Tagged: Tracy Mcgrady

When The Story Becomes The Story

I wish this post was about the Knicks gearing up for a playoff run. It’s not. It’s the twilight of yet another miserable Knicks season and instead of the team, the story has become the story. It has been a bitter year on many fronts: A lot of consternation has flowed in a dizzying array of directions: Players to coach; coach to players; players to media; coaches to media; media to management; media to coaches; blogs to all of it. Losing will bring out the worst in everyone pulled into the franchise’s orbit.

From a fan’s perspective, the most despicable aspect of the last decade or so has indisputably been the play on the court. The next is the mismanagement. Then comes the press corps. At its best, the Knicks’ beat is intelligent, analytical, honest. At its worst it is defensive, dishonest, demeaning to its readers, hypocritical. Some of the writers fall consistently into the first category. Others into the second. Sometimes, rarely, they change hats.

This is a theme that has recurred in this space. It has been touched upon elsewhere but judging by some comments and tweets, I’ve probably developed a reputation as the guy who takes the writers to task when I think they deserve it. I call them out when they publish propaganda, when they fail to fact check, when they fail to recognize obvious truths to suit the predetermined direction of their coverage, and when they lie to get start a controversy in an effort to get a sound byte that will help them sell papers. For example, when:

It should come as no surprise that certain publications are featured prominently in this list while others are conspicuously absent. That makes it all the more puzzling that of all the writers who cover the Knicks, it was Alan Hahn of Newsday who was the prickliest about Tracy McGrady’s assertion that “you guys”, e.g., the press, will keep players away from New York. Hahn took exception, writing:

Apparently NBA players prefer hero worship over raw honesty and unfettered opinion. They prefer the big fish/small pond ratio in smaller markets, where the coverage has the intensity of a street light.

NBA players who relish a challenge should most definitely be willing to subject themselves to the spotlight. But what about the interrogation lamp? That’s why I’m not sure it’s really Hahn that McGrady had in mind. Hahn continued:

How should this team be covered at this point? Should we just shrug when Eddy Curry continually gets injured and yet still makes every single road trip, pocketing per diem and enjoying the free travel?

I can’t disagree with Hahn that if players are upset about the coverage that exposes:

  1. Eddy Curry for failing to properly condition himself for the rigors of the NBA despite collecting an $11 million salary; or
  2. Larry Hughes for pouting the night of a monster 43 point win over the Pacers; or
  3. Darko Milicic for wanting the Knicks to cut him, and let him return to Europe while still guaranteeing him his full paycheck; or
  4. Nate Robinson likely instructing his agent to complain in the midst of the Knicks’ best month in a decade; or
  5. their general and individual poor play in a losing season;

then that is a problem with the players and not the writers. But I think McGrady may have been referring more to the unfair treatment some writers bestow on some players (and the coaches, and management), the most glaring examples of which I’ve referenced above.

You better believe it’s a circus.

And McGrady isn’t the only one holding that opinion. Hahn points out that Ron Artest said that players are “scared of the fans and the media”. And Chris Bosh stated his distaste for the Knicks’ beat too.

It’s hard to tell if Hahn was sticking up for his colleagues or just himself. Without naming names, probably as a professional courtesy, he wrote:

I can’t speak for everybody in this business, but I can say there is not supposed to be agenda in any of this. It’s merely unbiased observations from those closest to the team without being part of the team. Most of us ask questions not because we don’t know the answers, we ask them because we DO know the answers.

Look, some of that is true. For Hahn, it certainly is. But even if Hahn asks honest questions seeking honest answers, let’s not pretend that there aren’t others who carefully engineer loaded, indefensible questions to solicit a frustrated response – to make news. You can’t honestly suggest that no writers have an agenda. Not when we’re still getting updates about what Stephon Marbury thinks about the Knicks. Not when they are openly calling for the Coach’s head (are journalists supposed to report the story or be a part of it?). There are plenty of fans who recognize that Mike D’Antoni has not been perfect, not even close, but are tired of reading diatribes, insulting to their intelligence, positing that all of the blame falls at the Coach’s feet. Will Berman, who had D’Antoni up in slings when he benched Nate Robinson refer to Nate’s latest benching with the Celtics as “Nate-Gate”? Will he recognize, as every single one of Nate’s pro coaches has that Nate’s best spot may be the end of the bench?

