lin went above and beyond that tonight.

  • Lin dazzled tonight. As evidenced in the video above (which disappointly lacks his assist highlights or replays), Lin gladly accepted the room was given on jumpshots, and when the Lakers crowded him on the perimeter, he craftily crept into the lane and hit off-balance, off-kilter shots. He clearly had a scoring mindset tonight, and he put the team on his shoulders in a way we haven't seen much of from anybody this season. 38 points on 13-23 shooting, 2-4 from downtown, 10-13 FT, 4 rebounds, 7 assists, and 2 steals. What else can you say? LINSANITY!
 - Tyson Chandler and Jared Jeffries both deserve mention because of the incredible work they did tonight. Jeffries's stat line - 11 points, 4-7 shooting, 9 rebounds, 3 assists - is a bit more impressive than Chandler, but their value in this game isn't reflected in the box score. They did a hell of a job on the Lakers' big men and came up with such clutch offensive rebounds to give the Knicks second possessions that they can't even be described. Considering how little offensive talent both players have, they mesh extremely well as a unit up front.

 - The defense was just really impressive. I already mentioned Jeffries' and Chandler's excellent defense on Gasol and Bynum, but as a whole, the Lakers shot 38% and Kobe took 29 shots to get to 34 points (and 11 of them were free throws). Some of it (okay, a lot of it) was the Lakers' tired legs from their overtime victory in Boston last night, but no excuses. The Knicks did a really good job containing everyone. They forced turnovers, and down the stretch, they got stops when they needed them most.

That Wasn't So Great
 - 12-40 combined shooting from Bill Walker, Landry Fields, Iman Shumpert, and Steve Novak. Shumpert should short of be excluded in this, though. He shot 5-13, which isn't good, but he had some seriously clutch baskets in the 4th quarter just as the Lakers were about to dig their teeth in. One was a hesitation dribble around Bryant for an easy dunk, and the other was an insane and-1 floater and Bynum flailed his arms at Shump's chest. However, for the other three, they need to shoot better and provide more help to the other guys, i.e. Jeremy Lin.

 - They tried pretty hard to throw this one away with 61.8% FT shooting. If the Knicks lost by two points or something, I would have ripped up my couch cushions with my teeth, formed spit balls with the fluff, and driven to MSG to shoot them through a straw at the off-target Knicks. Fields and Chandler were the main offenders by going 5-12 (!!!!) from the line. Seriously, for Fields to shoot 61% is terrible. Looking at that number, it seems even crazier that New York won this game.

Odds and Ends
 - Kobe Bryant said this before the game:
[Asked again about Lin] "I don't even know what the [fudge] is going on. What the [fudge] is going on? Who is this kid? I've heard about him and stuff like that, but what's he been doing? Is he getting like triple doubles or some [stuff]? He's averaging 28 and eight? No [stuff]. If he's playing well, I'll just have to deal with him."
[Would he consider guarding Lin?] "Jesus Christ. Let's not get ahead of ourselves."
   I really don't like Kobe, but his team's loss, his 37% shooting, and Lin's 38 points speaks for itself.

 - Ron Artest (I am not calling him Metta World Peace. Ah shit!) got a little frisky with some Knicks and gave away some valuable points by sending the Knicks to the FT line. But then the refs declared that one of the fouls wasn't a shooting foul and took away the Knicks points. It was weird, but whatever.

That's pretty much it, guys! I'm amazed I was able to churn out actual words following that, but hey, I did it! Knicks take on the Timberwolves tomorrow and I'm way too excited to watch Lin vs. Rubio and Jeffries vs. Love (I'm just a sick puppy). Knicks have won 4 in a row and are 12-15! Go Knicks!!!

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