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.
As of tomorrow, training camps around the league open, and all the focus goes to the 2016-17 season.
For fun, let’s look back one more time at last season — the 50 top circus shots of last season.
Stephen Curry driving the lane and throwing up prayers once he draws contact (and hitting them), there is Russell Westbrook throwing the inbounds pass off an opponent’s back, and so much more. Enjoy. Then let’s get on with next season.
Kevin Garnett intimidates people. In the machismo-fueled world of professional sports nobody comfortably admits they were intimidated, but in the wake of Garnett announcing his retirement, a number of players stepped forward to say exactly that. And that KG trashed talked them fearlessly.
Oklahoma City’s Steven Adams found a way to avoid that — tell KG he didn’t speak English.
Adams was lucky, KG had a reputation for going harder at foreign-born players with his trash talk and intimidation. Then again Adams is not the kind of guy prone to be intimidated.
Athletes are injecting themselves into the needed national conversation about race, violence, and policing in this nation. That has taken some very public forms, including LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony speaking at the ESPYs, and Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem and leading others to do so. Some NBA players likely will follow Kaepernick’s lead.
Pistons coach/GM Stan Van Gundy likes seeing players speak out.
A couple of his Detroit players — Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris — said they backed the 49ers quarterback. Here is what the never shy Van Gundy said about all of it, via Vincent Ellis of the Detroit Free Press.
“I’m encouraged by the fact of what some of those guys stood up and did at the ESPYs and had a conversation,” Van Gundy said. “I’m really proud of the fact that we have guys that not only see the problem, but want to try to do something about it…
“To me, in some ways, (police brutality is) just the most visible to focus on and it goes to deeper inequities in our criminal justice system, our education system so there’s so much to focus on,” Van Gundy said. “I think it’s great that we have players that want to be part of that conversation, and a lot of players that want to go beyond the conversation and be part of the solution.”
Van Gundy has been telling his players part of that solution is to vote.
The players union and NBA sent out a release saying they wanted to work together to create positive change, but details are still vague on what that might be. The only thing we know for sure as we head into the NBA season — with as divided a nation and election as anyone can remember as a backdrop — is that some NBA players are going to try and keep the conversation going.
It was the last game of the group stage of the 2000 Olympic basketball tournament at the Sydney Olympics, the USA was taking on France, another USA win on its way to another gold medal.
But what we all remember is this one play — Vince Carter dunking over the 7’2″ French center Frederic Weis.
Best. Dunk. Ever.
Weis was never the same.
In an impressive career — two-time All-NBA, eight-time All-Star, hours and hours of crazy highlights — this is always going to be the highlight at the top of the list. So we will use the anniversary of this dunk to look at it one more time.
Hat tip to nitramy at NBA Reddit.