Game Notes: Nets at Knicks
Class begins the only way it should.
by Matt Lawyue
It was the first day of school all over again. New school, new people, new routine, new locker (combination), new books, etc… Last night I attended the N.J. Nets vs. N.Y. Knicks preseason game at Madison Square Garden, for the first time as a member of the media. To say I had some butterflies is an understatement. They were more like rabid bats blindly flying inside my stomach.
The Night/Morning Before School – Pregame
In a completely 21st Century, liberally evolved way, let’s say the SLAM editorial staff are my parents. Ben, Susan and Ryne have all gelled into Mom and Dad. As any good parents do, they prepped me for my first day. My first instructions were to pick up my media credential near the green awning and take the elevator to the 6th Floor to the media lounge. Ben and Susan emphatically remind me to “NOT EAT FROM THE BUFFET” while in the lounge and “ORDER A BURGER INSTEAD.” They don’t exactly yell it, but heads were shaking when the buffet was brought up. Then take some notes and enjoy the game.
As I walk up 6th Ave towards MSG, in the ridiculous Manhattan cold (honestly, it shouldn’t be anywhere this cold in October), my nerves are knotted and my mind is wandering. I conclude I just want to walk away from tonight without making a complete ass out of myself and to seem like a semi-manageable journalist. I’ve done the first day of school act a bunch of times, and all ended fine. Why should this be any different?
I pick up my credential without any hassle, but then “Panic Moment #1″ hits. Which floor do I get off from the elevator? Did Ben say 5 or 6? Holy crap, what do I do? You know what I’ve become? That kid on the first day of school who stands still, quivering in the corner unsure of where to go. I step into the packed elevator, which included the National Army Color Guard. Great, now the Army is watching me. What if I mess up so badly that they kidnap me, ship me off to the Middle East and force me to hunt down Osama bin Laden with a pairing knife? I pull the always clutch “follow the herd move.” I slip behind a big guy with a media credential around his neck, get off at the 6th Floor, and walk straight into the media lounge. I’m so stealthy.
I gather myself and head down to the court. About an hour and a half before tip-off, almost all of the Nets are on the floor practicing. Two Knicks are shooting around, with President Walsh looking on. Knicks assistant coach Herb Williams is chatting it up, while Nets center Brook Lopez works on low-post moves. Yi Jianlian walks by me. Let me tell you something about Yi. Boy is HUGE. Speaking as a person of Chinese heritage, no Chinese man should be this tall or this muscular. It’s just not right. He still rocks the Chinese fade though, short hair in the back with long in the front. He’s cool in my book.
I slip into the tunnel with the media horde and stick my recorder in Nets coach Lawrence Frank’s face. He’s a jovial guy who says Rafer Alston would be starting for the injured Devin Harris, then patiently answers the rest of the questions. He decides to go Casual Friday tonight, leaving the tie at home.
I head back up to the lounge to jot down some notes, but then hunger strikes. Sorry Susan, I gorge myself on the buffet. I can’t help myself. No logical person turns down a buffet. Unless you’re Balloon Boy’s father. I bet he would turn down a buffet. Also, the guy from the Bergen Record sounds like he’s typing on a typewriter. I check… he isn’t. Might as well be though. How does the Bergen Record even have the money to send reporters to games anymore?
I settle down into my press seat, laptop out and ready to work. So far, so good. No warning signs or disaster moments…yet. The starting lineups:
Nets — Rafer Alston, Courtney Lee, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Yi Jianlian, Brook Lopez
Knicks — Chris Duhon, Nate Robinson, Jared Jeffries, Wilson Chandler, David Lee
Referees — Jeff Smith, Hector Sanchez, Garrick Shannon (Who, who and who?)
Colors, National Anthem, video intro’s blah blah blah… Let’s get this game started. One thing about the Knicks video introduction: They should have never ever changed it from the ’90′s taxi cab/basketball weaving through midtown to MSG. Simple, clean and classic. Now, it’s like they’re preparing the Knicks for war. If the Knicks were going to war, I’d run in the opposite direction.
First Class of the Day — First Quarter
– Jeffries wins the tip against Lopez. The Yankees game starts in 30 minutes. What the hell am I doing here? This is PRESEASON. I should be out doing my college thing watching playoff baseball. I’m either A) an idiot, B) in love with basketball or C) all of the above.
