Satisfying, if angst-filled win for the Knicks tonight. Always feels good to beat the Bulls. My observations:
- Danilo Gallinari came to play. We have a tendency to panic and overreact in New York. From preseason worries that Felton is equivalent to Duhon, or that the Knicks would get absolutely slaughtered on the glass every night, and then to Danilo Gallinari’s shooting struggles, nobody was willing to be patient around this town. Well, after 3 whole games, Gallinari finally showed up and had a monster first half, shooting 6/8 and 3/3 from downtown. He got to the rack for a nice slam and had an aggressive putback flush too. The Rooster also managed to shoot 6 foul shots. This is what we’ve wanted and expected from Gallinari and if he can do it consistently, the Knicks will be a tough out most nights. If he had done it the previous 2 games the Knicks would be undefeated today. Gallo finished with 24 points on 11 shots (including a huge 4th quarter 3 with 4 minutes left and the Bulls in the midst of a run), with 6 boards, 2 steals, and a block.
- And if Gallinari was good, Douglas was just incredible. Obviously his 30 points on 14 shots was highly impressive. He was just unconscious. He also took and made 7 foul shots and had 4 dimes. Of course, you can’t talk about Toney Douglas without mentioning his stellar D. TD had 4 steals and many deflections which were the result of his dogged tenacity. Full speed every second of every game. Toney’s toughness and relentlessness are what separate him from your average lead guard and with those traits, he will be central to many more wins this year.
- Ronny Turiaf is clearly the captain of the Knicks defense, at least down low. Look, we all were pretty excited about Timofey Mozgov coming into the season, but by now it’s clear that Ronny is the most effective center on the Knicks roster. I’m a little surprised because I never thought of him as anything but an energy guy but he’s so much more. He’s a leader who contests every shot, he fights for every board, and he’s athletic enough to catch passes off the roll or while diving towards the cup. I want Timofey to continue to start games because I want him to develop. But Turiaf is going to be the catalyst at center until that happens.
- Ray Felton looked solid during the first, second, and fourth quarters. He was poised and confident in leading the offense and hit several huge threes throughout the game. The third quarter saw Felton lose command of the offense a little bit and commit sloppy turnovers either with a lackadaisical handle or by trying to force the ball into Amar’e. The trouble he was having initiating the offense in the third frame gave the Bulls momentum which they carried into the fourth quarter and which the Knicks had to keep at bay the rest of the night. Luckily, TD bailed him out.
- Amar’e is just flat out struggling. This is not the same guy who was dominating in the preseason, where maybe he was just trying harder than everyone else. He missed a dunk and some gimme-type layups. Not encouraging. But worse is his sloppiness with the ball. The Amar’e I remember from Phoenix was able to put the ball on the floor from time to time to drive at or around his man. This edition of Amar’e can’t dribble at all. Part of it is definitely that the Knicks are getting him the ball too far away from the basket and asking him to create. That’s not his game. The point guards need to learn how to run the pick and roll with Amar’e. But Amar’e, for $99 million, also needs to figure out a way to create his own offense in those moments (which there were plenty of tonight) when he had pretty decent position and just lost the ball. Eight turnovers is just horrible, especially considering that the rest of the team had a total of 9.
- For the most part the Knicks played an efficient game. As mentioned, Gallinari had 24 points on 11 shots and Douglas had 30 on 14. Likewise Felton had 20 on 11, Fields and Walker had 6 on 2. The exceptions were Amar’e and, as expected, Wilson Chandler. I’ll give Amar’e a pass because in his career he’s been highly efficient. Wilson on the other hand hasn’t. I conducted a little experiment today and informally tracked Wil’s percentages in real time on Twitter from inside 15 feet and from outside 15 feet. People who routinely read my tweets knew the point I was making and I felt extremely confident that this game would play out similarly to every other game for Wil so far this year. I wasn’t surprised as the game went on that when Wil was inside 15 feet he shot 50% (2/4) and when he was outside he shot 28.5% (2/7). According to data available on Hoopdata.com, that’s pretty much in line with what we’ve seen from Wilson this season (a mind-boggling 60%/30% split prior to tonight), and in his career. It would behoove Mike D’Antoni to give Wil the Josh Smith treatment and instruct him to never shoot threes unless it is necessary to beat the clock. This approach won’t just help Wil average more points on the same amount of shots, it’ll help the team waste fewer possessions (an average of 10 per game prior to tonight, though you can add 7 more for tonight) on low percentage shots.
- Like most of you I was very excited to get the win tonight and I am looking forward to seeing if the Knicks can build on tonight’s win with a winnable match-up tomorrow against John Wall. Oh, and whoever else is on the Wizards.