Following the new Knicks
…not to be confused with the New York Knicks of the past!
We started off the new year with many questions hovering over our heads, but with “experts” like John Hollinger claiming we were on track for a downfall. Well, that was not true to begin the month! First time to get 20 wins before Jan 4th since the 00-01 season. But honestly, January has been a pretty depressing month for Knick fans around the world. The excitement has gone, the pick n’ roll has died off, Amar’e and Ray have regressed and the losses have begun piling up. Although we still comfortable sit in 6th position in the East, there has been growing concern for the hopes of this season in January. Expectations have obviously heightened, so if we look in context I gotta be happy the Knicks have put up 25 wins before the All-Star break, when Larry Brown and Isiah Thomas both “led” the team to 23-win seasons. Seasons.
- Danilo Gallinari started the year off in the worst possible way injuring his knee (mild sprain). Luckily he only had to miss 2 and a bit weeks, but whenever you see the headline “injures knee” next to one of your guys, you can’t help but cringe.
- Ron Artest
- The D’Antoni Point Guard Nose-Dive. Who remembers a few years ago when D’Antoni gave the keys to the team to party-boy Chris Duhon? The first half of the season, people were claiming the Knicks had found the solution to the PG problem. He was up there amongst the league leaders in assists, and was giving us extra, consistent outside shooting. The Knicks even started off pretty nicely before trading away Z-Bo and Crawford, thanks in large part to Duhon’s ability to run the P n’ R so competently. This all climaxed with his 22 assist effort against Golden State, breaking a 4000 year old Knick record. But then it happened, right before our eyes. His jumper stopped falling. The double assist games weren’t so frequent. He just crumbled. For .5 of a season, Duhon was the answer, whereas for 1.5 seasons the only answer Chris Duhon was, was who should Donnie dump first? I don’t wanna lump them together, because Raymond Felton has been one of the fiercest competitors I’ve had a chance to watch many times in a long tenure as a Knick fan. He hates losing. Hates it. He’s been the answer at PG for .5 of a season, but lately, I’ve (as well as many media observers) been worried that perhaps the run and gun of D’Antoni’s system has taken its toll on him. Fingers crossed this is just a mid-season down point, and that his hand injury heals up soon. Felton was on track to be an All-Star after 30 games, but at this point it is very unlikely.
- Waking up every day to read more Melo rumours, without anything concrete. This has dragged on far too long now. Even guys like Dwayne Wade have come out and said it needs to be resolved as it’s being drawn out beyond expectation.
- The collective team slump that resulted in a 6 game skid punctuated by this.
- Amar’e sprained his knee (not the one that was surgically repaired) against Atlanta, then played against Detroit and hurt it again. Watch this space. He may need to miss some action, but he also may force himself out as he is fast approaching the league limit of technical fouls (16) before an automatic 1-game suspension. The NBA is trying to make up the lost money from Rasheed Wallace retiring.
- Sticking it to the San Antonio Spurs, the NBA’s #1 team. A lot of similarities to the Boston game, the offence was flowing, and the Knicks held a steady lead the whole game. This time around, the Knicks stepped it up in the crunch, causing Coach Pop to go nuts and empty the bench with 3 minutes to go. The 128pts was the highest total against the Spurs since 1997 apparently. I spent the entire game itching to message my mate Burto (die hard Spurs fan) and brag about our play. But for once I decided to be patient and hold off as I was expecting a major Spurs push in the second half. It never came and I dropped my mate a lil’ message. “To be honest I was expecting to hear from you earlier” was his response. Very jealous my mate Zollo got to go to the game, she even got herself an Amar’e jersey to celebrate.
- In the Arizona homecoming, Amar’e put up a modest 23pts, 9rebs, 2blks, 2asts in 30 minutes, but was overshadowed by Ray Felton’s triple double (23pts, 11asts, 10rebs). The 25 point blowout of the Suns was our first victory in Phoenix since 2003.
- Shawne Williams knocked down 7 of 8 threes against the Utah Jazz, including 5/5 in the third quarter, again showing why Donnie Walsh is in charge of the Knicks and not nostalgic fans. Extra E (aka Purple Drank) currently leads the league in 3pt percentage (51.3%), and has all season since he began playing. It only just became official 2 weeks ago once he played enough games and attempted enough threes. Once again, a great off-season pick up and another reason why things are looking up in NY.
- The Miami Heat and New York Knicks shared many battles back in the day, and this season the battles have intensified due to Lebron’s “decision”. Game 1 was a fast paced, amazing game that ended with the Heat blowing the Knicks out in the second half. Game 2 was an 8 point win by the Heat after a late Knick comeback (we are never out of games, ever!). Game 3 proved the most entertaining, an almost playoff like battle which highlighted our new All-Star in the 1st half, and our young guns Fields and Gallo in the 4th quarter. Beating the Heat was a big statement for the Knicks. It’s safe to say that if footage of my in game celebrations from the lounge room were posted online I would be arrested. Best day ever (with the assist from Salsas California Salad burrito and mexicrinkles).
- The free International League Pass trial that was available during the month.
1992 was the last time the Knicks had an All Star Starter. Ewing was voted in as well in 97 (the year Shaq left for L.A) but didn’t play due to injury. With Amar’e being named an All-Star starter, his hard work, and my hard work voting have paid off. Well done big fella.
