Game Notes: Maccabi TA at Knicks
You get thrown out for two techs in Europe, too. Right?
by Adam Fleischer
Heading to Madison Square Garden on a rainy New York Sunday morning, my feelings were admittedly mixed: I was excited to see my first live ball of the NBA season, but more than a little frustrated that I’d be missing the Giants as they took on the Saints in a battle of undefeateds. So much so, in fact, that I recorded the football game planning on avoiding scoring updates while watching the Knicks, and then peeping the GMen once I got home. Well, somewhere around halftime of the Knicks taking on Maccabi Tel Aviv, I saw that the Giants were down 27-10 (couldn’t avoid the score popping up at the arena), and decided either: a) this was the first time all year that I hadn’t been sitting on my couch watching the Giants, so the smackjob was my fault, or b) it’s good I didn’t have to be subjected to this showing (or lack of). Plus, I knew I was in for a unique atmosphere at the game.
And that’s certainly what it was. As Tzvi, Jake and I were taking in warm ups courtside, it was already clear that the crowd dynamic was going to be a bit different than at most Knicks games; there were some hometown fans, no doubt, but there were an incredible number of supporters for the visiting Israeli team. There were flags, shirts, and plenty of yarmulkes.
The teams also faced off at MSG back in 2007 in a game that drew the largest crowd for a preseason game at the arena. With contributions from the Giants, the weather and the economy, Sunday’s event didn’t have the draw of their earlier meeting, but fans still came out for the game—with all proceeds going to charity.
– Let it begin: the crowd erupts with a louder response after Maccabi Tel Aviv’s first basket than the Knicks’.
– Staten Island’s own Andrew Wisniewski, a guard for Maccabi, has his homecoming spoiled early on as Nate Robinson sends his lay up out of bounds. Still plenty of time to avenge his honor in front of friends and family, though.
– Lefty Chuck Eidson of Maccabi (who balled at South Carolina and in the NBDL) has six points in the first four minutes of action.
– Jordan Hill can’t handle the pass on an otherwise well executed pick and roll. This can’t be good for Knick fans.
– Former Michigan State guard Alan Anderson scores twice for Macabbi to end the quarter, but he was just 3/8 in the period and the Knicks are up 28-22
– Maciej Lampe, called “Magic Lamp” by Jake, “my former player on the Suns” by D’Antoni, and “this damn guy that we wasted a draft pick on is back?” by Knicks fans, hits a jumper and abruptly turns it over on the next possession.
– Toney Douglas is stripped at half court. Not a good look.
– One of three players to record four triple doubles in one college season, former UMass big man Stephane Lasme is still a shot blocking presence (he did it with points, rebounds, and blocks), as he sends an attempted Knicks floater into the crowd.
– Both pregame and now during the game, there’s Israeli music being played over the system. I can get down with some “Hava Nagila” up tempo type joints, but they played some softer stuff here and there that didn’t cut it for a basketball game.
– Darko fouls Maccabi big man D’or Fischer shooting a 20-foot jumper. Really? D’Antoni feels the same, and the former second overall pick is headed to the bench as Fischer takes his free throws.
– Nate hits is defender with a crossover near the corner and swishes a jumper. And one.
– Maccabi is still hanging tough with six minutes to go in the half, down just nine, 40-31.
– Each time I glance around, the stands are looking more and more full. Not a sell out, but a respectable showing nonetheless.
– Jared Jeffries launches himself from a bit too far away and ends up throwing what he hoped to be a dunk embarrassingly off the back rim—not even reaching the basket himself.
– A Robinson three with just over two to go caps a 19-2 Knicks run.
– So much for Maccabi making it close, as the Knciks lead 56-35 at the half and David Lee has a double-double.
–The Knicks shot 4-17 from deep in the first half and Maccabi was just 0-8. Something tells me they’re both gonna keep launching.
– My hunch comes true, as an early Duhon miss from beyond the arc is followed by two makes in a row by Nate.
– For some reason, our seats were behind the livest section of Maccabi fans—team jerseys, chants, occupancy of the isle and thundersticks became a few of their trademarks throughout the afternoon.
– During one timeout, the screen focuses on a man who, clearly has been waiting for this moment. He gets down on one knee, grabs a ring out of his jacket pocket, and proposes to his girl as the screen reads, “Sara, will you marry me?” It’s a little unclear at first, but in the end she seemed to be alright with the idea. The announcer the congratulates them. Tzvi thinks it’s the first “mazel tov” that’s been said over the PA system. I tend to agree.
– At the six-minute mark, Maccabi picks up their third technical, this one on the coach.
– Guy Pnini hits a three, and Jake’s got more nicknames: “Half Man, Half Sandwich…no, no…Half Man, Half Flatbread Sandwich.”
– Only a minute’s gone by, and the coach picks up another T. That’s the end of his day.
– Maybe it’s not. He won’t leave the court. The refs are coming over, presumably to make him leave, but no luck. Down the other end of the scorer’s table, Nate and D’Antoni are having a laugh—maybe unrelated, but probably not.
– Apparently Maccabi’s coach is known as the Bob Knight of Euroball. He’s now showing why.
– Players start taking half court shots, Nate goes over to the group huddled around the opposing coach and starts clapping his hands, as if to say, “Alright, let’s get on with this.”
– After about 10 minutes and the appearance of a rabbi (who actually spoke during halftime) for what Tzvi believes was some “spiritual guidance,” the coach finally exits.
– Duhon gets booed as he shoots the T, and clinks it off the rim. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a time this year when the Knicks get booed at the Garden, but usually it’ll be because the fans are upset with them—not because they straight up like the other team more, as is the case right now.
– Maccabi seems inspired by the antics of their coach and scores a quick four, but Danilo comes in and hits a three to quell any sort of run (the PA guy has a great accent when his says “Danilo Gallinari,” by the way).
– Larry Hughes gets his first run of the game late in the third.
– Hill misses two lay ups and is called for a loose ball foul. Hey, it’s preseason, no worries. Right?
– The Knicks’ Chris Hunter and Marcus Landry each get involved in the action. Unlikely that they’ll both make the roster, but it seems like Landry has a good shot.
– Wisniewski is still scoreless in the 4th. No luck avenging, I guess.
– Despite the fact that the Knicks have this game on lock, the majority of Maccabi fans are still in their seats and cheering for the squad any chance they get.
– The attendance ended up being over 14,000—not too shabby.
– Final score: 106-91, Knicks get the W.