Amar’e, unfortunately, is one of the most injury prone players that we have in the league. He’s gone through two micro-fracture surgeries on his knees, had a bulging disk in his back, and now he has to wear goggles because of a cut he suffered in his eye during a game. And now, after Game 2′s loss Monday night against Miami, Stoudemire injured his hand after hitting the glass case surrounding a fire extinguisher.
From Ian Begley of ESPN New York:
“It wasn’t like I had a closed fist and just punched through the glass,” Stoudemire said on Wednesday. “It was nothing like that. I just walked by, wanted to make some noise, swung my arm, hit the fire extinguisher door and didn’t even realize i was cut at all until Josh Harrellson told me I was cut.
What could be more heart-wrenching than officially being the worst team in NBA history? How about when your supposed “shot-blocker” and “future All-Star” in Tyrus Thomas, gets a ball in the face from Amar’e?
No Jeremy Lin, No Amar’e: Just Carmelo Anthony. And thanks to his 43 points and this absolutely cold-blooded 3-pointer against Chicago on Sunday, the Knicks are back to being Melo’s team. But you know what the best thing about that shot is? Anthony hit that same shot against Luol Deng two years again when he was still with the Nuggets. (see video here)
The Allen Iverson clothing days in the league are over. Nowadays, players are walking into the arena wearing skinny jeans and pink t-shirts. But J.R. Smith? Well, he’s always been somewhat of a “sagger” when it comes to his shorts and jeans. Even with his basketball uniform. I watched Smith hoop for six years in Denver and I always noticed how his jersey and shorts were almost one size too big. It looks like Knicks interim coach Mike Woodson has taken notice, too:
“I told him I’m going to continue to coach him as long as I’m coaching the team,” Woodson said at the Thursday morning shootaround at Amway Center. “I told him I’m not going to let him off the hook. I want his shorts pulled up. I want him to look presentable. Be a professional. That’s what it’s all about.’’
As long as Carmelo Anthony remained on the Knicks, never in a day would I have thought there was a better player in crunch time this season on the same team as his. Well, in this case, it just so happens to be the fan favorite: Jeremy Lin. I first caught a glimpse of Lin’s clutch-ness when the Knicks played Toronto; not only did he wave off his own coach, the play itself, and his teammates, but he ended up hitting his best shot of the season: A pull-up 3.
It was absolutely filthy.
It’s become apparent that Lin likes the ball in his hands if you watch Knicks’ games. Carmelo wants it, too, don’t get me wrong, but he hasn’t been the same player since he injured his groin. He’s not attacking the basket and settling for way too many jumpers. Luckily for New York, Lin loves to attack the basket judging by his average shot attempts of 4.1 at the rim. (52%)
Kobe Bryant also loves having the ball in his hands during crunch time. And as ESPN True Hoops blogger, Henry Abbott, points out – Lin wants it just as much, if not more.
In the final five minutes of games within five points, Bryant’s usage rate is a high 42.4. Lin’s is close behind, at 36.6 — higher than, say, Chris Paul’s 33.9, and in the same range as Kevin Durant (40.1) and Carmelo Anthony (43.5). You might say that’s heady stuff for a player whose coach keeps reminding people is effectively a rookie.
But also worth noting is that in these short minutes — Lin has played just 39 that qualify — he has had the best true shooting percentage of the bunch. He has taken 24 shots in 39 crunch time minutes, and hit only nine of them. The secret to his efficiency has been that he has made three of his five 3-pointers, while getting to the line an impressive 18 times, while missing just two. The result is a true shooting percentage (a measure that accounts for 3s and free throws) of 58, compared to Paul’s 57.2, Durant’s 53.8, Anthony’s 43.5 and Bryant’s 42.7.
Now, Mr. Abbott is not saying that Lin is the most clutch player in the league all of a sudden, but because of his 3-pointer against Toronto and the ability to get to the free-throw line, he remains at the top.
The most interesting thing, though, is how will Carmelo handle not having the ball in his hands at the end of close games for the rest of the season? Especially if they make playoffs. If I were interim coach Mike Woodson and Lin myself, I’d keep doing what’s working because as the old saying goes, “Don’t fix what isn’t broken.”
As Carmelo’s biggest fan, and having watched him thoroughly throughout his career, I know when he tries and when he doesn’t. When he does try on both ends of the court, he’s arguably the best player in the game because of his size, quickness and physical style of play. When he doesn’t? He instantly becomes a Top 25 player. (Which isn’t bad either, but he’s so much better than that) It’s been only 3 games since former Knicks head coach Mike D’Antoni decided to walk away from the team after he failed to win in New York. Well, if anyone knows what kind of coach D’Antoni is, and has been his entire career, he’s soft. He doesn’t yell, doesn’t threaten, nothing.
