It was game the Knicks should have won and they won it with ease. In fact, the game became rather boring as the Kings became disinterested after halftime. Jeremy Lin was solid with ten points, 13 assists and five rebounds. Six Knicks were in double figures and the ball was in perpetual motion. However, no Knicks fan should use this as a measuring stick as the Kings chucked jumper after jumper and decided defense was optional.
After seeing Calderon take advantage of Lin's defense, Mike D'Antoni had the larger and stronger Landry Fields on Tyreke Evans and placed Jeremy Lin on Marcus Thornton. Philosophically, I think it was the right move. Empirically, no conclusions could be drawn because Evans likes to shoot jump shots even though he is awful at it.
The Kings, including DeMarcus Cousins, were completely content to shoot jump shots. For a team that is somewhat effective when they go into the paint and is so terrible when they shoot from the perimeter, you would think they would put a greater emphasis on attacking.
Jeremy Lin has shown a Steve Nash type ability to keep his dribble and probe the paint. That ability led to a layup early in the first. He drove and did not have the shot or pass. He then circled the paint and drove again which led to the easy two.
On another matter, it is not surprising that all licensed Jeremy Lin jerseys are sold out in China. It is mind-boggling when all counterfeit Jeremy Lin jerseys are sold out in China. Someone needs to calculate Jeremy Lin's Q score.
Half-way into the first quarter, the Kings defense looked a lot like many Knicks performances over the past decade. Amare had a wide-open dunk, Tyson Chandler had two alley-oop stuffs with no one around him and Lin had that probing layup. In fact, the Knicks hit 10 of their first 12 shots. Remember the beginning of the season when it seemed the Knicks would miss 10 of their first 12 shots every game? (Wait, who wants to remember that?)
Game MVP For Knicks
Nice to see Amare hit two jumpers: one from the elbow and one from about 17 feet. He needs to get back to hitting that shot consistently. That way, the defense cannot clog the paint on the pick-and-roll.
DeMarcus Cousins should be the focal point of the Kings' offense. When the Kings got him the ball within 12 feet of the basket, it only led to good things for the Kings. He hit a jumper, scored in the post, created some good looks he did not finish and found Thornton cutting to the basket. Why do they not give him the ball more? Because that is what happens when Tyreke Evans is your point guard.
I love Steve Novak's jump shot. I also love that Clyde calls him "Novocain."
The last two minutes of the first quarter showed why Jeremy Lin needs to play a ton of minutes for this Knicks team. Iman Shumpert did not penetrate off Tyson Chandler's screens, rendering them pointless. The Knicks' passes stayed mostly on the perimeter. In fact, most of the passes were between Novak and Shumpert. I am all for bench solidarity, but swing the ball at least.
Overall, it was a solid quarter for the Knicks outside of those last two minutes. It was the Kings who looked like the team that had played the night before (and they did in Chicago against a Derrick Rose-less Bulls team). Those last two minutes allowed the Kings to get the lead to single digits.
Jimmer Fredette began the second quarter nailing a three. You kind of feel a little bad for the kid. This was probably going to be the game where the buzz was about Fredette coming to the Garden. Oh well.
Bill Walker hit shots, played good defense and found Jeffries open for a dunk. Either Jeremy Lin's awesomeness has rubbed off on Walker, or it is just the Kings (I'm leaning towards the Kings).
Please Baron Davis, get healthy soon. I cannot stand having to see Mike Bibby run the offense with the second unit. And do not mention the hustle steal Bibby had after missing a wide open three. Other than the missed three, I have no idea what you are talking about.
Iman Shumpert ran a nice pick-and-roll with Jeffries leading to a blocking foul on Fredette. See D'Antoni, you do not need to play Mike Bibby. Get well soon, Baron.
Lin came back into the game matched up on Tyreke Evans, and Evans scored. Knicks fans probably breathed a sigh of relief when they saw Shumpert guarding Evans the next time down the floor.
Either Lin or Chandler has to be part Vulcan. That would explain how they are on the same page so often when it comes to alley-oops.
It astounds me that DeMarcus had a clean look at the basket and tried to go up-and-under. In the words of Bill Walton, "Throw it down big man! Throw it down!"
