Posted on: March 29, 2011 12:35 am
NEW YORK – Hours before the game, after the Knicks’ first home shootaround of the season, Carmelo Anthony called it “almost a must-win game.” When it was over – the game, and the Knicks’ six-game losing streak – Melo took the liberty of upgrading it to “definitely a must-win.”
Forgive him that bit of revisionist history, since most of Anthony’s first month as a full-time resident of New York since he was 8 years old has been a nightmare.
“Tonight was the starting point for us,” said Anthony, who scored at will to the tune of 39 points – 33 in the second half and overtime – in the Knicks’ bizarre 113-106 victory over Orlando. “We got that monkey off our backs.”
The Knicks didn’t solve the world’s problems, or even figure out how to get consistent offense from both Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire in a game they won. They did find out that with supreme effort and intensity, they can defend well enough to win even without personnel built for, you know, defending. And they learned that as cruel as the basketball gods can become, they can be just as charitable.
“We showed that when we play with energy, we play with intensity, and we just play hard, a lot of things fall into place for us,” Anthony said.
And so the most compelling train wreck of the NBA season north of South Beach is over. Move along; nothing more to see here.
It took Orlando being without starting point guard Jameer Nelson and reserves Quentin Richardson and Chris Duhon (who left the game with a jammed finger) for the Knicks’ chemistry experiment gone awry to snap a skid in which they had lost nine of 10. (Orlando, of course, also was without J.J. Redick, who missed his ninth straight game with an abdominal injury.) It took Gilbert Arenas to shoot a miserable 2-for-11, including 1-for-7 from 3-point range. It took Dwight Howard missing the final 1:17 of OT after recording his sixth personal foul of the night and 17th technical foul of the season – putting him one tech away from a second one-game suspension with eight games left in the regular season.
And finally, it took Jason Richardson’s offensive foul for tripping Anthony, waving off what would’ve been a tying 3-pointer by Hedo Turkoglu with 51 seconds left and the Knicks leading 109-106. This after Anthony had first tripped Richardson after the two had scrapped for a loose ball.
“That’s what happens in life, man,” Anthony said. “The second guy always gets caught.”
At least Melo was honest about that one. A significant weight lifted from his shoulders, he finally could smile again Monday night.
“I’ve seen him score 40 and 50 points before, clutch baskets and all that,” Chauncey Billups said. “But I just think that he was so locked in. The kid was rebounding, he was all over the place – grabbing extra rebounds, doing extra effort plays, steals, blocked shots. You know that he wanted to win this game.”
Before Anthony and the Knicks could win it, of course, they had to almost lose it. And the end of regulation was a near catastrophe that would’ve sent the panic meter to new heights.
Out of a timeout with 10.2 seconds left in regulation and the Knicks leading 100-97, coach Mike D’Antoni opted – as he always does – to defend Orlando’s search for a 3-point shot rather than foul. Some coaches are dead-set against fouling in that situation, while others believe that’s the only way to play it. This time, the Knicks got burned when Richardson drilled a tying 3-pointer with 5.7 seconds left.
“I played with him,” Stoudemire said of his former Suns teammate. “He makes shots like that all the time.”
With the pressure building to win a game with his newly assembled All-Star duo, D’Antoni didn’t show it on the sideline as the Knicks prepared to inbound the ball for their final trip of regulation. As the Knicks were assuming their spots on the floor, D’Antoni was engaged in what looked like a good-natured and spirited debate with several fans behind the bench – presumably over why he didn’t opt to foul.
“It’s kind of a tricky situation,” Richardson said. “If I was a coach, I wouldn’t do it, either.”
On the Knicks’ final possession of regulation, the ball went to Anthony – as it did nearly every trip after he checked into a tie game (80-80) with 8:49 left in the fourth. He drove the lane, got up in the air and had to double-clutch. Realizing he had to clear shot at the rim, he said he deliberately tossed the ball off the backboard to himself – but missed the putback at the buzzer.
“I should’ve thrown it on the other side (of the rim),” Anthony said. “There was nobody there.”
Then came overtime, and the Howard foul and tech, and the curious case of J-Rich getting caught for doing what Melo had done to him – costing Orlando Turkoglu’s tying trey. But if you were expecting Magic coach Stan Van Gundy to have his usual fun with the league’s officiating and disciplinary system, you would’ve been disappointed. Asked three officiating-related questions in his postgame media session, Van Gundy each time responded with dead silence. Commissioner David Stern, who’d promised we wouldn’t be hearing from Van Gundy anymore on such issues, was right.
