bench boy Knick Darko Milicic returned to New York with his new team, the Minnesota Timberwolves, hoping to issue another beat down. Antony Marino had this to say about it:
Just sixty minutes before one of the great disasters in American aviation history, the New York Knicks—victorious in nine out of ten games—prepared for payback against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Whether it is more obviously absurd that the Knicks had accomplished this brilliant feat or that any NBA team should have to avenge a loss to the hapless Wolves, I cannot say. Nevertheless, it was sure to be a winnable game, and with the soft underbelly of the 2010 schedule fading fast, it was a game the Knicks had to have.
Having watched most of the Timberwolves’ shootaround before tip-off, I would hesitate to call the opening quarter a “lay-up line.” The Minnesotans were far more accurate against the undersized Knicks starters during the first quarter than they were in their actual layup line, scoring on a variety of extraordinarily easy buckets performed by some extraordinarily terrible NBA players (Nikola Pekovic makes Timofey Mozgov look like Mikhail Baryshnikov running the floor. Right guys?! Right? Right…)
Anyway, the Knicks looked particularly vulnerable against Kevin Love and Darko Milicic (dear God) without a true center on the floor in the game’s opening minutes. Thankfully, Wilson Chandler was able to keep our defenseless heroes in the game with a deft shooting touch, thereby holding down the fort until the Big Friendly Turiaf was able to offer a piece de resistance midway through the quarter. The post defense improved decidedly from that point on, calling into question when the Knicks should ever play Amar’e at center (answer: when betting the “over”).
At halftime the Knicks were down just seven points despite the fact that Minnesota had missed only fifteen shots. With the foreboding Law of Averages and without the incomparable Mr. Milicic (left the game in the first half with a quad contusion and hangover); it seemed that the Timberwolves had given the Knicks their best shot, but inflicted little damage.
Raymond Felton and Amar’e Stoudemire (two-time Eastern Conference player of the week, four-time Super Friend of the week) played with the knowing confidence of the two best players on the court. It was not Felton’s finest game as a Knick (18 and 11), but he thoroughly out-played
Ricky Rubio and Johnny Flynn Luke Ridnour and Sebastian Telfair (sigh), and provided contagious unselfishness that allowed the Knicks to make the extra pass for easy bucket (25 assists for the team). Amar’e (34 points) was at his best—drawing bigger defenders to the foul line, exploding over smaller ones at the rim and passing out of double teams for easy baskets for his shooters, which somehow includes Shawne Williams (Knicks shot 43% from three-point range). Down the stretch, Amar’e simply could not be denied. With apologies to the dearly departed David Lee, there is no substitute for a franchise player in the fourth quarter, and a franchise player is clearly what the Knicks currently have in STAT.
The Timberwolves’ hung tough throughout the game, as Kevin Love and Michael Beasley were very good and showed uncommon effort (since when does a pot head foul out of an NBA game?! I salute you, Mr. Beasley), but the Knicks were simply better. After an ill-advised, and yet game clinching, three-pointer by Danilo Gallinari (perhaps the first ever “non, non, non…si!!!” shot selection), the game was in hand. The Knicks beat a team having a torrid shooting night by moving the ball for four quarters, getting key defensive stops and letting Amar’e be Amar’e in the fourth quarter. Seeing this group compete and play unselfishly on a nightly basis has been a treat for Knicks fans and basketball fans alike—two groups that were formerly mutually exclusive by definition.
Topics: Amare Stoudemire, Antony Marino, Danilo Gallinari, Darko Milicic, David Lee, Kevin Love, Michael Beasley, Minnesota Timberwolves, New York Knicks, Raymond Felton, Ronny Turiaf, Shawne Williams, Timofey Mozgov, Wilson Chandler