"Wait, don't pass it to Jeffr...NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! I hate my life."

The New York Knicks: This should've been a blowout, right? Chauncey Billups was in street clothes because of a strained knee and Amar''''''e Stoudemire logged only 18 minutes because of back spasms. As a result, Roger Mason was pulled out of mothballs and Jared Jeffries ended up playing clutch minutes for the Knicks.

That wasn't part of the plan.

But for the most part, none of that mattered, because Carmelo Anthony activated Beast Mode and nearly beat the Celtics single-handedly. Afterwards, Charles Barkley said Anthony had one of the greatest playoff performances he had ever seen. And man, I have to admit, it was up there.

'Melo tied his career playoff-high for points (42) and set a new career high for rebounds (17) while dishing out 6 assists and blocking two shots. He played 44 minutes and went 14-for-30 from the field, 4-for-8 from downtown and 10-for-11 from the line.

I know that 14-for-30 number may not look super impressive. It's not even 50 percent. But the degree of difficulty on some of those shots was off the charts. It's not like the Celtics weren't playing good defense. They absolutely were. I mean, the Knicks shot 35.6 percent as a team and bricked 17 of their 25 three-point attempts. And believe me, guys were contesting Anthony's shots. He just wouldn't miss. With 2:36 remaining and the game tied at 88-88, 'Melo went body-to-body with Paul Pierce, bounced off him and drilled a three with a hand way up in his face.

There's no defense for that.

Actually, you know what, that's not true. There is a defense for that and Boston coach Doc Rivers finally went to it: Aggressive double-teaming. Make somebody else beat you. And with 19 seconds, it almost happened, as Jeffries broke free for a layup that gave the Knicks a 93-92 lead.

A clutch bucket from Jared Jeffries? Yes. It happened.

The Celtics came out of a timeout and posted Garnett on Jeffries. New York's defense seemed to expect KG to pass back out to Pierce or Ray Allen. Or maybe the Knicks D just sucks. Whatever the case, Garnett easily backed Jeffries down and tossed in a hook shot to put the Celts back up one.

Honestly, the Knicks probably wanted KG taking that shot. He was 5-for-15 at the time and has a history of, uhm, testicular shrivel in crunch time.

Said Garnett: "I wasn't really in a nice rhythm. I just remained calm, went to a shot I knew I could make."

Admittedly, it's probably easy to remain calm when Jeffries -- and not Stoudemire -- is guarding you. Actually, it's probably easy to remain calm when either guys is guarding you, since neither of them can guard anyone. Anyway.

After a New York timeout, Boston's double-teaming tactic once again forced 'Melo to give up the rock, which went to Jeffries under the basket. Unfortunately for the Knicks, Jeffries was at a bad angle to attempt a shot, so he tried to dish to a cutting teammate. Physics being the bitch that it is, the pass couldn't phase through Garnett's hands. Both players went down but KG had possession and called timeout.

Jared fucking Jeffries.

Said Jeffries: "When I caught it my initial route was there, but I felt like KG was coming and closing down. I should have went ahead and shot the ball."

After the break, the ball was inbounded to Delonte West, who was fouled and hit both freebies. New York's final shot was a three-ball by Bill Walker, who channeled his inner John Starks and finished the night 0-for-11.

In fact, for the night, Knicks not named "Carmelo Anthony" combined to shoot 18-for-60 from the field. I'll save you calculator time and tell you that works out to a 30 percent conversion rate. Which would be a great batting average. Shitty shooting percentage, tho'.

Boston's rebounding: The Celtics really did play excellent initial defense...even on Anthony. But the Knicks absolutely killed them on the offensive glass. New York ripped down 20 offensive boards, and those second chances kept them in the game as much as 'Melo's heroics did.

New York's interior defense: Rajon Rondo, not exactly an offensive force, scored a team-high 30 points. According to ESPN Stats and Information, 22 of those points were scored inside five feet. Which mean's layups. According to the ESPN play-by-play, Rondo had 11 layups. He has six of those in the first quarter alone, and he scored three straight layups in the fourth.

Which forces me to ask the following question: If you know a guy can't shoot jumpers, why not lay back and, you know, force him to shoot jumpers?

Bill Walker: In 33 minutes, he went 0-for-11 from the field, including 0-for-5 from beyond the arc. Oddly enough, he finished with the best plus-minus score (+10) on his team. Meanwhile, none of New York's starters had a positive plus-minus. 'Melo was -5.

