“It was an emotional moment for me but right after that, after the jump ball, I think it clears up and I just think about the game.” -- Danilo Gallinari
Danilo Gallinari's and Mike D'Antoni's triumphant return to Milan ended in victory.
For Gallo, D'Antoni, family and friends lots of emotions flowed through Milan these past few days for both the player and the coach. Gallo was at home with home with his growing fame and popularity. The 21 year-old had his first book signing, released his new shoes, participated in some community activities and sowed his friends around before showing off his smooth stroke against his former team. For Mike, he could not believe how his fame in the city where he became a playing and coaching legend had not waned. Before the game, both of them had been brought to tears at one point or another because of the love and remembrances.
But there were other Knicks there to share in the moments and create new memories. Leading the pack was Amar'e Stoudemire, who came ready to play and to show Italy and Knicks fans want a real star looks like, albeit a rusty star subject to too many (5) turnovers to go along with his game high 32 points. After trying to do too much during the first half, Studmuffin settled down and started abusing Armani Jeans forcing them to foul him whenever he put the ball on the floor.
Also impressive was the play of Gallinari, Mozgov and Chandler. Gallinari Gallo had his stroke shooting 50% (7-14) from the floor, 100% (5-5) from the line and hitting 5 of 11 tres for 24 points. He also had seven rebounds and three steals to go with his 1 block. Gallo also had three turnovers and four fouls, but he showed floor leadership particularly when the Knicks' blow-out started to roll back into Milan's favor.
Mozgov did not disappoint those who saw quite a bit of promise in the athleticism and size of the Russian big man. He is very mobile and active. Unlike many big men, he does not stand around and wait for action to happen; he is constantly active as shown by his ability to impact the game and the stat sheet in just 19 minutes. During that time, he scored 10 points, had 5 rebounds, 2 steals and 3 blocks. On defense, he stood up to challenges to the interior and was very light on his feet. The idea of him and Amar'e on the court at the same time is likely to gain some steam if he can play like this against NBA talent.
Chandler simply made much better decisions with the ball unlike the beginning of last year when he was settling for tres. Chandler was far more aggressive to the basket, particularly off the dribble. He looked as though he was learning some moves from Studdy as he scored 17 points in 22 minutes.
Anthony Randolph flashed his game as he proved to be very difficult to stop moving toward the basket (7-11 shooting). He was just to long and versatile. However, he apparently pissed off D'Antoni who yelled at the 21 year-old for not passing the ball. Randolph also had five fouls in 19 minutes.
Raymond Felton was a bit disappointing with five points to go with eight assists and three turnovers. As Tman mentioned during the Live Blog, Felton did not appear to be a real oick and roll point guard. He seemed to miss a number of opportunities to hit his man moving towards the basket. However, he was tenacious and led the team for 30 minutes. He was most impressive defensively when he and Toney Douglas were on the floor together trapping and pressing the opponents from full and three-quarter court.
Most impressive was the Knicks defensive energy as they pressed the ball and were far, far better with help defense. However, they appeared particularly vulnerable to ball movement as Milan was disciplined enough to make the extra pass until they had a nice open tre. Part of Milan's problem was over passing, but they were able to break down an aggressive Knicks defense.
It was a good game, especially for a pre-season game. It was really good because basketball is back and the Knicks look better than they did the past two horrendous years.
Orange and Blue led a welcome Live Blog during the game. In addition to some of our fave old heads -- Prince, Tman, Cooley, Vic Corbit, Lives -- there were useful appearance by newbie Kantdunknomore. Some nice analysis therein; check it out here.