Game Notes: Knicks at Celtics
Sugar Ray shines as the KryptoNate era begins in Boston.
by Jonathan Evans
Somewhere in the SLAMonline bylaws it’s written that if a recently traded player is set to play his previous employer, a reporter should try and be there. If that move involves the New York Knicks and/or Nate Robinson, a reporter is expected to turn in his credential if he can’t be there.
So here we are as the slightly revamped Celtics and overhauled Knicks meet just days after swapping their respective diminutive sparkplugs. In a night of new faces in new places, in the end it was Celtic staple Ray Allen who led Boston to the 110-106 victory. Here’s how it went down.
Nate holds an introductory press conference before the game. Mixed in with the usual platitudes about being excited for the new start is confusion about how things got so sour between him and D’Antoni. I’m inclined to think that shooting at your own basket – albeit after the buzzer – is something that won’t put one in the good graces of many coaches.
Out on the floor it’s a bit unsettling to see Nate Robinson in a layup line between Rasheed Wallace and Ray Allen. Similarly, on the other end, seeing McGrady in orange and blue feels like one of those days where you go a little too crazy on NBA Live.
Boston and New York trade buckets early. New York’s getting a lot out of pick and rolls and pick and pops with McGrady and Lee. The two have connected on three of the Knicks first five scores.
Ray Allen is leading the charge for Boston, pouring in eight points in the first five minutes of the game. Beyond the catch and shoot jumpers, Ray’s getting his on aggressive drives to the rim. Perhaps it’s the all green patent leather Jordans that have inspired this more assertive bent for Allen. A more likely scenario is that he’s relieved he wasn’t shipped out of town last week.
Speaking of shoes, Marquis Tai Chi-inspired AND 1s remind us all of what life was like back in the year 2G, a simpler time.
During the TV timeout the Celtics run a video tribute to Eddie House. As the clip ends with footage from his game seven performance against Cleveland in 2008, the crowd gives him a rousing standing ovation. Chants of “Eddie, Eddie!” flood the Garden. (The Whoopi Goldberg joke is best left on the table.)
House raises his hand and blows kisses to the crowd as he strolls out as the first player on the court after the timeout. As the Celtics break their huddle and return to the floor, House’s former teammates all greet him. Even the all business Garnett takes a moment to show House some love.
Later in the first, Sheed post up and fades away over Harrington. Wet. That is a completely unstoppable shot and for the C’s sake, let’s hope he looks to abuse people in the post just like that.
With 49 seconds left in the first, Nate Robinson checks in for Ray Allen, to a quasi-standing ovation and scattered chants of “Nate the Great.”
The aforementioned David Lee, pick and roll/pop is working well for New York. At some point though, they’ll have to do something about Boston shooting 61 percent from the field and putting up 38 points in the first quarter.
Early in the second, Nate bottoms his first shot as a Celtic, a baseline jumper off a feed from Sheed. I must say, this is the most reserved and least demonstrative I think I’ve ever seen Nate. Perhaps it’s the product of some sort of scarred straight program from KG.
Nate sets up at the top of the key. Down low, Tony Allen posts up for an alley over the top of the defense. Nate obliges and throws the loft but the two can’t connect and the ball goes out of bounds. On the way to the bench, Doc subtly motions to Nate to avoid taking such chances in the future. Celtics rule number one, don’t take cues in the halfcourt from Tony Allen. Celtics +10, 8 minutes left in the half.
As stirring as the Eddie House tribute was, Sheed singing Elton John’s Rocket Man is right there with it.
Behind Sergio Rodriguez, the Knicks make their move and claw back into the game. Good ball movement and strong drives have spurred the Knicks 13-0 run and given them their first lead of the game.
On the other end, Rondo closes out the half strong for Boston. Under a minute left, he drives baseline and throws down a one-handed slam on Al Harrington. Next time down he runs the bread and butter pick and pop with Garnett who hits the jumper to put Boston up four going into the half.
Both teams trade buckets early in the third. Lee paces the Knicks while T-Mac’s turnovers and lethargy pace the Celtics.
The story of the third quarter is the Celtics abusing the Knicks in the paint. The Gallinari/Harrington slot hasn’t been able to handle the Celtics bigs down low. Further, the Knicks guards have proved unable to stop Boston from slashing to the hoop. Of Boston’s 30 points in the period, 22 came from point blank range.
Harrington hits a game-tying three to open the fourth quarter. It’s the tenth make in 20 attempts for New York so far.
The Knicks – surprising as it may sound – are responding quite well to the Celtics charge. While Boston gets the crowd in the game and tries to break it open, the Knicks stay composed, move the ball extremely well and are getting good looks at the basket. A Chandler jumper pulls them within three 105-102 with six minutes left.
Later in the fourth with the Knicks down five, McGrady loses his footing but still manages to feed Lee for an 11 foot jumper. Next time down, T-Mac faces up on Garnett on the perimeter. Whoever’s surgically repaired knee holds up should have this one. McGrady drives left past Garnett and lays it in to pull New York within one. Score two for Mr. Microfracture.
With the chance to take the lead, Chandler throws up an off balanced contested jumper early in the shot clock. The baseline attempt was a horribly rushed shot. Well, so much for lauding the Knicks composure. On the other end, Daniels cuts to the rim and lays one in over Lee to extend the lead to three. For Daniels it capped off a solid performance, scoring 14 points without having a single play called for him.
And now for the play of the game. Chandler slices through the paint and goes in for the lay in. Ray Allen, the last line of defense for Boston, is a step behind the play but manages to soar in and swat the ball out of bounds as the shot clock expires. An athletic explosion that capped off a team leading 24 point night from the artist formerly known as Jesus Shuttlesworth
Moments later, a rushed three from T-Mac seals the game, sending New York to its eighth straight loss. With 24 points from Ray, 15 points and 16 dimes from Rondo, and great all around play from KG, Daniels and company, the Celtics look to be clicking on all cylinders. Only time will tell if KryptoNate can slide in and push team ubuntu to new heights.