Originally written on NBA 24/7 365  |  Last updated 2/21/12
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One game into his stint, Baron Davis has already set a Knicks record: His #85 is the highest ever to be worn by a New York Knickerbocker.  First-ballot HOFer.  Seriously, though, I thought Baron looked alright last night.  I don’t even know what his stats were–I recall a three-pointer and some poor defense on Deron Williams–but none of that even matters yet.  I’ll tell you what does matter..er..could potentially make Baron Davis matter.  As soon as this dude checked into the game, I noticed something: he looked… spirited.  Like, for the first time since ’07, he looks really excited to be out there playing basketball.  He had that old swagger in his step.  Maybe it’s because it was his first game of the season… I don’t know.  However, the City of New York has basketball fever right now, and maybe, just maybe, Baron Davis has caught it?  If so he’s going to be a contributing member of this team.  The questions with Baron have never centered around ability, and if he’s truly as reinvigorated as he looked last night then I’m a believer.

I actually thought the Knicks looked alright as a whole. Well, aside from JR Smith; he played so poorly that he made a post-game apology on Twitter.  Just attach “aside from JR Smith” to everything positive I say about the Knicks today… how’s that?  Alright!  So, the Knicks… they were shooting 39% at the half.  The Nets were shooting 38%.  The Knicks trailed by eight, though.  How’s that happen?  Well, the Nets made nine three-pointers.  They weren’t the kind of three-pointers that make you say “wow,” either… they were completely-uncontested ones knocked down by the likes of Anthony Morrow, MarShon Brooks, DeShawn Stevenson, and Deron Williams.  If you’re the Knicks, you can’t allow that to happen.  The Nets weren’t living and dying by the long-ball out there, they were just so wide the f@ck open that it would’ve made no sense not to launch 16 triples in the first half.  By the time the Knicks got a hand in a face it was too late… the Nets were feelin’ it.  Well, not so much the Nets… mostly Deron Williams.

Yeah… by the time ^that was happening every hand in MSG could’ve been in D-Will’s mug and it wouldn’t have mattered.  The first half failure to contest shots definitely carried over to the second half in the form of confidence.  D-Will had 36 at the end of the third, and the only reason the Knicks even made a few pseudo runs was because the officials called Williams for a pair of bullsh!t fouls that kept him out of the game for almost the entire fourth quarter.  He finished with a season-high 38 on 8-14 from three… his early work allowing the Nets to be out-scored by 10 in the fourth.  The final score reads 100-92, but it really wasn’t that close.

Still, like I said, I thought the Knicks looked alright. Carmelo Anthony went 4-11 and committed 6 turnovers in his return, but he did the right things.  He made quite a few good passes, he looked to work with Jeremy Lin (scored one of his buckets on a pick-and-pop), and he earned himself some easy shots in the paint–he just missed them all.  Jeremy Lin obviously had his share of troubles with Deron Williams, but he still had 21/7/9.  It wasn’t his best game, but I wouldn’t say he played poorly, either.  Amare Stoudemire… he missed some easy ones too.  He also failed to rebound while Kris Humphries and Shelden Williams gobbled up every loose ball, but that’s to be expected.  Basically, the Knicks looked fine on offense, had an off-night, and looked like garbage on defense.  If they scrap as hard as they have been lately?  They’ll be as good as a Mike D’Antoni team can possibly be on the defensive end.  If they move the ball like they did last night (23 assists on 34 buckets)?  The shots will fall.  We’ll have to wait and see how it goes, but I don’t think last night’s loss is anything to get all worked up over, despite the fact that it came at the hands of the Nets.  We’re gonna see what the Knicks are made of real soon if we can just be patient.  They’ve got Atlanta, Miami, Cleveland, Boston, Dallas, San Antonio, and Milwaukee on deck.  Stay tuned.

Final observation on Knicks/Nets: MarShon Brooks, where were you, man?  With D-Will fouled out, the Nets needed someone to take control of this game down the stretch.  That’s your cue, my friend!  Why’d you let Sundiatta Gaines and DeShawn Stevenson handle the rock?  Those aren’t the kind of dudes you can take a back seat to.  I was waiting for you to at least attempt to leave your mark on the latter stages of this contest, but you never really did.  Kinda disappointing.

