Welcome everybody, for the New York Knicks vs. Dallas Mavericks live in-game blog I’ll be hosting from my couch. The game will begin from Madison Square Garden in just a few minutes, so here are a few quick thoughts before tip-off:
· Both the Knicks (the league’s last undefeated team at 3-0) and the Mavericks (4-1) are off to hot, and let’s face it, very surprising starts.
· The Knicks have played particularly phenomenal basketball and are tied for 3rd in the NBA in defensive efficiency and 2nd in offensive efficiency. The Knicks are outscoring their opponents by 22 points per 100 possessions (per Ian Begley, ESPN).
· Both teams are taking (and making) a lot of 3-pt shots. NY has made an NBA record 43 through three games. The Mavs, who are still without Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion, are being led by probably the most underrated pick-up of the offseason, O. J. Mayo, who is shooting 63.6 percent from beyond the arc.
· Don’t forget the history these two teams have. Both Tyson Chandler and Jason Kidd won a title in Dallas before leaving for NY. Kidd spurned the Mavs for NY this past offseason and let’s just say Mark Cuban wasn’t thrilled.
· Marcus Camby is back! The big man is expected to return from injury tonight after signing a deal to return to the Knicks in the offseason.
Knicks: PG Felton, SG Kidd, SF Brewer, PF Anthony, C Chandler
Mavs: PG Collison, SG Mayo, SF Crowder, PF Brand, C Wright
The Mavs win the tip and we’re off …
Mayo starts the game off with a contested three (remember he leads the league in 3-pt shooting percentage at 63 percent) and Melo answers with a deep jumper from the left wing.
Clyde Frazier with his first “neophyte” reference of the game, this time in reference to Mavs rookie Crowder … and he drops his second only 15 secs later (Crowder again). Game callin’ and rookie extolin’!
Melo showing great intensity on defense, as he has all season, with a block, strip and three forceful rebounds, so far.
Chandler and Felton hook up on two early alley-oops. Those two seem to have great chemistry. Felton already with four assists.
Another great alley-oop from Felton to Melo. Felton is really seeing the floor well tonight. This is old news, but he really seems rejuvenated ever since returning to New York. Making Knicks fans forget about Linsanity who is playing well in Houston.
Vince Carter comes off the bench to hit a deep 3-pter for the Mavs. Wearing a stars and stripes headband, presumably in honor of the election or democracy or Obama? Check that, players on both teams wearing patriotic gear. J.R. Smith has one, too.
The Knicks are having a telethon to raise money for Hurricane Sandy victims. Call (212) 465-3900 to donate.
The Mavs are sticking with their strength, jacking up threes left and right. 10 total in the first quarter.
End 1st: Knicks 25 Mavs 23 (Melo leads with 10 pts)
For the first time in 10 years, Marcus Camby checks into a game wearing a Knicks uniform. He was kept out of the preseason and first 3 games with a calf injury but immediately makes his presence felt with a rebound.
Third Clyde neophyte reference …
Mayo with four 3-pters in the game, two in last 20 seconds, as Novak comes in and bricks his first two threes. Eight point swing in the Mavs favor since the start of the 2nd quarter. Woodson takes a timeout.
Novak steps out on the baseline and turns it over. Poor start by the fan favorite, Novakaine.
J.R. and Rasheed Wallace harass Mayo on the defensive end and create the turnover as Mayo fouls (3rd) and goes to the bench. Need to capitalize now.
Novak with another miss, he’s 0-4.
Carter with 10 points in 8 minutes, he’s giving J.R. some problems.
Brewer, a much better defender, subs in to try and slow down Carter.
Starters back in for the Knicks and they find a little groove. Transition basket from Kidd to Melo back to Kidd and the Mavs take a timeout. 41-36 Mavs.
After Melo misses a three Brewer gets the offensive rebound and lays it in, is fouled and coverts the 3-pt play. 44-41 Mavs.
Knicks tie it up on a Melo three.
Carter gets rejected by Brewer then exchanges some words with Melo and Chandler. Good-natured taunting, nothing serious. They were all smiles.
Melo gets called for an offensive foul (3rd) and heads to the bench. He really brought the Knicks back, they need to maintain intensity without him.