If there is a bone to pick with Jeremy Lin in the first half, it was his lack of boxing out. His failure to box out Thornton led to two offensive rebounds and four second-chance points. Against a team like the Celtics, Lin's failure to box out Rajon Rondo could lead to a triple-double. Hopefully, that is something he improves going forward.
That Lin-Fields alley-oop...wow. Nerd Squad!
Amare set up in the corner for three and got the kick out. He missed. I know you worked on shooting the three-point shot, but you are not Dirk Nowitzki. I am all for the 15-18 foot jumper. However, for a player who seemingly cannot dribble four times, the three point arc should be forbidden territory.
All in all, it was another fantastic quarter for the Knicks against a Kings team that might not have ever heard the term "defense." The Knicks kept the ball in constant motion (with a lapse back to pre-Jeremy Lin offense by the second unit), out-rebounded the Kings (plus-seven, and only had seven turnovers for the half. Landry Fields stood out in that quarter leading the team in rebounds and points.
Lin had a fine half, but he did have three turnovers. Now I am fine with turnovers that are the byproduct of aggressive play, but two of those turnovers were the byproduct of careless play. Those are turnovers that Lin must eliminate.
The Knicks started off the quarter where they left off in the second with Fields hitting a jumper and Walker nailing a wide open three off of Lin's penetration.
DeMarcus Cousins showed why people did not make him the No. 1 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. He was the most skilled player in that class, but his lack of character and immaturity on and off the court scared teams away. It also got Paul Westphal fired. The third quarter saw Cousins vacillate from being frustrated or ambivalent. His lack of effort led to him only grabbing four rebounds. That is not what you want to see in your potential franchise cornerstone.
Bill Walker had a great game and third quarter. He also had one of the highlights of the third quarter with a strong rejection of a Cousins attempt in the paint. I am still going to chalk up the good performance to the fact that the Knicks were playing the Kings.
At 4:22, you sensed that it was only a matter of time before Jerome Jordan, Toney Douglas and Renaldo Balkman saw the floor. The crowd seemed out of the game due to the Knicks domination of the Kings. The Kings seemed out of the game due to the Knicks domination of the Kings.
Once again, Jeremy Lin had a stretch of questionable decision making and ill-advised passes. That stretch saw him turn the ball over on three of four possessions. I know I sound harsh, but after all of these performances, should we not raise our expectations of him?
The one time the Kings did not see a player go it alone was on a rebound. Neither King got the rebound and the ball went out of bounds to the Knicks. Do I have to point out the irony? Wait a minute, I just did.
Is it just me or did the Knicks crowd boo Isaiah Thomas every time he touched the ball because his name is Isaiah Thomas? I hate Zeke as much as anyone, but I think that is a little extreme. To be fair, he was the only King putting for consistent effort during the entire game. I think the kid deserved better than that.
Obviously the Knicks crowd and I disagree on Lin's playing time. While I was relieved to see that Lin was done for night after playing 26 minutes, the fans called for him to come back on the court. I guess they have great faith in Jeremy Lin's ability to hold up the whole season.
Where Do the Knicks Finish the Regular Season
It took until the 6:31 mark of the 4th quarter for Toney Douglas and Jerome Jordan to get on the court. How does Renaldo Balkman not get into the game with them? This game needed an injection of energy to prevent all of MSG being asleep when the quarter ended. That and it would allow the Knicks to not have Mike Bibby on the court.
It was nice to see Novak regain his shooting stroke after his poor shooting against the Raptors. With each game, it seems that Novak is improving as a defender and rebounder (albeit it marginal improvement). I will say anything nice about Novak to get this guy's jump shot into the game.
Renaldo Balkman got into the game with a little more than five minutes left in the game. Better late than never.
Mike Breen asked Clyde what was significant about February 15, 1969. Clyde answered "Valentine's Day." The way the ladies loved Clyde, I was not surprised.
Like many an Iron Mike fight, the opponent gave up early. I do not think you can look at much in this game and attribute it to the Knicks improving. The Kings played that poorly. However, an easy win is something to relish in a lockout-condensed season. Hopefully the Knicks can repeat this performance against the NBA-owned New Orleans Hornets on Friday.