The Knicks are out of the playoffs because D’Antoni didn’t play Darko? Really? Is it truly a meaningful issue that Mike D’Antoni didn’t coddle Larry Hughes and Eddy Curry enough?

Marc, we know you’re worried that people aren’t going to pay attention to you if the Knicks aren’t good, but don’t you have some sort of professional responsibility as a journalist?

And as for Isola: look, we get it, the Knicks have PR people who follow you around with blackberries and take notes. Get the hell over it already. You’re a journalist, don’t let it taint your coverage. Fans want intelligent, honest coverage, not someone with a vendetta pledging to make things right for the time the Knicks “screwed me over.”

For all of the professionalism supposedly absent from the Knicks organization, from the coaching staff to the players (and yes, some of the players don’t know what that word means), the last ones to judge should be those who call their assignment “a gulag”, or “depressing”, and who pine for the old Checketts days when the Knicks treated the beat writers to a catered trips on yachts. Guess what Frank? I don’t get catered trips on yachts at my job either but I don’t elevate that grievance over my duties.

Granted, the good one’s like Hahn, Steve Adamek and Howard Beck are honest. They’re professional. They can have their negative opinions of the organization, as immortalized in the New York Observer article, without letting it cloud their work product. Marc Berman and Frank Isola are driven by personal issues and it’s a waste of time to argue otherwise.

These are circling vultures waiting to twist words and parse statements and misrepresent them, and take them out of context. They do this in order to generate enough controversy to satisfy a decade old grudge, or satiate some narcissistic thirst for attention/sell papers for News Corp. Despite their presence, you can understand why a player like LeBron James would put up with it anyway. He has an empire he wants to build and New York may be the best place to do it.

For an average or even above average player though, all other things are more or less equal. So what is there to gain by subjecting yourself to the daily dishonesty and mind bending disingenuousness? I have some news for the writers on the beat that hate their jobs and take it out on the organization. LeBron might not come, and if McGrady, Artest and Bosh represent the feelings of the rest of the players in the league, you’ve got a number of “depressing” years left in this “gulag”.

In The News: McGrady, Toney, LeBron, Kobe, Mullin

Here’s my own skewed view of recent Knicks news:

  • Apparently Mike D’Antoni doesn’t want Tracy McGrady back because he has to far to go in his recovery and is an injury risk. Come on Mike. I mean, he’s better than Penny was when he was a Knick. But seriously, I can’t wait for Berman to approach T-Mac and ask him: “Do you have any reaction to Mike D’Antoni saying he hates you and thinks you’re a an awful basketball player?”
  • In other T-Mac news, according to the New York Post, the Knicks let his body guard, Harveaire Berrien, have access to the locker room. That’s cool, just don’t let him cross paths with Hassan Gonsalves.
  • When Toney Douglas was drafted by the Knicks, he didn’t know who Walt Frazier was. He learned about him though, and I’m glad to see that Toney plans to pick Clyde’s brain. Clyde’s a legend and should be able to teach Toney a lot about offense and defense.
  • LeBron James said he “won’t stop” until he brings a championship to Cleveland. I’m not sure what that means. After he brings Cleveland a championship, he stops? At any rate, I think this means I’m supposed to be rooting for Cleveland, although I hate them. I hate their city, I hate their teams, I hate their faces. Honestly, as badly as I want LeBron to come to the Knicks, I want to see the Cavs get knocked out by Orlando again.
  • Frank Isola updates us on the Chris Mullin situation, which, so far as I’ve been able to tell, hasn’t changed since a year ago. Also, way to be creative with your headlines Daily News.
  • Kobe Bryant just signed a roughly $90 million extension to stay with the Lakers. Kobe, can I just have $1 million? I won’t tell anyone, I swear. And it’s not like you’ll even realize it’s gone. In all seriousness, Kobe was eligible for so such a monumental contract because he’s stayed with the same team for so long. That made him eligible to receive a fixed percentage raise every year and with every new contract. If he had hypothetically decided to switch teams he could only sign for roughly $16 million in his first year, which is roughly the max salary for free agents who switch teams (unless he switched in a sign and trade, in which case he could’ve gotten his $90 mil). At any rate, LeBron and other future free agents will likely never see that kind of money, even if they stay with their current teams, because under the forthcoming collective bargaining agreement, not only will the maximum salary likely go down, but there will also be a hard cap, meaning teams won’t be able to exceed the cap, even to re-sign their own players.

