Posts about New York Knicks

A 3 OT thriller, LeBron’s mask and the rest of last night in the NBA

Mask on mask crime

Mask on mask crime

The headlines are going to feature LeBron James and his mask, wearing it after suffering a broken nose last week against the Thunder. Yes, the mask looks plenty cool and the various nicknames trending around Twitter were fun, but that wasn’t the best story line in the NBA last night. It’s a shame that NBA TV can’t just cut away from their regular programming when there’s something like a triple overtime game going on. That’s what we were getting last night when the Wizards were visiting the Toronto Raptors last night. But no, let’s keep watching re-runs of a “classic game” from 40 years ago. I understand that it’s more complicated than that but can’t TV executives just make a judgement call there? Anyways, once I knew the game was heading into double overtime, I went online and found a way to “legally” watch the game on my computer instead. One thing really stuck out at me from the Wiazards-Raptors triple overtime marathon: John Wall can bring it on any single night when the game is on the line, he brings his best and makes his teammates better. Wall and Marcin Gortat (combining for 62 pts, 15 reb and 10 ast) led the way for Washington as they outlasted Toronto to take a triple overtime victory on the road. Gortat was signed during the off season and may wondered whether or not he was going to be a solid addition. The Wizards big man has been inconsistent at times but last night proves that he can certainly be a significant part of the this team. For the Raptors is was more about losing personnel as the game went on. As the game gets longer and longer, there’s a bigger chance of teammates fouling out and depleting your chances of playing at full capacity. Still, DeMar DeRozen (34 pts, 4 reb, 6 ast) and the rest of Toronto should hold their heads up because last night was a battle. Who knows, we might see these two teams square off in a playoff series and have ourselves a sequel of sorts.

Now we can go ahead and focus LeBron (or LeBane, LeBat etc.) and how the Heat took care of the Knicks at home pretty handily. If I had to describe the Heat’s performance last night it would be: effective. I mean, the team combined to shoot just over 60% from the field. James (31 pts) and Wade (23 pts) themselves alone were 23 of 32 from the field as they led Miami to a 108-82 victory, their 9th in the last 10 games. Carmelo Anthony, who scored 29 points, and Tyson Chandler (19 pts, 16 reb) were the lone bright spots for New York last night, as their dark season continues to unfold without a real ending in sight. Melo’s scoring in the 2nd quarter kept the Knicks in the game but once the 3rd quarter was over, Miami stepped up their defense and took the game out of reach. It’s clear that Miami is on a different level and as the season has progressed, is forming into the favorite once again. Questions still remain on defense but right now, the Heat are playing some of their best basketball of the season. Other games around the NBA included a surprisingly close game between the Bucks on the road in Indiana. The Pacers did well to close the game out but may be without George Hill for a couple of games, after suffering a shoulder injury. He’s listed as day-to-day right now but we’ll have to see how much the Pacers are affected by it. The late night match up on TNT had the Nets visiting Denver, two teams that are very much underachieving this season. What in the world was Denver doing last night? The Nuggets should be embarrassed after only managing to score 9 (yes, NINE) points in the first quarter. Let’s remember that Brooklyn hasn’t exactly been known for their “lock-down” defense at any point this season. Shout out to Reggie Miller (part of the announcing crew) who did a good job to call out Nuggets coach Brian Shaw during their pathetic first half performance. The Nets took care of business and went on to rout Denver and we even saw Jason Collins get some playing time, notching 3 points.

In case you aren’t tired of LeBron yet, here’s a funny bit with Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show:

Lebron James Goes To The Dark Side

Photo Credit: WENN

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NBA Tuesday: Dirk’s game-winning bounce; the 76ers’ absurd tanking continues.

2-25

There’s not a single doubt in my mind that some sort of selfishness will come off as I choose to make a post about the NBA the day after Dirk hits a game-winning shot. Let’s add that to the fact that it was a “lucky” shooters bounce and that it happened over Moe’s Knicks. At least, if Moe is still a fan of a Knicks team that continues to baffle their fans and any other neutral observer. How does a team with one of the best forwards in the league manage to be five games behind the 8th seed in a terrible eastern conference? Carmelo Anthony’s best efforts (44 pts, 9 reb) weren’t enough to lift the Knicks past the Mavericks, who took the victory with a buzzer-beater. Dirk’s game-winning shot was unorthodox but like Dallas seems to have all season, the bounce just went in their favor. And to anyone wondering: no, Dirk’s shot was not pure luck. When the shot went in and I finally stopped celebrating, my thoughts immediately went to a similar shot he made against the Bucks a few years ago. It’s a shooter’s bounce, plain and simple. There is some luck involved but like Durant, Stephen Curry, Dirk and any other great shooter in the league can attest to, the technique and touch are what creates the odds in their favor. While #41 was the hero for Dallas, what’s being overlooked is how well the supporting cast was for the Mavericks. Particularly the back court of the Mavs (Ellis, Calderon and Carter) who combined for 65 points and pretty much matched the Knicks’ barrage of 3-pointers. The somewhat cast-off squad of Dallas continues to battle for a playoff spot in a tough western conference while the Knicks try to avoid an implosion that’s too significant to recover from.

