While watching the game tonight I found myself thinking about my Little League days. I was a catcher and they had just allowed kids to start stealing bases. You may recall at that age stealing bases was a pretty simple proposition, not because the catcher couldn’t make the throw, but because so many things had to go just right. The pitcher had to keep it out of the dirt, the catcher had to make the catch and the throw, the second baseman had to actually catch it and get the tag down…how often was a bunch of kids going to put checks in all those boxes?
That’s how I feel about getting a win in Dallas: it seems like a decent chance – we can make the throw to second – but so many things just have to go right. Going into tonight, we saw one team coming off an emotional win, another taking exception to its coach calling his players “soft,” and many of us thought, ok, we can maybe steal one here. Then Amar’e goes 1-7 in six minutes before getting hurt, and we’re reminded how the elites of this league play. One shoe drops, the whole thing collapses, and we’re left to wonder why we thought we could win in the first place. You walk a tightrope when you play these teams, and the margin for error demands a consistency that this team isn’t always going to show…yet.
Amar’e never goes quietly, and came back to have an outstanding second half, finishing with 36 points on 12-27 shooting. But we saw what happens when you give an elite team the chance to run and hide: they take it. By the time the Knicks gained their sea legs and started playing on Dallas’ level, the game was out of reach.
So, lesson learned. This wasn’t like last night’s game, where the Knicks were challenged to match energy with a high-intensity, less talented group (without Gay). Tonight the Knicks were outclassed by a better team that was too good to tolerate anything less than the Knicks’ best effort for 48 minutes. The Knicks showed in the second half that they’re capable of playing with this team, but it’s the maturity to play 48 solid minutes on the back-to-backs and third-in-four-nights that currently separates the Knicks from the true class of the league. Boston has it, and Dallas, and the Lakers…the Knicks, as we seem to say every night, are still growing up.
Here are a few other thoughts I managed to jot down while plotting ways to duct-tape Anthony Carter to his folding chair:
- First things first: Amar’e Stoudemire picked up his 16th technical of the season, and unless the league rescinds it he’ll be suspended for Sunday’s game against Indiana. I won’t describe what happened except to say that you were probably more physical getting onto a packed 4 train this morning. It had better be rescinded.
- I had to fire up my League Pass Broadband and various shady websites in a panic because Lakers-Heat wasn’t ending in time for tipoff. Turns out they push it back to accommodate TNT. These are the things that happen when you can’t remember the last time your team was on national television.
- Does Memphis’ PA guy also work for Dallas? Are they related? Or does every southern team want a guy who sounds like he’s working a monster truck rally?
- Corey Brewer strips Anthony Carter and gets an open jam. Nice to see the guy who got released embarrass the guy who should’ve gotten released.
- The Knicks got killed on the glass tonight: they were out rebounded 47-37 and allowed 17 offensive rebounds. This was one of those games where I start to wonder where Ronny Turiaf is. It may be just me, but he never seems to play when we need him; Mike D’Antoni seems to just rotate him in and out irrespective of the matchups on the court.
- Landry Fields finished with 19 points, six rebounds and four steals – if anybody could explain to me why he played seven minutes in the first half, I’m all ears.
- I wish I could’ve found a picture of Phil Weber’s suit, because he was clearly ready to hit the Dallas club scene. You just know he’s giving out room keys like takeout menus right now.
- We’re often hearing the phrase “solid minutes” with Anthony Carter’s name. Tonight, amid yet another one-turnover-per-five-minutes showing, Carter insanely fed Amar’e while he was running the wing, setting him up for a charge that was incorrectly called a blocking foul, and then threw one away while looking for Amar’e on the break to end the quarter. In the fourth quarter, Amar’e got the ball on the right elbow, and J.J. Barea simply left Carter wide open at the top of the key to double Amar’e. Again, there was no ball screen or anything…Barea simply left Carter standing there all alone. What’s more, Amar’e didn’t feed Carter, and what’s even more, nobody watching wanted him to feed Carter. In what way are these solid minutes?
- And now your three worst defenders of the evening. Number three: Ronny Turiaf, for doubling no one in particular to leave Jason Kidd wide open for three. Number two: Toney Douglas, for getting beat backdoor by Beaubois and for giving up a transition layup after a Fields breakaway dunk, which I didn’t even think was possible. And number one: Mr. Carmelo Anthony, for playing a Nowitzki screen under freeze tag rules and just standing there as Corey Brewer sailed in for a dunk; and for letting Marion beat him to a spot underneath the basket, assuming he’d make the layup, then somehow being out at the free throw line as Marion grabbed his own rebound for the tip-in. It was a banner night for the D’Antoni haters; I sincerely hope the Knicks will stop giving these people ammunition sometime soon.
- Let’s end on a positive, which is the rest of Toney Douglas’ game. 18 points on 6-12 FG, eight assists, and zero – count them, zero – turnovers. Is anyone else as excited about this as I am?! No? We just got beat by 18? Oh. Well, I’m happy about it anyway. Take solace in the continued development of our young point guard – I think we can call him a point guard now, right? He ran the pick and roll well tonight and is growing up before our very eyes. It will take time, but just like the rest of this team…process, process, process.