Framework For TMac Deal In Place

The unparalleled Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports has sniffed out a significant scoop. Apparently the Wizards, Rockets and Knicks have the framework of a deal in place that would land Tracy McGrady in New York:

The centerpieces of the trade would include the Washington Wizards shipping forward Caron Butler and center Brendan Haywood to the Rockets. The Knicks would send Al Harrington to the Wizards. For the Wizards’ part, they would still need another player, as well as a draft pick and cash to make this a workable scenario, sources said.

The first thing I’ll note (as did Wojnarowski) is that this trade doesn’t work. http://games.espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=yk2aly2. One variation that does: http://games.espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=yjyflq6.

The next item of note is that, assuming Jeffries is not going to be included, it seems like someone at MSG thinks the Knicks are going to make the playoffs this year. But if the Knicks have the chance to shed Jeffries in this deal, it would be the height of folly not to pull the trigger. Is it possible that TMac will return from his year off and average 27 points, 6 assists and 6 rebounds, and lead the Knicks to the playoffs? Anything is possible, but don’t hold your breath.

Besides McGrady, hopefully the Knicks have something else in the work to address some of my other grievances.

Knicks Roster Rumors: TMac, Nate, Arenas

A flurry of roster rumors hit the press today. Lets analyze:

1. Yahoo! Sports’ Marc J. Spears reports that recently the Rockets have spoken to the Knicks about Tracy McGrady:

…the Rockets want to get a young, athletic big man to put alongside center Yao Ming next season. The Knicks would gladly part with seldom-used rookie forward Jordan Hill in a package for McGrady, but the Rockets don’t seem too interested.

Should the Knicks do it? It seems moot anyway, since Houston, according to Spears, is not interested in Hill. But if the Rockets change their minds, the Knicks should consider a deal contingent on who else the Rockets are taking back to make the contracts work. If it’s Larry Hughes and Darko Milicic, I’d say what’s the point. I’d rather keep the young prospect than rent T-Mac for half a season.

The only way the Knicks should make a T-Mac trade, especially if they are giving up on a young big man who can shoot from the outside, is if the Rockets agree to take back Eddy Curry, or more realistically, Jarred Jeffries. Hill, Mobley and Jeffries not only nets the Rockets a young prospect and a defensive specialist, but potentially tens of millions of dollars in savings. It would also save the Knicks almost $9 million in salaries (Hill and Jeffries) for this summer.

2. Spears also reports that the Lakers and the Celtics have interest in Nate Robinson.

The Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers are among the teams who have expressed some interest in New York Knicks guard Nate Robinson, league sources said. Robinson’s base-year status, however, makes it difficult for any trade and the Knicks are said to be reluctant to ship Robinson to an Eastern Conference team, further complicating the Celtics’ efforts to land him.

Seeing as how, according to Alan Hahn, the Knicks were willing to trade Nate to the Grizzlies for bench-warmer Marcus Williams and what Hahn subsequently reported was probably a second-round pick, it seems like a deal could possibly be arranged.

As to the base year status issue, it’s a hindrance but not a roadblock. Especially if the team trading for Nate has cap space, like the Grizzlies do. The only other team with cap space right now though is Portland (OKC used theirs in the Maynor/Harpring swap). Also, don’t forget about trade exceptions, many teams in the league have sizable ones (although any trade involving a trade exception would net the Knicks nothing other than cap space, as trade exceptions cannot be combined with anything else). This is key to keep in mind because as Spears reports the Celtics and Lakers are “among” the teams interested in Nate, meaning there are others.

Should the Knicks do it? Anyone who has read this space knows that I think the Knicks should cut ties with Nate and never look back. To recap, while Nate has tremendous talent on offense, can win a game single handedly with a heroic performance on any given night, and has unparalleled work ethic, he unfortunately plays the game – for lack of a better term – stupidly. His decision making is abysmal, whether he is looking to shoot or pass. His defense is nowhere to be found. He takes a full 52% of his shots in the first 10 seconds of possessions (the most of any Knick), and ties Darko for the worst winning percentage in games he’s played (33.3%), other than Eddy Curry. His assist/turnover ratio is 1.476, which ranks him below Chris Duhon, Larry Hughes, Andre Iguodala, Shane Battier, and at least 45 other point guards in the NBA (yet some fans out there think the key to the Knicks woes is making Nate the full time starter at the 1).

