Thursday, December 21, 2006

Knicks 111, Bobcats 109 (2-OT)

There’s losing, and then there’s losing to the Knicks in double-overtime. I think some of the images from this game will scar my memory for life: Stephon Marbury, fresh off a 53-minute, 10-point, 9-assist performance, celebrating wildly as if his team had just won Game 7; Matt Carroll standing in blank, horrified shock, looking like Carrie without the pig’s blood; Isaiah Thomas, eerily rocking in his chair throughout the whole game, smiling slightly, looking for all the world like a man strapped with dynamite and preparing to blow up a bank. Yes, it was a spooky, haunted affair. Even the impromptu standing ovation for Michael Jordan—in Madison Square Garden, mind you—was creepy.

Mostly though, this was just a badly played game between two teams who were undermanned (and who aren’t very good even when they are at full-strength). No Sean May (who is out until next week at the earliest) and no Brevin Knight AGAIN (question: is it possible to hate a man for his groin?) for the Bobcats. And the Knicks, as you may have heard, were without a number of players due to suspension. They also didn’t have Jerome James. By the way, everyone who follows the League seems to be questioning why Coach Thomas wasn’t given a suspension for his threats to Carmelo Anthony. My answer to that one—and I’m honestly surprised this hasn’t occurred to more people—is that Commissioner Stern thought it would be an even greater punishment for the Knicks if he allowed Thomas to continue coaching.

One more thought on the Brawl: Knicks PG/budding Civil Rights Activist Steve Francis cites racism as the reason why the Nuggets-Knicks fight got disproportionate media coverage. Believe me, except for maybe Larry Brown and Jeff Van Gundy, few people are less interested in Stevie Franchise’s thoughts than me. But I also know this:

1) The fight was front page news on USA Today—not front sports page news, front page news.
2) NBC Nightly News had a full segment on it, complete with Brian Williams’s patented earnest introduction, delivered as solemnly as when he sets up a piece on the Middle East.
3) WallStreetJournal.com felt compelled to cover it on their daily podcast, although it's probably safe to guess that its effect on the Dow Jones Industrial Average was minimal, at best.
4) ESPN’s Mike and Mike in the Morning covered it extensively, and they almost never stray from baseball or football (and, technically, even their football coverage is 99% limited to the subject of “quarterbacks”). In fact, this was the first time I could remember them talking about basketball since the "Dress Code-gate" last year.

Keep in mind that #’s 2 and 3 on that list haven’t mentioned sports at all in the year+ I’ve listened to them, despite the TO/Ozzie Guillen/Manny Ramirez/Albert Haynesworth/Jeremy Stevens knee-to-the-groin insanities, the Janet Gretzky gambling pool, the steroid scandals, etc, etc., etc. So what exactly is going on here? I never thought I’d write these words, but Francis, I think you’ve got a valid point.

Anyway, Nets-Suns this wasn’t. Witness this sequence of possessions in the first OT:

1. A Bobcats 24-second violation (resulting in a turnover)
2. A Knicks 3-second violation (resulting in a turnover)
3. A Bobcats missed shot, a Knicks defensive rebound-and-bad-pass-out-of-bounds (resulting in a turnover)
4. A Bobcats offensive foul (resulting in a…you get the idea) Yeesh, this was like a crazy duel where the rules call for each combatant to take turns shooting himself in the foot, and whoever dies first loses.

But what most maddening of all were the blown leads. We had a 19-point lead in the first half that actually had me thinking to myself, “Uh-oh, Coach Bickerstaff better not forget to pull his starters with less than five minutes to go.” TV commentator Matt Devlin, clearly giddy to be back in the saddle after missing two games, was tossing out some stellar hyperbole. “When he gets off to a hot start,” said Devlin, after an early Primoz Brezec FG, “watch out!” Devlin later speculated, “I don’t know if there’s a center out there who can shoot with the likes of Brezec.” This was pretty funny, considering PB’s career high is 26 points, and it happened two seasons ago. Incidentally, Brezec had one of the best worst games ever: 21 points, but he fouled out and was entirely incapable of guarding Eddy Curry.

Ahhh, Curry. I actually spent much of the first quarter making up a list of “Fat Guy”-jokes about him (e.g., “this could be the game where color commentator Stephanie Ready sets the unofficial record for number of times saying the phrase, ‘wide body’”). Then I spent about half of the second quarter debating the moral/ethical implications of using them, because I forgot that Curry’s body type might be attributable to his heart condition (thus it wouldn’t be cool to joke about his appearance). Then towards the end I scratched them all out anyway, because, let’s face it, Curry absolutely KILLED us.* 29 points and 9 rebounds—the man was unstoppable (and if he had just made a few more free throws--7-12 from the line--he could have spared us all about 45 minutes of OT). Curry + Channing Frye (30 points, 6 rebounds, 2 blocks) + Jamal Crawford (four 3-pointers--apparently he's a rare sufferer of that peculiar disorder in which the patient is only able to score when the distance is twenty feet or greater) = Bernie Bickerstaff head-slapping himself enough to raise welts (Tom Coughlin, I hope you were watching—THAT’s how you look properly pissed; poor Bernie put on a clinic tonight).

It’s all right. There’s no shame in it. If we think we feel bad, imagine how the Jazz felt. And now we get to play them next. As Corky taught us all in the moderately successful 1989-1993 family drama: life goes on.

*It wasn’t a total wasted effort, though—I’ll just have to save them until our next game against Jerome James.

5 comments:

Seth said...

Hey, finally I've found a Bobcats blog to read! They're one of my favorite teams but I (understandably) hear almost nothing about them. Sorry about that loss last night. The Bobcats do appear to be putting something solid together. Okafor, Felton, Wallace, and Morrison are certainly good enough to build a decent team around.

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