Brewer hits a corner three. He has 11pts tonight.
Brandon Wright posterizes Sheed, who is then called for a foul. Insult to injury. Shades of Griffin over Mozgov.
J.R. hits a buzzer beating three to end the 1st half. Knicks only down by two.
Halftime: Knicks 55 Mavs 57
· Ronnie Brewer has really made his presence felt tonight. He’s normally fantastic on defense and tonight is no exception, but he’s even been a major contributor in the offensive game, tallying 12 points with a team-high five rebounds.
· Felton has also had a great game. He started off fast and slowed a bit, but he seems to really grasp the offense and has developed great chemistry with Melo and Chandler, especially. Six assists in the 1st half.
· Despite some inconsistency they’re only down by two. You can’t ask for more than that on a poor shooting night.
· It’s good to see Camby back in Orange and Blue.
· It’s apparent that the Knicks are living and dying by the three in the early part of this season. The first three games they shot their opponent out of the gym. Tonight? Eh, not so much. They’re at 33 percent which is a far cry from the 45 percent they shot previously. They need to get hot or put more focus on the pick and rolls with Felton and Chandler.
· Vince Carter has 12pts off the bench and is really giving Smith trouble. Brewer should see some more time on Carter in the 2nd half.
· Novak was ice cold. Hopefully he heats up.
Jeez. Mayo with another deep three, he has 19 points so far.
Kidd with his second steal of the quarter, which transitions into an easy Felton lay-in. Kidd’s impact on the Knicks can’t be overstated. He’s brought leadership and savvy to a team that was primed for a rough start.
Knicks now up 65-64 … things staying tight.
Melo picks up his four foul and heads to the bench. That’s a huge blow to the Knicks, the role players are going to need to step up. Melo is unhappy to say the least.
Kidd draws the charge on Mayo, who needs to sit down with four fouls. Again, Kidd continues to come up huge. That’s what I meant by role players stepping up. Each team’s best player is now in foul trouble early in the second half.
Mavs with another turnover, they now have 11 to the Knicks five. That will make a difference in any game.
Former Knicks SG John Starks and Lil Jon manning the phones for the Sandy relief. YYYYYYeaaaaaahhhhh!
Novak back in for the first time since his rough start. Bounce pass to J.R. for a corner three.
Smith hits back-to-back jumpers. When he is on he’s one of the best offensive players in the game.
Smith with another 15-foot jumper and the Knicks take their largest lead of the night, 78-71. Mavs timeout. So far role players have been money with Melo on the bench. J.R. has 19-points and three steals off the bench.
Camby checks back in after a four-minute stint earlier in first half.
Novak drains a corner three. Maybe he’s gotten his touch back? If so, watch out. Knicks could be up 15 before long.
Carter limps over to Mavs bench, possibly pulled a muscle. You can’t root for injuries but that would be a blessing for the Knicks. Carter has given them problems all night.
Camby scores first points of the season, hitting two foul shots
End 3rd: Knicks 84 Mavs 78
Melo checks back in and immediately draws a foul. Heads to the line for two (which he makes).
Novak with another pretty jumper. Knicks up by eight, 88-80.
Jones pushes Melo has he goes up on a break away. Anthony screaming for a flagrant call with no luck. Certainly looked like he was pushed in mid air.
Melo misses both free throws. It’s uncharacteristic to see Melo miss so many, he has four missed free throws tonight.
Knicks collect another offensive rebound and find Melo in the corner for a three. Melo has 27 points so far.
Chandler with a vicious put back dunk off a Melo miss and draws the foul. Crowd goes nuts as the Knicks go up by nine, their largest lead so far. Chandler then converts the three point play.
Smith misses a fade away jumper, terrible shot selection. That is by far the worst part of his game. It’s like Jekyll and Hyde every night.
Mavs have gone ice cold from three in the second half, shooting 1-11. That’s the difference in the game so far. They stayed with the Knicks in the 1st half because of their 3-pt shooting and have fallen behind because of their lack of 3-pt shooting. It also didn’t help that Mayo spent a lot of time on the bench in foul trouble.
Love the leadership of Chandler who steps in as Felton and Mayo jaw at each other. With all the bad signings the Knicks have made over the years he’s certainly not one of them.