If the Knicks can land a real point guard like Jordan Farmar for Nate Robinson, they should try to make it happen.

3. Chris Sheridan asked Donnie Walsh if the Knicks are interested in Gilbert Arenas, because, hey, why not?

Should the Knicks do it? I mean, come on…

The first and by far most important factor to consider is that Arenas still has 4 years on his contract after this one, and by the end of that contract he’ll be making $22,346,536 (!!!). Most observers have noted that it is unlikely that the Wizards will be able to void that deal, but I don’t think Arenas was worth that kind of money even when healthy/not pulling stunts like the whole gun fiasco or taking craps in his teammates’ shoes (what a hysterical “prank”! That lovable prankster.).

Not to mention that he’s a classic ball pounder in the Starbury/Iverson/Francis mold, which doesn’t exactly work for the current coach. Which is one reason why the Sprewell comparisons are off base. Spree had the heart of a champion and was committed to defense. He fit with what Jeff Van Gundy’s Knicks wanted to do. Can’t say the same for Arenas.

A telling quote from Sheridan’s piece:

“I don’t know if [Arenas] available, and I don’t know if he’s going to be able to play. There are a lot of questions, and we’ll have to see as time passes what the story is, but I know this: When I had guys [Stephen Jackson, Ron Artest] in the same situation, I traded all of them,” Walsh said.

Sheridan was using that quote to suggest that Donnie was able to develop a market for his sociopaths. But let’s put it in a different context: Donnie traded his sociopaths because he didn’t want them on his squad.

If the Wizards void Arenas’ contract, maybe the Knicks should consider signing him to a modest deal. Otherwise, pass.

T-Mac And The Rockets Reluctance To Save Money

Rumors continue that the Knicks are the most aggressive suitor for Tracy McGrady, but the Rockets aren’t biting.

As we’ve previously explained, trading away McGrady for role players and cap space would have the dual attraction for the Rockets of not disrupting chemistry and saving them money on luxury tax payments. In fact, if the Rockets take back Cuttino Mobley, they could save upwards of $20 million this year.

However, in an article on ESPN.com last night, Chris Sheridan stated that there might be “gray-area rules complications in trading Mobley”. Alan Hahn also wrote in today’s edition of Newsday that Donnie doesn’t plan to use Mobley’s contract as trade bait.

Still, even if the Rockets don’t save $20 million by trading with the Knicks, a trade of Hughes and Jeffries for McGrady would still save the Rockets $5 million between luxury tax and salary commitments, plus the Knicks could throw in another $3 million in cash to grease the wheels.

However, Sheridan writes that it’s Houston’s unwillingness to take back Jeffries that is killing the deal:

But what is killing the Knicks’ chances of landing McGrady, who would be a panacea for them next summer when they plan to be major players on the free agent market, is their insistence that Jared Jeffries be included in any deal with the Rockets.

As things stand now the Rockets, if they decline all their options (Dorsey, Lowrey, Chuck Hayes) would have $39 million in salary commitments this summer. That is enough space to sign a player to a $10 million to max deal, depending on what the cap number is. If the Rockets want to keep that cap space, their reluctance to take on Jeffries even in a deal that saves them a lot of money this year makes sense.

But if the Rockets don’t want to take back Jeffries, it makes little sense for the Knicks to trade for McGrady, whose sole appeal from my viewpoint is that in any trade for him, the Rockets could take back Jeffries and help the Knicks clear cap space. After all, prior to this week, McGrady hadn’t played since last season, has played totals of 47, 71, 66, and 35 games in the last 4 years, and is coming off microfracture surgery at the tender age of 30. Without accomplishing the task of moving Jeffries off the books, McGrady’s contract is not the “panacea” that Sheridan suggests. It is just another expiring deal that would leave the Knicks in the same position they are already in. That is also why, unless it is completely necessary to get a Jeffries deal done, it makes little sense to involve a third team in McGrady swap, which Sheridan claims is an option. If the Knicks can unload Jeffries to a third team, they should just do it and cut the Rockets out of the picture entirely.

Curry to go? Eddy Money?

The Knicks and Rockets have apparently been flirting with the idea of a Eddy Curry/Cuttino Mobley for T-Mac deal. The Rockets would want Curry because Yao is out, probably for the year. While Eddy is nothing like Yao, the Rockets’ offense is heavily reliant on pivotmen and if Curry is healthy and motivated, they could do worse. The Rockets would also save about $10 this year if they made such a move. However, the Rockets are currently positioned to have MAJOR cap room in 2010, and this would certainly interfere.

