Game Notes: Raptors at Knicks
It ain’t over ’til it’s over.
by Russ Bengtson (@russbengtson)
It was a beautiful play.
I just want to get that out of the way right up front. David Lee broke free behind the defense, Nate Robinson found him with a perfect one-handed bounce pass, and Lee dunked it to put the Knicks up by five. As he crossed midcourt, Nate spread his arms wide. He didn’t say anything — at least I don’t think he did — but you could hear him anyway. “ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?” Only one problem: there were still two minutes left on the clock. Plenty of time for celebration later, Maximus.
Only you know how the rest goes. Hedo Turkoglu is fouled on a three-point attempt, then scores again the next time down on a follow. Jarrett Jack hits a tough layup. Chris Bosh hits an even tougher one. The Knicks? They get layup attempts swatted twice, Lee misses from point-blank range, and Al Harrington brings it all to a close with a charge, eight-tenths on the clock. Final score, Raptors 106, Knicks 104.
Hey, there’s nothing wrong with playing with confidence, even playing with exuberance. But there’s a line you can’t cross, and the Knicks seem to cross it often despite themselves. Nate Robinson catches an alley-oop from Chris Duhon late in the third, but gets served with a deserved technical for hanging on the rim. Harrington hits a big three from right in front of the Raptors bench to put the Knicks up three and comes back popping his jersey…with nearly three minutes to go. Psssst. Guys? Little secret: The game probably isn’t over.
And it wasn’t. Until it was.
Word to Larry Hughes, who, whilst he remains out of the rotation, is a delight to speak with pregame. Larry and me, we go way back to an And 1 shoot his rookie year that was so long ago we can’t even remember who all was there. Shammond Williams for sure, and we figure out Bobby Sura because I knew there was a white guy, and he and Larry had the same agent. Neither of us could remember whether Skip was there or not.
Amongst other things, he talks about his college visit to Michigan, which was hosted by Robert Traylor and Louis Bullock. It was the summer after the infamous Mateen Cleaves visit, so there were some, um, restrictions. “We couldn’t go to Detroit,” he said, “we had to stay in Ann Arbor. They took me to the movies!” He can’t remember what they saw, but he sure as heck wound up going to SLU.
The Raptors were just here, so everyone’s in the same spot they were last time. At least I’m pretty sure they are. Chris Bosh dresses by the shower door, which is the superstar -slash- pending free-agent spot. LeBron, Wade, Amar’e, Dirk—they all dressed there. When the Lakers were here, Kobe dressed in the back. Not sure what that means in the grand scheme of things.
David Lee is in good spirits despite finding out that he’s been left off the All-Star team. He’ll be in Texas anyway for a friend’s wedding, so, you know, he’ll be available if anyone needs him. And the wedding’s on Saturday, so he won’t be busy on Sunday night. Just in case you were wondering.
Keeping precise play-by-play game notes is damn near impossible when teams jack shots like the Knicks and Raptors. There’s really no need, as there are people being paid to do precisely that, but old habits die hard. Also, it’s fun to rapidly type out things like “Duhon with his first trhee [sic] in six months.”
With 5:18 to go in the quarter, Jared Jeffries has swished a 20-footer and a corner three, the Knicks lead 22-11, and Jay Triano calls time to talk things over with a higher power. Someone must hear him, as Jeffries is pulled for Al Harrington. (Jeffries will also miss the entire second half and finish with those five points.)
The Raptors make a brief run before the Knicks redouble on a Danilo Gallinari three-pointer from up top, 32-16. They’ve got them roughly doubled on field goal percentage as well, 70-something to 30-something. It’s 34-20 at the end of the first.
Feeling saucy, Mike D’Antoni starts both Jared Jeffries and Jordan Hill. Perhaps caught up in the moment, Marco Bellinelli commits a foul two seconds into the quarter. If they continue to foul at this rate, the Raptors will be in the penalty with 11:50 to go in the quarter.
Jordan Hill! Jose Calderon pulls up for a jumper in the paint, and Hill races back in time to block it cleanly from behind. He struggles offensively, though, and is pulled for Lee at the midway point.
The Raptors are starting to hit shots and starting to chip away. Antoine Wright buries a three, Jose Calderon gets a freeway-wide lane along the baseline for a layup, and it’s a five-point game. They pull within two on a Hedo Turkoglu three, but it’s as close as they’ll get in the first half. David Lee already has his double-double (17 and 10) and the Knicks lead by four, 53-49.
Chris Bosh finally gives the Raptors a lead, 54-53, with just under 10 minutes to go in the third. Lots of misses, lots of turnovers in the first two minutes of the quarter.
Chanting “DE-FENSE” at Madison Square Garden is like chanting “VE-GAN” at Ruth Chris. The sentiment may be admirable, but you’ve got a lot of history working against you.
Also, Al Harrington is to ball movement what gridlock is to car movement.
Following the Nate Robinson rim-hanging tech (Calderon predictably sinks the freebie), some big shots from Turkeyglue, and a thrilling cameo by Rasho Nesterovic, the Knicks exit the third quarter clinging to an 81-79 lead.
Back-to-back Raptor triples from Calderon and Antoine Wright put the Raps up four. The Knicks respond by trundling out the T-shirt Gatling gun (no Chris) and firing on the crowd. Can I say that? Nate misses a baseline runner out of the time out, Bosh hits a jumper, and the Toronto lead is…well, you can add.
Jordan Hill misses everything on a layup attempt.
The Knicks don’t fade, though. Chandler hammers home a baseline two-hander, Nate buries a three, then breaks up a Jack to Calderon pass and gets fouled. Probably should have been a clear path. Instead, Harrington gets fouled and hits both. One-point game.
Bosh and Lee are more or less neck-and-neck, at 25/14 and 25/15 respectively.
Harrington fouls out Amir Johnson on a drive—hits the pair—then hits that big (and sort of rushed) three from in front of the Raptor bench to put the Knicks back up three. We already covered the rest. David Lee, not an All-Star, finishes with 29 points and 18 boards.
Was sort of all over the place for various reasons, so I didn’t catch much of the general postgame chatter. Bosh, perhaps freed from the “what will you be doing in July?” questions thanks to their visit earlier in the month, is free to talk about something else for a change. “I’ve never seen Hedo dunk that much—not even in practice.” Looking back, I don’t think I noted a one. Maybe the Knicks aren’t the only ones who need to pay more attention to detail.