What a battle that Nuggets/Wolves game was. Nikola Pekovic and Ty Lawson both left with injuries, and the already-thin Nuggets also ended up losing a key contributor in Andre Miller due to technical foul trouble.  With Julyan Stone and Jordan Hamilton (who?  exactly) forced into crunch-time action, it became the Al Harrington show.  Harrington responded by posting a season-high 31 points, including Denver’s last 7 in regulation.  He probably would’ve won ‘em the game prior to the OT had he received the ball on the final possession of the 4th (or made an FT… 0-5).  Instead, Arron Afflalo went Iso.  No disrespect to Arron Afflalo (20 big points in the game), but his isos are never pretty.  Anyway, after three scoreless minutes to begin the OT, Harrington broke the tie with his final bucket.  The Wolves never again led.  They had a pretty good chance to tie it up at the buzzer, but Martell Webster decided he’d rather pursue his third dunk of the season…

I suppose that’s the kind of play we should come to expect from a man who keeps his pet caterpillar on his head.  Seriously, Martell, you should probably put him in a jar or something.  NBA basketball is a physical game; the little fella could get hurt sitting up there.

I made an observation on Derrick Williams during this Wolves game. My note to self goes as follows: I’ve seen the T-Wolves quite a bit, especially lately, but Derrick Williams has never really done anything impressive (other than dunk once in a while).  As soon as I put the cap back on my Sharpie the dude goes and one-hands an offensive rebound, and proceeds to finish the play plus the foul.  Okay, okay, I see you.  Five minutes later he’d played an excellent possession of man-to-man defense on Al Harrington, the game’s leading score, and buried a pull-up jumper.  He finished with 5 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 blocks on 2-2.  Not exactly mind-blowing stuff, but for the first time ever he did a few things that jumped out at me.  He considers himself a guy who does a little bit of everything, and I suppose that’s what he did in this game.  A very little bit of everything… but a little bit of everything.  Like I said, it’s the first time he’s left me feeling even the least bit impressed.  Just thought I’d point that out.

Ekpe Udoh is 24 years old?  He went to college for three years? I was kind of impressed as I watched him score a career high of 19 points in a Golden State victory over the Clippers, but not anymore.  I thought this dude was a project… like 20 or 21 years old, maybe.  He’s still raw as f@ck, and at age 24… that’s just not that young.  This dude was picked one spot ahead of Greg f@cking Monroe, who’s only 21!  Monroe already has a better skill set than Udoh will ever have, and it’s not like Udoh is some seven-foot giant.  He’s 6’10, 245.  I’m sorry, but what a stupid draft pick that was.  All of that being said, Udoh kinda gave DeAndre the business last night.  Jordan looked frustrated, and his effort waned as the night went on.  On one possession he allowed multiple Warrior misses to sail over his head into the hands of Udoh, which was rather unsettling.  I would’ve parked the kid on the bench and told Reggie Evans to get after it.  Evans had 12 boards in 26 minutes, and he isn’t about to cop a “f@ck this sh!t” attitude ’cause a dog happens to be having his day.  Everybody in the NBA has the ability to have a good game, DeAndre.  Whether it’s Ekpe Udoh or Dwight Howard, you need to take the same approach to every game.

How ’bout the Warriors not choking? Monta Ellis (game-high 32 points) and company finished the Clipps off with a game-ending 9-0 run.  For the second game in a row Chris Paul was unusually unclutch.  CP failed to make a concise move on one huge possession, which resulted in his fall-away J being inspected and rejected by the rangy Dominic McGuire.  Most of his 24 points came early, and he finished with 5 TOs to just 6 ASTs.  Weird.

Can we please break up the JJ/Smoove/Horford era Hawks? I’m tired of watching these guys get crushed every time they play a good team (lost by 10 or 11 to the Bulls yesterday, but trailed by 5 billion for most of the game).  It’s been, what, four or five seasons of pretending now?  Ship everything but the kitchen sink, miss the playoffs, don’t draft Marvin Williams, and try again.  I feel like I’m playing Grand Theft Auto when I watch the Hawks.  I’ve completed all of the missions on this island, but I can’t figure out how the hell I get to the next one, so I drive around in circles and hit hookers with baseball bats.  It’s kinda fulfilling, but the fact of the matter is that my friends are all driving cars with hyraulics and I’m stuck whippin’ the same ol’ Banshee.  Stop driving that goddamn Banshee, Atlanta.  Put some different players at the controls and see if you can’t make a little progress.

Box Score Observations: The Blazers scored 7 points in the first quarter.  They scored 36 in the third quarter.  The 7 points are a season low, and the 36 are a season high.  Ultimately, they lost to the Lakers in LA.  Stephen Jackson, who hasn’t been happy with the little playing time he’s received as a Buck, received a DNPCD in a loss to Orlando.  Scott Skiles doesn’t play.  Dirk Nowitzki put 26/16 on the Celtics, who have slipped all the way back to .500.  The Spurs beat the Jazz in Utah… that’s 11 in a row.

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