Rather than try and splice things together this time, I’m gonna let Jake (in italics) lead off, and I’ll follow. Good luck trying to get through all of it.
Maybe to an extent unlike any game I’ve ever seen, this was a tale of two halves. The Clips impressed in the first half; Elton Brand playing a proficient, pretty shooting game; Sam I Am doing his always enjoyable mid-range thing; Tim Thomas wowing everybody with his lazy excellence; Shaun Livingston providing a spark off the bench. The Clippers looked so much better in the first half, it felt like the Knicks were lucky just to be hanging around. LA ran their sets and moved on offense, and it didn’t even seem to matter that they had two starters that had no interest in scoring. (Cutino Mobley was obviously still very emotional and happy to see Steve Francis. In fact, I doubt the game even really mattered that much to him, the depth of their bond is so deep.)
Then something happened to the Knicks after the break. Steph went nuts, taking passive/aggressive play (first half/second half) to new heights. The Jamal Crawford offense started doing its thing. Maybe we should start calling it the Jamal Crawford oven. Isiah only let Jerome James play for 1:14 in the half. Eddy Curry reasserted himself. David Lee did David Lee. To be honest, the transformation caught me by surprise. I might only say this once all season, so here goes: Kudos to Isiah for maybe doing something that woke his team up.
–Early in the fourth quarter, Sam Cassell did his trademark, “beat your man to an elbow and then use your hip to slightly bounce off of his momentum to create more free space so you can shoot an easy, unimpeded jumper.” This always impresses me. What I meant to say was something like, “look at how he uses his ass to create space, wow.” I ended up accidentally saying something like, “look at how he uses his ass, wow.” Khalid didn’t want me to repeat that for fear of embarrassment, but whatever.
–Doug Christie!!!! On this episode of the Christie’s, Doug throws an emasculating entry pass to Chris Kaman. Kaman, unable to fathom the delicacy of the pass, misses the layup. Christie also misses a few jumpers and, sitting in an intense defensive crouch at half court with the game already decided, awkwardly holds Jamal Crawford’s left hip in his right hand. After placing a tracking device on her man, Jackie Christie skips the game to meet with the producers of the vagina monologues. She’s excited about her potential contribution, an epic, Odysseus-length narrative about having a husband that plays pro ball in a small market. Her work, titled “Cervix Station–How my man and I managed to increase our publicity living in Sacramento”, is rejected because it has nothing to do with her femininity and everything to do with Doug. An excerpt:
It’s a capital city but we don’t feel central.
Because it’s all political.
In Sac town,
Everyday is Vla-day
They love him.
Everyday we C Webb
They love him.
Everyday they’re giddy for Bibby
They love him.
Everyday they do as He-do.
They love him.
Everyday rooting for Bobby is their favorite hobby.
They love him.
What about Doug? What about MY Doug?
A man of various passions who knows how to treat his woman right is no small thing.
His tough defense, his ability to run the floor.
He makes steals, but he does not steal their hearts;
He does not steal the affection of their rattling cowbells, their rising frenzy does not shower him with adulation.
Where is his love? Why do they not love him? Their love for him does not exist. Like Sea Otters.
But I love him. And I will maintain him.
Because he is my tether ball
And I am his rope.
Feeling glum after the setback, Jackie goes to Soho and buys her husband a spiked collar with “Property of JC” written across it in diamonds, actually hoping people intentionally mistake the JC to stand for “Jesus Christ.” She figures this way women will think Doug is a faithful, God-fearing Christian that would never cheat on his woman. She then goes on a rant about how global warming is really just God’s anger towards winter. When pressed about her beliefs, Jackie poo-poos the idea that seasonal change is dictated by the earth’s axis and rotation to and away from the sun.
–After the game, I asked Nate Robinson about the wave. He said it was “awesome.” He said he’d never seen it at MSG before and also confirmed that it energized the crowd even more. Yay!
–I ate an apple I got from the press room in both locker rooms after the game. I wasn’t trying to be ironic, just trying to eat healthy, and, hey, apparently you can do that.
–Russ, we need to go live on Chris Kaman’s boat and cook fish with him for a week. There is no way this isn’t happening.
The Clippers may be a West Coast team, but they have plenty of East Coast ties. Elton Brand grew up in Peekskill, New York. Tim Thomas grew up in Paterson, New Jersey (and even played for the Knicks, whether you want to remember it or not). And of course Sam Cassell was a Net. So the local press fills the Clipper locker room pre-game. Elton holds court in a folding chair set square in front of the bathroom door—inconveniencing, among others, Thomas, who has to squeeze his way past.