If you look at coaches like George Karl and Gregg Popovich, those guys will tell you like it is and will have no problem letting you know that you sucked or had a horrible game. It’s tough love, but it’s still love and better for your own good moving forward.
With D’Antoni’s parting, former Atlanta Hawks head coach, Mike Woodson, was named the interim head coach and has the Knicks on a 3-game winning streak. Since then, Carmelo Anthony hasn’t put up over 20 points, but according to him, his defensive effort has increased the most it has all season.
“I think in the last three games, my focus was to have an energy that I haven’t had so far this season, especially on the defensive end,” he said. “Everybody on this team knows, everybody in the world knows I can score the basketball. It’s not that important to me.”
People know how to word things a certain way so they don’t come out the way they really want them to so they can avoid controversy. Well, unfortunately for Melo, I’m not a fool. Nor am I blind. For those who didn’t understand what he was saying from the quote above, Carmelo is saying that now their offensive coach is gone, he’s giving a better effort defensively because Woodson is known as a defensive coach.
Melo’s not scoring like his usual self, but he’s focusing on a part of his game that is most criticized. And the Knicks are winning. So whatever he’s doing right, needs to continue.
As for my comments above about D’Antoni’s lack of criticism, Carmelo welcomed Woodson’s with open arms.
“When he got the job, I told him, ‘Hold me accountable,’ ” Anthony said of Woodson. “I don’t have a problem with criticism. If I can do something to help better this team, let me know. And he’s been doing that.”
It’s true, Anthony has no problem with taking criticism from a coach because he played under George Karl for 7 years. And as a Nugget’ fan, trust me, he’s the “King of Criticism.” Hopefully the Knicks success continues through the playoffs because Carmelo has taken a lot of heat since returning to the lineup with Jeremy Lin at point guard. Folks said they couldn’t work because he needs the ball in his hands. Well, that’s true.
But at the end of the day, Melo just wants to win.
And that’s something you can’t criticize.
*This cover is a remake of the original with Stephon Marbury and Kevin Garnett
The Minnesota Timberwolves aren’t playing around this year. They’re done with being the laughingstock of the NBA (which now belongs to the Charlotte Bobcats, despite they’re 20-point comeback win over Orlando on Tuesday). And the homies over at SLAM recognized that. Ricky Rubio, although struggling as of late, busted onto the scene and instantly became mentioned in Rookie of the Year talks. As for Kevin Love, well, he’s been destroying every power forward in the league on his way to becoming the best inside and out player in the game right now.
Just this past week, Love’s dropped 42 points and 10 rebounds on LaMarus Aldridge (pretty sure that damaged his pride) and 39 points to go along with 17 boards on Blake Griffin and the rest of his supposed “tough” frontline with DeAndre Jordan, Kenyon Martin and Reggie Evans. It’s time for everyone to step aside because Love is here to stay.
Jeremy Lin is an incredible story, except, he’s not really a story. He’s the real deal. A Harvard graduate and the second-coming off a Chauncey Billups type career during his early years in the NBA after he was bounced around by Houston and Golden State, Lin was given a chance in New York and never looked back. Against the Nets on February 4 (he did not start despite playing 35 minutes), Lin gave Deron Williams 25 points, 5 rebounds and 7 assists. Fluke? Absolutely not. He led to Knicks on a 7-game win streak while averaging 24.4 points (He dropped 38 on Kobe and the Lakers!).
No matter how much we want to avoid it, but ever since Carmelo Anthony’s returned in the Knicks starting lineup, the Knicks have struggled. They’re not playing with the same excitement/swagger they once were when their best player was nursing a groin injury for two weeks. Anthony requires a lot of attention and a lot of time with the basketball, and he’s not a player who runs up and down on the court; he runs isolation plays. Melo’s having the worst year of his career and isn’t doing the things that New York traded their entire team for him to do, which is to take, and make, big shots.
Anthony may be the star, but Lin’s the one who revived New York.
Saturday Night Live stepped their game up last night. Check out these two funny skits on the country’s two biggest stories right now: Blue Ivy Carter and Linsanity.
SEVEN, yes count them, SEVEN straight victories for the New York Knicks since the
basketball savior The Cinderella Man has entered into their lives. The kid Jeremy Lin is official and he’s officially in the league to stay!
Incase you’ve been under a rock these past few days – Blake Griffin MOZGOV’D Kendrick Perkins while LeBron James JUMPED OVER John Lucas III for the alley-oop. Both players are not human. Who’s the better dunker? And for all you dunk enthusiasts out there, enjoy 2 bonus dunks after the jump: LeBron posterizing Bill Walker and Andre Iguodala going off the glass to himself.