There was something that made me feel uncomfortable about the Knicks 115-106 win over the Wizards Monday night at the Garden, and I just could not put my finger on it.
Maybe it was the fact that our boys let the road-hardened Wiz (0-20 away coming into Monday night) stay in the game for 3 and a half quarters. Maybe it was the enlightened game-planning and execution that went into the 29 Knick 3-point field goal attempts. Or maybe it was the cute Argentinean girl sitting next to me at the game that decided — after sharing that this was her list night in our country — that our half-time conversation would be as awkward as a “Between Two Ferns” interview.
(To be honest, the discomfort was probably caused by the toothless gangster that saw me with my souvenir NYK beer cup on the Times Square Shuttle after the game. Apparently, I was crimping on his collection territory, and thus he proceeded to tell me he “didn’t know me” (true) and that he was going to “hurt me real bad” (false — I escaped). He didn’t seem to understand my first explanation, that I was merely taking the cup home from the game as a souvenir. There was no second explanation. I just got off the subway.)
Despite mild discomfort and a head-on-a-swivel approach to the rest of the night, the ‘Bockers had officially snapped a sobering 6-game losing streak. And with that win, fanboys like myself solidified a few passing theories we had been throwing around about the guys. These theories (and more!) will be featured in HyperVocal’s first edition of Knicks Weekly. Here goes:
The Real MVP(s): There is absolutely no debating whether or not the Knicks most valuable player is Amar’e Stoudemire. Without him, this whole foundation being set — deep within the bowels of Madison Square Garden (hehe… bowels) — would not exist. There is no team without him. But because of his mechanical consistency (robot?), the team’s ebbs and flows have hinged more on the successes and failures of Raymond Felton and Wilson Chandler. It was clear, over the last several games, these guys were not shooting the ball well (and that’s ok — slumps happen), but it’s also become clear after Monday night’s win how much the team truly depends on their shooting to get the job done. Without their consistent range (what I like to refer to as “making it rain”), teams start clogging the lane like (insert poop joke here), making it much more difficult for Amar’e to Drano his way to the rack. And then he ends up settling for jumpers. And then the rest of the Knicks take thirty 3′s. And then I take a Xanax. I’m pretty sure the moral of this story just became Raymond Felton and Wilson Chandler need to shoot the ball well, so that I don’t develop a prescription drug problem. I’d say that went well.
Hello ‘Melo: Yes, the time has come for me to finally address the Carmelo Anthony rumors. Now I know the NBA insider community has been tirelessly waiting for what my sources have been telling me (i.e. what I have been saying to myself out loud now that my car radio’s busted) and I’m happy to oblige.
1st) There’s no way in hell, at any time, any self-respecting NBA star decides to go play in Jersey with Jordan Farmar and Brooke Lopez when Amar’e and the Knicks are an option. News flash friends: Brooke Lopez is not actually good (sorry Jersey). And despite Prokhorov’s excellent wave-running skills, all we’ve really seen him do as an NBA owner is sign Johan Petro and confuse closed captioning. I’m glad nobody bought the “this trade has become too expensive” junk. Clearly ‘Melo did not see a future there. And as far as basketball is concerned, I’m not surprised, there isn’t one.
2nd) Maybe there’s an element to basketball assets that I just do not get. There must be. I just don’t understand how a quintessential good numbers-bad team guy like Devin Harris coupled with Derrick Favors’ 6 points and 5 rebounds per game is a better trade package than two rising young stars in Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari. Now I’m absolutely not for a ‘Melo trade that includes both of them (send Anthony Randolph and his pouty face to whoever will take him), but it just seems that there’s a stigma out there that consistently undervalues the Knicks young talent. Maybe it’s Isiah hangover. Or just the aftershock of the culture of a team that spent so long in the crapper. Who knows. But last year, during the LeBronathon, we were Cleveland 2.0. This year, we’re the inferior assets. We’re the 4th youngest team in the NBA and will win 40+ games with just one guy that’s even sniffed the All-Star Game before this year. You know what that means? Chandler’s 18 and 6, and Gallo’s 15 and 5 are legit. And these guys aren’t just upside and projections — they’re producing actual baskets and rebounds during actual NBA games right now. It’s just shocking to me that this continues to go unnoticed. But I guess it doesn’t really matter anymore. So whatever. And I’m sweating.
Last) I have an overarching trust in Donnie Walsh — like I’d trust my grandpa, if my grandpa looked like he’d spent some time working construction in Jersey (if ya know what I mean) — but I just hope he plays this ‘Melo thing right. Right now, we have a guy who wants to come to NY so badly, he’ll take millions of dollars less to do so. But these guys are fickle and proud and kind of douchey, so I am 100% on board if Donnie feels that a trade is necessary. If we need to give up some of the farm so ‘Melo doesn’t feel slighted, the Donnie has GOT TO pull the trigger. Send Chandler, Randolph, Fields, $3 million and a 2014 1st. I’m unusually optimistic about this working out either way, but we cannot take the chance of it not happening. The Knicks NEED Carmelo Anthony to take the next step. They just do. So Donnie Walsh, how ’bout it? Do Work.
What’s Next: A nationally-televised game at MSG (LOVEZZ IT!!!) against none other than LeBrayne Wade and the Heat. Despite some pretty rational requests from my therapist to “get over it,” I have finally gone through with the Ray Finkel-esque redesign of my bedroom at home. I’d recommend taking the over on the number of times I scream”Laces out LeBron.”
The rest of the weekend brings us to Hot-lanta and home versus Detroit. Atlanta is probably better than the Knicks. But they also lost by 41 last week. Detroit has been playing much better with T-Mac at the point. Oh, T-Mac. I’m predicting a split.
Knicks Vid of The Week: The good ole “Hey Nick Young — I’m much better than you”
NYK Record 23-21 (6th in Eastern Conference)
CJ Aquilino is a guy who likes basketball more than any out-of-shape young white man should. He currently has two years left of NCAA eligibility.