If Donnie could pull off a move like this, he should be sainted.

And speaking of Curry’s motivation, he has a lot to play for. We know he asked the Knicks to front him $8 million of his salary last year and it definitely seems like he’ll need another, non-minimum contract in the league. His house in suburban Chicago is in foreclosure. He’s behind over $200,000, and he was paying over 9% on it! This isn’t a finance blog but we know that that’s not a good rate.

Next Steps For Knicks: My Three Point Plan

Last night I refused to kill Donnie for having a solid draft even though it wasn’t the draft that we fans had hoped for. But I also recognized, as I think we all do, that the Knicks have a ways to go this off-season before Donnie can put the phone down and take a breather.

We missed out on the PGs we coveted. It sucks. But now it’s time to move on. I think the following quotes from Swingers are apropos here:

You don’t look at the things that you have, you only look at the stuff that you don’t have. Those guys are right about you – you’re money.

* * *

You gotta get on with your life. You gotta let go of the past. And Mikey, when you do, I’m telling you: the future is beautiful, alright? Look out the window. It’s sunny every day here. It’s like manifest destiny. Don’t tell me we didn’t make it. We made it! We are here. And everything that is past is prologue to this. All of the #$*@ that didn’t kill us is only – you know, all that #$*@. You’re gonna get over it.

So let’s take a minute to focus on what we do have:

1. We have an intriguing young frontcourt. The Knicks have a stable of young forwards with excellent potential. Chandler, Rooster and now Jordan Hill. (I’m deliberately omitting Al Harrington here.) They’re versatile, they all fit this system, and their games compliment each other well. Hill is hopefully going to add a dimension of toughness on the interior that this team was sorely lacking. And if D’Antoni can get anything out of newly-acquired, big-man Darko Milicic (which, admittedly, is like trying to draw blood from a stone), the Knicks could really be onto something.

2. We have two solid trade chips. It seems pretty clear that Nate and Lee are both marketable around the league. The Knicks are going to be able to turn those guys into (1) a good player or two, (2) some more 2010 cap space, (3) a 2010 first round pick or (4) some combination of 1, 2, and 3.

3. We have a lot of expiring contracts. Donnie used one last night to make a solid move and the expirings should continue to prove valuable this off-season, especially given that half the league seems to be having serious financial struggles.

4. We’re in New York. Or at least most of us are. Never forget that. Sure the Thunder have an exciting young roster but their fans have to live in Oklahoma City. Who’s suffering worse? Honestly.

So at least in this blogger’s opinion, things aren’t all that bad. Yes, there’s a ton of work to be done. But the Knicks can do it. To that end, I offer a three point plan (with two iterations) of moves the Knicks can undertake to improve the team this offseason:

1. Sign Ramon Sessions. With their selection of Brandon Jennings last night, the Bucks sent out a pretty clear signal that re-signing Sessions isn’t part of their strategy. Bringing him to NYC should definitely be part of ours. And it’s very doable. Sessions has a long-standing relationship with Dan D’Antoni dating back to their time on the AAU circuit and that relationship should help the Knicks make this happen. Sessions is a pass-first PG who excels in transition and on the pick and roll. He’s also a capable scorer. If he sounds perfect for us it’s because he is.

2. Trade for a starting SG. The Knicks have a big hole at the 2 and Larry Hughes is clearly not the answer. Tommy Dee reported the other day that the Wizards may still have an interest in Hughes and could be willing to part with Mike Miller and a contract to bring him back. If that’s true, it’s a no brainer move for the Knicks.  Another option I hope the Knicks look at is Ray Allen. The Celtics are very thin up front and it’s possible that a trade could be worked out with Lee and Allen as the principle pieces. It’s always dangerous to trade in the division but Allen is a smart player who can still shoot the lights out and would give the Knicks some winning pedigree. And then, of course, there’s always T-Mac.

OR

Trade for Chris Bosh. This move would probably prove harder to make, especially during the off-season. But I think the Raptors’ Derozan pick sends a signal that they may now be looking towards the future. If Bosh becomes available, I do believe the Knicks have some pieces to make a compelling offer. A combination of some cap relief, David Lee and Wilson Chandler or Jordan Hill could very well entice Bryan Colangelo to pull the trigger.

