Sunday, December 8, 2013

Knicks Sabotage Brooklyn In 3-Point Hailstorm











It was projected to be a marquee borough battle, a titillating and heated showdown with supreme, Kings Of New York bragging rights implicated.


It wasn’t.



The heavy projections and brash pre-season bravado emerged over the summer, when the Brooklyn Nets hit the market in unwavering effort to throttle the competition.


Brooklyn reeled aging Hall of Fame hopefuls Kevin Garnett and longtime dagger man Paul Pierce, forging what was widely regarded as “the NBA’s best team on paper.”



Seemingly overnight the Nets became a deep, physical, balanced-scoring, veteran-laden, championship-contending outfit.



Given both teams’ abysmal start, given their ineptitude offensively and defensively, the hype around this Big Apple rivalry game suddenly tailed off.


 

The thrill factor everyone had anticipated had buckled and crumbled under the list of issues hampering each ball club.


There’s been injuries.



There’s been constant underachieving.


 

There’s been a pattern of passion-free quarters, some absolutely anemic displays of basketball.

 

There’s been a severe lack of heart during crunch time, with Carmelo’s late-game shortcomings well scrutinized.


Both teams have also encountered chemistry issues.



The New York media scrutiny emerged quickly. Carmelo Anthony’s fourth quarter struggles and the dicey, on-edge relationship between Knicks coach Mike Woodson and Iman Shumpert have been heavily dissected.



Myriad skeptics have surfaced, pinpointing the issues with this problematic yet star-spangled Brooklyn team.



Tough tabloid scribes, pundits, and self-proclaimed NBA gurus all across the boards have questioned Brooklyn’s zip-quick hiring of an extremely callow rookie head coach.
Remember, Brooklyn nabbed Jason Kidd right after he hung up his kicks.


Sure, it was Kidd who resurrected this ailing franchise as a player, resuscitating a dead organization rotting in a vile New Jersey swamp.


Conventional wisdom indicates Brooklyn jumped the gun in nabbing Kidd fresh out of retirement.



And so in a not-so-epic match between two laughingstocks entrenched in the Eastern Conference’s basement, New York had the final laugh.



Resembling the team that started off 2012-13 on a sizzling 18-5 tear, the Knicks drained a steady salvo of 3-pointers en route to a 113-83 slaying of the Nets.



Reviving the style incorporated by (oddly enough) Kidd last season, New York’s fluid ball movement was essential. The Knicks finally shed the isolation game.


They kicked the habit of popping contested shots early in the shot clock.

The ball suddenly started moving from angle to angle, with the picks plentiful and the stagnant, “get the rock to Melo and JR on an iso and clear the pathway” Woodson style of offense gone, the Knicks authored fluidity.


With the win, the Knicks snap a humiliating nine-game skid.


 

New York hasn’t been mired in such a funk since 2006-07, the rookie seasons of Nate Robinson, David Lee, and Channing Frye.

 

 That forgettable squad was shrouded with turmoil.


Hampered by a piecemeal lineup and constant public clashes between head coach Larry Brown and point guard Stephon Marbury, that team floundered during a 23-win quagmire.



New York fans hope the Brooklyn win could potentially right the ship, vaulting the Knicks out of a nightmarish beginning.



With another blowout loss, the Nets (5-14) must re-evaluate. Whether that means the leash is suddenly shortened or let go on Kidd is anybody’s guess.



The Knicks, the team with New York emblazoned across their jerseys, broke open the third quarter with a wild 34-16 spurt.


 

For the first time this season, New York created a sizable lead they were able to sustain.
The contagious 3-point shooting allowed the momentum to roll.



The ball went down from downtown at a scalding 16-for-27 clip, eliciting memories of when Rasheed Wallace drilled straight-away 3-pointers and snipe artist Steve Novak rolled off picks and pulled up from way out.



Anthony dropped a game-best 19 points and hauled in 10 rebounds to facilitate the balanced attack.



Iman Shumpert, who has been a virtual Houdini at certain junctures, chimed in a season-best 17 points.


With the Knicks increasing its perimeter passing focus, this rare blowout victory could trigger a quick revival.


Brook Lopez, who played alongside Fox Lane High product Taj Finger at Stanford, paced the short-handed Nets with 24 points.



The Nets, without Deron Williams and Pierce, seemed disinterested and disengaged throughout a hapless second half.



For all the heat Andrea Bargnani gets for his putrid defense, he turned in a sublime showing last night.



The Italian scored 16 points (7-for-13 FG), infusing Mike Woodson’s lineup with his feathery touch.



Bargnani was ejected in the fourth quarter for taunting longtime Knick nemesis Garnett, who had been baiting him throughout.



While his actions won over a contingent of Knicks fans near courtside, it did not sit well with the quick-triggered boys in zebra shirts.