Hey now! The Knicks defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 102-88, overcoming an incredibly potent and efficient back court of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, as well as freakishly athletic Larry Sanders and his formerly popular television show. (I was told that I had to get at least one Larry Sanders Show reference per post.) The Knicks were down 23-26 at the conclusion of the first quarter, but then proceeded to make a nice run to close out the half and take 58-48 lead into the break. In the third quarter, the Knicks exploded, in major part because of Mike Woodson changing up the starting lineup and bringing in Steve Novak for Kurt Thomas. The Knicks built up a 20 point lead very quickly in the third. The Bucks fought back a bit and brought the lead down to as low as 14, but ultimately the Knicks kept them at arms length and left with a win. Below are some notes n’ things:
- Melo kept his hot offensive production going tonight, scoring 29 points on 9-18 shooting. He scored 29 points on 18 shots. Is that good? I feel like that’s pretty good. Also, he knocked in a couple of catch-and-shoot threes early, and was 3-4 from distance overall. The Knicks started Melo at the three for the second straight game, but wisely quickly scrapped that and substituted JR Smith for Kurt Thomas 4 minutes in. Even though he moved back to the 4, Melo didn’t go into the low post as much as I would have expected. A lot of his touches were in the high-post, and in these touches Melo continuously took the ball to the basket instead of settling for jumpers. That was very nice to see. He logged 30 minutes, down 20 from the ridiculous 50 minutes he played against the Brooklyn
BrooklynsNets. He’s going to need that extra rest as the Knicks get ready to play the on-a-winning-streak Washington Wizards, while Robert Randolph jams out to his piano-keyboard thing during the breaks.
- Tyson Chandler followed up his dominate game in Broooooooook-lyyyyyyyyyyyyyyn (seriously, kill me now) with another in Milwaukee. Tyson was ridiculously efficient, going 4-4 from the field and 9-10 (!) from the free throw line. Melo scored 29 points on 18 shots and Tyson was like “Pssshhht, 18 shots? Lemme just take 4 and score 17.” He was also rotating hard, clogging openings before they opened up, and did a very solid job of following up missed Raymond Felton floaters and slamming them down as if the rim owed him money or something.
- Raymond “Bulldog/Duck” Felton had a nice bounce-back game from the disaster in Brooklyn, finishing with 12 points and 7 assists on 5-10 shooting. While he didn’t look great, he was making much better decisions (safe a few Toney Douglas-esque entry passes that were intercepted) and did a better job of finishing at the rim. Both he and Prigioni were key in slowing down the pace of the game. The Bucks play the fastest game in the NBA this year, averaging 98.6 possession per game. The Knicks played to 90 possessions tonight, making the game a half-court grind that favors the Knicks. Speaking of Prig Daddy…
- ¡PABLOCURA! finished with 11 points and 7 assists on an efficient 4-5 from the field. Priggie Smalls filled in very nicely for our wounded companion Jason Kidd, being crafty, painfully slow, and orchestrating the offense some. Woodson played Felton and Prigioni together for the majority of the third quarter, during which the Knicks opened up their lead. Pablo still gambled on defense, and did get one super cool steal from a later confused Brandon Jennings in the backcourt, which led to Clyde saying “The Kleptomania of Prigioni!” Also, he was interviewed at halftime. Video thanks to the great Seth Rosenthal’s twitter.
- JR Smith played a pretty bad game. He came in early and picked up two quick fouls, sending him to bench. He never really got his shot going and was caught ball-watching (as was the majority of the team) often and finished 1-5 with 5 fouls. Next time, Earl. Next time.
- Steve Novak was all sorts of cool tonight. He finished with a 19 points on 5-7 from three point land, while logging a career high 40 minutes. Novakaine did his best Melo impersonation by playing the entire second half. Hopefully, Woodson slots him into the second forward spot as starter instead of Kurt Thomas until Jason Kidd’s back heals.
- Steve Novak also made a defensive play that had me roll out of my chair and almost drop my laptop on the floor. Novak, through brute strength, determination, and feistiness ran over the ball handler, stole the ball, then finished the fast break layup. I would have done horribly unhealthy things had he dunked the ball.
- Sheeeeeeeeed was 2/10 from the field and 1/5 from three in 15 minutes. That’s a lot of shots. Settle down, Sheed.
- Sheeeeeeeeed also attempted to dunk from the free throw line, but came up short and then apparently asked Woodson to take him out of the game. So basically, a normal Sheed thing.
- Chris Copeland played in the beginning of the second quarter, surprising everyone, including Chris Copeland. He looked a bit overwhelmed and flustered out there. And by a bit, I mean incredibly. This would probably explain him jabbstepping for 4 seconds while the shot clock read 2 seconds and then getting called for a shot clock violation.
And that’s about it. The Knicks were late on some of their early rotations, and were caught ball-watching and losing their man on back-door cuts way too often. This has been a recurring trend the past few games, and desperately needs to be solved. It looks like the Knicks defensive drop-off is due to poor schemes and lack of focus at times, not effort, which is a good thing, I guess. The most important takeaway from this game is that Mike Dunleavy didn’t go off like he has in the past, although the Novak vs Dunleavy matchup was something else. The Friday Night Knicks play the Wizards of Washington in two days, so that’s always fun.