Yeah, so, when Tyler Freakin’ Hansbrough slammed home a dunk with under 10 seconds left in regulation to send the game into overtime, that was fun. And when Terrence Ross hit a fadeaway, buzzer-beating trey to send the game into double overtime, that was even fun-er-er. Ultimately, in an extremely sloppy game, the Toronto Raptors defeated the New York Knicks, 123-120. This was likely the final preseason game for most of the Knicks’ roster hopefuls, as Mike Woodson is sure to be focused on settling his regular season rotation from now until the games count in the standings.
For much of the first half, the Knicks flashed their considerable offensive potential, deploying a wide variety of lineups that showcased the versaility of their roster. But, alas, New York struggled on the defensive end, a tendancy that fans can only hope does not become a trend going forward. On the bright side, both Ike Diogu and Toure’ Murry continued to distinguish themselves, and at this point, it would be an absolute shock if they didn’t make the team. In Diogu’s case, the uncertainty surrounding the availability of Amar’e Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin for the early part of the regular season certainly also bodes well for his chances to stick around after final cuts.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
- Tyson Chandler was an offensive beast in the first quarter. He scored on a pick-and-roll, a pick-and-pop, and a backdoor cut, and if he can maintain that sort of versatility in the regular season, the Knicks and their fans are going to be very happy. It’s early, but Tyson has definitely shown significant improvement with his jump shot, as evidenced by his two mid-range FGMs. We know that Chandler can be lethal in the two-man game with Ray Felton, but last night we saw him excel playing alongside Beno Udrih, who started the game with injuries to Prigioni and Felton. Udrih’s solid mid-range shot will make it difficult for teams to back off him and defend Chandler on the pick-and-roll (like they did so often with Felton last season).
- Udrih, by the way, had 19 points and 7 assists. Regardless of the numbers, Beno knows how to play and he should have little trouble replicating the minutes lost by Jason Kidd’s departure.
- Toure’ Murry needs to be on the roster. Spero Dedes called this game Murry’s final exam, and he clearly passed. Aside from his offensive contributions, Murry played some excellent defense, notably drawing a charge late in the second quarter. Showing a flair for the dramatic, he even made an awesome fadeaway, half court buzzer-beater. There may be a more immediate need to keep another big man, but the Knicks will regret it if they let Murry go.
- Ike Diogu got in a bit of a scrum with Tyler Hansbrough. Having beef with Hansbrough makes Ike an infinitely more intriguing and likable player. Metta World Peace also got into it with Hansbrough, getting a technical foul. It was awesome.
- Chris Douglas-Roberts has some very interesting hair that I had not noticed until this game.
- The Knicks played went most of the second quarter with the precocious neophytes (Diogu, Leslie, Murry) and Metta World Peace (16 points, 6 rebounds). Not surprisingly, fans were then treated to several entertaining possessions, mostly ending with Metta hitting outside shots or making solid passes to open teammates. He and the kids actually went on a 12-2 run despite playing with a true point guard or center. On a semi-related note, if Hollywood makes a movie about a 40-year-old World Peace playing on a hopeless team stacked with 20-year-olds, I will totally watch it. Multiple times.
WHAT WENT WRONG
- The Knicks’ interior defense v. the Raps was horrifyingly bad. They allowed a plethora of dunks and layups, especially in the fourth quarter and the overtimes. New York is a far superior team to Toronto, but their lack of focus on the defensive end was their undoing. Sure, it’s only preseason, but habits are hard to break.
- New York trapped and doubled way too much in the first half. Mike Woodson’s style of defense is suited for smaller lineups, despite his insistence on playing big, and that sort of strategic folly was on display when the Toronto players moved the ball at will and got better looks for themselves.
- The Knicks only had 19 assists on 120 points. That’s not very good.
- Neither Carmelo Anthony nor Andrea Bargnani shot well, combining to go 8-for-25 from the field.
- The Knicks played this game without Pablo Prigioni, Iman Shumpert, and Raymond Felton. Get well soon, Guys!
- Clyde wore a pretty sweet tie last night, though the words to describe the pattern escape me. The man’s style is unparalleled.
- The game was played in Toronto, which, of course, meant Bargnani was booed vociferously every time he touched the ball. Stay classy, Torontonians!
- The @nyknicks twitter account seemed to imply earlier yesterday that the Knicks would be wearing their new orange alternates, but that was just a teaser, apparently.
- The Knicks will next play in Green Bay against the Milwaukee Bucks in a preview of the season opener. The game will be televised @ 8 pm on Wednesday (10/23) on MSG.