ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — New York Knicks coach Mike Woodson‘s goatee doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Perfectly trimmed, densely populated, nearly symmetric, Mike Woodson’s goatee might be the NBA’s most wholly realized facial hair. And in order to fully explore Coach Woodson’s facial hair, the Knicks recently sent their “Kid Reporters” Ryan and Jaylah out to interview several Knicks players, to try and get to the bottom of the existential riddle that is Coach Woodson’s goatee.
Is Woodson’s goatee, as Carmelo Anthony suggests, completely detachable?
Does Coach Woodson dye it, Steve Novak wonders?
Is Mike Woodson actually 70 years old, as JR Smith asks?
As everyone knows by now, the compressed NBA schedule will force every team to play three games in three nights at least one this season (42 times in total). With only 66 games to stake a claim to a playoff spot or seed, how teams perform during these killer slates could have a large impact on how their seasons turn out.
With that in mind, we’re going to keep track of each of the 42 three-plays to see which teams take advantage and which teams fall apart. Up next, the New York Knicks, who played three straight from Feb. 2-4.
The Knicks have been in a season-long funk, unable to live up to the increased expectations that came with trading for Carmelo Anthony and adding Tyson Chandler. Would three games in three nights be a rallying cry for the squad, a bonding experience that could turn the season around and put them back on a playoff track? Or would it be just another 72 hours of disappointment in a season so far full of them? Let’s find out.
Game 1: Bulls 105, Knicks 102 – Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire combined for 60 points, but the Knicks defense could not contain Derrick Rose, who torched them for 32 points and 13 assists as the Bulls escape MSG with the road win.-2 points
Game 2: Celtics 91, Knicks 89 – It seems to me if you go through all the trouble to sign Amar’e to a giant contract, then trade half your roster to get ‘Melo, you might want to get one of them a shot in the closing seconds of a tight game. Instead the Knicks got two bad shots from Landry Fields and (making sure I’m reading this correctly) Steve Novak in the final seconds, and there’s your L. -1 points
Game 3: Knicks 99, Nets 92 – Much like the Pistons, the Knicks faced the prospect of going oh-fer in their three play with the final game coming against the lowly Nets. Fortunately for New York they found some resolve, and by resolve I mean backup guard Jeremy Lin, who set new career highs in (gathers breath) points, field goals made and attempted, 3-pointers, free throws made and attempted, rebounds, assists, and minutes played in helping the Knicks salvage a win. 5 points
2 total points for the Knickerbockers, which given the way their season has gone so far seems fairly appropriate.
Up next: The Denver Nuggets also played three straight Feb. 2-4, with games against the Clippers, Lakers, and Blazers.
Nicolas Batum‘s tip-in GWBB is the second this season off an inbounds lob, following Andrew Bogut‘s heroics for the Bucks against the Pacers back in December. I continue to marvel at this play’s success — when there is less than a second left, the lob towards the basket seems like something the defense has to account for. The Spurs put Antonio McDyess on the inbounds pass, which does make the lob a little more difficult, but didn’t put anyone near the basket, and they paid for it with the loss.
Of course, the Spurs’ mistake should come as no surprise, as San Antonio did pretty much everything in its power to hand this game to the Blazers down the stretch with a collection of turnovers and mistakes. I’m curious how many players have scored four points in the final second of an NBA game — maybe I can get StatsCube master John Schuhmann to look into it.
Once again, the Horry scale examines a shot in the categories of difficulty, game situation (was the team tied or behind at the time), importance (playoff game or garden-variety Clippers-Nets game), and celebration, and give it an overall grade on a scale of 1-5 Robert Horrys.
How did Tricky Nic do? Let’s investigate:
This was a very difficult play and a very simple one all at the same time. On the one hand, you only have 0.9 seconds to work with, so the lob has to be right on the money to allow Batum to get the shot off (technically there is enough time allowed to catch and shoot, but practically speaking the tip-in is Batum’s only choice). On the other hand, Batum has at least a six-inch advantage on Tony Parker, so he meets with very little resistance once the lob arrives. I think that’s nitpicking though — Andre Miller is generally recognized as the best lob-tosser in the NBA*, and he puts this one right on the money, making a very difficult play look very easy.
*After the game, Miller would say it was the best pass he’d ever thrown.
Tie ballgame, but with extraordinarily unique circumstances. Think of all that had to go wrong for the Spurs to lose this game. Leading by four with half-a-minute remaining, both of the Spurs’ best ballhandlers (Parker and Manu Ginobili) get their pockets picked, allowing the Blazers to tie the game after a Miller layup and then a pair of Batum free throws with 0.9 left. Then, Steve Novak throws an errant inbounds pass, the third San Antonio turnover in 30 seconds, with no time running off the clock to boot, setting Portland up for a final crack at it. Maybe the game was tied, but it sure didn’t feel like it.
Not to say that Dallas is a team to be trifled with, but the win keeps the Blazers a half-game ahead of the Hornets for the 6-seed in the West, which keeps them (for the moment) from facing the Lakers in the first round. Portland also remains only 1.5 games behind Denver for the 5-spot, so all in all a very big win.
Man – is there a better arena in the NBA for GWBBs? The fans at the Rose Garden always seem right on top of the court, and the crowd goes ballistic as soon as the ball drops through.
4.5 Horrys. Between the amazing comeback, the perfectly-executed lob, and the outstanding celebration, I have to give this one pretty high marks. I’ll only take off half-a-Horry for the fact that it was a tie game, but otherwise, this one had it all.
What do you think?
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*McNeal has yet to appear in an NBA game, so his NBA D-League stats are listed here
Missed the cut: None
Team synopsis: This team is fairly similar to the squad Wade took to the Final Four in 2003, in the sense that most of the team doesn’t really have much of an NBA future. In fact, they only qualify to participate because McNeal was recently given a 10-day contract by the Hornets. Still, Wade and Matthews are a nice 1-2 combo. (more…)