The grand plan with the Game of the Night is pretty simple — learn something from watching a game, then pass it on to you. So here’s what we learned watching the Knicks and Nets do battle for the hearts and souls of New York (okay, not really):
The Nets are not very good without Devin Harris.
Not earth shattering, but that’s the reality of this game. Midway through the third quarter Kris Humphries went up to block a Wilson Chandler layup and came down on Devin Harris, injuring Harris’ knee.
Harris was done for the night (and maybe longer, an MRI Wednesday will determine) and almost instantly the Knicks went on a 10-1 run and from there the game was basically over. The Nets couldn’t come back, they needed Harris to make that happen. The final was 111-110 Knicks, Amar’e Stoudemire led the Knicks with 35.
The Knicks are now 10-9, by the way — over .500.
The Nets were in this one until the injury because they had simple and effective plan — use Brook Lopez to pound the smaller and softer Knicks front line. Lopez had 15 of the 28 first quarter points for the Nets. Lopez finished with 36, one off his personal best ever. Timofey Mozgov may learn to defend in the NBA, it’s a hard adjustment, but right now he is simply a foul sponge. The man soaks up fouls at the fastest rate in the NBA. Literally.
The one thing we really did learn is that Wilson Chandler may be more key to the Knicks attack than most people realize. The Mike D’Antoni system needs shooters and Chandler is becoming that guy — 61 percent of his shots come off an assist now (a career high) and he is taking more threes than ever (and hitting one third of them, also a career high). He’s the third leading scorer on a team that needs scorers. He’s become crucial.
One other little thing — Raymond Felton has made the little shotput floater in the lane one of his real weapons. He’s got it down now.
Jahlil Okafor‘s father has not been shy about speaking out on his son’s behalf. NBA players are advocating for the 76ers to grant Okafor, who’s out of the rotation and on an expiring contract, his desired trade or buyout.
When both join forces…
Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Stephen Curry appear to really enjoy Chukwudi Okafor’s shirt. That doesn’t mean they’re necessarily calling on Philadelphia to do anything. But they hadn’t to know how it’d be perceived.
It’s easy to predict free agents will avoid the 76ers as a result of the Okafor situation, but few anticipate getting stuck similarly. Players overwhelmingly value money, winning, role and location. If Golden State’s stars are applying any external pressure, it shouldn’t really move Philadelphia more than anything that has already been said and done.
Lonzo Ball draws outsized attention because his father, LaVar Ball, lures onlookers and because the rookie plays for the high-profile Los Angeles Lakers.
So, when Lonzo gets a triple-double – like his 11-points, 16-rebound, 11-assists game against the Nuggets yesterday – it draws scrutiny.
Mo Dakhil of The Jump Ball:
The NBA defines an assist as a “pass that directly leads to a basket. … An assist can be awarded for a basket scored after the ball has been dribbled if the player’s pass led to the field goal being made.”
I wouldn’t describe either of those passing as leading directly to a basket. Ball’s teammates each hold the ball for a moment after receiving the pass then take two dribbles against set defenses.
But assists are subjective, and the Lakers aren’t alone in offering a home-court scorekeeping advantage.
Kyle Neubeck of Philly Voice
So, criticize/laugh at the Lakers. But your favorite team probably manipulates assists in its favor, too.
Robin Lopez whacked T.J. Warren in the head while chasing an offensive rebound. Warren didn’t like that, so he ran to the opposite end of the court and shoved Lopez to the floor. A heated confrontation ensued, though it didn’t escalate beyond yelling.
Warren received a flagrant foul, and Lopez was hit with a technical in the Suns’ 113-105 win over the Bulls.
Corey Brewer is better at finishing fastbreaks than leading them.
Nice defense by Emmanuel Mudiay, too.
But at least the Lakers won.