To my current readers (and all 8 of you have been wonderful):

My Best Friend Landry is moving.  I’ll still be doing my weekly NBA stuff and will probably add another Misc. National Sports column each week, but I’ll doing it for a sweet site called HyperVocal.  Being the child that I am, I’ve named my column for the site “Ballsy.”

And without further ado, here’s the link for this week’s Knicks Weekly:


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Knicks Weekly, Vol. 5

I waited to write this post until after Sacramento.  Catching Utah in Utah on the second night of a back-to-back didn’t seem fair, so I said, “Hey Ceej — why not wait until after Sacramento at home to write your cute little column.  This way, you can talk about the team really finding its identity as a gritty, grind-it-out, bring-your-lunch-pail-and-steel-toed-shoes-to-work kind of team.  I mean, I do know that it’s a 3rd game in 4 nights, and I also know that it’s that generally-deflating first game back home after a West-coast road-trip (like all our boys are frazzled from lying to their at-homes about what happened on the trip) — but I mean, it’s Sacramento.  They have 8 wins.  And Evans has been out with injuries.  And DeMarcus Cousins takes terrible shots.  And it’s not like Beno Udrih is going to beat ya.”

Obviously, I was a little misguided (both in what I was saying, and in the fact that I had this lengthy conversation with, umm, myself)… (not misguided about Cousins though — the kid is SO talented, but half of his shots just plain suck).  Apparently, the Knicks are still in that realm of inconsistency where a crappy crappy team can outplay them in a 3rd-game-in-4-nights situation.  Exhibit A: Cleveland in Cleveland at the end of Dream Week (a Disney World promotion).  Exhibit B: Sacramento at home last Friday.  Combined current wins: 17.  This means that if the two teams played both of their starting lineups at the same time, they still should be 5 wins shittier than the Knicks.  (Please note that this is not actually what this means).

So we threw out the Sacramento game and Felton’s 2 of 15 shooting.  We tried to continue to focus on the road trip — a road trip that was a truly meaningful success.  Blowing out Phoenix, playing with the Lake Show on a night that they gave a rat’s ass, and beating Portland at the Rose Garden showed a maturity that we hadn’t yet seen from these Knicks.  These Knicks started to seem like they could beat almost any team on any given night.  And they now had a decent win on the road.  (One Step Forward).

Then came a long flight home, and jet-lag, and Sacramento.  And then Phoenix.  Phoenix, who may tout the nerdiest rotation in the NBA (try to find me a nerdier 3-player-combination than Marcin “The Polish Hammer” Gortat, Channing “My name is Shannon” Frye, and Robin Lopez — no nickname necessary).  Though much cooler than the Suns, the Knicks just did not get it done defensively.  Bad rotations on PHX’s drive ‘n’ kick game left Vince Carter and the aforementioned Frye like Wal-Mart from behind the 3-point-line (open all day) (see what I did there…).  When the help-defense rotations didn’t come (i.e. when Amar’e got into foul trouble), the Suns just burnt up the middle.  They scored 58 points in the paint.  That’s a lot.  (Two Steps Back).

At least 4 of these points came from the ugliest sweeping hook shots a person has ever put up.  The person that put them up was Robin Lopez, and I have since submitted a request to the league that all future Robin Lopez hook shot makes be immediately refuted.  I can’t stand for a league where a one-handed wacky jack (a la P90X) is allowed to stand as a made field goal.

More than ever, on that day, we needed Ronny Turiaf.  And we needed the hammer down.  Get well Ronny, and if by the impossible chance you happen to be reading this, here is your Knicks weekly:

Point Taken: According to Mitch Lawrence of The Daily News, Ray-Ray has made just 25% of his field goals in his last 3 games.  His last five splits look as so: @ Lakers – 4/14, @ Portland – 7/16, @ Utah – 6/15, Sacramento – 2/15, and Phoenix – 3/13.  Aside from his solid performance at the Rose Garden, Felton’s shooting has been atrocious (his 2/15 klunker v. Sacramento was low-lighted by Beno Udrih destroying him/the whole Knicks team on the other end).  What I think is happening: teams continue to go under screens on the pick ‘n’ roll, and Felts has stopped making them pay.  For most of the season, he’s been pretty consistent with that straight-on, top-of-the-key 3 over the screen and his off-the-dribble mid-range 2.  Now, the NBA Jam commentators might have a few “he can’t a buy a bucket”s for him.  Hopefully, it’s just a shooting slump, and not retrogression to his first 4 years in Charlotte (where each year he shot under 42%.  As in 42% total.  Not just from 3 (bad.).)  Essentially, it also hurts the pick ‘n’ roll for Amar’e, as guys are flocking under screens to him, which means less easy buckets, which was how the Knicks got in trouble in the 1st place at the beginning of this year.  The moral of the story: as Raymond goes, so goes the Knicks.  So here’s to praying that his lines stop looking like my 8th-grade geometry quizzes and start looking like the number of dentists that recommend Trident. (and yes, that was the best I could come up with) #fail.

Bill & Shawne’s Excellent Adventure: Is it lazy or honorable that I refused to look up the name of the 2nd movie?  Probably both.  Either way, it should be noted briefly that with Bill Walker’s and Shawne Williams’ 20-point-games in Utah, now a total of 8 Knicks players have scored at least 20 points in a game.  Amar’e, Ray-Ray, Gallo, Wilson Chandler, TD, Bill Walker, Shawne Williams, and our best friend Landry Fields have all cracked the 20-point-barrier at least once this year.  Six of the eight are either scrap-heap guys or Knicks draft picks.  Somewhere Donnie Walsh just mouthed the words “damn, it feels good to be a gangsta.”

Techies: Yes, the new technical rules can be ridiculous at times.  And yes, it is extremely strange that a system that rescinds/”oops, my bads” its technicals at such a high rate is not considered completely broken.  But either way, how about this, let’s just stop getting them.  First off, it’s free effing points for the other team.  We give away enough free points in the lane when Amar’e is in foul trouble, there’s no reason to give them away otherwise.  Secondly, (and I’m talking to you Bill Walker) stop sarcastically clapping at ref’s calls.  You’ve gotten T’ed up for it, you’ve watched teammates get T’ed up for it.  It’s not even that clever.  Just walk away.  Please.  For the sake of my evening heartburn.

What’s next: Another tough road trip with games at Houston, at San Antonio (and they don’t look happy), and at Oklahoma City (also not too fond of us).  The Houston game is important, if only to make last year’s Jared Jeffries-salary-dump deal just a little crappier for Houston (which essentially could be 2 late 1st rounders, JJ, and Jordan Hill for the space that turned into Raymond Felton).  Then we have Washington and Miami at MSG, at Hot-lanta, and home versus Detroit to close out the month.  If we can take 4 of our next seven, we’ll finish above .500 for the 3rd straight month.  Just to put it in perspective, the 2009-2010 New York Knickerbockers finished just 1 month above .500 (I was just as shocked as you were — 9 and 6 in December of ’09).

Knicks Vid of the Week: I’ve recently started yelling “The Sound and The Fury” whenever Ill Will dunks.  No, it does not make any sense.

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Knicks Weekly, Vol. 4

You know those moments when time seems to stop.  When all the commotion of the day-to-day slips out of focus.  When the air in your lungs not-so-delicately pushes its way into the atmosphere.  Maybe you hum a little Whitney Houston under your breath.  (or maybe you don’t, do what you wanna do).  That’s what happened to me in New York, when Pacers guard Brandon Rush tumbled into Danilo Gallinari — forcing his knee to bend in a way human knees are just not supposed to bend.  I — like many Knicks fans — panicked.

I guess it’s kind of like falling in love (but not really ’cause that would be creepy).  It’s probably more like watching a 210-pound former lottery pick fall on a 15-point-per-game scorer, and one of our only truly respected shooters.  Actually, that doesn’t really sound anything like falling in love.  It sounds more like getting punched in the gullet, and then over-eating fried food, and then getting punched in the gullet again.  And for the next couple of days — until news spread that MRIs revealed just a minor sprain — that’s how Knicks nation felt.  (Or at least that’s how I felt).