Looking over, I see Chris Kaman talking to another huge white guy and wonder which Eastern European center he is. Of course it’s Paul Davis. Oops.
I’ve known Elton since he was in high school, and before the media rush starts, lean in to give him a pound. He keeps his hand out, and I look down quizzically. “You got something for me?” Oh right—latest issue. I explain that I don’t work out of the office any more, and don’t have any on me. “Besides, don’t you make like $10 million a year?” I don’t add.
Pressroom. I don’t even want to describe the Garden food anymore. Too depressing. C. Again. The fact that they charge $8 (even if it does go to charity) adds injury to insult.
Checking the starting lineups, it appears that Isiah actually IS starting Jerome James alongside Eddy Curry. “The Twinkie Towers,” Khalid says. Noooo doubt. Our table debates why this could possibly be happening—is it Jerome’s birthday? (Nope, that’s in November.) Is he being showcased for a trade? (Hahahahahaha.) Maybe it’s just a weight-loss program.
On the TV screens is an MSG doc on John Starks that both Lang and I contributed to. Lang gets more TV time than I do—but either way it’s sort of disconcerting. Even without sound.
Introductions. Elton gets cheers. Tragically, Mike Dunleavy doesn’t step up and start Tim Thomas so he can get his own Garden response. Which probably wouldn’t be quite as polite. OK, never mind.
Jerome James is introduced first amongst the Knick starters. He doesn’t get much of a response at all—I think everyone’s just confused.
Let’s also not forget the fact that Quentin Richardson and Quinton Ross are the opposing small forwards. Quentin, Quinton. This is some kind of Uma, Oprah thing waiting to happen.
Sam Cassell comes over to give Isiah a hug before the tip. I try and think of any official history they may have had, and can’t come up with anything. Cat Mobley doesn’t come over to hug Steve Francis. And Doug Christie wards off all loose women in the NYC area with a series of hexes provided by his
psychotic loving wife.
Stephon’s FIRST entry pass is picked off by Quinton Ross, and pushed ahead to Sammy for a jumper. 2-0, Clippers.
Cuttino Mobley drops down to double Jerome James. Double. Jerome James. To his credit, James doesn’t eat him.
Jerome’s starting to slow down a little, maybe he needs a blow.
He sits down at the 8:45 mark for Lee (applause, cheers, panties—OK no, panties, but still). He goes to the bench with two fouls and the Knicks’s only two rebounds. Oh yeah, and the Clippers are up 8-1. Doesn’t look good for his plus-minus. Then again, with Lee in, the Knicks have NOTHING on the scoreboard for points, rebounds and fouls except for a lone Stephon Marbury free throw.
Elton Brand. 10-1. Khalid comments that it’s like a baseball score. I think he’s affected by the Carribbean World Series which was on the TVs when we sat down. (For some reason Mexico is playing in it. Mexico’s in the Carribbean? Was there some sort of massive continental drift I wasn’t aware of?)
David Lee and-1, Jamal Crawford floater, 10-6 Clippers.
Tim Thomas checks in, gets booed. Shocking.
Aaron Williams, “The A-Train,” checks in at the 2:33 mark. None of us remembered that he was on the Clippers—or in the League, for that matter.
Another Steph entry pass gets picked, this time by Livingston. He leads the break, and kicks it to Tim Thomas, who drives the lane and dunks ALL OVER David Lee AND Channing Frye. I mean, it’s nasty. Grimy. The best dunk I’ve seen in person all year by far. And the fact that it’s Tim Thomas at Madison Square Garden makes it all that much better. I love this game.
Livingston gets a dunk on the next possession, Lee scores, then Brand hits a baseline J, Steph gets blocked, and Tim Thomas gets yet ANOTHER dunk on Lee. Fugazy! 28-19, Clippers. And that’s where it stays at the end of 1.
Lots of substitutions. Corey Maggette, Jared Jeffries, Renaldo Balkman and everyone’s favorite husband, Doug Christie.
Tim Thomas? For three? Sure! 31-19, Clipse.
Balkman drives baseline and catches a mean dunk on Kaman. Not quite up to Tim Thomas levels, but still. Who is?
Doug Christie hits a jumper and does that weird Jackie hand signal thing. I really wish he could get T’ed up for those.
Jamal Crawford for three. It’s no Tim Thomas three, but…yeah. 33-26, Clippers.
T-shirt toss! In the second quarter? So, so sad.
Tim Thomas airballs a three, Crawford converts a three-point play over Kaman, and ANOTHER Knick entry pass is picked off. They obviously need to stop throwing entry passes.
