Pace: 106 possessions (fast)
Offensive Efficiency: 101 points per 100 possessions (league worst)
Defensive Efficiency: 99 points allowed per 100 possessions (league best)
Oh god, do I hate the Knicks. You have to understand: I grew up in Fairfield County, Conn., right as the C’s were declining and the Knicks were coming to prominence as the most unwatchable good team in NBA history. All my friends liked the Knicks. The mid-1990s were difficult for me. For most of my life, I hated the Knicks even more than the Lakers. It all came rushing back tonight.
Let’s spew some hatred before we get serious:
• Eddy Curry: Really? Three games into your “comeback” from the most embarrassing prolonged absence in NBA history, and you’re going to pull that cheap shot? That flagrant on Rondo was not only flagrant, it was dirty and dangerous. To just slam an airborne guy in the back—a guy who can’t see it coming and weighs approximately 278 pounds less than you—is an NBA sin. Just retire. Go away.
• Nate Robinson: You are a clown, and the worst part is that your clownishness is preventing you from becoming a good NBA player. Mike D’Antoni knows this, which is why he yelled at you and benched you after you shot the ball at your own basket on Saturday.
Here’s Nate Robinson’s career summed up in one 10-second sequence starting at about 9:11 in the 3rd quarter: Rasheed Wallace steals a poor Robinson entry pass to Curry (one of four Sheed steals in 15 scoreless minutes!). Rondo takes the ball and sprint-dribbles up court for a transition lay-in, only Robinson streaks in for a spectacular shot block. Rondo falls into the cameramen, and Nate stands over Rondo in the tough guy pose, staring down at Rajon and facing out of bounds. Except the ball is still in play under the hoop. As the ball squirts to Marquis Daniels at the edge of the paint along the left baseline, Nate turns to the crowd on the opposite side of the court and pumps his fist. In a related story, Marquis Daniels lays the ball in uncontested.
Nate: You are a jackass. Grow up. There is too much potential there to clown it all away.
That was fun. About the game:
• I disagree with’s Brian’s take on the C’s offense. I thought the C’s responded perfectly to Doc’s call for discipline over improvisation. The efficiency numbers look bad, but that’s only because the C’s missed a ton of open shots. The looks were there; the plays worked. The C’s stuck with a ton of set plays, most of which they executed well enough to net wide open shots. I counted at least five possessions in which the C’s ran an intricate little double curl, with two shooters cutting—one right behind the other—from the right side of the floor, through some screens and out to the three-point line on the left side of the floor. The first shooter/curler would get to his spot on the sideline and receive the pass just as the second shooter was arriving in his spot—the corner. It netted an open shot each time the C’s used it. If Ray Allen shoots the ball well, this game does not see overtime.
• Ditto for KG. The C’s went to KG on the block early, as they should when Wilson Chandler is guarding him. He had great looks all night, both from isolations and as the result of the usual pick-and-pops. He just didn’t make shots.
• The C’s ran more screen/rolls tonight involving Rondo as the ball-handler. I counted at least 10, including several in semi-transition. As you might guess, those semi-transition screen/rolls were more effective. When the Knicks D was set, they simply went under the screen, conceded the jumper and stuck with the roll man. When teams don’t have to send a defender down to help on the roll guy, those corner threes don’t materialize.
The transition screen/rolls, though—those are gold. Check the 6:05 mark in the 3rd, when Rondo brings the ball up the right wing ahead of the rest of the C’s. KG is jogging up the opposite side of the court when he sees an opportunity to catch the Knicks before they’re ready. He suddenly veers diagonally across the court and sets a screen for Rondo; the screen catches Rondo’s man (Hughes) by surprise and hits him flush. He has no choice but to fight over it as Rondo dribbles around the screen toward the top of the key. KG’s man (David Lee) steps over to the foul line to guard against the drive. Rondo gears up, blows by Lee and scoops in a nifty right-hander. Gorgeous play, great recognition from KG.
• Speaking of KG, Brian said he thinks KG looked less mobile than at any time so far this season. Perhaps in spots. Look: KG, in his mid-thirties, is not going to be able to stay with a 6’9” athlete like Al Harrington—even if KG is 100 percent. But did you see how aggressively KG denied the ball to Harrington on the last Knicks play of regulation? Duhon wanted to pass to Harrington, but KG denied the ball all the way out beyond the three-point line and stayed in the passing lane when Harrington cut to the hoop. A very encouraging sign—KG looked to be able to turn it on when he wanted to.
• The officiating was atrocious at times. The missed call on KG’s trip of Chandler, followed by the laughable make-up call on the Allen wraparound—I mean, this is why some people hate the NBA and believe Tim Donaghy. The charging foul on Scal with 7:58 to go—negating an And-One—was terrible; Curry was obviously sliding left-to-right.
• Rondo needs to get the foul shooting under control now, before it becomes a major national story and feeds on its own momentum.
• There were two possessions down the stretch tonight in which the Knicks left Rondo wide open beyond the three-point line. On the first, the C’s ignored Rondo. They saw him, but they didn’t want him taking the shot. The possession ended with a shot clock violation. On the second, they did pass to Rondo in the right corner, and he missed a wide-open look. Keep working, Rajon. Keep working. Call Mark Price every night.
• Did anyone else find it interesting that Rondo was the first starter taken out in both the 1st and 3rd quarters—with House the first guy off the bench? It’s obviously nothing, since Rondo played a team-high 43 minutes. Right? (Note: Rondo did allow a Duhon open three in the first quarter by lazily going under a screen; Doc took him out immediately after that. Coincidence?)
• Final thoughts: Strangely enough, I liked this performance. I thought the team did a lot of things right. The offense looked smooth, the defensive effort was there. Sometimes the Knicks get hot—as they did in the 3rd quarter—and make things difficult for you. And sometimes you miss a bunch of easy shots. Combine those two things, and an inferior team playing at home takes you to OT. No worries. Take the win and move on.