– Nate bricks his first shot. Yi follows suit. This is going to be a very long night.
– There’s a woman in the crowd who screams at everything. Every single play. She’s about 30 rows up. This is going to be a problem.
– Knicks are 4-14 to start and 0-3 from downtown.
– Celebrity row is practically empty and all I can think of is Jay-Z’s, Empire State of Mind.
“…sitting courtside, Knicks and Nets give me high-fives…” No HOVA, Chris Rock, Spike, Whoopi, Sandler, Fabolous, McEnroe, etc… I wonder where they are? Oh right, probably at or watching the YANKEE GAME YOU IDIOT.
– Danilo Gallinari and Darko Milicic enter the fray. Gallo’s first play of the game is to hack Yi. China vs. Italy. Cage match. Speaking of Gallo, the kid is going to be good. There’s no doubt about it. For his size and his natural ability to handle and shoot the ball, you can’t doubt him.
– Nate is shot-happy tonight. Missing a lot. Gallo grabs an offensive rebound, chucks it up, gets fouled and the shot counts. He’s arrived, New York. It’s all that Wii he’s been playing.
– Gallo pops a three. His shot is so pretty. Reminds me of H2O. Yi is KILLING. 6-6, with 2:19 left.
– Contestants play musical chairs during a timeout. There’s a guy that’s twice the size of any contestant. My money’s on him. Weight never lies.
– The Yankees game just started.
– Wilson Chandler really needs to drive more. He can be so dangerous going to the hoop.
– Jordan Hill’s first touch is a brick. So is Toney Douglas’. Yay for rookies!
– 27-20 Nets, with 1:01 left.
– First quarter ends and Yi has 10 and 6. Nobody can guard his outside shot. Knicks shoot 9-27 from the floor. Preseason offensive woes continue.
The Class Before Lunch — Second Quarter
– Spotted: a kid with a Knicks Penny Hardaway jersey. There really is no hope for humanity.
– SLOPPY fast break by the Knicks rookies. Oh Stephen Curry, where art thou?
– Chandler drops in a deuce and we have the first Tom Hanks’ Castaway “Wilson” shout of the game. He probably hates that movie by now. I sure do.
– Gallo hits a three and “Run This Town” plays. I’m really trying to enjoy this song, but everybody is killing it. It’s not OK to use it whenever you feel like it.
– Jordan Hill is clueless right now. Douglas however, splits the D and dishes to Darko. Nice.
– Some guy behind me just shouted out, “Yankees just scored!” Thanks guy!
– The Yankees scored again. What the hell am I doing here? 37-34 Nets, with 6:50 to go.
– Gallo has 10 points in 11 minutes, with 2 three’s. Lookin’ sharp tonight.
– The Nets just double-teamed David Lee 15 feet from the basket and he draws the foul. Unnecessary much?
– And here come the free t-shirts. Holy crap, here are the t-shirt-launchers. It’s like TGI Fridays ruining Times Square. That’s how I feel about them.
– Courtney Lee hits a three, sans face-mask. I feel so bad for him. You know if he completes that alley-oop in the Finals, he doesn’t get traded. Now look at him. No face-mask and stuck on the Nets. Rock. Bottom.
– Jeffries with a put back dunk. I still thought he was going to miss.
– Knicks are shooting 16-43, 37.2 percent from the field. Struggle, struggle, struggle.
– Nate beats Courtney Lee off the dribble for a bucket, only to stare at the refs for a foul. I thought this season was about growing up, Nate? Just get back on defense.
– I’m telling you, Wilson in the lane is money.
– 51.6 left and it’s 50-44 Knicks. When did that happen? Knicks on a run. Straight out-hustling them at this point. 52-44 at the half. This lady is still screaming. I’m seriously going to take this monitor and throw it at her. She’s a good 15 feet from me, but I think I can reach. Knicks are shooting 21-50, 42 percent at the half. DLee has 10 and 12 at the half. Typical.
Lunch — Halftime
– Ducked into the press room to catch some of the Yankees game. Top of the 3rd, Yankees up 2-0. I almost didn’t come out for the 2nd half. Almost.
– There is an older lady in the stands bobbing her head to Live Your Life. T.I. truly transcends generations.
