|(1-1, 1-1 away)|
|(2-1, 2-0 home)|
“We played good basketball. We gave them what they were looking for. We could still get better. It was definitely encouraging tonight” — Amare Stoudemire
“Everything is fine, I don’t see not fine things. We played a great game against the best team in the East.” — Danilo Gallinari
“I thought our guys played with as much heart as you can play with. If we play that hard, we’ll get some wins.” — Mike D’Antoni
– Overview: This was a fun game to watch. The stats are a little deceptive and would lead one to believe that the Knicks were never in this game. We were out-rebounded 54-38, and gave up 54 points in the paint. Rondo had as many assists as our entire team, and our shooting percentage was 43% to their 48%. The game was a bit sloppy, especially in the third, but much closer than the stats because of the Knicks’ hustle and Stoudemire’s ability to close a game: the Celts had 17 turnovers including eight strips by the Knicks who also blocked 9 shots and Stoudemire (with help from Fields and company) almost brought us back until his last shot was blocked to end the game. D’Antoni is also getting a feel for his best unit as he finished with Stoudemire, Fields, Chandler, Douglas and Felton, a very aggressive and athletic collection of ballers.
– Of course the major story line is Rajon Rondo’s triple double. Rajon controlled the tempo for much of the 45 minutes he was on the floor and offered 10 points, 24 assists and 10 boards. He is constantly hustling. He and loose balls often seem drawn to each other like a perpetual hot date. Although he regularly ran around our guards and through our interior defense (so to speak), he still has shooting issues (4 for 12) including problems hitting those from the charity stripe (2 for 6). He also coughed it up 7 times. sometimes due to carelessness.
– Now is the time, while he has a wrist injury, to take Danilo Gallinari out of the starting lineup without any fanfare or fan-venom. Live’s refrain: Gallo is not a starter and as many others have noticed, he is playing out of position. Last night he had two points and shot an abysmal 0-6 including missing three tres. The shooting is only part of the problem — he doesn’t really get enough shots to be the force they claim he could be. The greater issue is that he is practically useless in other areas of the game. In 12 minutes he had three boards and one assist. He must be given credit for trying though. He was more aggressive and even tried to occupy the post at least once on offense, but he is pressing, aiming and shooting off balance. That is nothing new; it is just more frequent than him taking good shots now. D’Antoni has shown that his job may be more important than proving Gallo was the right choice as he sat Gallo for the second half in favor of a hotter, more athletic collection of players.
– Wilson Chandler is a legit #2 on this squad — not a 2 guard but the second offensive option for this team. His game has become very patient aggressive. As Barf said, he is playing like a “grown-ass man.” In 33 minutes he gave us 19 points and would have had more if so many of his shots weren’t attempts from downtown (1 for 7). He scored in a variety of ways — jumpers, banks, drives, tres. He also made his presence felt defensively garnering 4 blocks, 2 steals and 6 boards. D’Antoni mentioned it was hard to keep him off the floor, which seems the wrong way to think about it, except that its not the thought that matters but the result, the fact that D’Antoni had Chandler out there in the end and for more minutes than two of the designated starters (Mozgov and Gallo).
– Raymond Felton is experiencing a welcome fit of aggression. He is leading the break and going to the hoop more often. In 37 minutes he scored 17 points and added 6 assists and 3 steals. He was a reason the Knicks scored 16 fast break points. However, on the opposite end he had his hands full with Rondo, who too often was cherry picking — taking off for the offensive end after an opponents’ shot for an easy outlet pass and basket — and leaving Felton to wonder what had happened.
– No bait and switch here! Stoudemire is as good as advertised but he put quite a scare into Knick fandom when he bumped knees with Shaq and laid sprawled on the floor for about a minute. I can’t wait until he starts winning those close ones for us with his will and ability to go into close-control at the game’s end. He got us to within two points with seconds left and drew a double team for what was a last effort. Studdy had 27 points, 8 boards and 2 blocks in 36 minutes while reducing his turnovers to 2. Defensively he is as advertised too but not for lack of effort. He seems to be much better guarding zones and air space above the hoop than he does bodies. But to be far, it is not easy guarding Garnett, Pierce, Shaq and Big Baby all in half an hour of work.
– There is at least one solid piece of evidence that Knicks management can make a good decision and that is Landry Fields. Fields works very hard to show that he deserves the confidence of being a starting rookie on the New York Knicks. He is Mr. Utility with the cool of an ice cream filled Popsicle. My favorite image was of him stopping Rondo’s quick progression unlike the other Knicks who had trouble with him. He continues to do a little bit of everything on both sides of the ball as demonstrated by his first double-double (11 points and 10 boards) to go with 4 assists and 1 steal. He also moves to cover very quickly on defense.
– D’Antoni is starting to coach much better than he has the past two years. (Stop blaming it on the players). He played Rondo by the book, by packing the paint and leaning away from him when he had the ball 15 feet or more away from the basket. Unfortunately, the Celtics have been responding to their Rondo shooting problem for a couple of years with a mix of screens and player movement in and out of the paint which allows Rondo to dribble penetrate, create mismatches and kick the ball out to free shooters along the perimeter. But at least the Knicks played him well enough to give us a chance to win.
– We had another special LBE last night. BARF, the hilarious nickname genius now hailing from Orlando, joined the fam again for the first time in what seems like years. He was watching the game via an on-line feed called Channel surfing.net which you might want to check out if you’re ready to load a bunch of Apps and don’t mind the ads. We gained a new sharp member in MachoDread (we almost unanimously praised that handle). Also in the observatory: O&B, Peaceman, Statesman, Post-Up Prince, DLT-Knicks, Steady, Modi, PaulNoize and LIVES. There were so many hilarious moments but I gotta give some shine to DLT’s comment, “Gallo is playing badly trying not to get traded for Melo.” For some reason, I couldn’t stop laughing after the 9:02pm mark of the LBE.