What a time to be alive, right? Ah, it feels good to wake up like this on Sunday. Not only that, but superbowl Sunday, even! It’s phenomenal these days around these bright, sunny places.
Yesterday was one of those lucky days. One of those where you don’t work—weekend!– and on top of that, one in which you can enjoy a bit of distilled New York basketball. And even though Saturday’s case with Portland was on the west coast, hey, they’ve scheduled early whistleblowing at 5:00 p.m. EST and 11:00 p.m. wherever I’m based. Those chances you don’t pass, right? Not me, at least, because I’m old and grumpy and always looking for a good night’s sleep and NBA games are often between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m., which I I’m sorry but… no.
That’s why I’m glad we got to enjoy the Knicks hoops early Saturday. And on top of everything, the team was incredibly neat. I was able to watch nearly three quarters full before my head started pounding on the keyboard. You know, it’s already past midnight here, so that’s reasonable. Also, hey, New York was leading by a double-digit margin, so not that I was going to miss a thing. All that remained was to close the game, or rather waste time for another 12 or 15 minutes of play, and it would be a wrap. Another W in the bag, and two more days, at the very least, of dreaming about this place to play and keeping this now very possible pursuit alive. Ah, I can’t hate this team.
Until you woke up to reality fucking blast your face with a coffin-sized hammer. Until you realize there is no solution. Until a bucket filled with the coldest water to ever grace your chest hits you when you least expect it. Until stubbornness kicks in. Until a good group of three-quarter overachievers turn into a wasted walking crowd worth throwing away.
I should have known better, though. Randle starting oh-for-two and Portland hitting a couple – off the hands of newcomer Josh Hart (he of no-playbook-learned status) and sophomore man CJ Elleby (he of the float against Fournier in the paint two minutes into the game). Three minutes, Thibs timeout, Knicks down 0-7. No bueno, no improvement either. You told me it was going to end in 134-63, I would have believed you. But at the end of the day, hey, New York has some guys. New York has courage. And New York has the most i have to win coach in the history of the Association.
That’s why Evan Fournier got a great look from beyond the arc with 6:30 to go in the first, hit a tree… and called it a day. Literally.
Like Jaybugkit typed it in the comments section, “[…] wait for us to come down”.
I could be here to talk about the quality of the first three quarters, but does it really matter at this point? Do we really think this team has anything remotely anime inside? Will this Front Office vs. Coach go head-to-head (shock for real, I mean) at some point, realizing how opposite the approaches are (or that’s what it looks like) and making the ultimate, doomed, inevitable decision down the road? At least we can hope.
It was a winnable game before we got to the tip. It was a won match before the start of the fourth. It was also total, blatant, disrespectful, absurd and satanic dysfunction to insurmountable and indescribable degrees by a team that is, quite simply and much to Tom Thibodeau’s disgust, cooked. Play in? Yes of course. The Knicks just gave away a 23 point lead to a team that launches a tank late. For a team that calls Anfernee Simons – who is good, don’t get me wrong – their best player and who has second fiddle in… Jusuf Nurkic? Josh Hart? Justise Winslow!? Ben McLemore!?!?!? Jesus Christ.
Quentin Grimes is so young that he has even more acne than he received a massive volume of shots in his small NBA career. Yet there he was, one of the team’s leaders in scoring and shooting at three (5-8) to see his supply cut entirely in the fourth quarter. Kemba Walker is so old his skeleton probably looks like origami now. Still, there he was, hitting triples and bagging four-point plays like these was his UConn days.
Then, of course, there was Evan Fournier. Fournier, who ended the day in 1-13, scoring one of two giveaways and recording 36 minutes (third in the game among Knicks players only behind Julius Randle and, surprisingly, Quentin Grimes). There was Alec Burks coming out of the pine for a neat minus-10 plus-minus contribution in his 21 clock. There was Taj Gibson for 27 minutes, but not Obi Toppin for more than eight, because that’s how this coach works – even with Mitchell Robinson screwing his ankle and making it for the day, not even two minutes later. half-time, getting just 14 minutes of playing time. Mitch, due to incomprehensible and reckless head coaching behavior, went to the bench late in the third – just after earning his first points of the game – literally struggling to walk that way.
That’s 57 games, with just 25 to go. This is not reactionary bullshit. And I’m not talking about me or you or your mate next door. Look at the comments. Go check your Twitter timeline. You don’t even have to go exploring the deepest corners populated by hardcore fans. The Knicks are a joke as it’s currently being run, and that’s the national consensus opinion, not that of some frustrated, reality-blind, ignorant bunch of guys eating blue pills.
The Knicks Mob looked threatening for 30 minutes. He was dancing to Portland Corpses. This forced timeouts to be called from the home-bench portion of the Rose Garden. Until that is no longer the case. Because of course you get a single output from Kemba, and you definitely have to waste it. You get a winning effort from a rookie, and you have to bury it so it’s for nothing. You have the chance to wrap it all up by deploying a unit that can handle defensive missions remotely, but instead choose to close the game with Furnier washed up and his G League D and a group of second unit players in a day when the bench was smelly at best. Trying to hold on to a lead that has gone from +23 to minus nine. Playing 12 minutes of 11-35 basketball against a team that I knew lacked talent on a random Saturday.
Coach of the year? Leave me alone.
Quickley, Cam and Burks from fourth helped Portland’s resurrection. The starters, who returned later, couldn’t help resuscitating the patient, instead watching him bleed slowly but surely until he reached his announced and aberrant death. It’s not the day to shit on Kemba after hitting his 2015 levels of play, but when the head coach drops the starting PG for a shrunken wing posing as a late playmaker, some something is completely wrong, not with the pawns, but with the Master puppet. Just say. And it’s something to find myself saying all that, like I wasn’t this mad at the franchise standing half a week ago. But this is not viable in the short, medium and long term.
It’s easy to understand the crowds flooding timelines, forums and comment sections with chatter about Donovan Mitchell possibly ditching Salt Lake City and forcing a trade out of Utah next summer – rightly so, to his native New York. It’s reasonable to find them clamoring for a full tank job from now on. But no. It’s far more realistic, however, to acknowledge the fact that the Knicks brought in a coach whose cookbook includes nothing but appetizing Ws. Of course, when it comes to cooking, he should have already realized that he is totally intolerant of all the ingredients that need to be properly prepared before cooking them and ultimately achieving tasty results. Alas, the poop sandwich. And a trip to purgatory in May, and a good lottery pick, and another – sadly – never-ending one-cycle race.
I could write 600 more words on the fourth, but I don’t think it would be good for my mental health.
Our very own Jayson Buford wrote word for word in the latest recap we published. I don’t even have to rewrite it myself, because it described the situation very well. And hey, it’s not that this team’s efforts make me feel bad for not doing a proper creative job.
The pain of being a Knicks fan this year is having a solid roster that crumbles when games end. Thibs kind of started leading the late game offense through Fournier and, unsurprisingly, things fell apart and players started sulking. Basketball wasn’t supposed to be this unsatisfying.
Talk about a self-fulfilling addendum. Wash, rinse, repeat.
At least we’ll be back in the confines of MSG tomorrow. Be careful. Enjoy the Super Bowl. Come on Knicks.