Jerry Seinfeld has a famous bit about how when you root for a pro sports team, you’re essentially rooting for laundry. I’ve never agreed with that, and I think the current Knicks show why it’s a flawed premise. I wrote in my preview earlier that as fans we need to hit the reset button and keep in mind that this team is headed for a puncher’s chance in round one – trade or no trade, losing streak or no losing streak. We’re getting there one way or another, so there’s no use getting bent out of shape about short-term growing pains.
And if we were really cheering for laundry, it would be pretty easy; we’d shelve our emotions and sit tight for the playoffs. But we’re cheering for people, like every other NBA fan, except the people wearing our laundry don’t deserve to be cheered for. As terribly as this team is playing, I don’t think there’s anything that could happen (short of injury) that would make me write the Knicks off as a first-round upset candidate, but this team is making me question whether I even want an upset to happen. That probably sounds crazy, and I say it partly out of frustration from another agonizing loss, but consider: If this lack of effort keeps up through the end of the season, would I be the only one watching a potential round-one upset thinking, “These guys don’t deserve this?”
You probably disagree, and I don’t blame you a bit. We’ve been waiting a long time, after all. I just liked it better when I liked my team.
Here’s your box score. I know we’re all supposed to go back and forth between, “Plus-minus is the wave of the future!” and “I don’t get too caught up in plus-minus,” but one of these days I just wish our starters could be positive and our bench guys could be negative. I’m pretty sure that’s how it works for every other team in the league.
Speaking of Jerry Seinfeld, he’s definitely my favorite comedian. My least favorite is Chauncey Billups. That is a comedy act he’s doing out there, right? Let’s leave aside that he takes horrible shots, can’t run the pick and roll (yet) and busted out the air traffic control wands for Brandon Jennings tonight; how is it that every time the Knicks play a quick point guard Mike D’Antoni is essentially forced to play Toney Douglas in crunch time? Billups is so bad that he actually changes the lineup we use to finish the game. Think about that for a minute.
The relieving yet also strangely infuriating thing is that Billups and the Knicks likely won’t be punished in the playoffs for having such a sieve at point guard. Miami doesn’t play a traditional PG, and New York doesn’t guard Rajon Rondo traditionally. Plus at this point, if they match up with Chicago, the Knicks may not even bother showing up. See, it all works out!
Anthony Carter was defrosted tonight and, despite what I believe is a contractually obligated horrendous turnover in transition, actually had would I would call “solid minutes.” As opposed to what every media member’s standard of solid minutes, which appears to be, “don’t murder a puppy at midcourt.”
There was a point in this game, before Carmelo Anthony decided he needed to go one-on-five the last five minutes, where Amar’e Stoudemire looked like he was trying to rally the troops. You can tell when Amar’e goes into fifth gear and suddenly starts crashing the offensive glass and throwing his weight around. There was some fight in him tonight – unfortunately the offense is so discombobulated that it didn’t end up meaning much – but his motor didn’t go unnoticed by me.
Ronny Turiaf started and logged just 15 minutes as Mike D’Antoni once again opted for Shawne Williams: Rugged Interior Defender. That D’Antoni is convinced his team can get by with this strategy is by this point no surprise; what may be a surprise is that Jared Jeffries played just two minutes, while Shelden Williams got 12. At this point I think Williams deserves a formal audition for all of Jeffries minutes: he can finish at the rim, he’s stronger in interior defense, and what really separates them to me is how well he gets to the line given his limited offensive game. Also, as my friend Matt so eloquently screams at his television every night, “Taking charges does not make you a good defender.”
I hate to bury this point at the bottom of the recap, but Milwaukee shot extremely well tonight, to the point that you might give the Knicks a slight pass for allowing 102 points. I’m not excusing another terrible effort from this team, but there were some jumpers made with hands in faces that you wouldn’t expect the NBA’s worst offensive team to make. You might respond, “Well, in the playoffs, they’ll face teams who usually do make those shots.” And I would say, “Yes. Yes, they will.”
That’s your recap. There’s no rest for the weary – the Knicks tip off in Charlotte tomorrow at 7:30pm – and of course by “weary” I refer to all of us for having to watch them. If you missed this game, I apologize for all the bitterness in this recap; if you saw it, you probably understand.