I hated having my picture taken growing up. I mostly avoided it, and when I couldn’t escape I refused to smile — “I’m not a performing monkey,” I’d tell my father. I skipped having my senior picture taken, blowing off my mother’s requests with “You see me every day, Ma. You know what I look like.” A quarter-century, a number of jean size upticks and some male-pattern baldness later, I wish there were more pics of me from back then. I take so many pictures of my daughter, who is eight going on 14. I know better now. The world is relentless, the forces that can stop it terrifying beyond belief. If you can freeze a moment in time, even just an image of one, you can escape. If only for that moment.
On this date in 2013 the Knicks had just wrapped up a 54-28 season. Two years later they’d just wrapped a franchise-worst 17-65 campaign. Two years ago they’d done it again. Today’s Knicks are 31-27 after a thrilling 122-112 overtime win over the New Orleans Pelicans this afternoon. Stop. Focus. Snap. Shake that Polaroid. Tilt that phone. Look at it. This moment in time.
New Orleans came out like a team seeking revenge for a loss to the same opponent four days ago. This was the teams’ final meeting of the season and I for one am thrilled I’ll no longer have to witness Steven Adams gobbling seemingly every single offensive rebound in existence. Adams led the Pels with eight in the first quarter, a big reason —along with forcing turnovers — they outscored the Knicks 16-6 in the paint. New York could have been in trouble if not for Rowan Barrett Junior.
The Knicks have been hot, but every golden age is only as good as the last harvest and some of the crops were looking suspect. Nerlens Noel left the game with what was diagnosed as a bruised hand. Then the Pelicans got out on the break.
Then Derrick Rose got going.
Rose scored nine in seven minutes, and when Julius Randle hit a 3 a 10-0 run saw New York rise from five down to five up. Even Rose’s misses smelled sweet — two gorgeous lay-up attempts became Taj Gibson putbacks, part of a 7-0 run. Randle hit a number of shots late in the half, not a few tough ones against Williamson, whose team trailed by 13 at the break but whose professional Madison Square Garden debut was a showstopping success.
In the third quarter Eric Bledsoe, Yes, That Eric Bledsoe exploded for 10 in the first two minutes; a Lonzo Ball 3 tied things at 69, and yes that was nice. Another Zion-oop tied things again heading into the fourth.
With four minutes left Barrett fouled out; a minute later a Ball lay-up capped an 11-2 run to put the Pels up seven. A Rose lay-in and 3-pointer pulled the Knicks closer, then Zion turned over a Bledsoe pass, leading to an offensive rebound and two made free throws for Noel. In the final minute the Knicks trailed by one. Quickley’s floater bounced twice on the rim but wouldn’t fall, and after a pair of Bledsoe free throws New York was down three with eight seconds left and out of timeouts. All the Pelicans had to do was not give up a 3. They say Lonzo is highly intelligent. Maybe he’s already looking forward to joining the Knicks next season and so he decided to give his future team some here-and-now help.
For whatever reason, Ball leaned toward Rose, leaving Reggie Bullock just enough room to take and make the game-tying three. Bledsoe’s attempted game-winner was tipped by Rose, sending the game to overtime, which Rose christened with a steal and a lay-up over Bledsoe. On the Knicks’ next possession, Noel booked a reservation about the rim for two.
That would not be his top highlight of the overtime:
Randle hit from deep as the shot clock expired — literally; the refs reviewed it and he basically released it simultaneously to the clock hitting zeroes, which wasn’t enough evidence to overturn it. Another moment frozen in time. Another escape. Another W.
- Rose with 23, his season-high as a Knick. He gives them a third player who can create for himself and others, along with JR & RJ. New York is 15-7 in games he’s played with them.
- Not a great shooting night for Randle, but 30 points, 10 assists, five rebounds and five steals is a hell of an off-night.
- The Knicks were +15 on 3-pointers, a decisive factor in both wins over the Pelicans.
- Quickley was out there getting late and close minutes. Not a big night for him shooting, but four rebounds, three assists and zero turnovers will always be welcome.
- How about official Bill Kennedy’s showmanship announcing that Randle’s clinching 3 was good? The dramatic pauses! “After reviewing the play………the play…………is confirmed. Three-point goal.” I don’t like mustard, but I’ll take some on my refs.
- Every time Noel hits a jumper, Mitchell Robinson’s next agent loses a couple grand off this summer’s commission.
- Only six minutes for Kevin Knox, who grabbed three rebounds in that time and who looks confident when he lets fly.
Also Zion stole Kevin’s lunchbox. Not for the first time.
- Eleven Knicks played and Alec Burks missed the game due to Covid protocol. Who’s gonna end up part of Tom Thibodeau’s 8-9 man playoff rotation? And who’s out?
- If Zion comes to the Knicks, would that mean bidding adieu to Randle, who’d still only be 29 or so when Williamson could come? Or could they be a 4-5 combo? Think it’s too early to think about?
Zion Williamson when asked about playing in MSG & NY;
“I think outside of New Orleans, it’s my favorite place to play basketball” pic.twitter.com/4iLc8Mt8gZ
— BenchWarmerPost (@BenchWarmerPost) April 18, 2021
- Midway through the first quarter on the ESPN broadcast, Ryan Ruocco responded to a point Doris Burke made with the same bored “Hmmm” my dad uses when he’s not listening to what someone’s saying to him. It happened again 30 seconds later, then with 3:30ish left he busted out a bored “Uh-huh.” I can’t say Ruocco was consciously disrespecting Burke because she’s a woman. I can say I can’t imagine a male analyst having their partner seriously respond to one of their points with an obviously bored “Hmmm.” Much less three of them.
Quoth NYK_OG: “DRose, DRisen!” A rising Rose lifts all boats. If comparison be the thief of joy, think of me as Robin Hood, stealing joy for those in need, i.e. us: the Pelicans entered this game 25-31. How many of us would’ve signed up for 25-31 in blood before the season started? Instead, here we are: the Knicks have beaten Utah, crushed Milwaukee and Boston, topped Portland and swept Dallas. They have a better record than three of the last four NBA Finalists. They’re half a game out of home-court advantage in the first round — of the playoffs proper, not the play-in tournament. Next game is Tuesday when the Knicks host Charlotte. Here’s hoping for an uplifting 4/20.