It wasn’t a particularly busy night in the NBA (only five games) but one thing that stood out to me when scanning the scores last night was the Bucks’ trashing of the 76ers in Philadelphia. How does the worst team in the league go into another team’s building and handle business so effectively? Especially a team that has been as horrible as Milwaukee has been all season. To the Bucks’ credit, the Sixers are the second worst team in the league record-wise but it’s still worth a look. Philly hasn’t been shy about their tanking efforts this season and with a ten-game losing streak in their hand, the tanking hats were fitted nice a tight last night. The result was a dominant win by Milwaukee, at one point leading by 29 points. If that doesn’t indicate how bad the game was, maybe this picture of a court-side fan sleeping from the 3rd quarter will do the trick. When’s the last time we saw something like that? It’s always been a dream of mine to sit court side at an NBA game but this guy must be so used to the seats or the basketball was so bad that a nice nap was inevitable. I fully understand why a team would tank because if you’re going to be bad, one might as well be really bad. That’s the life of an NBA team that doesn’t attract a major superstar to their team. Get some nice picks in the draft, hope their gems in at least one way and add the pieces from there. But at a certain point, how much does the product get compromised? People pay some hard earned money to go and watch pro basketball in person. How much obligation does a team have to put their best possible product out there all while knowing that this season is a sacrifice/investment for the future? It’s a debate that can go on forever but if there’s a fan sleeping right in front of a game, then we might have gone too far with “tanking” or whatever one will call it.

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Recapping the NBA’s big Christmas Day slate

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Golden State Warriors

For a lot of sports fans around the league, Christmas Day is when the “real” NBA season begins. A lot of it has to do with the fact that NFL season is, unfortunately, winding down and more of the focus is shifted towards the Association. Another reason the NBA gets so much attention on the 25th of December is because the entire day is dedicated to showcasing the best teams around the league, going head to head in some of the best basketball that the league has to offer. Unfortunately for the NBA, most of yesterday’s games didn’t include a few of it’s best teams and didn’t provide it’s best product. Luck wasn’t on David Stern’s side. It’s not his fault that some of the biggest teams in the biggest markets are dealing with franchise-level injuries. The game schedules were put into place before the season began and no one thought that at this point of the season, the Nets, Bulls, Knicks and Lakers would ALL be dealing with key injuries. At the same time, how were the Pacers not included in yesterday’s festivities? Portland (tied atop the west) was also missing but no one really expected, before the season, that they’d be among the league’s elite. Not the same for Indiana, the Heat’s biggest obstacle for a fourth straight Finals appearance and tied for the best record in the league. Most people thought that Indiana would continue to battle for the eastern conference’s top position during the regular season and once the postseason began. So, once again, I’ll wonder: why weren’t they included?

Let’s get to some of the teams that actually played in yesterday’s game. Like the past few couple of seasons, the NBA was featuring a quintuple-header. I actually felt bad for the NBA countdown crew (ESPN and ABC) because they were basically dealing with a 13 hour work day on Christmas Day. And to boot, getting up early for a Nets-Bulls game is not something that’s really worth doing. Are the Nets, as a team and franchise, in some serious trouble heading into the future? I’m not talking about just this season. The next few years and beyond look bleak for the Nets, no draft picks while being locked into some pretty big deals. While the Bulls are ugly to watch without Rose, at least Chicago showed some heart in their victory over the Nets yesterday. Not showing heart were Moe’s Knicks. New York got pounded by the Thunder yesterday, led by their duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. I’ll sum up how easy it was for Oklahoma City: Durant scored 29 points on 10-for-16 shooting seemingly without sweating and Westbrook had a triple double halfway through the 3rd quarter. Oh yeah, the Kicks also suffered the worst defeat by any home team on Christmas Day. Let’s shift over to the west coast, where LeBron and co were visiting a depleted Lakers team. Surprisingly enough this game didn’t keep the trend of complete blowouts for the day. The Heat looked in control for most of the game, especially halfway through the second quarter and after but the Lakers hung around and almost stole the game. After giving up the lead in the 4th, Miami re-gained composure and closed out the game. Still, lots of a props to a scrappy Lakers team who played well enough to make this an entertaining game worth tuning in to.

