December 25, 2014 – Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
Christmas has always been defined as the season of perpetual hope. Just kidding that’s only what Macaulay Culkin’s mom called it in ‘Home Alone’ when she was screaming at the airline rep before John Candy saved the day. Yet, it is true, unless you are a New York Knicks fan. I know You totally read that coming.
The Wizards were selected to partake in the NBA’s Christmas Day festivities for the first time since 2008 against a Knick team that, records be gotdamned, was squared up to play in their league-high 50th Xmas Day contest despite a 5-26 shit show of a season thus far. And when it all was said and done, the Wizards, as expected handled them with minimal trouble. Rest in peace, John Candy, for the Knicks and their fans could’ve used you for a bailout.
As for the Wizards, it was basically John Wall as Kevin McCallister, transforming Madison Square Garden into his Uncle Rob’s renovated Manhattan condo unit into a field of booby traps for the Knicks and yes, that was another Home Alone reference, the second one in three paragraphs. I’m that shameless. Or, I’ve been that lifelong obsessed with that flick.
Wall and his Wizards finally found an opportunity for mercy after two very unpleasing home performances against the Suns and Bulls. In fact, a good amendment to the new CBA would be to give teams going through a struggling stretch, say a minimum 3-game losing streak, to play against the Knicks only to get everyone regrouped and back on the same page.
Here are some thoughts:
Bradley Beal: his statline showed a lot of similarities from recent past games but I think we’re seeing a bit more of Beal trying to improve his shot selection. Let’s face it. Bradley Beal is a bona fide shooter. It’s what he was in college, it’s what he was when the Wizards scouted him and it’s what the Wizards WANTED when they drafted him. He’s going to pull up his long 2’s, he’s going to pump fake a 3 and step into a long 2, and he’s going to move with or without the ball into open space for a comfortable look – even if it is a long 2. But what our problem with Beal is the frequency of the long 2 and that’s one thing I hope is starting to change. Maybe I’m forcing myself to be convinced, but Beal has been getting better at gathering his options rather than just taking the first good shot he sees. Against the Knicks yesterday, Beal attempted five shots from inside six feet, five from downtown and six between 11 and 22 feet. That’s a reasonably diverse collection of shots and I’m not mad about it. However, I would like to see Beal attempt more than just one free throw in a game and I’d also like to see six to seven 3-point attempts per game. That is, I feel, when he can really become dominant.
The Wizards front court: GAWDLY yesterday. Nene was 6-8 for 12 points, abusing Samuel Dalembert and Amar’e Stoudemire on both ends of the court. For a good while, Kris Humphries couldn’t miss, making his first three shots and finishing 7-9. Kevin Seraphin is becoming a token of offense off the bench and has been showing better instincts with the ball in his hands. And it’s always totally cool when the Wizards accumulate 50 points in the paint and only nine of them come from Marcin Gortat.
John Wall: the biggest beneficiary of facing a horrid defense like the Knicks. Wall wowed New Yorkers and the national audience time and again with incredible speed, his established jump shot, and his unmatched leadership via the periodic ESPN “Wired” segments. Wall was so good, and so good against a terrible team that the affection of his dominance tipped over Quincy Acy who throttled Wall with a hard foul then stood over him to provoke a reaction from Wall, which was a success. Wall’s retaliating shove drew a half-punch, half-forearm to the side of Wall’s body before the skirmish was broken up by Wizards players. The Knicks players on the floor felt very uncompelled to step in for their teammate, a true testament to just how many fucks they’ve come to give about..anything really.
Moment of the Night
Merry Christmas, little Knicks!!
Game Notes and Highlights
Nene was out of this world early on, putting the ball on the floor and getting layups, running in transition for more layups, posting up his big frame for..you guessed it..layups. Mindless of whether he was being checked by Stoudemire or a terribly worse Samuel Dalembert, Nene was a tyrant in the paint, and the Knicks were his peasants.
Remember when Jose Calderon actually used to play well against John Wall and the Wizards? Yeah, me neither. Things done changed and John Wall is simply no longer one to succumb to mediocre point guards. Wall’s breakaway speed, his dribble drives, his everything on the floor devastated Calderon and there was no escape route. Calderon fared well overall by getting some good shots and giving the Knicks some good offensive possessions, but his defense against Wall was a futility and to be humane about it, it really wasn’t his fault.
In a few Vines, here is the tragedy that became of Jose Calderon against John Wall.
Melo was Melo throughout the night. He put up 28 shots for 34 points but killed a good number of possessions with impulsive ones. He got his, though, but it was all the Knicks could give the Wizards. While Melo’s defense is generally a sad story, what he showed on the play below is that he doesn’t know too much about Rasual Butler. That, or he knows too much about John Wall. A lose-lose-lose situation, regardless.
How smart has John Wall become as a player? How about losing the ball on a turnover, disregarding it by racing backwards in transition, gathering himself for a charge, taking it and getting the ball back for his team. These types of plays may be the result of good coaching, but it never succeeds without also having the right natural instincts. Breaking news: John Wall has them.
No-look passes have convinced John Wall that eyes are overrated.
Quincy Acy, a tough guy, eh? Before his stupid skirmish against Wall, does anyone recall when Kevin Seraphin was giving him the business early in the 2nd quarter? You’d better. Seraphin took on Acy in the low post and blessed him with a baby hook, then played some excellent defense to force a miss. Let us be reminded, though, this is Quincy Acy we’re talking about. It’s usually not a big deal.
The Knicks did manage a cute little 11-2 run in the 3rd by way of a few good plays by Cole Aldrich and a little bit of complacency by the Wizards. Then, John Wall happened. A shot clock buzzer-beating jump shot around a Gortat screen, followed by a dish to B3AL in transition, followed by a dish to a trailing Humphries in transition, followed by a freezing hesitation move. The game was a joke and John Wall was belly laughing the entire way.