Doug Christie takes his third shot in less than five minutes. STOP SHOOTIN’.
Tim Thomas taps an offensive rebound out to keep it alive, then gets it back in the corner for a three. Bang. The next time down he takes another one, and, not so good.
The Knicks look confused on offense. Luckily the Clippers are equally confused on defense, and Livingston bails out a bad Q-Rich shot with a worse foul.
Jerome James checks back in, so does Sam Cassell. Cassell drives past Quentin Richardson, right down the middle of the lane, and both Eddy Curry and James just watch him lay it in. Cassell hits another shot, Kaman sinks a turnaround, and it’s 53-43 Clippers at the half.
Cat Mobley, dribbling outside the three-point line, screams at Kaman to come over and set a screen. Kaman obliges, and Mobley shoots an airball. He hasn’t scored yet, by the way.
Jerome James lasts all of 1:14 before checking out for Lee.
NY football Giant Osi Umenyiora is in the house, wearing enormous black shades that look incredibly stupid. Not that I’d say it to his face. Or within 50 feet, for that matter.
David Lee has a MEAN black eye that you can see from 50 feet away, apparently from Thomas’s second dunk on him. Maybe he should borrow Osi’s sunglasses.
Starbury hits two straight floaters, the Clippers have yet to score in the half, and it’s 53-all. The Garden is heating up!
Lee makes it 57-55. A Stephon 3 makes it 60-55. Cassell airballs a three of his own. And the Knicks flip it into a 20-point turnaround, taking a 67-57 lead. That’s 24-4 for the quarter if you’re keeping count.
But LOOK OUT FOR TIM THOMAS! Three-pointer, 67-60.
The Clippers claw to within 6, 70-64 at the end of three. Still, being outscored 27-11 for the quarter is nothing to write home about.
The Knicks City Dancers take the court, and the crowd goes WILD—over a brawl taking place in the 300 level. It’s hard to tell exactly what’s going on from where we’re sitting, but one of the participants appears to be a very large black woman. Or, as Khalid says, “I think it’s Norbit.” Very nice. Meanwhile, the Knicks dancers keep doing what they do, despite the fact that no one at all is paying them any mind.
A graphic appears on the MSG broadcast that the Knicks are 17-0 in games they led headed into the fourth quarter. Is that even possible? Incredible.
Steph gets blocked by Livingtson, and Balkman scores on the second chance. A foul is called on Maggette, despite the fact that it looks like Balkman just ran into Steph and wasn’t fouled by anyone. Perhaps in agreeance, he misses the free throw.
Tim Thomas, another three? Sure! 74-71 Knicks, 8:56 to go.
The rest is pretty anticlimactic. Another t-shirt toss, another Tim Thomas three. You know, the usual.
Except for this: THE WAVE STARTS. It’s pretty unbelievable, really. When was the last time the wave happened at a New York sporting event? The 2000 World Series? And it’s hard to believe it’s EVER happened at the Garden. Amazing.
Nate Robinson, 53.8 seconds.
The Knicks commit a 24-second violation on purpose as Jamal Crawford just dribbles out the clock. The Clippers get the ball back with seven seconds left, and Tim Thomas hits a meaningless three with 4.3 seconds to go. And gets booed. I don’t know why, he’s so loveable.
Final score, 102-90, Knicks. Good win.
Briefest analysis: you don’t win games if your starting two and three combine for zero points. ZERO. And that’s what Quinton Ross and Cat Mobley do. At least Cat has an efficient zero—he only misses five shots.
He doesn’t have as efficient a night as Jared Jeffries, though. In 6:04 of PT, he manages one assist. That’s it. No shots, no rebounds, no turnovers, no fouls, no nothing. Great signing.
E-City, 23 and eight. E-Brand, 22 and 13. Who got snubbed again?
Not much going on in the locker rooms—although I do overhear Tim Thomas saying that a championship is his ultimate goal. Which begs the question of why he didn’t take less money to stay with the Suns, but then again, no it doesn’t. He’s just lying.
Chris Kaman stops me in the hall—I did a feature on him about a year ago—and we talk for a bit. He apparently cut his hair because he trimmed it a bit too much a while back and it made him “look like a girl.” Oops. He also mentions some of the things he’s purchased since he signed his new deal, including a 65-foot boat with four bedrooms, and a Mercedes AMG S65 (he’s having the speed governor removed so it’ll top out at a respectable 220). Summer plans include taking the 65-footer down to Cabo and goin’ fishin’ for whatever bites. I need to spend more time with Chris.