And for one night, so were the Knicks.
“They played really hungry,” Richardson said. “They dove, they hustled. It was a must-win for them. You lose six in a row, you start getting hungry. You start feeling that starvation kicking in.”
Making the Knicks’ first victorious post-game meal in nearly two weeks a must-eat.
Posted on: December 14, 2010 2:35 pm
The next milestone in the NBA season hits Wednesday when dozens of players signed as free agents over the summer become trade-eligible. ‘Tis the season for re-gifting.
Don’t like the aging veteran you overpaid in your giddiness as GM of an undefeated juggernaut shopping for free agents? Dump him on some unsuspecing colleague who may be able to to make better use of his meager talents. Having a reality check about how good your team was going to be? Shed the contract you thought you were wise to execute back in July and start getting ready for another draft lottery.
Under the collective bargaining agreement, players who sign as free agents cannot be traded for three months or until Dec. 15, whichever is later. So theoretically, any free agent signed prior to Sept. 15 can be shipped to a new destination beginning Wednesday.
It’s not useful to look at this year’s crop of trade-eligible free agents as a free-for-all, because there are plenty of names on the list who will be traded about as soon as pigs sprout wings. (Forget the LeBron-to-New York trade rumors. I think he’s staying put.) Similarly, the Lakers aren’t trading Derek Fisher, the Celtics aren’t trading Shaquille O’Neal, and the Knicks seem mildly happy with MVP candidate Amar’s Stoudemire so far.
What the Dec. 15 milestone does is expand the pool of assets and contracts available to GMs to make trades work under league guidelines that require salaries to be no more than 125 percent plus $100,000 when over-the-cap teams make deals. Sometimes, one more asset or another $2 million in tradeable contracts makes all the difference in completing a larger deal.
Something else to keep in mind: Unless it’s a key player who’d fill a crucial need for a contender, executives say teams will be much less likely to take on multi-year contracts this year due to the expected work stoppage. Buyer’s remorse for Brendan Haywood, for example, isn’t going to be easy to assuage because he’s due $45 million over the next five years – when nobody can accurately predict where such a contract will fit into the new salary structure. But players on shorter deals with less than full guarantees could be moved if it helps complete a bigger deal – such as a Carmelo Anthony trade.
So with that in mind -- and with the assumption that the Heat aren’t’ trading LeBron, the Hawks aren’t trading Joe Johnson, and the Celtics aren’t trading Paul Pierce or Ray Allen -- here are a few of the more interesting names who become trade-eligible Wednesday, based on the likelihood that they could be involved in a trade sometime before the Feb. 24 deadline:
* Luke Ridnour, Timberwolves: At $12 million over the next three years, Ridnour won’t break the bank and his play-making abilities could be appealing to a team looking for point-guard depth. The Knicks, underwhelmed by Toney Douglas as Raymond Felton’s backup, are interested.
* Tony Allen, Grizzlies: Allen’s strengths off the bench are wasted on a team like Memphis, which has plenty of other tradeable assets. If the Grizzlies decide to part with O.J. Mayo, for instance, Allen’s contract could help facilitate the deal.
* Quentin Richardson, Magic: Nobody gets traded as much as Q-Rich, so he has to be on this list. If Orlando decides to pull the trigger on a significant deal -- say, for Andre Miller or Gilbert Arenas -- Richardson could be a throw-in. Complicating matters is the fact that his contract contains a 15 percent trade kicker, but that’s manageble since he’s only due $8 million over the next three years.
* Anthony Carter and Shelden Williams, Nuggets: Denver is virtually assured of making a big deal for You-Know-Who, in my opinion, and these could be throw-in pieces. I’d include Al Harrington, but A) they’ll need someone to shoot a lot after they trade Melo; and B) nobody will want Big Al for five years at the full mid-level when we’re entering what could be the no-mid-level world of a new CBA. (Even though the last two years are only half-guaranteed.)
* Anthony Tolliver, Timberwolves: Minnesota already has been fielding a lot of calls because they have draft picks, cap space, and young assets. Though injured at the moment, Tolliver is big and cheap and could be part of a bigger deal.