Melo takes a shot to the body while fighting for a rebound and limps the length of the court. Gives the crowd a scare but he probably just got the wind knocked out of him.
Knicks are 5-11 in the 4th quarter from the free throw line. Allowing the Mavs to climb back into the game. Lead at nine.
J.R. hits a dagger three to put away the Mavs. He has 22 points off the bench.
Final: Knicks 104 Mavs 94
· The Knicks remain the league’s only undefeated team, starting off 4-0 for the first time since 1993-94. That’s 19-years! Can’t say anyone was predicting this.
· Melo leads the team with 31 points and seven rebounds. What’s more important is he has really raised his intensity on both ends of the floor and it’s clearly rubbing off on his teammates, especially …
· J.R. Smith. Smith was especially active on defense tonight with four steals, a block and 22 points off the bench. He’s been playing with tenacity and veracity, as Clyde would say.
· The Knicks managed to force 20 turnovers while only giving up nine. That will win you games, even on your worst shooting night.
· The Camby Man is back.
· The Knicks were out rebounded again, 50-43. They rank 20th in the league in rebounding percentage. Camby should help with that once he’s able to shake off the rust.
Up next, the Knicks hit the road for a three-game trip to Orlando, San Antonio and Memphis.
LeBron James is an NBA champion at long last.
There was a time, as recently as Game 5 against Boston, that James’ first title seemed like it would never come. But in this, his ninth season as a professional, James exorcised his demons and silenced his critics. Hopefully for good.
I will be the first to admit that I didn’t like LeBron, dare I say even rooted for him to fail. As a Knicks fan it was a kick straight to the gut to see LeBron spurn Madison Square Garden and a chance at basketball immortality to team up with his pals in South Beach.
Bitterness can’t last forever, though. Especially when it’s faced with greatness, pure, undeniable greatness. There comes a time when you just have to sit back and respect it.
James averaged nearly a triple-double in the finals putting up 28.6 points, 10.2 rebounds and 7.4 assists per game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. He didn’t come out flat or fade in the fourth quarter like he used to – not once. He dominated, game in and game out.
Not to say that LeBron didn’t give us reason to criticize him these past couple years (and you have to admit this was pretty awesome) but I need to give credit where credit is due.
King James got his ring, his finals MVP and my respect. It’s ‘bout damn time.
For weeks (okay months), I’ve been stressing about whether or not I’ll get into grad school. A justifiable worry, I suppose. Although as the acceptance (or rejection) date looms, I took some time to reflect on my worries. What I found was concerning, but not surprising.
Life has always followed this logical progression. We go to school, study, work, graduate, and get a job, all in hopes that one day our families may be able to do the same (a little more comfortably). It’s the American Dream after all. Going to grad school sounded like the next step in that process, so I applied. The more I think about, though, the Gospel isn’t logical. It’s beautiful, dangerous, freeing, scandalous, and radical, sure, but not terribly logical. Logic would have kept Peter in the boat and it would have kept Paul quiet while in chains. Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, but I want to make sure that a possible decision to spend thousands (and thousands and thousands) of dollars on an education is made because God wants me to and not because it makes sense.
That’s not the real problem, however, at least not all of it. I trust that I can give up going to grad school if God doesn’t want me there, I’d just like to get in first. The problem is pride. I want to get in. I need to get in. Not necessarily because I want God to use it (which I know he can) but because I want to use it for my own glorification. So I can post it on Facebook and have people congratulate me. So my parents will praise me. So my professors will talk about me. So I can say, “look what I did.” It’s ridiculous. If I get accepted it’s because God wants me there and if I don’t it’s because He wants me somewhere else. It’s pretty simple when you think about it.
This is my way of coming clean, of laying all my worries at the Throne, of saying, “I don’t deserve any credit, but God does.” Even as I write those words, I’m hoping that God doesn’t decide to test me, resulting in a rejection letter. There goes that pride again. Lord, help me to surrender my future completely to you. Use it in whatever way you see fit. Help me to not always think so logically, but heavenly. I know any adventure you have in store is way more fulfilling than an acceptance letter. Bring it on.
“In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” Proverbs 16:9