|Final - 2.11.2009
|New York Knicks
|Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers got a hard fought and very exciting overtime win to send them into the All Star Break - and I have to say, I'm underwhelmed. I mean, it's great to get the win and all (except of course that it's not since the team isn't really playing for anything), but this was an uneven effort against an undermanned Knicks team.
But let's start with the positives - there were plenty of those as well (at least on the offensive end of the floor).
- Eric Gordon had another 30 point night, including 6 in the overtime period. And right on cue after I praised his scoring efficiency in a post earlier today, he scored his 30 on a mere 16 shots - 10 for 16 overall, 4 for 8 from deep, 6 for 8 free throws. He also had 5 assists and 2 blocks, but he needs to get more than 3 rebounds, especially in a game where Nate Robinson gets 9. His three point play on a tough baseline drive and reverse layup in the final minute of overtime prompted Mike Smith to muse "I think we're discovering who's going to be the go to guy for this team." I hope so. Another huge play by Gordon somewhat lost in the excitement of the final period and overtime came in the final seconds of the third quarter. After the Knicks scored to build the lead back up to 3, Gordon got the inbounds pass with about 5 seconds on the clock. He pushed the ball quickly up court, weaving in and out of defenders, and found Al Thornton for the quarter buzzer beater. That's a really good play, and a very important play in the context of this game.
- Steve Novak had the best game of his career, scoring a career high 23 and hitting a career high 6 threes. The three he hit with 1:12 remaining in regulation to cut the Knicks' 4 point lead to 1 should have songs written about it. The play got him only a sliver of daylight, he made the catch moving directly away from the basket, and turned and fired with Al Harrington trailing closely behind - Harrington was close enough to put his hand on Novak's hip, and there should have been a foul called. As is the case with almost all of Novak's shots, the ball didn't even consider touching the rim - only net will do for Novak. And talk about efficient - Novak scored 23 points on only 10 shots, and it's not like he was parading to the free throw line (he sank one very important free throw after a technical foul that we'll get to in a bit). So with 6 triples and 2 other baskets in only 10 shots, that's 22 points directly from 10 field goal attempts. Hokie smokes.
- The Clippers made 15 three pointers, including 3 in the overtime period, to beat the Knicks at their own game. Now, a couple weeks ago, 15 three pointers would have been a club record for the Clippers. But since they made 16 against the Grizzlies last week, I guess it's now more of a weekly thing as opposed to a record.
- Zach Randolph had 15 rebounds and 22 points, including the equalizer at the end of regulation and the go ahead bucket on the first possession of overtime. 22 doesn't sound like a huge game for Zach, especially given the Knicks defenders, but D'Antoni choose to bring quick and aggressive double teams to Z-bo all night, so when you consider the fact that the Knicks built their defense to get the ball out of Zach's hands, it becomes more aggressive.
- Baron Davis had a Clippers season high 20 assists and hit a HUGE three pointer with 7 seconds left in overtime to give the Clippers a 5 point lead. It was definitely one of those 'No, No, No, N....ice shot' moments, but it put the game out of reach.
- Al Thornton had 20 points, including at least 8 on dunks, and 8 rebounds.
But there were plenty of negatives as well. The Knicks were playing without Chris Duhon and Quentin Richardson, and Tim Thomas only played a few minutes before shutting it down with a pulled groin muscle. That left the Knicks with 8 available players, and the 3 guys off the bench didn't play much. The Knicks starters ended up playing between 42 and 52 minutes each.
- The Clippers were completely incapable of containing Nate Robinson, who had an absolute monster game with 33 points, 15 assists, 9 rebounds and 5 steals - and only one turnover amazingly. In the first half they were switching perimeter screens, and it was clear very quickly that Robinson had his way with anyone who switched onto him. They made the adjustment at half time to have Gordon stay home on him and not to switch everything, and it went a litte better. But Robinson was great ( I wish Duhon hadn't been hurt).
- Baron Davis made his first 4 shots, including a few from the perimeter and it seemed for a few moments like maybe he was going to find his wayward jumper - he then proceeded to miss his next 12 shots - TWELVE! - before making the clinching three in OT. The team shot over 50% DESPITE his 5 for 17 performance. Obviously he was an effective distributor tonight with those 20 assists, but he's going to have to be an offensive threat again at some point. Otherwise, Defenses are simply going to clog the lane and date him to shoot.
- The Knicks got 13 more field goal attempts than the Cippers courtesy of a plus 6 in turnovers, and a minus 9 in offensive rebounds. It's hard to win giving your opponents that many extra shots.
- The biggest problem with the game is that the Clippers got completely caught up in the Knicks style of play. D'Antoni is amazing and has the Knicks playing great. But the Clippers put up 37 threes in the game (that's got to be a record). It's one thing when it's Novak, or even when the shot is a good look coming out of a Randolph double team. But far too many times, Baron Davis or Ricky Davis would just set up behind the arc and shoot early in the shot clock. With Nate Robinson forced to play 52 minutes (the Knicks were terrible the 6 minutes he wasn't in), where was the post up of Eric Gordon. The couple of times they went to it, it worked. They should have been abusing Robinson in the post. Instead they want to work the ball around the perimeter looking for an open jumper.
- The bottom line is that the Clippers didn't deserve to win this game. If Al Harrington doesn't foolishly get a technical foul for hanging on the rim and slapping the backboard after his dunk with 22 seconds remaining, the game is likely over and it's a Knicks win.
By the way, I mentioned the eerie similarities between this game and the Toronto game in the preview - first game back after a long road trip, an extended break in the upcoming schedule, etc. When Marcus Camby was unexpectedly unable to play (as was the case with the Toronto game as well) the similarities got a little close for comfort.