The best was saved for last as the quality of basketball got better as the day went on. The Rockets were in San Antonio (hosting their first Christmas Day game) against the Spurs in a good ole fashioned Texas shootout. Normally Houston is sort of a weird team but they played very sound and balanced basketball. It’s something that the Spurs set the bar doing so but during yesterday’s game, the Rockets raced out to a big lead, forcing the Spurs to play catch up the entire game. San Antonio managed to get within striking distance a couple of times. That was, until James Harden took over in the 4th quarter. Harden dropped 16th in the final quarter as he led the Rockets to a big win over their in-state rival. The most entertaining game of the night came late in the day when the Clippers visited the Warriors. A physical contest that included two ejections (Blake Griffin and Draymond Green), two technical fouls, two flagrant fouls and shoving even after the final buzzer went off. The Warriors won the game after a last second heave by the Clippers was short but up until that moment, it was either team’s game. When your coaching staff has to separate the sides after the game is over, there’s definitely some bad blood. I’m already looking forward to when these two teams go at against because they provide a good basketball product with some of that old school (pictured above) roughness.

One a side note: I’m with Dirk on this one when it comes to the special edition uniforms. Not a fan of the sleeves or the giant logos on the chest.

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Knicks stay alive; Spurs eliminate Warriors

5-17

Talk about an ugly win for the Knicks. I actually didn’t watch most of the game as it happened live (caught the Darvish-Verlander showdown in person) but I did see the replay on NBATV earlier this morning. The Knicks won’t label this win as a “finesse” type but they can certainly pride themselves in being the better team with more effort. The Knicks played with urgency this time around, forcing the Pacers into bad shots late in the game to take the victory and send the series back to Indiana for another game. Tyson Chandler’s performance won’t show up in the stat line but his presence in the middle was key to slowing down Roy Hibbert and slowing down the Pacers’ ability to get inside and get points in the paint. Melo led the way for the Knicks as usual (28 points) but he was smarter about his game, picking his shots more carefully. And when the Knicks needed a bucket late, Melo was able to deliver with some key buckets in the 4th quarter. On the contrary, the Pacers were opposite of clutch in the 4th quarter. With chances to get back in striking distance, it was either a bad shot or a turnover for Indiana. Add that to the laundry list of problems for the Pacers last night: they didn’t shoot well from the field or free throw line and their bench only managed 10 points. Indiana needs to turn it around fast or this series is going the full length.

This was the series that I thought would go all the way. I mean, can’t we have at least one series go 7? San Antonio had other plans and they weren’t afraid to put the nail in the coffin when the opportunity presented itself. The Spurs made big plays late, fending off a Warriors rally to close out the series in 6 games and move on to the west finals. If there was any doubt that Gregg Poppovich is the best coach in the league i’d say that argument was put to rest after last night’s game. The Spurs coach had some brilliant changes late in the game, benching Tim Duncan (who played great) and trusting the bench to make the big plays. The other “big guns'” for the Spurs didn’t play well so it was the likes of Kawhi Leonard and Tiago Splitter that made the clutch plays. I can’t for Sunday’s game 1 against the Grizzlies. As for the Warriors, it just wasn’t enough. They seemed to be worn down by the Spurs and late in the game the shots that normally went in, didn’t. Those same shots would’ve gone in earlier in the series and it’s what made this Warriors team so fun to watch. It’s goodbye for Curry and his crew but they definitely deserve a standing ovation. They were the most entertaining team in the postseason and have a bright future.

Side note: Phil Jackson is back in the headlines but this time it’s not for another coaching rumor. News broke that in Phil’s new book (“Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success“) he does in fact compare Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, with Jackson siding in the Jordan camp. I wonder how Bryan, biggest Kobe fan on this site, feels about it. There are also some other interesting points in the book that have been released.

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Pacers take 3-1 lead; Spurs win big game 5

5-15

Things are looking well for both the Pacers and Spurs, both teams looks lik they’re playing to their strengths. The Pacers are obviously in a better position with a 3-1 lead over the Knicks and as the series goes on, it’s pretty clear that the Pacers are a really bad match up for the Knicks. Last night it further cemented the Pacers’ dominance on defense and their ability to make the Knicks frustrated on both ends of the floor. Watching this series I can’t help but wonder: did game 2 of this series actually happen? After that game, I would’ve picked the series to go to the Knicks but ever since that game, the Pacers have shown that they are the superior team. The Knicks never led in last night’s game and a lot of that is because the supporting cast (Shumpert, Kidd, Martin) was nowhere to be found. Not to mention JR Smith’s complete disappearance. But that’s also credit to the Pacers’ defense and them forcing bad shots by the Knicks. Paul George played really well, helping his team out in all aspects of the game and frustrating Melo. Once again Melo had 0 points in the 4th (second straight game) and once again the Pacers out rebounded the Knicks by a large margin. The Knicks need to turn things around or this series will be over as it heads back to NYC for Thursday night’s game.

