In last night’s game, the Utah Jazz came out not just on fire, but darn near explosive. In the first quarter they shot 7-for-7 from the three-point line, whipping up 44 points in just 12 minutes. It seemed like another blowout. However, the Knicks kept fighting, miraculously tying the game in the third. In fact, they even had a shot at taking the lead when Tracy McGrady was fouled on a three-point shot “attempt.” I use quotes there ‘cuz it was one of those annoying plays where the defender has their arm sticking forward, so the star player forces contact, pretending to shoot. Yes, I shouldn’t sound bitter ‘cuz it was our star player who got the shots, but I hate that rule. Players like Kobe, Paul Pierce and Reggie Miller always do this lame move. And actually Danilo Gallinari’s done it a bunch and will likely continue to incorporate it into his game. I think they’ve gotta get rid of both that rule and the one where you get your defender to jump into the air on a pump-fake, then jump into him for the foul. I don’t get why they can’t just tweak the rule slightly so that it’s only a foul if the defender initiates the contact.
Wait, wait, how’d I get into this diatribe? Oh yeah, the point was that TMac had 3 free throw attempts with the Knicks down by one at the end of the third. He hit the first to tie it, then just had to hit one of the remaining two to give the Knicks’ the lead for once. He missed ‘em both.
It was a fitting omen, ‘cuz bizarrely enough what cost us this game wasn’t our defense for once, but our inability to put the ball through the hoop. In the fourth quarter we only managed 11 points. The Jazz struck for just 16 points, and those five points were the deciding margin. What happened? Well…
The Jazz have Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer to go to when they need a hoop, and Deron came through for them. Us, we have no general Go To player. Al Harrington had scored a bunch, but that’s often almost a positive for the opposing team. If Al’s got it going through the first three quarters, then the defense knows that even if they double him, Al’s gonna still force the shot up. Before the fourth, Al was doing great, hitting over 50% with 8 of 14 shots, netting him 26 points. In the fourth he went 0-for-6. To his credit, he was at least banging hard on the boards and pulled down a darn impressive 17 rebounds. However, with him dominating, then the two players who should’ve been our main offensive threats (David Lee & Gallo) weren’t really involved. Leaving Sergio Rodriguez and Eddie House as the back-up creators.
First, if Eddie House hasn’t already been feeling it earlier in the game, he probably shouldn’t be in during the fourth. I like House, he hustles and gets his shot off quicker than any man has a right to do, but if he ain’t hitting, he’s kinda useless. ‘Cuz he ain’t a great facilitator for others and he’s a sub-par defender. Sergio’s had times when he’s been solid, but neither he or the team seems to have confidence in him down the stretch.
Another potential option could’ve been Toney Douglas. He’s shown he can actually be the big shooter when push comes to shove, but he was repeatedly benched for Sergio and didn’t get back in until less than five minutes were remaining in the game. At that point we were one shot away from the tied game having turned into a 10 point lead for Utah.
But the real missing link, of course, was Gallo. If we’re gonna praise him when he takes over a game, then we gotta rip ‘im a new one when he takes a vacation from a game. He led the team in minutes with 42, but you’d be excused if you didn’t notice he was out there. In 19 minutes, Rodriguez, aka Spanish Chocolate, took as many shots as Gallo. Let’s be honest, the way Gallo shot the ball, 2-for-10, maybe that’s a good thing. But as they say, a shooter keeps shooting. A scorer finds a way to get his points. Maybe Gallo’s outside shot wasn’t falling, but he was 4-for-4 from the line, so you look for a way to draw fouls and get back there. If you wanna be the man, you demand the ball. You have the offense run through you. By the third quarter, Gallo was so ball shy that whenever someone did pass him the rock, he acted like they were playing hot potato, tossing it within half a second to whoever was nearby.
After his nice little stretch the previous weeks, these last couple of games have brought us The Italian Magician who can disappear with the greatest of ease. Those of us who thought we had found The Man for our team… well, either Gallo ain’t it, or we gotta wait for him to seriously grow up and be consistently there for us. We’re there for you, Gallo. Even when you suck, we’re there. You may leave mentally, but we don’t. How’s about some reciprocation?