Carmelo Anthony, quote machine: "The Celtics didn't do anything special. They won two games on their home court. Now it's our turn to go to our home court and try to do the same thing."

The Atlanta Hawks: The Dirty Birds were once again tormented by Dwight Howard (48 minutes, 33 points, 19 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 blocked shot) but managed to put the clamps on his teammates. Dwight was 9-for-12 from the field. His support staff went 18-for-64, which means they played even worse than 'Melo's backups.



But, despite holding the Magic to 34.6 percent shooting (including 5-for-23 from long range), the Hawks could not capitalize. They didn't help their cause by shooting 39.5 percent or going 7-for-20 on threes. Or getting outrebounded 52-39 and giving up 20 offensive rebounds. That was key. According to ESPN Stats and Information:

On the season, the Magic ranked 16th out of 30 teams in offensive rebound percentage, grabbing 26.1 percent of their missed shots. On Tuesday, the Magic grabbed 43.5 percent, their fourth highest mark of the season. After being down six points after the first quarter, the Magic took a 12-point lead into halftime, due to their ability to create extra opportunities and never trailed thereafter.
Another huge difference was Orlando's 36-17 advantage in free throw attempts. As usual, Howard got most of his squad's opportunities (19). Not as usual, he actually knocked down 15 of them. And, as a team, the Hawks were worse at the line than Dwight (11-for-17).

Ryan Anderson, possibly inflammatory quote machine: "Atlanta's a team that if things aren't really going their way, they're going to struggle a little bit. We're different in a sense where if we're down we kind of know how to fight our way back into it."

Stan Van Gundy, quote machine: "There's no matchup for him that creates the excitement. If you got back to when the centers were king, you have Chamberlain-Russell and people say 'Wow, that's a matchup you look forward to.' Now people look forward to Chris Paul against Derrick Rose. ... People have played good games against Dwight, but still, where's the anticipated matchup?"

Joe Johnson: The line: 14 points on 6-for-15 shooting. Remember: The Hawks will be paying him $25 million in 2015-16.

The Portland Frail Blazers: After the Blazers lost Game 1, I said they'd be fine as long as they didn't 1) let Jason Kidd shoot them down again and 2) allow Dirk Nowtizki to get a zillion free throws and do another fourth quarter ravaging of their defense. And, to be perfectly honest, it seemed inconceivable both of those things would happen again no matter what Portland did.

I mean, I thought it was about as likely as a Greg Ostertag comeback.

Well, then. Kidd went 7-for-11 from the field and 3-for-6 from downtown, finishing with 18 points and 8 assists in 33 minutes. Meanwhile, Dirk went 15-for-17 from the foul line and scored 14 of his game-high 33 points in the fourth quarter. In fact, Nowitzki scored the Mavs' final 11 points. Portland started the final 12 minutes down by a single point. After Dirk went all Mega Shark on them, they ended up losing 101-89.

And here I predicted another annual playoff choke.

Oh, and I haven't even mentioned yet how Peja Stojakovic returned from the grave, scoring 21 points on 8-for-13 shooting (5-for-10 on threes).

Not being able to defend Nowitzki, that I can understand, but not being able to stick J-Kidd or Peja? Those guys were legally declared "immobile" two years ago.

Memo to the Blazers: Dirk is going to score no matter what you do. Getting a hand in the face of the guys who can't move might be a better bet.

Chris' Playoff Lacktion Ledger:

Knicks-Celtics: Nenad Krstic collected a pot of gold worth 3 trillion (2:59).

Hawks-Magic: Jason Collins claimed a free throw and board in 18:55 as starting big man for the dirty birds, while fouling thricely for a 3:2 Voskuhl. Hilton Armstrong checked into the ledger by countering a board with three fouls and a turnover for a 4:1 Voskuhl in 6:33.

Orlando's Quentin Richardson bricked and fouled in 12:39 for a +2.

Frail Blazers-Mavs: Looks like Brandon Roy doesn't like being lacktive, having gone a frustrating +4 in 7:59 via three bricks (two from the charity stripe) and a lost rock.

Meanwhile, fellow infirmary resident Armon Johnson snagged a board in 0.3 seconds at the end of the first half for a non-lacktive SUPER MARIO GALAXY!!!!!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...
I think you mean Armon Johnson unless I woke up in an alternate reality where the Raptors are in the playoffs

Blogger Unknown said...
Generally when something makes me scream at my television I can count on reading about it here in the morning.

