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.
First it was Darryl Dawkins. Then it was Moses Malone.
Two all-time great players who recently died — and at t0o young an age, 58 and 60 respectively — from undiagnosed heart conditions. Even before that, recognizing the issue the NBA players union and the league itself were setting up supplemental health coverage to provide cardiac screening for retired players, something ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan recently broke.
The joint effort between union executive director Michele Roberts and NBA commissioner Adam Silver — at a time when there still may be potentially acrimonious labor negotiations looming for their sides — is intended to ease the health concerns of its retired players.
Roberts said action from the players’ association on providing screening for its retired players is “imminent.”
“I wish I could give you an exact timetable, but we have to make sure all the components are in place,” Roberts told ESPN recently. “I will tell you we hope to have something sooner than later.”
The Cardiologists are affiliated with the NBA already, and some of the money will come from the league, while the union is both pitching in a chunk of cash and is the one organizing this, according to the report.
It’s good to Roberts and Silver working together on this. While you’d like to think this would be the kind of no-brainer move that the league and union would work together on, in the past the relationship didn’t always facilitate this sort of cooperation even on the obvious.
I’d like to think this bodes well for future labor talks, but I’m not willing to completely draw that parallel.
Somebody is in midseason form.
Stephen Curry put up 30 on Portland in a preseason game Thursday night, hitting six threes and getting to the line 15 times over the course of his less than 26 minutes. It was quite a show.
Portland won the game 118-101 behind 25 points from Allen Crabbe and 22 from Damian Lillard. Not a lot of defense in this one but it was fun to watch.