So Gallo’s ok.  But we still wondered about our Knicks.  After a mirror-image loss in Orlando (see: Heat, Miami), where Raymond Felton felt that it was his night to take 13 shots in the first half (making just 3 of them), and I subsequently cascaded a slew of out-loud swear words to a Grand-Central-bound Metro North Train, there appeared to be more questions than answers associated with our boys and their trip to Disney:  Were any of the Knicks familiar with the term, or procedures involved in, “boxing out?”  Is this what the rookie wall looked like for our best friend Landry (3 points in two nights)?  And why is Raymond Felton trying so hard to prove to Chris Duhon that he is, in fact, better than Chris Duhon?

The next game’s win over the Pacers at home flipped the tape, upping morale after a sad stint through America’s cemetery.  Why it felt good: 1) the Knicks pulled out a win despite not playing well and getting KILLED on the boards again (57-43 overall, 21-9 on the the offensive) and 2) the Pacers are a solid team, with some really nice pieces.  In a world where they add a big and TJ Ford throws the ball away 3 less times, the Pacers are battling the Knicks for that 6-spot.  This game was won with some defensive flashes and pure grit (it’s effing awesome to have a team that plays REALLY hard pretty much every game).  Gallo’s injury aside, it was the kind of win that makes a fanbase feel good.

That feel-good, uhh, feeling just continued on as the Knicks took on the NBA’s best.  And with that we begin this week in Knicks basketball:

In Spurts: At this point, much of what can be said about this win, has been said.  I’ll probably just say it again.  An impressive win, where a proud team made the mistake of trying to outscore the Knicks.  This is really no longer a good idea for any team, no matter how prolific your offense is.  The way to beat the Knicks is to harass their shooters, run them off the 3-point-line, and get Amar’e in foul trouble.  San Antonio made the mistakes of 1) not doing those things, 2) assuming that their 29-5 high-powered offense was better than our 19-14 high-powered offense (It’s not) and 3) only playing DaJuan Blair for 18 minutes.  Because he was torching us in the 1st half.  Really makes you wonder just how shitty his knees are (pretty shitty).

This game very much had the feel of the Boston game from Dream Week (HATE that name), where almost immediately it looked like the Knicks were a solid match-up at home against their elite opponent.  Where it differs: Boston was missing 2 centers on their roster (Shaq and Perkins) and 1 on their hit list (Jermaine O’Neal) and San Antonio had all their guys… that is until there was around 3:30 left in the 4th quarter (burn).  Overall, a great win against a great team.  Next hill to climb: a great win against a great team ON THE ROAD.

Wounded Bird: Now I know this is jumping the gun — but just something to keep in mind based on what we saw in that glorious Spurs game… Say the starting 5 that we threw out there Tuesday night (Felton, Fields, Chandler, Amar’e, Ronny “Hammer-Down” Turiaf) continues to gel the way they did for the next few weeks, how do you folks feel about bringing Gallo off the bench, in a kind of Jason Terry/Wilson Chandler-at-the-beginning-of-the-season role?  You’d still play him at the end of games, and it would give him an opportunity to lead the second unit.  I’m thinking if we’re running the offense through him for portions of the game, it’ll hopefully keep him confident and engaged for other pieces (when he’s not the focal point).  Throw him out there with TD, Billy, Shawne “The HeartBreak Kid” Williams, and Amar’e/Ronny at the 5 and put the ball in his hands.  I don’t know if he’s ready, but I do know it’s something to at least consider.

And just as an aside: I want to take a moment to give some props to Gallo and his cooked spaghetti knee ligaments, I’m convinced that their starchy-pliability are what saved his season (al dente!).

Anthony Randolph Corollary: With Gallo’s injury, and Chandler’s subsequent move to the 3, theoretically there should be some more minutes opening up at the 4.  Hey Anthony, here’s an idea, how about you earn yourself some minutes, and not get traded for Luke Ridnour?  While I really don’t think that’s a for-real move, (don’t think Donnie wants his years) I would be offended if I was Anthony Randolph and people even discussed this.  I’m a 6’11” freak.  I’m on a team with a winning record.  Get me a ball to dunk. (End scene.)

Bill & Shawne’s Excellent Adventure: When God closes a door, he opens a window.  And with the Gallo injury, the window that opens will have pot smoke billowing out of it.   No Gallo minutes means an opportunity to see Bill Walker and Shawne Williams, our two favorite space-cadets, playing together.  I loved how both of them got after it defensively and played mostly mistake-free against San Antonio.  I don’t know if I expect that to ever happen again.  Over/under for # of threes made and number of times you sigh, rub your temples and mutter “Shawnnnne” and/or “Billll” in that angry tone your dad used to use are both 1,000.  It goes without saying that I’m taking the overs.  And parlaying them.

What’s next: A West Cost trip that sees our boys with showdowns in Phoenix (bet the over), in LA (for the Lake Show), and then in Portland and Utah in back-to-back nights.  Realistically, let’s pray for a split.  Their voyage to the Left Coast ends on Wednesday (and maybe speaks to why this was posted on a Thursday — planning ahead!!) and can only be described with some form of the word brutal.  I prefer brutes.   Good luck Knicks fans.  Stay gully.

Knicks Vid of the Week: “Perpetual motion by both teams…”

NYK Record: 20-14 (6th in Eastern Conference)

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Knicks Weekly, Vol. 3

January 26th.  That was the date during the 2009-2010 NBA season that the Knicks won their 18th game.  They beat the Timberwolves at MSG to up their record to a depressing 18-26.  Yes you read that correct, the same team that has, for the most part, played with every team on their schedule thus far, had 18 wins and 26 effing losses in early 2010.  I just took a swig of Pepto.  And by Pepto I meant paint thinner.  It makes me sad to read it.

I know it was tough to watch our boys get beat by the Evil Empire Tuesday night, especially when at times Miami just looked so damn good (Even when the Knicks were within 3 in the 4th, I’m not sure if I ever felt like they were going to win that game.  I think we all felt the collective sinking feeling of Knicks fans knowing that one of the LeBosh-Wade Trio was going to iso and score to ice it on the next possession.  Simply because they wanted to… and because they can — but I digress.)

The point that I’m clearly taking my sweet ass time to get to is that despite a loss to the elite (and the reassurance that we are not), Santa did bring Knicks fans a pretty solid gift this year — an 18th win over a strong, but sloppy Bulls team.  This season it came on Christmas, a month and a day (14 games) earlier than last season.  And preceding it (for Hanukkah?), a win over a hot and ultra-talented OKC Thunder.  And during both (for Kwanzaa?) we got some signs that these Knicks can play a little bit of team defense.  And a partridge in a pear tree.  Or whatever.

What I’m really getting at is that this season has been a chance for New York basketball to re-identify itself as a haven for quality.  This all doesn’t feel like new success, it feels like the success that should’ve been there all along.  Our stock is rising and we know it.  And during the week before the new year, when it’s a good idea for everyone to reflect on the year that was, it’s ok to feel good about it.  No, we’re not title contenders — but we are pretty good, and that’s just enough to get yo’self rollin’ with a little swag.  To be honest, I’m just thankful we don’t suck anymore.  Santa has been very good to us in New York this year.  And thank God for it.