The Spurs looked like the hungrier team last night. Tony Parker led the way (25 pts, 10 reb) but it was clearly an all-around team effort to defeat the Warriors and win a crucial game 5. The ball movement looked good and the energy/hustle was clearly too much for the Warriors to handle. Fatigue was evident on Golden State’s side because everytime they tried to get back in the game, the Spurs made a play on either offense or defense to stop the comeback. The Warriors high-scoring back court (Curry and Thompson) was held in check all night, combining for only 13 points. The forwards for the Spurs (Duncan and Leonard) were great, combining for 31 ponts and 18 rebounds. I don’t feel energy will be a problem for the Warriors when they head back home but if they plan on sending the series back to San Antonio, their big shooting guard combo must come through. This is how most people think the Spurs can play, it’s the reason they had the best record in the western conference. More of that great team play from San Antonio and the series ends in 6.

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Knicks and Grizzlies both even up their series

5-8

Nice to see that we’re going to have two series in each conference go at least 5 or 6 games. Or at least that’s what I think we’ll see with both series that evened up last night. The Knicks bounced back nicely, dominating the 4th quarter to win big over the Pacers and square the series at 1 as it heads back to Indiana. What in the world happened to the Pacers last night? The Knicks were the better team for most of the night but in the 3rd quarter, the Pacers climbed back into the game and eventually took the lead for the first time all game. It only lasted a few minutes as New York went on a 34-6 run to put the game out of reach late in the 4th quarter. It looked like the Knicks just turned it on and the Pacers had no idea how to respond. Melo was great in the second half, scoring 22 of his game-leading 32 points for New York. It was clear that the Knicks were the more desperate team, going down 0-2 in a series spells doom for a team but I was just a little surprised at how easily they handled the Pacers. It’ll be interesting to see how Indiana responds when the series heads back to their place because they plyed so much better in Indiana during the last series. There’s going to be so many Knicks fans in the crowd, I just know it. By the way, shout out to Iman Shumpert for this nasty putback dunk during the 2nd quarter.

How about those Memphis Grizzlies? Better yet, where did this Conley play come from? Mike Conley’s big game (near triple-double) was the difference last night as the Grizzlies took down the Thunder 99-93 to even the series at 1 a piece. Conley always had that “potential breakout game” stamp on him and last night (26 pts, 10 reb, 9 ast) he was in a pretty even fight with Durant for the best player on the court. Durant had the better stat line overall (36 pts, 11 reb, 9 ast) but unfortunately for KD, the Thunder rely on him too much down the stretch. I liked the way Memphis played defense on him during crunch time, double teaming him at all times and basically saying “Durant is not beating us tonight” while daring anyone else on OKC to step up. Memphis just looks like a better team most of the time, finding different players to step up at various times throughout the game. Once again the Gasol-Randolph combination down low was very difficult for OKC to defend. Unless Durant has some over-the-top game in Memphis, I could see the Grizzlies winning the next 3 in a row to move on to the conference finals.

How about the top 10 dunks in the first round:

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Second round of the NBA Playoffs gets underway

5-6

First of all, was there any doubt that LeBron James was awarded the MVP trophy for this season? I was more surprised that someone actually gave Carmelo Anthony a first place vote. Was that you Moe? LeBron was one first-place vote shy of being the unanimous decision. Congrats to LeBron as he joins an elite cast (Russell, Wilt, Kareem and Jordan) as they only players who have been awarded most valuable player in the regular season at least four times in their careers. Now that it’s out of the way, the Heat can focus on the next round as they take on a depleted but very tough Bulls team. On to Sunday’s action:

Things got going in Oklahoma City, where the Thunder were trying to maintain their momentum, after taking care of Houston in 6 last Friday. I really thought Houston would push the series to 7 but Durant and the rest of the Thunder team had other plans. The Grizzlies were coming into town so everyone, including OKC, knew it was going to be a tough test. Memphis came out playing well, keeping the game within reach and actually looking like the better team after 3 quarters. It was simply too much Kevin Durant (35 pts, 15 reb, 6 ast) for Memphis to handle, especially down the stretch. The Grizzlies weren’t able to hold on to their double-digit lead in the fourth quarter and during the final minutes made a few mistakes when they could have closed the Thunder out. Durant hit a clutch shot (stemming from a Fisher steal) with 11.1 seconds left in the game and the lead stayed with OKC until the final buzzer went off. Usually I think the underdog has to steal game 1 in order to win the series but with Westbrook’s injury, these teams are much more evenly matched and I think Memphis has a shot to push it to the limit. Cut down on the little mistakes and leads won’t melt away like they did for the Grizzlies.