On a side note, he was on the Angie Martinez show and Amar’e (aka ‘Immortal Swag’) was talking about the biggest trash talkers in the league. He went through a few guys who would be the worst, but then he said it was KG, but that KG is mainly talking trash to himself! Amar’e said the first few times he thought KG was talking to him, but then he realised he was going nuts talking under his breath to himself. There’s always a fine line between amazing and crazy.
I have to be honest with you though, Amar’e was a big let down this month. With all the hype, all the media, and all of my expectations, I just didn’t come off pleased. We dropped games, and Amar’e dropped his shooting percntage and scoring load. A lot had to do with foul trouble. Once he has 2 fouls in the first half, he literally runs away in defense. The Knicks have to develop Mozgov to support Turiaf as Amar’e’s intimidating refuge. Scoring inside remains the easiest way for opponents to beat us, where as for years we were killed on the perimeter as guys like Crawford and Marbury struggled to get a hand up on any 3.
But you know what, despite the MASSIVE let down month, one thing is pretty interesting or rather impressive about STAT. Since his 30pt streak ended, Amar’e has only scored above or equal to his average scoring figure 7 times in 21 games. Yet he remains second in the league in scoring! He had a run of 26 straight games of 20+ (3 shy of the Knick record), showing just how consistent he has been. With guys like Wade, Lebron, Kobe, Monta, Melo all lighting up some big nights and ready jump above him, it is unbelievable that the slumping Stoudemire remains 2nd. Give it some time to marinate, and you too will be impressed.
In perhaps the best news for Amar’e this month, apparently he and Ciara are taking their “friendship” to the next level. As long as she helps his jump shot I’m all for it!
“Calm Down Brother”
Ronny Turiaf – His 19pts, 0rebs, 3stls, 2blks, 2asts and hampering D on Aldridge saved the day vs. the Knee Blazers and gave us one of our rare January wins.
Mikhail Prokhorov – For this
Shawne Williams – For showing his skill wasn’t a one or two game show, but that his ability to knock down the triple is a treat we have all year long, but that comes along with toughness and some beautiful defence, such as against Lebron James. He has a bit of old school Knick in him too.
Timofey Mozgov – The Moz!!! 23 and 14 against the Pistons after having not been on the court in 3-4 weeks. If we can get him to relax out there, perhaps we have our big man solution.
Spike Lee – He’s been true to the Knicks through the lost decade, and is enjoying the revolution more than anyone in NY. Kudos.
Raymond Felton – Has been awful in January. Would have preferred if we brought back Charlie Ward for January. Made Jobe Watson look like a good leader this month.
Amar’e Stoudemire – I hate to do this to him, as he has transformed the team and given me many a happy day, but he just didn’t have it going for half of this month. When your star player is struggling, the rest of the dominoes will also fall, just ask Dallas.
Wilson Chandler – The trade rumours have apparently not been a problem for him, but hitting a shot definitely has been. In other news I saw Wilson laugh for the first time vs. Phoenix, I barely recognised him!
This section will be added to keep you up to date with the latest news and gossip.
- Apparently Portland, Indiana and Minnesota are the list of potential suitors for Anthony Randolph. The Knicks have been on the lookout for a 1st round pick to use in a potential Carmelo Anthony deal. However, New York appear to be holding off on an AR trade, just in case Denver would like the youngster for themselves. Randolph blew his opportunity in Golden State, and didn’t earn the respect of the coaching staff here in New York, so his confidence must be low and his value also. The height and athletic ability he possesses means he is still someone’s desired project for the future. If he helps New York net Carmelo, I’ll send him a thank you card.
- Amar’e was getting his Shane Warne on and working his digits making his feelings be known according to Yahoo!
- If the Melo drama amounts to nothing, expect the Knicks to target Marc Gasol in the off season according to the NY Post
- The Knicks have reportedly hired the former GM of the Denver Nuggets, Mark Warkentien to act as a consultant. Donnie Walsh has been attempting to bring in a GM to assist him since his arrival, so Warkentien could be promoted to deputy-GM, if Allan Houston and Glen Grunwald. Chris Mullin has also been rumoured to be a candidate, but this seems to put that notion to the side. Of note is the fact that Carmelo Anthony did not appreciate it when Warkentien was let go by the Nuggets.
- Wilson Chandler has sat out some games due to a sore calf, but possibly also because he was shooting a very low percentage over a long stretch of games (bar the Washington game).
- Shawne Williams was suspended one game for his involvement with the fight against Marvin Williams and ATL, but Donnie Walsh and Mike D’Antoni both insist this is not a backstep for a guy who has a very questionable past. I’m really pleased to see this guy improving day in day out (posted a double double of 12 & 11 in his first start of the year) and hope it continues. Must be said great job by Amar’e, Landry and Felton for helping restrain Shawne and Marvin, could have got a lot worse if a guy like Nate Robinson was out there.
- This is a big one, if Melo is traded to the Knicks before the deadline (all is quiet on that front at the moment) then my wife Alex has kindly agreed to let me get a cat and name it Melo. She is confident it won’t happen because:
A) It’s the Knicks, and good things can’t happen to the Knicks
B) She hates cats, so this deal won’t go ahead
C) Well… A and B pretty much cover her thoughts.
Fingers crossed so I can bring lil’ Melo home everyone!
Until next time, don’t believe the Melo rumours til something happens, and keep checking back here at NBAMate.com for the latest and greatest NBA chat going around.