Game Notes: TWolves vs. Knicks
From Paris With Boards.
by Matt Ogborn / @mattogborn
It took a while for the Paris Bercy arena to fill up on Wednesday night. It didn’t take long for Amar’e to fill the bucket, though, as the Knicks’ fresh cornerstone sunk the first two points of the game.
If anyone has any doubts as to Stoudemire’s reason for heading to the Big Apple, apart from the Benjamin-busting contract of course, they got their answer on foreign shores.
The former Phoenix lane beast was in no mood to take the Wolves gently. When you have Kevin Love banging the boards at both ends and Nikola Pekovic showing raw steel, you have to man up.
With Ronny Turiaf milking his Gallic audience for all their worth from the outset, STAT was second in the crowd’s affections but soon had them eating out of his hand into the bargain. He may not have been particularly sizzling on offense, but hustled hard out on the floor.
The main attractions weren’t going solo on this long-haul effort. Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni was impressed with his bench when I quizzed him afterward, Toney Douglas and Stanford newbie Landry Fields seizing the chance to boost their young portfolios.
Wilson Chandler carried the bulk of the scoring alongside Anthony Randolph, Danilo Gallinari leaving his stroke way back east in Milan. He threw up more bricks than the foundations provided below us and he wasn’t the only one, Luke Ridnour and Roger Mason Jr joining the Mile Wide Club.
Turiaf put the buffers on Love in a roof-raising moment in the second half, when the respective backcourts still failed to show exactly what they’re going to bring to the regular season table.
Rangy rook Wesley Johnson did show the type of composure Coach Rambis will be looking for all season long, whether he goes with the Syracuse smoothie from the opening whistle or not. We know what Martell Webster can do — the former Portland role player cashed in 17 points from distance.
Bill Walker must also be thinking there are minutes to be had at Madison Square Garden, judging by his concrete cameo, particularly if those ahead of him continue to project the good, bad and ugly at show time.
Russian center Timofey Mozgov decided to hog the highlight reel late on with shuddering blocks on Pekovic, the two bigs battling to earn hardcourt exposure in their first taste of stateside hoops.
The locals got their money’s worth down the stretch, the Wolves heading back to host the Nuggets with two feisty wins under their belt and 62 rebounds on the score sheet, almost double the Knicks’.
When I got one-on-one time with Kurt and Bill Laimbeer, as they brought the curtain down on their overseas workout, the board count pleased them no end so NBA defenses beware.
D’Antoni’s outfit welcome the Celtics to the Garden next, where Stoudemire and his boardroom colleagues will get another stern test in the paint which they sorely need to pass.
Ex-Spur Mason Jr summed their situation up to me, the need for more games blatantly apparent as the phalanx of new players seek out their role in an open rotation.
Kudos to both teams for leaving it all on the playing surface again here in France – their European jaunt ending with continental cheer rather than a wasted whimper.
If you want the inside track on the Lakers in Barcelona on Thursday, follow Matt on Twitter @mattogborn or hold tight for his NBA Europe feature early next week here on SLAMonline.