Things shifted out east for the second game, as the Knicks were playing their first second-round playoff game since 2000. Back when Moe actually had hair. The crowd was rockin’ from the start, there to fully support the home team but it was the Pacers who were the tougher team that afternoon. Indiana simply out-muscled and out-worked New York, winning the game 102-95 and stealing home court in the process. The Knicks were within a point late in the 2nd quarter but after that, it was all Pacers for the entire second half. Melo had a nice stat line (27 pts, 11 reb) but needed 28 shots to get those points, clearly frustrated because of foul trouble during the 3rd quarter. Roy Hibbert’s game didn’t reflect in his stat line (maybe the 5 blk) because he looked good inside, his presence was felt and outplayed Tyson Chandler for pretty much the entire game. I’m reluctant to say Indiana has a big upper hand in the series because of their inconsistencies against Atlanta last round but it seems like they’ve found a formula that gives the Knicks real trouble. The Knicks just need to play more efficiently because unless your team is on fire, jacking up shots isn’t the way to beat the Pacers.

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Celtics and Rockets stay alive on the road; Pacers win big to take series lead

5-2

What a difference two games can make. Just last weekend, fans of the Celtics and Rockets were wondering if their teams were going to able to win a game in the playoffs. On the other side of things, Knicks and Thunder fans were already wondering who their next opponent would be. Chances are that both the Knicks and Thunder will advance to the next round (no team has lost a series after leading 3-0) but it’s certainly putting plenty of heat on the number 2 seeds. We’ll get to them. The Indiana Pacers looked great last night, dominating the Hawks during the 2nd quarter and never looking back en route to a 106-83 victory. It seems like the home team is just going to dominate every game in this series. So far in this series the average margin of victory is just over 17 points so all signs point to the Pacers winning big after game 7 in Indiana. Could the Pacers close out the series tomorrow? Absolutely but they need to perform like they did last night, playing more physical than Atlanta with the type of defense that was expected from the start. But once again, it’s impossible to predict what either of these two teams will do as the series heads back to Atlanta with the Hawks on the ropes.

Was being on the brink of elimination the best thing that could have happened to the Celtics? It certainly seems so. Led by Kevin Garnett, the Celtics showed lots of heart, forcing the Knicks to a poor shooting night as they win in New York 92-86 and send the series back to Boston for game 6. Even though Garnett led the way (16 pts, 18 reb) for Boston, it was still very much a team effort as four other Celtics scored in double digits of at least 16 points. The Celtics showed heart and team unity, something that being put on the brink of elimination can bring out in a team with experienced veterans. It wasn’t easy as the Knicks stormed out to an 11-0 run to start the game but after halftime, it was all Boston as they never gave up their lead. New York needs to certainly do a better job of shooting the ball, particularly from behind the arc where they finished 5 of 22. Knicks players were quoted after the game saying that they still felt they have control of the series and the math agrees. But even though New York only has to win one of the next two games, the momentum looks like it has shifted in Boston’s favor. I can’t wait for game 6.

Speaking of a must-watch game 6, the Rockets and Thunder will be going to war tomorrow night. I think that of the two teams making comebacks from being down 0-3, the Rockets have the best chance of making history. James Harden’s big shooting night led the way for Houston as they frustrated the Thunder offense to take the victory 107-100 and keep their season alive. The Rockets had a great game plan from the start, controlling the Thunder with their defense and combining a good inside-outside game on offense. Harden’s 31 points (7 of 9 from 3-point land) was clearly the spark to lead Houston but what impressed me the most was the Rockets’ ability to keep the home crowd out of the game. OKC has one of the best crowds in the league but just as they were about to get going, Houston made a big shot to counter. Even though Durant finished with a great stat line (36 pts, 7 reb, 7 ast) it was clear that he was frustrated for most the night. Serg Ibaka and Reggie Jackson helped Durant out but when the Thunder were closing in late in the 4th quarter, the Rockets made it very tough for the Thunder to get a good shot. Don’t even get me started on that terrible “hack-a-Asik” strategy.

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