Game Notes: Rockets at Knicks
The Return of Jared Jeffries (and Jordan Hill) to the Mecca. An Appleson™ Production.
by Jake Appleman and Russ Bengtson
There are scant minutes left in the 45-minute pregame media time. With an impatient crowd waiting in the visitors’s locker room, a short impromptu parade wends its way through the Madison Garden hallways. Jared Jeffries comes first, a smile on his face and an enormous brown hightop (either Gucci or Vuitton—you’ll have to forgive your humble reporter’s lack of attention to detail), trailed by Jordan Hill and, bringing up the rear, the slightly less vast bulk of Eddy Curry. Jeffries and Hill enter the locker room to face the traditional barrage of “how does it feel to be back in the Garden?” questions, questions that they will endure for the remainder of their basketball lives. Curry enters as well, crouching behind the Rockets’s whiteboards like a rhino hiding behind a mailbox. It becomes readily apparent that the hightop in question is Eddy’s, and Jeffries pilfered it during a visit to his former mates. Enlisting the help of a member of the maybe-not-so impartial media, Curry reclaims his property, and returns to whatever it is he does when basketball games are going on.
What else? We only listen in on one mustachioed coach, Rick Adelman, who praises Jordan Hill and expresses consternation over the (presumably) media-driven idea that he and Tracy McGrady had some sort of falling out. To the media’s credit, when a team refuses to play someone who twice led the League in scoring, then tells him to go away until they can send him elsewhere, it’s natural to assume that said coach and player are no longer exchanging Christmas cards. Some quotes to back up the aforementioned summaries. On Hill: “He’s been very active when we played him. He’s given us some athleticism [at the center position] that we didn’t have. We just need him to rebound and play hard anytime he’s on the court.” On McGrady: “I don’t know where the falling out thing came from. If he could have played, and he could have helped us, I would have played him.”
• Other pre-game observations: Little-used Aussie big man David Andersen catches the late bus to the arena, which means that by the time he arrives, Shane Battier has already finished his pregame workout. (In related news, it appears that Battier has bequeathed his questionable mustache to Jeffries.) When the locker rooms open to the media at 11:30, Andersen is changing into his practice gear. I head over to the home side for a while, and by the time I check back in with the Rockets at 12:10, Andersen is just tying his shoes. Either he has a very complicated ritual that he has to follow every game, or he’s last on the depth chart when it comes to getting taped. Possibly both.
As one would expect, there’s some Tourney talk pregame. J.R. Giddens bemoans the loss of many high seeds, and the corresponding lack of interest in the tournament that follows. We’re sure it has nothing to do with the fact that both of the schools he attended (Kansas and New Mexico) have already been eliminated. Meanwhile, Bill Walker is quite content with things, as he sees a clearer path for his own school (Kansas State) to get to the Final Four. Regardless of their eventual finish, he’s happy that Kansas went home first.
The Knicks’s pregame boards are outstanding. We don’t bother reading them, but they’re written out with a near-military precision (the ruler-straight lines courtesy of a manila folder), the letters almost entirely without curves. If the whole coaching thing doesn’t work out, assistant Kenny Atkinson, whose handiwork this is, could probably get a job designing heavy-metal abum covers.
In a world dominated by Gucci and Vuitton, it’s sort of nice to know that Jared Jeffries wears Simpsons boxer shorts. It’s also sort of creepy, especially when you factor in the unfortunate mustache.
Bill Walker still has his Celtics-issue “UBUNTU” Beats by Dre headphones. Unfortunately, looking at his postgame line, he may have misplaced his actual ubuntu.
Jake and I spend the first half of the game in the media dining room, wrapping things in leftover bacon and watching the start of the game on one of the many HD screens. Unfortunately that means we don’t get to hear certain things, like Jared Jeffries’s greeting from the MSG crowd (which I like to think was not dissimilar to one that would be given to a tough but fair teacher following a long absence where he or she was replaced by a string of inferior substitutes) and the incessant creaking of Tracy McGrady’s knees. Therefore we—or, in fact, Jake—will pick up the action in the third quarter.
• Chuck Hayes makes an immediate impact in the box score, getting buckets down low to start the frame. If he was a rapper–with his wide posterior and subtle rhythm–Hayes would be Bun B; Bun as in “giant Donyell Marshall ass.”
