Ben KopelmanEvery Knicks fan struggles with the optimistic angel on one shoulder (we got Eddy Curry!) and the ever-depressing devil on the other (we still have Eddy Curry??!!). After each week this season, we will offer up the positives and negatives of the last seven days in Knicks-land to help sort it all out and put your mind at ease.
Record during the week: 3-0
Game results: Win vs. Detroit (89-85); Win vs. Miami (102-92); Win @ 76ers (102-92)
Overall record / Games Behind: 14-22, 4.5 GB
Shining When The Spotlight Is Brightest: The one constant about the Knicks this year is their ability to show up for big, prime time games. As I count it, an early season loss to Chicago, an OT thriller against the Pacers, a thrashing of the crosstown Nets, and Thursday’s game against the Heat have been the team’s four juiciest of the season. Despite a 2-2 record in these contests, the team has proven that it will show up for the big games. Whether this carries over into a playoff series is another question altogether, but it is good to be reminded that the troops know how to rally when the lights are on.
If The Season Ended Today: The Knicks would miss the playoffs by a mere half game!! Sad that that is a good thing, but the current winning stretch has the team within striking distance of a playoff spot. When you start the season at 3-13, a record of 14-22 is something to celebrate. Baby steps, everybody, baby steps.
STAT: How much fun was watching STAT during that Sixers game? Amar’e turned back the clock and looked like his old, young self with 21 and 5, on 8-10 shooting. Box scores aside, Stoudemire looked strong and assertive in a way we have not seen in what feels like three years. It is amazing what a rejuvenated STAT (and a 5-of-6 game streak) can do for a fans’ psyche. Remember that bumbling old man who couldn’t even jump? Me either.
Late Game Play Calling: At the end of the Pistons game, the Knicks came out of a timeout and drew up the following play: Felton hands the ball off to Melo on the right side, Melo dribbles for 20 seconds and puts up a one-dribble-jab-step jumper. If that is what the team gets after running a designed play, fine, so be it, Melo is great because he can make something out of nothing with a shot clock winding down. But is that the play the team practiced? The play Woodson diagrammed and called? At the very least run Melo off a screen so that he either has a step on his man or gets a weaker defender to switch over. If the Knicks ever find themselves in a playoff game where they need a late bucket (aka: every playoff game), I really hope they have something better than that. It is scary that I doubt they do.
J.R. Smith: Shoelace-gate was pathetic. JR’s response to the media after his benching was equally absurd. Smith’s nerve to suggest the team betrayed him shows a lack of understanding I once believed only existed in movies. Somehow, in a matter of months, Smith’s reigning-6th-man-of-the-year-$6-million-a-year deal has become a toxic asset. I know he played well against the 76ers, but JR’s fall from grace — going from key cog in the wheel to third SG on the depth chart — is staggering. The only good thing regarding JR right now is how the Knicks handled the situation. When getting benched is the only positive associated with your name, things are not going well.
THE WALT CLYDE
The Coolest Guy In Town: While the rest of New York was freezing their collective asses off, Walt Clyde was strolling across Sixth Avenue jacket-less. Clyde revealed that he does not wear a coat. Ever. Mike Breen admitted that in all their years working together he has never seen Clyde in a coat. “It’s just too much of a hassle,” explained Walt. I guess? I say we Kickstarter to buy him this. Like he can resist that collar?! I’ll believe it when I see it.
You can follow Ben on Twitter @bkop2000