I fear you missed Hedo Turkoglu trying to shoot the Magic out of last nights game. Yeah, he made one, which they actually showed in the middle of the NYK BOS game. But on what felt like 7 out of 10 possessions he kept launching, and missing contested shots. What's worse is he was doing this with 15+ seconds left on the shot clock half-way through the 4th , and the Magic only up by 10, then 8, then 6, then 4. Then finally J-Rich took an equally ill-advised shot, but at least it went in.

Also POR v DAL deserves WotN honors for being the worst game of the night, despite being the one that faced no competition. I could have watched either of the other two games end to end with no complaint, but had to keep jumping back and forth, missing a lot of great Carmello&Dwightness. Meanwhile, here's the last out going text from my phone last night:

The announcer just said "this is becoming a two-man battle between Batum and Stojakovic."

Pretty much sums up why I'm going to sleep right now.

Anonymous Flud said...
Catch, turn, straight to the hoop. Jeffries Shmeffries.

WV: Nobile. Jason Kidd and Peja are very nobile on the court.

Blogger chris said...
Anonymous: Thanks for the fix. that's what happens when you write a lacktion report at 2 AM.

Blogger winnetou said...
|And here I predicted another annual playoff choke.
Don't worry, the TV team already laid the foundation for a stat-cursing flameout: "The last time the Mavs went up 2-0 in a playoff series was the 2006 finals."

Blogger Dan B. said...
Oliver Miller was arrested for pistol-whipping somebody. It happened at a barbecue. Of course it did. That bastard tried to take the bowl of potato salad away from him. He had it coming.

Blogger Wormboy said...
Gah. The Celtics are clearly hurting when they require heroics twice in a row to beat a no-defense Knicks. Especially the under-manned Knicks of game 2. And you know what? It's not the absence of Kendrick Perkins. They're just old. That's it. When a team let's Rondo prance around its paint and score layup after layup, and the Celtics STILL make it a nailbiter, you know they are FUBARed.

Now I'm confident that the Cs won't be back in the Finals this year. Sure, they'll beat the D-less Knicks, but they stand no chance against real contenders.

re: Jason Kidd. Well, I'm really enjoying the taste of crow. You'd think it would taste like chicken, but it tastes like butt.

Blogger Michael Hsu said...
when are people going to start hacking rondo and make him beat you at the free throw line. 30 points is inexcusable for a pg who can't make free throws. If he's in the paint knock him down.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
Gah. The Celtics are clearly hurting when they require heroics twice in a row to beat a no-defense Knicks. Especially the under-manned Knicks of game 2. And you know what? It's not the absence of Kendrick Perkins. They're just old. That's it. When a team let's Rondo prance around its paint and score layup after layup, and the Celtics STILL make it a nailbiter, you know they are FUBARed.

'Melo's Beast Mode made it a game. That's pretty much it. Not sure you can really make too much of what happened. Boston's D locked down EVERYBODY else and Anthony repeatedly hit ridiculous shots.

Will 'Melo get that crazy-hot again? Doubtful. Guys don't usually repeatedly go for career-highs. Same with Rondo. Playoff games always seem to have "one-shots" that can't be repeated and would seem to spell doom for whichever team.

Apparently, the only team that can repeat wacky bullshit is the Mavs.

Anonymous AK Dave said...
Apparently, the only team that can repeat wacky bullshit is the Mavs.

Eh. What's so 'wacky' about Dirk isoing on smaller players, backing them down, and drawing contact on his turnarounds? That is precisely what he is supposed to do.

Also: you had to EXPECT that Stojakavic had at least one game per series where he gets hot and drills a bunch of 3's. Nothing wacky there. If he scores 20 again this series, I'll chalk it up to 'wackiness'. For now, it's just your usual statistical anomaly over a 7 game sample.

As for Jason Kidd: he was taking wide-open 3's. Even he can hit 50% from 3 when he has a wide-open look. And the shots I saw him make were seriously wide open. That's on Portland; not the law of wackiness.

In fact, any way you look at the first 2 games, Portland has itself to blame. Leaving 3 pointers open, fouling Dirk on jump-shots, failing to abuse matchups (i.e. anytime Barea is in the game)- those things are their own fault.

Dallas is playing smarter right now, and it shouldn't surprise anyone when you consider that the only playoff veteran who plays meaningful minutes on Portland's team is Marcus Camby.

Also: even a 3-game lead with Dallas is not safe. Remember Portland-Dallas 2002, when they came THIS CLOSE to being the first team ever to blow a 3-game lead in a 7 game series.