• I say I want a pair of Aaron Brooks’ bright yellow and red Hyperdunk lows. “Why, so you can work at McDonald’s?” Russ chirps back.
• Gallo bombs away from deep. He’s currently hotter from distance than John Mayer’s “sexual napalm,” if Houston’s perimeter D was the girl I knew from summer camp who gave Mayer her demo while they were stopped at a traffic light in LA.
• Am I the only one who thinks Nascar would be greatly improved if, instead of The Race for the Chase, it was The Race for Chase Budinger? [Yes. -RB] All that product placement on the driver outfits, the cars and mentioned by the drivers during interviews…Budinger could become a cultural icon. Check out this Jeff Gordon quote that I tweaked: “Yeah, the Dupont Chevrolet Flomax Skittles Toyota is gearing up for the Budweiser Shootout, as we try and get ourselves in position to take the Sprint Cup by winning The Race for Chase Budinger. But in order to win The Race for Chase Budinger, we’re going to have to fix a busted Penske lug nut to do well at the AT&T 3G Backflip 400 at Talladega with our new Goodyear tires. We’re just lucky to have the people from Amp energy behind us. They provide amp-ness.” What, you don’t want Brian Scalabrine and Christina Hendricks trackside interviewing Dale Earnhardt Jr.? Jessica Rabbit, please.
• It would be cool if Mike D’Antoni just affixed a giant, blinking green light on Toney Douglas the way he’s been shooting today.
• Shot-clock beating 22-footers from David Lee are what Sunday matinees at the Garden are all about, along with bacon and the Knicks City Kids.
• It’s kind of awesome that the Knicks are going to probably replace Jordan Hill’s bursting potential with an NBDL retread. Speaking of which, having caught the highly enjoyable Winning Time, I’m convinced that the Knicks’ formula for future success is the following: the guys that are currently signed for next year, two max (or near max) guys, Tracy McGrady for the veteran’s minimum, 4 of the NBDL’s roughest defenders and Rod Benson. Bring back the 90′s, Donnie! You know you want to! We’ll even get Anthony Mason Jr. on Met-Rx!
• Jordan Hill’s impressive offensive dexterity has been tempered somewhat by David Lee, who has been owning him on the other end. It becomes so glaring that at one point I wonder if Lee refers to Hill as “practice bitch” in his mind.
• Jared Jeffries draws an offensive foul on Al Harrington and his face reads VINDICATION.
• Kyle Lowry has been heads up early in the frame with two pinpoint outlet passes to Chase Budinger for easy layups and a sneaky tip-in. D’Antoni would lament the Knicks’ inability to “get back” in transition after the fact, but we think that’s kind of unfair—guys like J.R. Giddens and Bill Walker still need to learn how to “get”.
• Time Capsule sentence: The MSG crowd gives J.R. Giddens and Al Harrington a nice ovation.
• Trevor Ariza, Jeffries, Kevin Martin, Aaron Brooks and Jordan Hill form Rick Adelman’s “lemph” lineup, with just under three minutes to go.
• J-E-T-S, JetsJetsJets D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Mark Sanchez are shown on the jumbotron and receive a nice round of applause. Only six more months until the NFL. I can hardly not wait.
More interesting, however, is the fact that Brick is sitting to the left of Sanchez, thus sort of protecting his blind side even though they’re not at the office. Sanchez would have to turn halfway around for this to technically be true, but you see why this is cool. Russ makes the obligatory “I wonder if Sandra Bullock is his mom” remark. Forgetting the actual plot of The Blind Side for a second, it would be really cool if Sandra Bullock had, in fact, begat D’Brickashaw Ferguson. Even better would be if it somehow ended up in The Bible under that giant begat section.
• Crunchtime: Gallo ends up on Aaron Brooks at the top of the key, and Brooks penetrates hard, dropping a sick teardrop over the Italian. Russ: “I think the words you’re looking for are, ‘damn, son!’” 112-110, Rockets. Brooks officially puts it away with a high-arcing step-back over Gallo that feels like one of those shots from the movies that just hangs in the air forever. For what it’s worth the girl in the “I’m black please don’t shoot!” shirt is pretty pumped up. Mismatches all around.