We did ourselves proud tonight folks. I know about the lottery and all of that but I can't help it...a win is ALWAYS more fun and WAY more exciting than a loss. Woohoo!
Knicks 86, Blazers 92
--First the nit-picking. We let them have too many offensive rebounds. There, I'm done.
--The first thing that comes to mind when I think of this game is "poise". It was nip and tuck at the half. And the Knicks did make their runs. But we played like a much more experienced team than we really are (or than they did). We never panicked, we made pretty smart plays, our defense stayed fairly tight, we worked for smart shots, we shared the ball. It wasn't a fabulous game emotionally like the Lakers contest last week, nor a marvel of execution like the Spurs' loss the week before, nor an energy-fest like the creaming of the Bobcats before that. It was just good, reasonably efficient basketball. We held it together and played smarter than the opponent. That's why we won.
--To say this was a defensive gem would be overstating things, but we did hold them to 40.5% shooting. When they got open shots for the most part they were very deep. It's easier to hit those than it is to win with them over 48 minutes. We also destroyed them in blocks and managed to keep at least half a lid on their inside game. Eddy Curry in particular had a rough night and that wasn't completely accidental.
--We had six turnovers. That's it! We'd win a lot more games if that was always the case.
--We also committed only 15 fouls all night. We were moving our feet well and I liked our energy out there. Even Jamaal was diving for a lose ball at one point.
--On offense we simply got the ball wherever the mismatch (or at least best shot) was available. It wasn't anywhere near our best shooting effort of the season but it was one of our steadiest. You just didn't see a ton of hurries or dumb plays.
--We only lost the rebounding battle by four.
--You could tell about Nate Robinson's 31 but I think holding Stephon Marbury to 6-22 shooting was more important.
--Give some kudos to Nate for this one. All of this good stuff wasn't coincidental. He put the players in position to succeed. He was also very good in his game flow tonight. Whenever it even began to look like we'd fall apart he called timeout and straightened us up. You never got the sense that the team collapsed or even flirted with the edge. Two bad plays in a row was about all coach would allow.
--How about that Jamaal Magloire? Maybe those bobbleheads should come out of the closet (or out from under the couch propping up the short leg). His offense was indicative of the kind of game it was...mostly deep in, mostly smart, sometimes in the post and sometimes on the catch and dunk. He held their big men down and never let them get started. He made them look foolish on defense a couple of times. And he got SIXTEEN REBOUNDS! You could not have asked more and this may have been his best overall game of the year. He just looked like a player out there.
--Brandon Roy was our captain out there. The only time we looked even remotely shaky was when he was on the bench. He did everything necessary for this team to win, including getting teammates involved without being afraid of taking the important shot himself. His 3 assists and 3 rebounds were modest for him, but he had a lot of defending to do. His 24 points led the team.
--This wasn't Lamarcus' best night but it was far from bad. He grabbed rebounds when he needed to, played some honest defense, and was available for the pass or the shot. I would have liked to see him try and run the New York big men a little more but I suppose he was doing all he could to get the boards and box out. He did anchor a couple of really nice defensive stands including a block of a David Lee shot with his elbow...which incidentally made the Knicks staff reevaluate whether Mr. Lee was ready to play.
--Jarrett Jack had a better-than-steady game. He did all of his usual good work plus he shot 5-7 and played some decent defense. His passing was more aggressive tonight than I've seen it in a while. Maybe he's on an upswing.
--Ime had a typical Ime game. He just did his job well without standing out unless you were concentrating on him. I really love this guy. He's a purist's kind of player. If he were 2.5 inches taller he would have been in the league 8 years by now.
--The bench had a semi-shaky night as a whole but Travis played his best game in a while. He was active and aggressive on both ends of the floor. He hit a couple open jumpers and a wicked turn-around on Stephon Marbury which, if it could be duplicated regularly, would make him a star. He shot 4-9 and had 3 blocks.
--Martell's production wasn't that high but he finally looked like he had confidence in his shot again. He was releasing without hesitation and he ended up 2-3.
--Fred Jones put a little pressure on with his drives but he had a hard time hitting a shot again and his defense was up and down.
--We had a Luke Schenscher sighting! (Say that three times fast...) He played 4 minutes, missed 2 shots, and got 2 rebounds.
--I saved Sergio for last. His reviews are mixed. To the good he had 4 assists and 2 steals in 15 minutes. (The steals were more of the "giveaway" variety though.) He set up several nice plays for people. On the other hand he just looks clueless out there sometimes...too much run-around and not enough purpose. It's not his point guard skills that are hobbling him. He's a great dribbler and passer and vision guy. It's his decisions. He can look brilliant and then hopeless on consecutive plays. His shot selection was spotty again and he just made a couple of bonehead mistakes. Again...I like him a lot, but he can't be rushed. He still has a ton to learn and the more I see him play the more I realize that there's a reason he's being brought along as deliberately as he is.
--The contrast between the Knicks guards and our backcourt players--Jack, Roy, Rodriguez--is amazing. They are far more experienced and probably individually talented at this point. But every darn one of them has their switch set to "shoot" and it never ends. I love seeing our guys work the ball around, play unselfishly, and pick their spots. I'd rather have our three guys for sure. I enjoyed watching them play.