– I really can’t stand these kids that run around trying to hype the crowd. Since when did New York need this? We’re supposed to be the fans who don’t need a jumbotron to tell us when to chant “DE-FENSE.” I’m so upset right now. I hope each and every one of these kids falls down a flight of stairs.
Day is Almost Over — Third Quarter
– DLee on a break away jam to start the quarter. He’s doin’ work tonight.
– Courtney Lee is 4-4 so far. Jeffries just took Yi to the hole and Frank calls a timeout. When Jeffries is taking you off the dribble, something isn’t right.
– Larry Hughes still hasn’t stepped onto the court. He’s not listed as hurt. What’s the deal?
– Chris Douglas-Roberts is going to be good. Seriously.
– How early is too early to draft DLee in your fantasy draft? He has 16 and 13 with 8:14 left in the third.
– Knicks have pushed the lead to 13, 67-54. Nets timeout.
– Lee is hot tonight. Not just from inside, but with the jumper as well. I’m liking the confidence he has with his jumper this preseason. Now translate it when it counts.
– Rafer Alston is ice-cold. 0-4. The Nets are going to be pretty bad even with Devin Harris running the point, but when he’s out you might as well shove icepicks into your eyes.
– Suddenly the Knicks lead has ballooned to 17, 73-56.
– Knicks are clicking on offense tonight. Started slow, but have really pushed the tempo of late.
– OH MY GOD, the screaming woman has moved closer to the floor, meaning she’s closer to me now. I can definitely reach her with my monitor now.
– They just announced the Jabbawockeez will be performing on opening night. Now I have a legitimate reason to not want to attend.
– There’s a Larry Hughes spotting! He enters with about 2:45 left in the third.
– This is the essence of Darko: a nice block on the defensive end, gets rewarded with a post up on the next possession, and he loses the ball out of bounds.
– Refs have called 27 fouls with 1:01 left in the third. Who says they’re replacements?
– 75-59 Knicks at the end of three.
Last Class of the Day — Fourth Quarter
– The Knicks have found a way to utilize a Katy Perry song into a timeout skit, “Hot n Cold.” Why can’t we just let this song die?
– The baseball Gods have smiled upon me. This game is going by quick. Only 1 hour 38 minutes so far.
– Terrence Williams looks strong and comfortable handling the ball. He’s got athleticism as well. He can be good if he works on his shot. Next possession down, he knocks one down. Touche Terrence.
– Jeffries has been hitting this corner three all preseason. He’s slowly becoming a very poor man’s Bruce Bowen, but not really.
– 80-64 Knicks, with 8:04 left in the fourth.
– Nets are shooting 37.7 percent from the field and are badly getting beat on the boards.
– Hughes finally touches the ball and a guy behind me screams, “Don’t shoot it!” His shot is blocked by Lopez. Classic.
– Hughes and Hill bobble the ball out of bounds. Bury them on the bench, please.
– Marcus Landry (Houston’s Carl Landry’s brother) is in the game for the Knicks. It’s officially time to go.
– Hughes attempts an alley-oop to Hill. What do you think happened?
– It’s 82-73. Nets have climbed back in this. Yawn.
– It’s the Landry show now. Kid just drained a three.
– Some kid during this timeout is doing the “Carlton dance” from Fresh Prince. Now it’s Michael Jackson. This really has become the highlight of my night. Now he broke out MC Hammer’s, “Can’t Touch This.” He has to be only 8 years old. This is amazing. On to “Yeah!” by Usher. Terrence Williams is shooting a free throw and the kid still got an ovation during it. Wow.
– Landry hits another three and the Nets call a timeout. D’Antoni immediately goes to talk with Nate who had lost the ball out of bounds on a previous play, and then started juggling it like a soccer ball instead of getting back on defense. Say it with me, MA-TUR-I-TY.
– It’s 3-1 Yankees in the top of the sixth and I’m really surprised MSG hasn’t showed the score on the jumbotron yet.
– 90-86 Knicks, with 17.9 left. Williams hits a three.
– Final Score: 93-89 Knicks.
End of the First Day of School — Postgame
I packed up my things and debated whether to attend the press conferences to this preseason game or go watch the ending to the Yankees ALCS game. Like the end of the first day of school, I decide to get out of there as quickly as possible.