* Josh Howard, Wizards: On a one-year deal, Howard has the right to veto any trade. But if he gets back on the court and proves he’s healthy before the deadline, his expiring $3 million contract could be used to sweeten a potential Arenas deal.
* Chris Duhon and Jason Williams, Magic: Stan Van Gundy can’t decide which one is his backup point guard, and you know what they say: When you have two backup point guards, what you really have is none.
* Jordan Farmar and Anthony Morrow, Nets: New Jersey is highly likely to make multiple trades between now and the deadline, and team officials continue to believe one of them will be for Anthony. With efforts under way to acquire additional assets Denver has requested, dangling either one or both of these names could help accomplish that. Reluctantly, I’ll include Travis Outlaw here, as well. While his five-year, $35 million deal will scare some teams, his salary is flat throughout with no increases -- a friendly feature as we enter the great CBA unknown.
* Tyrus Thomas and Kwame Brown, Bobcats: When Larry Brown says his team has begun tuning him out, it’s time to start the stopwatch on LB blowing up the roster with trades. When Brown goes into teardown mode, no one is safe -- not even Thomas, who just signed a five-year, $40 million contract. Good luck peddling that deal amid labor uncertainty, but that doesn’t mean Brown won’t try.
* Randy Foye, Ryan Gomes, Rasual Butler and Craig Smith, Clippers: The Clips are ravaged by injuries, underperforming, and owner Donald Sterling is heckling his own players. Who knows what the Clips will do? I do know they have one of the most sought-after first-round picks in the league -- Minnesota’s 2011 pick, which is unprotected in ‘12 -- and will be getting a lot of calls. Butler and Smith can veto any trade since their both on one-year deals. But why would they?
* Hakim Warrick and Channing Frye, Suns: If Phoenix rapidly falls out of contention, keep an eye on Suns owner Robert Sarver, who is pushing as hard as any owner for a lockout. Warrick’s deal actually is fairly reasonable, with $4.25 million due each of the next two seasons and a team option for the same amount after that. Frye, however, is owed a poisonous $24.8 million over the next for years.
Tags: Amar'e Stoudemire, Anthony Carter, Anthony Morrow, Anthony Tolliver, Bobcats, Carmelo Anthony, Celtics, Channing Frye, Chris Bosh, Dec. 15, Derek Fisher, Grizzlies, Hakim Warrick, Hawks, Heat, Heat, Joe Johnson, Jordan Farmar, Josh Howard, Knicks, Lakers, LeBron James, Luke Ridnour, Magic, Nets, Nuggets, O.J. Mayo, Quentin Richardson, Raymond Felton, Shaquille O'Neal, Shelden Williams, Suns, Timberwolves, Tony Allen, trade-eligible, Travis Outlaw, Tyrus Thomas Kwame Brown, Wizards
Posted on: April 18, 2010 10:26 pm
As I mentioned Saturday night, I'm a little surprised Kevin Garnett got suspended for his elbow to Quentin Richardson's head in Game 1 of the Heat-Celtics Series. Surprised, but not outraged.
Of all the factors I mentioned in trying to predict whether the league would suspend Garnett, the one that probably made the difference was the fact that Garnett's elbow was not thrown during the regular course of play. In other words, KG didn't inadvertently clip Q-Rich with an elbow while going for a rebound or contesting a shot. The league takes a more severe stance on extracurricular violence, and Garnett's outburst as he stood over injured teammate Paul Pierce certainly fell into that category.
In any event, the Celtics have no grounds to whine about this one. Garnett's bark has been bigger than his bite for more than a year, and this time he took a bite out of the Celtics' chances of winning this series. The fact that Garnett will miss Game 2 in Boston puts the Celtics in serious jeopardy of squandering home-court advantage. There's no one to blame but Garnett for that.
As much as I laughed upon learning that Richardson had called Garnett and Pierce "actresses" for their histrionics on the play in question, this is no laughing matter for the Celtics. They won Game 1 with stifling defense, keeping Dwyane Wade from beating them off the dribble for long stretches in the second half. I guess we'll find out how big a part of that Garnett was. My first reaction is that Wade will be more aggressive getting to the rim with the knowledge that Garnett won't be there waiting there for him.
But let's not forget this: The Celtics beat the Bulls in an epic first-round series without Garnett last year, and pushed Orlando to seven games without him, too. This is a team that knows how to overcome setbacks like this. They didn't win their 17th title two years ago for no good reason.
