Being that tonight’s game carries some serious postseason significance, I’ll be conducting a live diary. Ready? Set? Box Score.
7:12 pm—This game starts out like some sort 6’5″ and taller track meet. A disgusting Elton Brand block on Shelden Williams on one end and an Amar’e swat on the other is just taking this thing back and forth, up and down the court.
7:17—The Sixers are 4-14 just a few minutes in; Brand has three of their baskets.
7:18—After missing a deep three-point attempt, Landry Fields scores his first basket right before the first commercial break with five minutes to go in the first! This game is a dead on sprint so far.
7:23—Toney Douglas comes into the game and immedianly inserts himself in the lane for a nifty finger roll. The next time down the floor, Jared “What’s The Opposite Of Man Hands” Jeffries has a perfect pass ricochet off his arms. Luckily the ball finds an open Shawne Williams, who drains the three ball. If this the beginning of D’Antoni’s playoff bench audition, Jeffries is falling off the stage.
7:29—In the last two trips down the court, Extra E makes two three-pointers. The first after an offensive rebound falls in Jeffries’ lap for the assist, and the second coming as the end result of a beautiful Toney Douglas crossover, drive and kick.
7:30—That’s the quarter. Carmelo played the whole period, finishing with eight points and SEVEN rebounds. I’m expecting a playoff type intensity from Anthony in this one. He’s showing some serious aggressiveness on both ends of the floor.
26-19 New York
7:37—Gross block by Bill Walker leads to an Amar’e jumper to push New York’s lead to nine. Sixers take the game’s first time out. The bench guys are looking real into it right now. Williams, Anthony Carter, and Walker are all playing lights out basketball. When Mike D’Antoni told his bench players they’d be auditioning for his playoff rotation starting with tonight’s game, who thought they were actually listening? (The Knicks had nine players score in the first half.)
7:43—Derrick Brown sighting!
7:50—The Knicks are wilding. Bill Walker just slammed in a ball rolling off the rim to extend New York’s lead to 14.
7:51—These two head coaches are taking polar opposite strategies as to how they should set their rotations entering the postseason. Doug Collins’ is already in playoff mode; he’s playing eight strong and really pushing his starters. The Knicks, on the other hand, are playing just about everybody who’s ever used the Holland Tunnel.
7:56—An atrocious over the back foul on Carmelo Anthony puts the Knicks over the limit. The Sixers are beginning to storm back now; Knicks only lead by seven after an 11-0 run. Check that 11-2 run…Jared Jeffries just scored on a put back. Then made two free-throws! My TV just broke.
8:03—Elton Brand picks up a loose ball and knocks in his 14th point as the half expires. If it weren’t for the one handed wonder out of Duke, Philly would be dead in the water. They shot 37.5% from the field and only attempted seven free-throws.
8:19—Ronny Turiaf starts the second half?!? I’m extremely enthused by this move and love Turiaf’s competence on the offensive end relative to Shelden Williams. Saying that, I don’t understand how starting Shelden and strictly playing him the game’s first six minutes helps anybody. If you’re D’Antoni you already know what Williams gives you, why play him at all?
8:22—Carmelo Anthony has come out blazing with eight straight points, pushing the Knicks lead back up to 14 and forcing a Philly time-out. Anthony’s playing like him and the bench have a fourth quarter date.
8:26—Chauncey finally makes his first field goal with nine minutes remaining in the third.
8:30—Carmelo pulls up from about 26 feet in transition and bangs it in. Philadelphia Color Commentator Eric Snow’s response? “That’s a terrible shot.” For everybody else in the world, I’d have to agree.
8:34—Chauncey’s knee slams into Elton Brand’s shin, he goes down but stays in the game? He’s running with no hitch in his step, but I’d still like to see him take the night off. There’s really no need to play him and risk further injury. Knicks lead by 15.
8:36—Thank you very much; Chauncey has been removed from the ball game. And now he’s headed to the locker room…that’s not good. It’s just been reported by the Sixer’s sideline reporter that Chauncey suffered a bruised right thigh, and won’t return. On a brighter note, Landry Fields just looked spry taking Jodie Meeks all the way to the basket for a layup. Every Fields basket right now is a gift from above.
8:42—Another ridiculously gorgeous jumper for Carmelo. Why the Sixers aren’t doubling up on him is anybody’s guess. (As I type these words, Anthony picks up a foolish fourth foul, and he’ll hit the bench.) Knicks lead by 16 with under a minute to go in the quarter.
8:51—A Thaddeus Young running layup over approximately seven defenders cuts Philly’s deficit to 10. Time to sweat?
8:54—Hold that thought…Another Derrick Brown sighting!
8:56—Thanks to Elton Brand’s sudden inability to score a layup, Bill Walker just registered his second monster block of the game.
8:57—Jrue Holiday just hit the Sixers first three of the game…they’re currently sitting on a scorching 1-14.
8:58—On a crosscourt pass from Anthony Carter, Derrick Brown (SIGHTING) aggressively drives to the hoop, earning himself a vacation to the free-throw line. He makes the second, misses the first.
9:02—With the score 84-78 and Philly banging on the door, Douglas drains a humongous three-pointer off a nice little give and take with Ronny Turiaf. (Shelden Williams Update: He still hasn’t re-entered the game since the first quarter.)
9:05—Brand just hit a pretty turn around jumper over a hustling and bustling Turiaf. The Knicks respond with a near shot clock violation followed by a real shot clock violation. They’re up just five with four minutes to go, and offensive possessions have been resigned to Carmelo holding the ball 30 feet from the basket and doing absolutely nothing.
9:08—Wellp, I don’t know what’s going on. Holding the ball near the top of the key with serious pressure in his face, Amar’e Stoudemire chose to shoot a jumper. It was short and resulted in an immediate Thaddeus Young fast break layup. Knicks lead down to one. This is where Chauncey Billups is missed. Very badly.
9:11—Toney Douglas turnover…Sixers 56th layup of the quarter…Philly earns their first lead of the game.
9:13—He may be singularly most responsible for the Knicks fourth quarter crumbling, but Toney Douglas just swished a huge three ball to give the Knicks a two point lead. Huge block by Turiaf on the other end. One minute to go; 90-88, Knicks ball!
9:16—Douglas blows by Brand and gets fouled at the rim. He sinks both free throws putting New York up four. According to the great Mark Zumoff, Douglas has scored the Knicks last eight points.
9:18: After Iguodala crosses up Fields and converts on a three…Wow! Everyone knows what he’s about to do, Andre Iguodala included, and Melo STILL raises up and sinks a (probable) game winning three-pointer. Knicks are now up four with 11.8 left.
9:26—A few Toney Douglas free-throws later , and the Knicks win 97-92. New York is now up 0.5 on Philadelphia for the sixth seed. What a first half effort by the bench, what a second half show by Carmelo Anthony, what a win by the Knicks.