And thus concludes this week’s New York Knicks: The Emo Years….  Here is your week in Knicks basketball:

Il Gallo: I’m not even  sure what to say about Gallo.  We love him unconditionally, because he was ours first, but gee whiz (!) boy-oh-boy (!) can this little shit be frustrating.  With his flashes of brilliance (see spinning one-handed drive and-one to start the 4th quarter last night), you wonder why he ever disappears for even a minute (not to mention games — as in plural).  Yes, it’s possible we overrate him because he’s our boy, but it’s also possible we see some things that folks who don’t watch the guy every single night don’t see.  (I mean we have been right about Wilson Chandler — and by we, of course, I mean me).  On the flip side, we also probably overplay some of his deficiencies.  In actuality, to make more of his inconsistency than age and inexperience would really be a disservice to us all at this point.  This is how most guys look at age 22 and in their 2nd full season in the league (it appears it’s how Dirk and Peja both looked early on in their 1st two years as well).  Consistency is always the last piece of the puzzle for an NBA player — and it’s what separates Dirk from Dorell Wright (amongst other more glaring physical differences) and me from actual writers.  Consistency is key.  So far now, let’s just be patient.

De-Fense (clap, clap) De-Fense (clap, clap): I’m REALLY not sure what to say about this.  I haven’t talked about a Knicks defensive showing… ever.  Not with adult words at least.  On a team where “eager” is usually the word coupled with defender, it was interesting to watch the Knicks get consistent, significant stops against OKC and Chicago — both teams with multiple all-stars.  Quality minutes from a healthy Ronny Turiaf really bolstered these efforts, and mostly because he was able to contribute offensively (What the HELL are you talking about punk?  This is under the “defense” headline!!  You are making a mockery of this!!).  The explanation: when Ronny was slowed by the knee and that gross sideways pinkie finger, the team really had trouble scoring with him on the floor — hence the heavy Amar’e minutes (and cause he’s, well, Amar’e).  But now that he’s moving better, he’s more active offensively — and thus able to contribute in the way he contributes best… with his hammer-down hand gesture (it’s got like a delicateness to it that’s interesting, like he’s never actually held a hammer before.  I need to get off youtube).  Which brings us to our next point…

Toney and Ronny: My eyes may be deceiving me, but in that least week, it looks like two guys who can’t run pick n rolls independently — or with better players — have found a bond amongst each other (a bond that cannot be explained by any laws of basketball or science).  They ran more successful pNr’s against Miami (1) than Ray-Ray and Amar’e did (0) (these numbers are not official).  The best part about this: it leads to more hammer-downs.  I don’t think I’ve mentioned the hammer-down move before in this column, but let me tell you, I really like the hammer-down move.  In closing, hammer-down.

Calling on You: I don’t want to get too hung up on this, mostly because I really don’t want to be one of those guys who kill the refs every night — and I also understand that a young team like the Knicks are not going to get as much respect as other veteran teams, it’s an unwritten rule in the NBA, and it makes some sense.  But I have two quick issues with the way Knicks games have been officiated.

1) Amar’e and Felton are not young players, they’re veterans, and when they get hammered while being aggressive and going to the hole in say the 2nd half of the Heat at MSG and in the 1st half of the Heat game in Miami, they should get these calls.  Don’t rope them in because most of the other Knicks can’t rent cars by themselves.  Or because Gallo can’t grow a proper beard.

2) When a young team is over .500 after a quarter of the season, “young team rules” should no longer apply.  I watched Landry Fields get thrown into the 2nd row while going for an offensive rebound Tuesday night by Dwayne Wade without hearing the sound of any whistle.  A person cannot simply slip and fall into the 2nd row.  It defies the laws of physics and most religions.  Let’s be real and treat this team like the quality group that it is.  David Stern, I’m watching you.

Oh and finally, we will close with this.

Dunking on LeBron:

Til next week Knicks fans, til next week.

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Knicks Weekly, Vol. 2

I didn’t have an answer for Paul Pierce.  Every single person in the building knew where the Celtics were going on their last possession last Wednesday night at the Garden.  Amar’e knew.  D’Antoni knew.  KG and Ray Allen both knew.  I knew.  The video ho behind me knew.  I told my girlfriend during the timeout before, so she knew.

We all knew it was going to be a Paul Pierce 17-foot-elbow step-back jumper.  And whether or not Amar’e Stoudemire got a solid hand in his face (he did) – we all knew it was probably going to go in (it did).