It's sort of funny that the player Boston will be relying on to step in for hothead Garnett is another renowned hothead, Rasheed Wallace. The recruiting visit that Doc Rivers, Danny Ainge, and the Big Three made to persuade Sheed to sign with them last summer never looked so important.
Posted on: April 18, 2010 12:18 am
The story of Game 1 of the Heat-Celtics first-round series should have been the way Boston stifled Dwyane Wade in the second half and found the defensive dominance that led them to the 2008 title. The Celtics were back Saturday night -- until Kevin Garnett's elbow got in the way, twice, with 39 seconds left.
Now, the question is a legitimate one: Will KG be suspended for Game 2?
Another question is, should he be?
Taking all the usual factors into consideration, I think the answers are no, and no. But after beating the Heat 85-76 to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-7 series, these are questions the Celtics shouldn't have to be contemplating.
You've seen the replays by now, and if nothing else, it should be clear that this was just an example of Garnett's typical bluster and machismo going too far. Hindered by a leg injury and all that mileage, Garnett has become a caricature of himself -- a woofing, cussing, emotional tinder box that on Saturday night kindled a fire that couldn't have been more unnecessary.
Anyone who knows Quentin Richardson -- and Garnett should know him by now, Q-Rich has been in the NBA for nine years -- would know that he approached the sideline in front of the Miami bench strictly out of concern for fallen Celtic Paul Pierce. As Pierce lay writhing in pain after sustaining a stinger on his right shoulder, Richardson immediately walked over to check on him.
"I just thought Q was standing over him talking some nonsense," Garnett said afterward.
KG, taking issue with somebody talking nonsense? Please.
Garnett immediately shoved Richardson out of the way, a course of action with which Richardson, to no one's surprise, took issue. Talking and jostling ensued, and things escalated into a full-scale shoving match immediately after Garnett connected with a vicious elbow to Richardson's face.
Garnett was assessed two technical fouls -- one for the initial shove and the talking, and a second for the elbow -- and was ejected. The issue now is whether the league office will/should take further action against the Celtics' big mouthed big man.
A few factors to consider: No one other than Pierce was injured in the fracas. The benches didn't clear, although it was difficult to determine what was going on with the Miami bench since Pierce had fallen into it. No punches were thrown, as far as I could see on the various replays.
It would be perfectly reasonable for league disciplinary czar Stu Jackson to conclude that the only harm in this situation was punished by the game officials, who dealt with Garnett appropriately after viewing the replays. But there are a couple of things I'd be concerned about if I were Doc Rivers or Danny Ainge: The league often considers whether contact is "unnecessary" or "excessive," and whether there is a windup before contact was made. Garnett's second elbow could reasonably fit all three criteria.
It also satisfied another definition of conduct that often is punished further by the league office: It escalated a tense situation into something else -- a full-fledged shoving match that easily could have resulted in punches being thrown.
The fact that it didn't result in punches being thrown is good for the Celtics. But the fact that it could have, I think, means that the next 18 hours or so will be accompanied by the appropriate amount of nervousness in New England.
All things considered, I don't think Garnett will be or should be suspended for Game 2. But if he is, I wouldn't object. And Garnett would only have himself to blame.
Posted on: July 1, 2009 10:19 pm
Edited on: July 1, 2009 11:34 pm
There must be more than meets the eye when it comes to the trade reported by the Los Angeles Times in which the Clippers send Zach Randolph to the Memphis Grizzlies for Quentin Richardson. Z-Bo makes $6.6 million more than Q-Rich and has two years left on his contract as opposed to Richardson's one. Memphis is under the cap, so the trade doesn't have to satisfy the 125 percent rule. Still, the Clippers should feel fortunate to have found such a willing taker.
Posted on: June 24, 2009 10:43 pm
The Knicks and Grizzlies are discussing a trade that would send Quentin Richardson from New York to Memphis for Darko Milicic, a person with knowledge of the situation confirmed to CBSSports.com.
It's not clear whether draft picks are involved, although the Knicks and Grizzlies also have discussed Memphis' 27th overall pick. Cash considerations would go to the Grizzlies.
Milicic would have a chance to thrive as a one-year rental in Mike D'Antoni's wide-open offensive system ... and thriving is not something Darko has done particularly well since he was infamously selected No. 2 overall by the Pistons in the 2003 draft. You know, the draft in which LeBron James went No. 1, followed by Milicic, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade.