Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Knicks 118, Celtics 110 - Recap

'Twas a night of triples in Madison Square Garden, as the Knicks registered two different type of triples to beat the Boston Celtics and keep their hopes for winning the division alive. Carmelo Anthony posted the second triple-double of his career and his first with the Knicks, while J.R. Smith and Steve Novak absolutely shredded Boston's elite perimeter defense by combining for 15 triples for 45 points off the bench.
Photo by Frank Franlin II/ AP

In the early moments of the game, the short-handed Celtics looked ready to show their dominance as kings of the division, but the Knicks (who, mind you, are still more short-handed than the Celtics) would have none of it. When Smith checked in late in the 1st quarter, he showed some good signs, hitting some 3s and setting up teammates nicely. And that was only the beginning of it.

The 2nd quarter featured a barrage of 3-pointers unlike almost anything the NBA has ever seen. The Knicks' 14 first-half 3-pointers tied an NBA record, and certainly beat the club's previous record. Regardless of the shooter, the location, the time left on the clock, the Knicks bombed away on Boston's oddly lackadaisical defense and gave them enough cushion to ride it out in the second half.

We knew Boston would make a comeback, and when they cut it to six with three minutes left in the 4th quarter, who came to the rescue? Anthony with his ninth and tenth assists, and Steve Novak with his seventh and eight 3-points to boost the lead back to double-digits!

 Take the jump for the usual good, bad, and miscellaneous!

That Was Great!
 - Those 3-pointers were soup to the soul, capable of curing the most beaten-down Knicks fan! Steve Novak was huge in the second half, as he stroked from beyond the arc with confidence and ease and kept the Celtics at bay. But he and Smith just went bonkers in the first half. At one point Smith had hit four in a row, and that was only the start of it. Novak converted a four-point play, Smith heaved a 3 from 26 feet out to beat the shot clock, Carmelo Anthony checked into the game and promptly hit a turn-around 3, Shumpert hit a 3 from the corner, Mike Bibby hit a 3 from the elbow! Shit was absurd. As you'd expect it tailed off in the second half as Boston clamped down, but again, Novak's 3s were the daggers that New York just rarely seems to come up with. The best part: the hot shooting first half was enough of a boost for the Knicks to get (mostly) out-played in the second half, and still win without much drama.

 - Carmelo friggin' Anthony. If this man doesn't win Player of the Month for April, then there is trouble afoot in the NBA. Conspiracies! Melo had another hot first half, bangin' in the paint, slidin' past Pierce in isolation, and swooshin' on spot-ups. On defense he had a bit more trouble against the likes of the heavier, elbow-throwing Brandon Bass, but made up for it with 8 defensive rebounds (of his 12 total), and 2 steals. I hadn't noticed Melo's supreme passing, but his kick-outs to Novak were huge, and I do recall some nice dishes in the paint to find Chandler in the first half. Hey, it was triple-double, what more is there to say. 35 points on 13-24 shooting, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists.

 - Tyson Chandler shot a modest 90% for 20 points, with all but one basket on dunks. Because both teams shot so well (the Knicks didn't exactly suffocate Boston), there weren't a lot of rebounds to be had, so Chandler finished with just 7. He had some trouble sticking with Rondo on switches, or closing out on Garnett on pick-and-pops, but neither was too devastating for New York. Either way, another night, another game for Chandler. I love the guy.

That Wasn't So Good
 - Well, the Knicks gave up 110 points. Boston seemed like the mostly couldn't give a collective shit about guarding the Knicks, but their offense wasn't too shabby. Garnett had some success in the pick-and-pop as mentioned, Avery Bradley would have been devastating from 3-point land (5-6) if not for the Knicks own supremacy, and Paul Pierce walked all over everyone to the tune of 43 points. Let's forget about this one in terms of defensive efforts, eh?

 - Part of the reason for Boston's offense success were the putrid refs. I don't even want to get into it much, because refereeing is so subjective, but Boston's 34 free throws to New York's 17 tells the story. Some of it was sloppy, lazy, hands-y defense from the Knicks, but it was pretty inconsistent all night. The refs nearly stole this one from New York.

 - Landry Fields just looks so lost on the court. On offense, he had one nice baseline drive for a two-handed flush, but otherwise was just helpless out there. His defense on Pierce - though an understandably tough task - was pretty abysmal. When Amar'e comes back, you have to imagine that Fields will be relegated to the bench and Shumpert will take his starting spot.

Odds and Ends
 - J.R. Smith was pretty fantastic tonight, even though his excellence was pretty one-sided (on-halved?). After dominating the first half, he was quiet and indecisive in the second, hesitating to pull the trigger from beyond the arc, and instead settling for fade-away jumpers. He did have one huge pull-up jumper with the clock running down, though, and that also held the Celtics at bay before they made their final run - the run which was squashed by Novakaine! Still, Smith's 25 points (8-16 FG, 7-10 3FG), 4 rebounds, and 6 assists should not go unmentioned.

 - Mike Bibby played more minutes than Baron Davis tonight, and was oddly kind of... good...? The Bibster (as my Mike-Bibby-loving roommate calls him) was only 1-3 from beyond the arc, but to my eye, played halfway decent defense no matter who he defended, and on offense was surprisingly competent. A few times the Knicks squandered and squatted on the perimeter, but Bibby generally made some good entry passes and ran a few great pick-and-rolls with Tyson Chandler. I sure as hell bet you didn't expect Mike Bibby to finish with 5 rebounds and 6 assists tonight!

 - Baron Davis, by the way, apparently had a tummy ache tonight.

 - While going up for a rebound, Rajon Rondo bumped into Chandler and took a hard fall onto his lower back. He was later shown laying down where the cameramen usually are stationed, stretch and rolling like a toddler being woken up from a nap, while covered in a blanket and being stretched by trainers. Rondo is such a baby!

Well, that was an excellent night! The Knicks are three games above .500 and are 3.5 games behind Boston for the division lead. Currently the Knicks are sitting in 7th place with Philadelphia losing tonight. Game tomorrow night against the Nets. Enjoy this one, everybody!

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