WV: terifid
Just like Bosh when he has to play center

Anonymous Tree said...
And believe me, guys were contesting Anthony's shots. He just wouldn't miss.

You mean, aside from the 16 shots he actually missed? Sorry - rough day.

I'm surprised that you omitted the NY foul on West at the end of the game. I mean, they blew it - the Knicks allowed 3.5 seconds to tick off before fouling, and actually seemed confused as to whether they should foul. I am looking for the video, but Shawne Williams could have fouled rather quickly, but stopped and looked toward the bench for some reason - like he wasn't sure what he was supposed to do. That last 4.1 seconds by the Knicks was the epitome of basketbawful!

Blogger tjr said...
Does anyone else think:
If Roy signed a huge long term contact like Joe Johnson how screwed the Trailblazers would be right now?


That Billups will not be back to the Knicks next year?

My team (Phoenix) are out this year, so I've some how become a bandwagon Mavs supporter for some reason, all the vets they have (who have won nothing their whole careers) makes me favour them over the other spoilt ringless brats like Melo and LeBitch.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
A 5-year, 82,000,000$ contract is not long-term and crippling? I mean, it's not as huge as Johnson's, but still, 14 million/year for a guy whose knees are barely working now, imagine what they'll be like in 4 years.

Also, I do think Billups will resign. I don't think he's willing to become an underpaid role player on a contender just yet. A 2-year extension with the Knicks, then off to whatever contender needs him.

Anonymous Tree said...
@Anon: the difference - to me at least - is that we absolutely know what Johnson is now ... and it's not good now, so it's extremely likely to be worse in a few years. With Stoudemire - now he's playing pretty good, and his knees might give out, but they might not. Either way - I'd rather Stoudemire over Johnson NOW and in 4 years (because at least there's a chance he'll still be performing at an admirable level).

Blogger Wormboy said...
Dunno man. Both Knicks-Celtics games have been close. OK, Carmelo played phenomenally (franchise players are supposed to have a few of those, right?) but on the flip side, so did Rondo. And with just Carmelo and a bunch of scrubs, why should it be close?

Billups won't be there next year: trade bait.

Blogger Dan said...
@Tree: Stoudemire's contract is definitely better than Johnson's, but he was talking about Roy's. It's not Arenas bad, but it's not good.

Blogger The Sports Hayes said...
I'll tell ya why it was close, the Celtics bench SUCKED.

Rivers has completely abandoned a 10 man rotation (no confidence in Arroyo and Krstic, can't blame him though) in favor of Davis, Green and West. None of those guys played well and if Green was averaging his 15 he did in Oklahoma and Davis averaged his 14 he did in the regular season its a different ballgame.

Yes, Stoudamire and Billups being out helps the C's....but they don't help themselves out with lousy rebounding and bench play.

Anonymous The Other Chris said...
Boston's D locked down EVERYBODY else

You mean, like, Jared Jeffries and Bill Walker? The ice cold, non-factor Landry Fields? Shawne Williams?

Boston plays good defense, Matt, but let's get real: The Knicks gutted their team to acquire Carmelo, and the Celtics barely beat them with 2/3rds of their competent players unavailable.

Anonymous Tree said...
My bad ... in that case, my apologies to Anon - I agree wholeheartedly!

Blogger Basketbawful said...
You mean, like, Jared Jeffries and Bill Walker? The ice cold, non-factor Landry Fields? Shawne Williams?

Boston plays good defense, Matt, but let's get real: The Knicks gutted their team to acquire Carmelo, and the Celtics barely beat them with 2/3rds of their competent players unavailable.

Aaaaaand...Boston held them to 85 points on 42 percent shooting in Game 1 when STAT, Mr. Big Shot and 'Melo were all available.

My point is, this game was close because 'Melo went berzerk and the Knicks owned the offensive glass (atypical of them). People are making it sound like this is some sign that the Celtics are finished.

Anonymous rockansas said...
Who thinks the Knicks should go get Rick Adelman?

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Ladies and gentleman; Steve Nash - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SwfSwsOzZtM

Anonymous Anonymous said...
apparently brandon roy hurt his butt riding the pine last night:


Blogger DDC said...
I didn't like Portland's defensive strategy at all. More often than not their double teams were soft and passive, which led to players being stuck in no-man's land. Peja got about 5 or 6 open looks off of this "defense". For all the talk about Dallas being mental midgets, I'm starting to think there is something a bit askew with Portland as well when it comes to the Playoffs. That said, I think this still goes 7 with Dallas winning.