Saturday, March 17, 2012

Knicks 115, Pacers 100 - Recap

This game was entirely too much fun. The Knicks looked totally hyped by Danny Granger's comments and came out with purpose and intensity. If I'm not mistaken, this was a completely wire-to-wire win. The Knicks locked down the Pacers on defense and gave up only 31 first half points, while on offense, they found success driving to the basket and leaking out on breaks.

By the third quarter, the Knicks had rung up a 30 point lead and the Pacers looked completely deflated. Even the Pacers fans sitting next to me had evacuated the building. The fourth quarter was garbage time to the max and a lot of the top guns got rest. The final score wasn't indicative of the blowout that this really was.

Dare I say it was a statement game? Take the jump for more notes!

That Was Great!
 - The Knicks defense through the first three quarters was ferocious. The intensity was there right from the get-go, as drivers were hounded in the paint by Tyson Chandler (who also sent Roy Hibbert home, curled up in a ball, I'm quite sure); Carmelo Anthony and Landry Fields both viciously locked down Danny Granger and Paul George; David West wasn't allowed any easy baskets by Amar'e Stoudemire. On picks and screens, there wasn't much switching and much more fighting over or going under and recovering. A few times there were missed assignments, but very rarely. The play of the night was when Jared Jeffries and Baron Davis hounded Darren Collison up the floor, and the Pacers swung the ball to an open Roy Hibbert. As he went up for the jam, Jeffries came sprinting from behind and blocked the shot.

 - Part of this was because the Knicks put away the game by the end of the third quarter, but with the potency of the bench and the balance of the starting unit, we may not see a lot games where somebody scores 25-30 points. Last night, there were five Knicks in double-figures, with Tyson Chandler and J.R. Smith both leading the way with 16 points. Those numbers will fluctuate with who has the hot hand, and how close the game is (more minutes for some people), but a well-balanced attack of a bunch of guys with 15-20 points is a nice thought.

 - The bench is indeed potent! Seriously, those dudes light up the Garden. Steve Novak gets the loudest cheers while entering the game, and every time he touches the ball, the crowd gets riled up. J.R. Smith appears to have found the touch and plays some invigorating basketball when he's hot. Iman Shumpert, despite some iffy offense, sets a tone with his defense and provides energy; Jared Jeffries has rightfully become a crowd-favorite, and Baron Davis is a nice pace adjustment when Lin sits down, and also is capable of getting the crowd and team all silly. They're all going to be critical for the remainder of the season.

 - Mike Woodson really held guys accountable in this one. Anytime somebody got burned on defense, missed an assignment, rotated or closed out late, at the next available break, they were relegated to the bench. He did this to Lin, Davis, Melo, J.R. Smith, Stoudemire, and Shumpert. That was really cool to see.

That Wasn't So Good
 - Baron Davis pulled a hamstring in the first half and didn't return, after he got the team in a groove that opened the game up. It sounds like he won't travel to Indiana, but could possibly return for Tuesday. Rest up, Baron, we'll need you!

 - Amar'e played an okay game, but he missed some pretty easy bunny shots and it was like, "What the heck, Amar'e?!" He said he feels good, but his hops certainly weren't there, minus one pretty sweet putback dunk on a missed Melo shot. He finished with just 8 points on 3-9 shooting.

Stats That I Like
New section!

 - Carmelo Anthony: 12 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals. Well-rounded game from Melo, who only shot 4-12.

 - 12 turnovers, 4 from Tyson, and 3 from Lin.

 - They out-rebounded Indiana 44 to 39.

Odds and Ends
 - Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith had a layup line dunk contest and that had the crowd "Ooohing" and "Aaahing". It was arguably better than the All-Star dunk contest.

 - Carmelo got startlingly loud boos from the crowd during introductions.

 - Jeremy Lin was about as steady as they come in this one. He didn't do anything particularly spectacular, but he chose his spots to drive to the hoop, dished some nice passes in the pick-and-roll, had some more of those full-court lead passes to Carmelo leaking out on the break, and a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to end the first half. 13 points, 3-7 FG, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists from Jeremy.

 - There were chants of "We want Bibby!" and he eventually did sub in with 3 minutes left. He made a 3-pointer and threw an alley-oop to J.R. Smith who reversed it and then got a technical for hanging on the rim and taunting. It was cool.

 - Josh Harrellson played too! He beautifully slipped two screens for easy layups and made a corner 3! Jorts 4Ev3R!

I won't called this one a statement game, but it was close. I'm really liking what I'm seeing in the Mike Woodson era, and the team seems to be playing as one unit, and playing with passions and joy. If they win tonight in Indiana, then we can get excited. Go Knicks!

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