Madison Square Garden March 3, 2010
“He [Bill Walker] knows how to play. He’s got a nice feel for the game. He’s just got to get in shape and stay in shape and keep working on his game. …I don’t want to go too far, but I’m pretty excited by what I see.” – Mike D’Antoni
“I always thought I could play on this type of level. It just took a while for me to get the opportunity.” – Bill Walker
“Today was one of those days where I actually felt like my old self as far as my movements and my timing and everything, my rhythm. I felt like I had another step.” – Tracy McGrady
Before we get carried away, we will admit that the Knicks were fortunate to play the piss-poor Pistons who arrived into the Garden on the end of a back-to-back after traveling from Detroit. The previous night the Pistons suffered a competitive loss against Nate Robinson’s Celtics as Robinson taught his teammate a Knick play that allowed him to get more comfortable and make a significant contribution to the team’s win. Ben Wallace, who injured himself last night, was absent, but his presence actually could have helped the Knicks.
Obviously, the Pistons played no defense and the Knicks game in with a desire to erase the embarrassing loss to the probable Eastern Conference champions
Mike D’Antoni showed that he does have a little more appreciation for size than he’s been getting credit for by starting Tracy McGrady and Bill Walker in the back court. By moving McGrady to the back court, and replacing Sergio Garcia with Walker, he brought more athleticism into the starting unit. There should be no expectation that Tracy McGrady will be the starting point guard next season. McGrady had a great line with 21 points in 34 minutes on 50% shooting with 8 assists (3 TOs) and 7 rebounds. His stroke looked nice from mid- and long range. He is a very smart player, but it is easy to see why the Rockets did not want him in the locker-room and on the court to use the team as his personal rehab club. Unless he makes great improvement over the summer, he would be a decent 12th man for the Knicks at a minimum salary.
Undoubtedly, watching Bill Walker’s dunk fest thrills Knicks fans largely because it provides us some hope that the recent trades may actually result in a better team. Walker’s play also encourages Knick fans to overreact and resort to hyperbole to overcompensate for the rest of the sordid tale of our Knicks. However, those watching Walker with a critical eye and projecting towards the future, see Walker as a serviceable and exciting role player. What you like about Walker, besides the highlight reel, is the efficiency in his game. Last night he gave the Knicks a career high 22 points (on 9-13 shooting) in 36 minutes with 3 assist, 2 rebounds and no turnovers. Walker, who D’Antoni indicated needs to get into better shape, has a wide, strong body and great hands on the move.
Walker’s major weakness appears to be on the defensive end as he collects fouls easily because he uses his hands more than his head and feet; Walker admits that his biggest problem since his numerous surgeries is his speed. Note that he sure puts a lot of pressure on those knees with his high flying act. I’m just saying, take note
Gallinari was more aggressive in this game and he met much less resistance as he scored 15 points on 6 for 12 shooting.