Overview: The Cavaliers survived 70 combined points from Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire to win an insane 119-115 shootout in Madison Square Garden. Baron Davis had 18 points and five assists in his debut, and hit a clutch three-pointer with 10 seconds to go.
Let’s just play the Knicks every game bullets:
O-M-G W-U-T-T. What a strange, terrible, wonderful game. I don’t know what this game means, but this is definitely the first time in months I’ve sat down to do my recap and been legitimately excited. I’m not sure if this team is any better than the one that lost 26 games in a row. But I’m extremely anxious to find out. Onto the bullets:
- Baron Davis. With the ego and the awful shot selection and the extra pounds and the questionable attitude and the lack of hustle and everything else, you forget just how talented that dude is. I mean, I named my original blog after him, and I admit that I forgot what it feels like to watch him do his thing. The guy was put on this earth to run an offense.
I think we got the full Baron Davis experience in this game. On his first play as a Cavalier, he casually fired a perfect no-look alley-oop to J.J. Hickson from half-court. It was almost certainly the most spectacular play a Cavalier guard has made this season. On the very next possession, he jacked up a contested three and missed it badly. Still, when the ball is in his hands, he’s in control in a way that no other Cavalier is. It’s almost impossible to make him pick up his dribble, and he’s always creating angles with his dribble while looking for open three-point shooters or cutters. Ramon is a scorer who can play point guard. Baron is a point guard who can score.
There’s still plenty to be concerned about with Baron. The three-ball has always been Baron’s biggest vice, and that was what he was most effective with on Friday. Baron was 2-8 from inside the arc, and two of his four threes were of the ridiculous clock-saving variety. Baron can do things that no other Cavalier can do, but they will have to pay a possession tax, just like every one of his teams always has.
Let’s talk about that last three. The Cavs were up one and got the ball with 28 seconds left. The Knicks decided not to foul, which meant the Cavs could have run the game clock down to around 5 seconds before firing up a shot. Baron –a 29.6% three point shooter — decided to launch a contested three with 10 seconds left. And he drained it. Of course he did. Welcome to the resistance, Baron. All hail the grand viceroy of swag.
Speaking of, Samardo Samuels went to the wizard and GOT HIMSELF SOME SWAG. This is not the same dude who was up-and-under faking until the cows came home. Samardo was looking to mix it up inside and finish with authority, and he made an impact in the paint. Samardo may not be 1/20th of the player that Amar’e is, but he came into MSG looking to get the best of him and let him know about it. Love the athleticism, love the emotion, love the energy. And how about that game-saving charge? ALL ABOARD THE WAR WAGON OF THE JAMAICAN SENSATION!
Christian Eyenga went to the wizard and got himself a jumper. After missing nine straight threes, Eyenga has drained his last six. And Eyenga’s other two baskets were long twos. And he did a much better job on Carmelo than Gee did. I thought Eyenga’s poor outside shooting was a mechanical thing. If it was just a confidence thing, that’s a big deal.
Luke Harangody went to the wizard and got himself an NBA career. That jumper sure is ugly, but it goes in. He also made some nice cuts, and seems to know what to do when he gets the ball under the basket. We’ll see what he does against an actual defensive frontcourt, but this was a nice showing from a guy I thought of as a throw-in in the Semih Erden trade.
More solid work from Hickson. Active on the boards, active around the rim, and he got some of the easy dunks that he used get when LeBron was in Cleveland. He’s going to benefit from playing with Baron.
Razor Ramon had a disappointing game. He couldn’t really get into the paint, and he didn’t have passing lanes when he tried to press the action. Hopefully Baron’s arrival won’t mess him up too much.
Amar’e got his 41, but he had to work for them. A ton of his 32 shots were from the high post, and he wasn’t really getting his teammates involved at all. You can live with that kind of game from Amar’e.
Carmelo, on the other hand, was a house of fire. Poor Alonzo Gee had no chance. When that guy is on, he’s nearly impossible to stop. Whether he was posting up, driving to the hoop, or firing the jumper, everything he did led to a made basket or a foul.
HOW DID 38 TEAMS PASS ON LANDRY FIELDS? Great rebounder, can finish inside, moves without the ball beautifully, and doesn’t miss open threes. Every team in the league wants a guy like that. He’s already better at being Mike Miller than Mike Miller is.
Overall, the defense was not great. Zero weak-side help. Fortunately, the Cavs actually managed to overcome it this time. Like I said at the beginning of the post, I don’t know if this team is any good, but at least they might be fun. CATCH THE FEVER! Until next time.