I did have one single answer displayed on my right hand for The Truth Bag (sounds like Douche Bag) as he walked into the tunnel, smiling and waving, fresh off a victory lap around the Garden court.  I was disappointed.  I was upset.  And I had won sick center-court tickets from my day job for the game right above the tunnel.  The Knicks had just fallen to one of the East’s best teams and one of the NBA’s least likeable players.  Somebody was bound to get flipped off.

What began as an interesting and optimistic Dream Week – a win vs Denver, a Frasier-Ali-esque heavyweight bout with Boston, a solid half keeping up with the Heat – ended… let’s just say, not so good.  A team that absolutely NEEDS to bring energy for 40 minutes (they’re not yet talented enough to not), left for Cleveland with tired legs and drained pathos, and lost its 3rd game in 4 nights.

Time to panic?  No way.  This week showed us that the Knicks absolutely are who we though they were – before we got all feverish and crazy and started shouting feverish and crazy things about them.  The same thing happened to me in college when I totally bagged this uber-hottie (this never happened) and then I like totally like thought I could get any ish I wanted (this still never happened), until I found out that it was just dumb luck (getting warmer) and I should stay in my league (the only true piece of this sentence).  The Knicks are a fun, high-energy squad with one legitimate superstar and a number of holes (all up in and on that bench).  They’re not going to win 50 games this year and they are definitely not going to contend for a title (even with a mid-season ‘Melo trade), but they could win 45 and really compete for those 5 and 6 spots in the East.

For a team that has flat-out sucked since I was in middle school, it’s refreshing.  For a 2009 salary dump team, it’s effing phenomenal.  And without further ado, here is your second installment of Knicks Weekly:

Riding the Pine: It is currently not debatable whether or not the bench has been a problem for the Knicks (it has).  Despite unquenchable fan-love for the likes of Toney Douglas and the Hammer-Down himself, Ronny Turiaf – facts are facts, and the current Knicks bench had its first realistic test against a championship-level second unit against Boston.  The results were not great – each Knick reserve was in the neg. for +/-, while all of the Boston benchers (including our boy Krypto-Nate) were in the positives.  What this means: the Knicks could use a little help from their friends.  Lackluster second halves (Miami) and lethargic road games (at the Cleve) happen when guys are getting too much run, and the Amar’e and Ray-Ray are absolutely getting too much.  As far as bigs are concerned, the ‘Bockers have plenty of size hanging out on the sidelines, but they appear to have trouble scoring with Turiaf out there and neither the Mozgov ogre nor Anthony “sad-face” Randolph have earned minutes on the floor with their play.  (Tangent side-note rant: What the f*&% did Don Nelson do to Anthony Randolph?  Why does he always look like he’s perpetually mourning a family member?  Was there a child of his kidnapped for ransom that I’m not aware of?  I look the same way everyday, but I work a shitty job for crappy pay.  I do what he gets paid millions of dollars to do for fun in my free time.  Seriously AR, grow up.)

Please note as well, that I made no mention of Eat-y Curry in the reserve bigs conversation.  I recently watched a Knicks practice scrimmage where he played, but for some reason was the only guy not in a practice uni.  He was wearing an oversized T and cut-off sweats.  It looked like a bizarre Garden of Dreams promo.  As far as I’m concerned, if you’re not even dressing for practice, you might as well not get a shout-out.  Keep collecting checks Eat-y.

Under The Sea – Not to harbor (get it!) too much more on the bench, but the other pressing need for the Knicks as we currently know them is at back-up point guard.  I don’t think we need to cut into any of TD’s off-guard minutes, but it would be helpful to have a reliable ball-handler run the second unit (something that TD, at this point in his career, just cannot do).  My pseudo-exciting and 100% realistic choice: Sebastian Telfair (get it?  Under the sea?  Like the Little Mermaid.  Also, feel free to spitefully stop reading now and remove this site from your internet history).  If you watched either of the NYK-T’Wolves games, he appears to be a solid back-up who can run a team, hit open 3s (shoots a respectable 38%) and create a little bit off the dribble.  Almost better is he’s gettable.  With Johnny Flynn and Luke Ridnour demanding most of the minutes at the 1 in Minnesota, he’s an expiring contract/asset that a solid GM finds a way to get something for.  (And dare I say David Kahn is slowly sauntering his way into the solid GM world).  Packaging Bill Walker and Roger Mason Jr., provides shooting (something Minny sorely needs) and a veteran voice for one of the NBA’s youngest teams.  And the salaries work.  And neither of them are actually playing for this current Knicks team. All in favor?  That’s what I thought.  Moving on.

