The Knicks looked much better offensively and played decent defense as they beat down the win-less and, basically pointless, New Jersey Nets 93-89 in their fourth pre-season game. With Nate Robinson in the starting line-up the Knicks immediately looked to be more aggressive offensively. Early on a clearly motivated David Lee (20pts & 14 ribbies) showed he was not going to hesitate to shoot, rebound and initiate the fast break. Early on Lee initiated the fast break on an out-of-bounds change of possession by lobbing the ball to a basket-sprinting, cherry picking Robinson; a sharp contrast to running the offense solely through Duhon strolling the ball over the half-court line in 7 seconds or more.
Although Robinson was replacing an injured Al Harrington in the starting line-up, D'Antoni may find that the Knicks will begin the games better with Robinson and Lee on the floor together. Robinson (15pts, 3 assts, 2 steals) set the tone as he attacked the basket as part of his shooting array.
Wilson Chandler (16pts, 8rbds, 3 stls & 2assts in 30 minutes) also looked more aggressive offensively. One highlight saw the Knicks bust the Net's press by getting the ball to Chandler who drove three-quarters of the court to the basket for a layup while an opponent leaned on him and seemed to be grabbing his jock strap as he got the And1 (foul shot). Still, Wilson is in danger of becoming an old Vince Carter clone early in his career as he tends to settle for jump-shots. It is a total waste of his size, strength and speed to have Chandler simply roaming the perimeter waiting for a kick out from a driving guard. No aggression = absolute waste of talent.
Knicks fans breathed a sigh of partial-relief because Danilo Galinari, the Knicks designated sharp shooter, looked much sharper offensively and defensively. Gallo started the game shooting 3-4 and although he missed his next four shots and hit only 2 of 6 tres, he appeared more confident. Still the young Gallo looks a little NBA-soft as he finds it hard to create space for his shot and to get by defenders on the drive to the basket (but he does draw the foul when he puts the ball on the floor). Gallo plays defense with his youthful energy not with the greatest ability to guard much faster players who take advantage of his deficiencies in moving laterally. Nevertheless, the Gallo as savior theme continues to be forced by the local press, as one New York paper claimed that Galinari's play was the inspiration for the Knicks aggressive play although Gallo did not enter the game until the 5:33 mark of the first quarter.
Jared Jeffries is the man. Jeffiries is unfazed by the fact that he must work harder than almost every one else to be efficient. Many fans hate Jeffries, who often looks like a doofus when he touchs the ball, but the coaching staff is doing a great job of helping him maintain confidence as he adds a modicum of offensive threat to his hustling game. Jeffries is hitting jumpers and driving the ball to the basket, surprising the opposition. D'Antoni should get absolute credit for recognizing and developing this talent. "All his energy is very positive," D'Antoni said of Jeffries. "It's double teams, it's offensive rebounding and he's 7-feet almost. What he does is invaluable for the team."
Duhon, not faced with guarding or bringing the ball up against Devin Harris, was o.k. He had 7 assists but 3 turnovers as he continues to just toss passes to opponents. He also only scored 3 points in 26 minutes but had a +10 impact on the team, while Douglas scored 10 pts in 22 minutes but had a +/- of -6, which could also be a reflection of being out with the second unit including Jordan Hill (0-7 shooting) and Darko Milicic.
Overall, the Nets did not look strong and they failed to take advantage of Brooke Lopez (11pts, 7 boards in 34 minutes) as they had in the earlier loss to the Knicks. Nate's buddy Terrence Williams, the 11th pick, looks like a keeper. His line read 21 points on 7-17 shooting, 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 turnovers. He was 2-3 from the arc. Watch him. And who knows what in the hell Bobby Simmons (0-8 for 0 points) was doing. But if that performance is considered bad, one must wonder how Franks remains coach of a professional team in the tri-state area. How?
Out of Bounds. . . My apologies about the aborted LBE. Unfortunately all of the producers had other engagements including watching the New York Yankees whup Angel bootie. It's been a long time since the Czar of LBEs, Orange and Blue, and Peacman have been leading LBEs and I forgot how hard it was to watch the game, type play-by-play, keep up the scoreboard, offer some analysis, post provocative cheerleader poses, scratch an itch and drink some happy juice at the same time. So next time I'm the only producer scheduled, I will cancel the LBE early instead of trying to do multi-tasking mission impossible. . . It is great to see Post-up Prince, DLT, Tman, Steady and Peaceman in the house. Somebody ring the tardy bell so that the other children will come in please. And thank you Ben Koo for dropping by with some brownies. I gotta tell you though that I am disappointed that none of the neighbors have stopped by to say hello. Bloguin needs a welcoming committee. Anyway, clearly I need to go out and extend invitations. . . Today, beginning at 11:15 a.m., the Knicks have a free, open practice for fans at Fordham University's Rose Hill Gym. Seating is first-come, first-served. A limited number of seats is reserved for season ticket holders. . . MSG has it's season preview on Tuesday at 6:30pm. . . .Poor Minnesota Timberwolves. They are going to be Loveless for at least 6 weeks because Kevin Love fractured his hand. Maybe they should have drafted another big man instead of 20 point guards.
EXTRA POINT: Pop Quiz. . . .
Do You Really Want Someone With The Cooties On Your Team?