Friday, April 22, 2011
NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION
EASTERN CONFERENCE PLAYOFFS
Boston Celtics (2-0)
NEW YORK KNICKS (0-2)
MADISON SQUARE GARDEN
After Seven Long Years, NBA Playoff Basketball Is
BACK in NEW YORK CITY
NEW YORK KNICKS: GAME TWO; Another Bitter Ending For The 'Bockers.
It started out as a bad first quarter for the Knicks. Rondo was running wild and helped get Boston out to an early 18-11 lead. Eventually, Rondo needed a break as he tired and asked out for a rest. That's when the Knicks tightened things up. They recovered and played a good last four minutes however trailing after one quarter. Meanwhile, Amare Stoudemire was already getting wrapped in bandages because his back was cramping up.
At 9:50 of the second quarter, the Knicks took their first lead of the game; 26-24. Carmelo Anthony was the hot, and only hand on deck for the Knicks. Word was received that Amare Stoudemire would not return in this game. So, Melo went on to score 16 points by half-time, with 10 rebounds; 4 assists; and 2 blocked shots.
A foul by Big Baby Davis with 01.2 seconds left in the half put the Knicks at the line. They'd make both free-throws and go the the locker room leading 45-44.
In the fourth quarter, the Refs resumed hating on Melo again by blowing two quick whistles in succession on him as Boston held a 76-74 lead with 9:08 left.
There was still 2:30 left in the game as the teams were throwing up more bricks than a medieval Freemason's convention.
When a time out was called with 0:49 seconds left, it was Knick ball as Boston held a 92-91 lead. After missing a lay-up, Jared Jeffries followed himself to make a lay-up off a pass from a double-teamed Melo making the score 93-92 Knicks, with 19 seconds left. With 0.13 seconds left in the game, Coach Rivers called Kevin Garnett's name down the stretch just as he had in Game One. Garnett posted and backed up Jefferies, then hit a soft right-handed hook in the paint. There was no double team by the Knicks.
The Knicks used their last time-out. On the ensuing in-bounds, Melo received the pass and saw the double-team coming. He found Jefferies down low and to the left of the paint and passed to him. Jefferies looked to pass to an open Bill Walker in the paint, but would have been better served going hard to the basket himself. Jared Jefferies was being defended by Kevin Garnett who caused him to cough it up. Garnett recovered the ball and Boston called time-out. The New York Knicks no longer had any time-outs and it was Boston's ball with 4.1 seconds in the game. The Knicks fouled with only 0.6 left. On the inbounds, Melo let his man run into the back-court with the ball killing precious seconds off the clock. The Knicks got caught starring or were just too tired. Boston made both free throws to make the score 96-93.
That's the way it would end.
Boston now leads the series two games to none. Next stop ~ MSG.
THE NEW YORK KNICKS ARE KNOCKING AT THE DOOR
With no Chauncey Billups; Ronny Turiaf nursing late occurring bum knees; and Amare Stoudemire lost to back-spasms in the first half, the Knicks had to play everyone from the Butcher and the Baker, to the Candlestick Maker. Coach Mike D'Antoni was forced to recover more trash from his bench than an American Pickers episode. Shawne Williams; Jared Jefferies; Roger Mason; Anthony Carter; Bill Walker ALL received more minutes than anyone would have anticipated. And they all contributed to another great Knicks over-all effort.
But what an incredible loss! It was an absolute 96-93 killer.
Calling on Kevin Garnett to take Boston's last shot was logical. He had a total mismatch against a helpless Jeffeies; helpless against Garnett that is. But no double team? Doc Rivers doesn't have a problem double-teaming. Then again, it was easier for Coach Rivers to double-up anyone considering the Knicks were running out of options faster than Fred Wilpon. I would much have rathered to take my chances on Boston hitting from outside again. A Garnett hook in the paint carries with it too high a percentage of being made.
But if you're inclined to pick on Jared Jefferies for botching up the play in the last seconds of the game, remember how and why Jared Jefferies was brought here in the first place. He is here because the Knicks traded a roster full of players to acquire Melo. But even before the trade, we still had no viable center. After the trade, the Knicks were in desperate need of a body and not that he even fit the bill. He was just.....there. But it should remind everyone this team is still a work in progress. Next season, my expectations will increase.
In the end though, Yes, - the Knicks lose because Jared Jefferies was in a position of paramount importance to end the game. No Coach dares draw up a last second play for Jefferies and remains employed to talk about it. That's why Coach D is off the hook....again, even though he got out-coached in the closing moments of the game for the second consecutive time. Coach D had limited options in that situation. Melo chose to pass to Jefferies. Melo said so and we all know it - That was the right play. However, Jefferies should have gone straight to the basket looking for two and a foul.
In defense of Jefferies, so much for me thinking Toney Douglas was going to play with Rondo. That situation was a total fail. So, it's all relative.
But after the way the Knicks played in Boston, we should be upbeat about their chances to win at Madison Square Garden. They've sustained intense defensive efforts in the first two games. That more than their points totals have kept them in both games.
Chauncey Billups will be a game-time decision. The hope is Amare Stoudemire returns at full strength after suffering back spasms. And Ronny Turiaf needs to return to game one form also. His knee hobbled him late in game two. His presence on the floor could have certainly helped late in the game against Garnett.
While Amare was dominating in game one, Melo was off his game. In game two, Melo played like a player possessed while Amare sat out. If the Knicks can get these two on the floor and have them play to their capabilities together, with a little support, the score should creep towards 100 points come game three. Coach D said as much that it's necessary to get to the century mark next time out. It's a sound thought considering the Celtics were not a high scoring team during the regular season. I still think if the Knicks can run early, Boston's legs will be spent late in the game. And by Boston, I really mean Pierce. I don't want him beating us.
Ray Allen had the touch in game one but was quiet in game two. Rondo likewise, had an off and on two games. Garnett has been Boston's most consistent player. That leaves Paul Pierce. He's been somewhat dormant but won't be staying quiet for long. He's the one who loves playing in MSG and maybe he's been saving himself these last two games? Nah. But, I'm afraid he'll show up at a very inopportune time for the Knicks. We'll find out. That's why we play the games.
Make that two games now, Boston seemed interested in losing but found a way to pull out in the end. For the Knicks, they were two games we failed close out. But the Knicks are knocking at the door. Maybe by playing on our home court, they can bust it open. I think we still can survive without Chauncey, but obviously we need Amare playing at one hundred percent. The rest of the cast needs to continue their surprisingly spirited efforts. Meanwhile, a good game by Amare and Melo at the same time and continued emphasis on defense might get them over this hump.
Earning His Knickerbockers: CARMELO ANTHONY
Coming off a sub-par opening game in the series, game two was a superlative effort on Melo's part. After Amare went down, he took anyone who was left on the Knicks' bench and pulled them along to within a few seconds of victory. But last game makes two tough luck loses in which Melo has been directly involved in the outcome. Regardless, after his performance in Game Two, Carmelo Anthony is now officially home. By the end of the first half he had 16 points. He ended the game with 42 points to lead all scorers. Throw in 17 rebounds; 6 assists and some blocked shots; and what you have is exactly what the Knicks thought they were getting; his big game potential. But after Game two, I think all Melo's naysayers finally have to settle in for what is sure to be an interesting relationship together. Even though it came in a loss, he still offered up a great performance. But because we did in fact lose in game two, his performance will only remain a glimpse of what the Knicks can be, instead of making it the stuff of Knick Legend. In the mean time, Carmelo Anthony officially became a Knick to the people it matters most. He can start working on the rest of the story tonight.
Finally got my internet connection back! That means we're going to win!