NYC Zoning Board – This came to me in a dream.  And by dream I mean the last two nights watching Dallas on NBATV beat up the state of Florida (Does watching the Miami Heat lose make you as excited as it makes me?  I might literally get off on that shit.  Gross.  Sorry.  Moving on).  Either way, it got me thinking about all of the zone defense that Dallas plays and how it’s done a great job of mixing up looks for a team that’s got some defensively deficient personnel (see Dirk/Jason Kidd’s grandchildren).  And I just so happen to know a team with a similarly deficient personnel that would absolutely benefit from throwing some zone looks in from time to time.  We’ve seen how effective it’s been with Dallas, especially considering the line-up that Dallas usually runs zone in  (Kidd, Terry, Marion, Dirk, Haywood) is almost identical in size and athleticism to the Knicks starting 5 (Felton, Landry, Chandler, Gallo, Amar’e).  While our boys generally are eager defenders, they’re generally not very good at it.  Why not utilize our length and a little gimmicky trickoration on the defensive end to confuse opposing teams?  At this point, it’s not like we have a whole lot to lose.

And that’s mostly what I got for this week. Check back early next week to see how the holidays fare for los Knicks. Be safe kids.

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Note the time.

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Just Getting Started…

I just heard a woman growl.  Like an angry dog.  Like a wolf.  Like Chewbacca taking a shit.  I’m rolling Metro-North on the way to last Wednesday night’s very winnable Knicks-Raptors game, getting myself mentally prepared.  This woman clearly already was.

On a night where Raymond Felton’s plinko-inspired game-winning 3 brought some swagger back to the Garden, I was sitting in my typical section (340) surrounded by Canadians.  They cheered every time Andrea Bargnani absolutely abused Shawne Williams in the 1st half and boasted about their free healthcare.  It was embarrassing.  I was infuriated.

But that night – the same night I made an “anonymous” recommendation to security that passports be checked as fans filed in – turned out to be a pretty big night for my Knicks.  It was another 30-point effort for the medieval warrior we currently refer to as Amar’e Stoudemire (somebody please give this guy an effing battle axe), and another win on a streak that would find itself this week at 8.  The bigger deal: it was the first night that people on all the national sports news outlets really, and I mean really, started talking about the Knicks.

ESPN wanted to showcase that Felton shot – tinkering around to a silent Garden crowd before falling to an explosion of cheers (boom.) – and maybe mention in a side bar that the Knicks had won 11 of 12 and Amar’e was threatening the franchise record for consecutive 30-point games.  The risky, potentially overpaid Stoudemire was becoming an MVP candidate.  The Plan B #2 was a hero.  Those other guys, the ones that everyone labeled with phrases like “not valuable enough assets” and “weak supporting cast” suddenly had person names.  Danilo Gallinari showed some real upside.  Wilson Chandler was suddenly a solid role player.  (oh really?  Our 15 and 5 guys in their early 20s might be able to play a little bit?  Fascinating.)  Like STAT said, when he strutted his $100 million ass (and surgically-repaired knees) into town, “the Knicks are back.”  After that Raptors game, the world (me included) was finally ready to believe him.

