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)