3. Unload an albatross contract or two. This becomes an essential mission if the Knicks decide to go after Sessions as that move would eat into the team’s 2010 cap space. The good news is that (remarkably) Jeffries seems to already have a market based on his own merit and he could almost certainly be packaged with Nate, as the Knicks almost did at the deadline, in a sign and trade for an expring. That move on its own would cover the cost of Sessions. E-City is a tougher case but I think there’s probably a market for his services too. Donnie might have to wait a few weeks into the season to unload him, a la the Zach and Jamal trades, but I just have a feeling there are going to be teams out there that need his low post scoring.

If Donnie executed this plan(s), the team could look like this:

Scenario 1:

PG: Sessions, Duhon

SG: Miller/Allen/T-Mac, Douglas

SF: Harrington, Gallo

PF: Chandler, Hill

C: Darko, Hill

Scenario 2:

PG: Sessions, Duhon

SG: Hughes, Douglas

SF: Harrington, Gallo

PF: Bosh, Hill

C: Darko, Hill

Playoff teams? In scenario 2 I’d say for sure. Scenario 1? The East is a mess, so they’d definitely be in the race. Either way, I think these moves would put the Knicks on solid footing for 2010 and beyond.

Knicks 104, Rockets 98

Huge win for the Knicks tonight to kick off a difficult stretch of the schedule, as they won for the first time this season when trailing after three quarters (1-21 now. Yes!). Not only did they beat yet another good team, but they did so with grit and precision, two qualities they’ve lacked down the homestretch of many of their losses this season. Here’s some highlights and other observations:

— The swap-in of Al Harrington for Wilson Chandler in the starting lineup did in fact go down and it turned out to be a positive for the team even though Harrington was only so-so tonight. The starters got off to a fast start as the Knicks took an early lead (the Knicks got their typical dose of strong and heady play from David Lee and Chris Duhon) and Harrington was a big part of that. The team’s production was much more balanced between the starters and the reserves and neither unit was especially exploited or shown to be a weak link (though the Rockets bench was excellent-more on that in a minute).

— Likewise, the move to the bench went swimmingly for Chandler. After a stretch of pretty lackluster play, Chandler came back strong with one of those great all-around games (18 pts on 6-10, 7 rebs, 3 assists, 1 blk) he puts together sometimes that get us fans so excited. Moreover, true to form, once Chandler got it going in the second half, D’Antoni rode him to the finish line (along with Lee and Duhon). One of the best things about Coach D is that he’s equal opportunity (unless your name is Steph – then he’s no opportunity) and strong play is almost always rewarded with more minutes.

— Nate Robinson played well off the bench yet again (with the exception of one absolutely horrific shot late in the 4th quarter) – his fourth terrific game in a row – as he continued to shoot the ball better and executed some really nifty back door cuts for layups and some clever dishes to guys flashing and diving to the rim.
The bench, in general, was solid once again. In addition to Chandler and Robinson, Tim Thomas made a nice contribution and Gallinari played more smart, solid basketball though the stats weren’t gaudy tonight.

— Even though the reserves played a good game, the Knicks really got worked over by the Rockets bench. Von Wafer, and yes, Carl Landry were particularly impressive as they brought hustle and energy. Landry especially had a stretch at the end of the first half where he just took over showing power, athleticism and a soft touch on the 15 footer. He notched 16 points and got to the line 6 times in just 19 (!) minutes. And I’m not just pointing this out because it proves my point…wait no, that is why I’m pointing this out.

That and because, if the Rockets had won the game, it would have been because their bench outplayed the Rockets’ starters and both units on the Knicks. In fact, they really only lost because Landry, Brooks and Wafer played too few minutes and T-Mac, Alston and Battier played too many.

— How frustrating was it to watch Knicks players defend T-Mac tonight? They kept giving him all this space. It’s like they got ready for the game by watching a Mcgrady highlight reel from 2002 and were terrified that he was going to blow past them and dunk on their heads. Meanwhile the poor guy just kept faking and jabbing over and over and over until somebody (anybody!) would jump in the air so he could lean in and beg for a foul. D’Antoni must have said something after that phantom call on Chandler because after that they finally started to crowd him and let him try to pop his contested j.

Anyway, another great win by the Knicks as they inch their way, little-by-little beyond mere competitiveness to quite possibly qualifying for the playoffs.