So where does that leave us?  With an 8-game-winning streak, heading into parts two and three of the Dream Week trilogy.  In case you’ve been wondering: yes, “Dream Week” is a terrible terrible name for this stretch.  And no, it doesn’t make any sense.  Without anything further, here is your Knicks Weekly:

My Man Lan – Enough has been said about what a steal Landry Fields has been.  Seriously.  I’m over it.  Just kidding.  I’ll never get tired talking of about his rebound rate per 48 (1st amongst NBA guards), his intangibles or his great attitude (and not just ‘cause he @replied me on Twitter a couple months ago – to which now I openly refer to him as my best friend).  I will say this… if one more writer/broadcaster/pundit downplays his athleticism, I’m gonna… probably just swear a lot to myself and create a nasty Facebook status about it.  How many times does this kid have to nearly smack his face on the rim with put-back dunks before somebody important calls him a leaper?

Less significantly, the 25-game-long Landry Fields nickname search has yielded some shitty shitty results.  Tracy Morgan’s “Aqua” attempt (because he’s “smooth”) was pitiful.  Alan Hahn’s “Laundry”… even worse.  Ryen Russillo mentioned on the NBA Today podcast recently that folks have been calling him “Skills” because – get this – he’s got them.  Let’s abandon all this horseshit and just publicly accept what we’ve all been calling him, every time he swoops into the lane and makes that rim crackle.  His nickname is “F***ing” – as in LANDRY F***ING FIELDS!!!  Got it?  Thanks.  Let’s move on.

WILSONNN!!!! – I hate to say that I’ve been driving this bandwagon for the last few years, but his phenomenal play as of late forces me to take 80 to 85% of the credit for all of his successes.  He’s been mostly disregarded by Broussard and Co. despite some slowly-refining raw talent and solid 2009 real-people numbers.  The sabremetrician’s have been killing his eFG and TS% — apparently ignoring the fact that NBA contests utilize a points system to determine winners and losers — continuing to debate why he can look so good, but their numbers just don’t back it up.  At 23 and in his 3rd year, Ill Will continued to get better in 2009: giving us 15 and 5 a night, making almost half of his field goals (for a moment, not giving a shit where he took them from) and showing us – those of us that physically watched the basketball games – the guy can play.  This year, Will’s getting to the point where his skill set is catching up with his off-the-charts athleticism, mostly manifesting in a much-improved jumper (BALLER NERDS REJOICE!!!).  He needed to add a corner 3 (check) and some kind of step-back 2 (on its way) to really complement the fact that he can get to the rack and finish all the effing time.  I don’t know if it’s quite clear yet, but Wilson Chandler has been my favorite Knick for awhile.  So the last 250 words or so operate completely and unabashedly under that bias.  I would’ve framed the piece of his tooth removed from David Lee’s elbow.  It’s weird like that.

Teach Me How to Dougie – I’m a huge Toney D supporter, another draft steal from Donnie Basketball, but my man is taking WAYYY too many out-of-rhythm 3s.  He’s a solid shooter and I love his scoring presence off the bench, but I’ve seen enough of those pseudo-transition 3s that he takes with 20 left on the shot clock clank out to know that’s not his game.  On the other hand when he hits a big shot, the Garden plays “Teach Me How to Dougie.”  It’s hilarious, and much better than my suggestion to go with Tony! Toni! Toné!’s classic “Feels Good.”  It probably didn’t help that I hadn’t ever actually heard that song before.

Euro Trip – Word has it that my Italian brethren has been going steady with the lovely Michelle Trachtenberg (previously of “All That” fame).  One of my roommates had seriously requested that I present the possible connection between her starring role in the movie “Euro Trip” with the fact that Gallo is originally from Europe.  He calls it his “retarded degrees of Kevin Bacon” theory.  As expected, I immediately regret writing this.

God of Thunder – As if his King Leonidas beard wasn’t epic enough, Ronny Turiaf has adopted some kind of overhand hammer move to celebrate big plays.  I don’t know what it means or where it came from, but I freakin’ love it.  Can someone please make a hammer down YouTube mix?  Can we get hammer down t-shirts?  I want a hammer down coffee mug for my day job.  Someone please get on this immediately.

That’s all for this week.  I’ll be back early next week to recap Dream Week (if they do well) or – as I’m sure ESPN Radio is already prepared for – Nightmare Week if they don’t.  Wish us luck.

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