"That was a pretty good fourth quarter, I know that much. I didn't know he could do that. The guy has a big heart, and you can see that. He has some ice water in his veins."-- Mike D'Antoni
"It feels good we got the win. I was kind of in and out after foul trouble issues earlier. I just wanted to be aggressive when I got back on the court in the fourth quarter. I wanted to win this game so bad." -- Toney Douglas
"He was terrific. Mostly defense is heart and brains, and he has both. The biggest thing is he wants to do it. When you put you mind to it like he does and he's always ready, good things happen." -- Mike D'Antoni
Due to several Knicks injuries, the players were not the same, but the pattern between the Sixers and Knicks was eerily similar to the last meeting between the two teams. The Sixers started off in control but faded in the second half in large part because of end-of-season sloppiness and lackadaisical effort on both ends of the floor. In the end-game, while the Sixers act as though they are playing for the lottery, the Knicks play as though they are auditioning for major parts and contracts next season.
-- Finally, Toney Douglas (22 pts, 5 boards, 2 assists, 2 steals and five fouls in 24 minutes) is getting an opportunity to strut his stuff and is making it very difficult for D'Antoni to defend his earlier decision to basically surrender the season by sticking with the struggling Duhon when he had a much more aggressive guard suited to his offensive philosophy on his bench. Douglas drained three fourth quarter tres and produced key steals to lead the Knicks to victory.
D'Antoni, who saw Toney average 18.5 points, five assists, two turnovers and 2.3 steals in his four recent starts, stated that he did not know Toney could do it, an amazing admission although a good segment of Knicks fandom had been clear that Douglas was better than and deserved a chance to replace Duhon at the point. Unfortunately, D'Antoni cannot hide from his stubbornness and he warned fans that he will continue with his insistence that his style of Euro-play is suited for New York and winning a Championship. It also indicates that he will stick with his eight man rotations and run his young starters into the ground next year. (I'm just sad thinking about it.)
-- Gallinari demonstrated his heart and strong will before and during this game. Aware of his defensive deficiencies, Gallinari has asked D'Antoni to allow him to defend the opponents best players. Last night it was Andre Iguodala's turn. Iggy had another sub-par game with only 17 points off of 7-20 shooting.
The best part of Gallinari's development was his aggressiveness on offense. It resulted in 14 foul shots and 11 points from the line. He is such a difficult cover when he is driving to the basket, not because he can finish or dish, but because he is so long, lanky and awkward when he moves to the basket. It's like guarding a bundle of arms and legs -- contact is inevitable, especially since opponents are under the impression that the best way to play him is to be very physical. Gallinari si clearly willing to mix it up and will need to get stronger in the upper body, but his shot selection and execution continues to be questionable. There si much talk about how pretty his stroke looks, but he is not nearly as accurate when he is forced to release the shot quickly.
-- J.R. Giddens is athletic and probably a bit overanxious as he tries to make the most of his opportunity to play. He scored ten points for the Knicks agianst the Sixers, but appears to have a bit of fiery energy that is a little too heavy for his stature in the league. At one point, Duhon had to calm him down as he cursed, seemingly in the direction of a ref, when he failed to receive a call.
-- The Knicks, totally undersized without David Lee and Wilson Chandler, out-rebounded the Sixers 50-37 with 15 of those boards coming on the offensive end. Al Harrington led the Knicks with 13 boards.
-- Sixers coach Eddie Jordan will be re-evaluated after the season, but he is in danger of losing his job. After watching the Sixers the past few seasons, it is wasy to see that the Sixers have the absolute wrong mix of players although they have good talent. Elton Brand does not fit this group of speedsters who could get up and down the floor if unleashed. Eddie Jordan has not demonstrated that he is prepared to take advantage of the Sixers youth and speed as he puts in more cerebral offensive sets. The Sixers don't look nearly as good as they have the past two years on the fast break. However, their defense, in stretches, looks very strong and active especially on switches. Jordan may be on his way out, but it seems that the Sixers could be a lot better with a slight change in personnel and offensive philosophy.
-- It's amazing the the Sixers failed to take advantage of Smuel Dalembert and Elton Brand in the paint late in the game. Amazing.
-- The Knicks were without Wilson Chandler (groin), David Lee (knee), Eddie Curry (whatever), Eddie House and eventually Jonathan Bender who broke his ring finger after making his first start of his comeback. Bender is obviously done for the season, but achieved at least one of his goals of getting back into the NBA.