When the schedule makers invited the New York Knicks to Cleveland for a Saturday Night game, they doubtlessly saw it as more than the first annual Spurned Lovers Bowl. No, this match was supposed to be a respite for the weary Knicks who faced some of the NBA’s best over the past week, and continue a grueling gauntlet on Wednesday against the Thunder. But the Knicks didn’t see it this way. Coach D’Antoni’s imperative was to respect every NBA team, even one that has lost ten straight games and features Jamario Moon in a role other than trampolining mascot. Unfortunately, his players showed more than respect for the Cleveland squad—they showed courtesy and reverence.
The Knicks allowed perm enthusiasts to collect any and every rebound in sight (Varejao, 14 boards), a shrunken shooting guard to orchestrate the game like a true virtuoso (Williams, 23 points 13 assists) and Anthony “Insert Joke About His Sister Being the Superior Athlete” Parker to go off (17 points). For their part, the Knicks simply did not have it offensively (19 turnovers, 14 FTA, 11 of 34 from 3-Point Range). Looking out of sorts against an aggressive defensive team, Amare Stoudemire continued to isolate against Varajao and continued to fail (8 turnovers). Danilo Gallinari played his worst game in some time, settling for three point shots that refused to settle into the net. Toney Douglas continued his poor stretch (3-11 from the field), and begs the question, “where will the Knicks get bench scoring other than Roger Mason, because we have established that his very presence on an NBA roster is a riddle wrapped in a conundrum?”, or something like that.
Without Amare percolating, without Gallo taking over and without Wilson Chandler hitting from deep the Knicks looked legitimately mediocre. The boys in blue were so decimated on the glass (Turiaf looks neither fully healthy nor fully emotionally stable. Only half of this is news) that one would have to wonder what exactly Timofey Mozgov and Anthony Randolph could possibly be doing in practice to warrant their impressive respective streaks of DNPs. Bench scoring will continue to be a problem without a serviceable backup big man and without Douglas doing Toney Douglas stuff. Taken together? Yuck. This was a hangover game that the Knicks could have easily won, but lost to a team that not only wanted it more, but somehow found 13 minutes of playing time for Jawad Williams. I’m not sure which of these revelations is more impressive, but I’ll tip my cap to Coach Scott on both counts. With another strong defensive team coming to the Garden on Wednesday, the Knicks must find their game and come out of the gates firing. If not, the consequences could be dire.