Preseason Game Thread: Knicks v. Raptors

Bonjour camarade Knicker-backers!

Il est temps à nouveau pour le basket de pré-saison. Ce soir, nous sommes de retour dans les terres balayées par le vent glorieux du Canada, pour une autre bataille de volontés entre les New-Yorkais et les Dinosaures de Toronto!

Voici les partants pour le match de ce soir

Et bien sûr, nous ne pouvons pas avoir un espace pour discuter sans notre rapport quotidien des blessures. Raymond Felton, Iman Shumpert, Kenyon Martin, Amar’e Stoudemire, et Pablo Prigioni ne joueront pas. Andrea Bargnani va entrer dans la mêlée, malgré les rapports de rigidité arrière pendant le week-end.

Allons-y, Knicks!

C.J. Leslie: A Story of Unmet Expectations

I spent the first 27 years of my life in upstate New York, in and around Albany, and would have been content to stay in the Empire State. But there are always opportunities that arise in your life that make sense to take advantage of, and my calling happened to come from the lovely capital of North Carolina (that’s Raleigh, for everyone that failed geography). I’ve been living here for almost 7 years now, which means I’ve experienced much of C.J. Leslie’s high school and college career — hard to avoid, considering I’m in the center of the college basketball universe. It is precisely this geographical proximity that I feel qualifies me to share with you a somewhat long winded summary of C.J. Leslie’s college basketball career. I added some pretty pictures to keep you from falling asleep.

First, let me describe the scene that exists in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area. You have three major colleges within 30 minutes of one other, each with its own distinctly rabid rabid fan base: Duke, UNC Chapel Hill, and N.C. State. College basketball is king, and really, how could it not be when the alternatives include the Charlotte Bobcats, Carolina Panthers and a hockey team in a city that only has a handful of days a year below freezing? (How do they even keep the ice frozen????) Over the last decade, Duke and UNC have been at or near the top of the NCAA basketball hierarchy, while NC State struggled to regain national relevance. C.J. Leslie, more than anyone else, was seen as the key to recapturing that past glory.

There’s only one problem: Seldom are such high expectations ever met.

It was at the Word of God Christian Academy that C.J. Leslie garnered an enormous amount of buzz, teaming with John Wall for a couple years to create some great highlight reel plays and becoming a McDonalds All-American. A year after losing Wall to Kentucky, NC State made amends by snatching Leslie from the evil clutches of John Calipari, and many a pig pickin’ were had in celebration throughout the Tar Heel State. As a side note, if you’ve never experienced a proper pig pickin’, you are truly missing out on one of life’s greatest pleasures.

Look! I can jump really high! Won't someone draft me?Leslie burst onto the scene in his first regular season game with the Wolfpack, scoring 21 efficient points with six rebounds and six blocks against the OVC powerhouse Tennessee Tech. Despite looking briefly like the greatest player ever, Leslie would struggle to maintain that level of play over the course of his first season. Meanwhile, the team couldn’t scrape together a winning season, leading to the firing of their much maligned coach, Sidney Lowe. In all, CJ had a solid — if unspectacular — freshman year in which he showed an ability to be a solid rebounder (15.8 TRB%) but a bit turnover prone (1.7 per game / 12.9 TOV%) and an inefficient scorer (.470 TS%, 27.1 USG%) with pitiful assist and steal numbers (7.1 AST% and 1.5 STL%). Still, Leslie showed all sorts of athletic gifts and stretches of dominance, leaving most State fans frustrated, but hopeful that it all amounted to freshman inconsistencies and poor coaching holding him back from greatness.

The following season would see Leslie come back with a bolstered offensive game, reflected by a much improved TS% of 55%. However, Leslie’s rebound rate dipped a bit, and his turnover rate increased. For the Wolfpack, the season was a strong one: they won 24 games and made the NCAA tournament Sweet 16, where they lost by just three to eventual tournament runner-up Kansas. Despite the team’s success, C.J. still had problems with game-to-game consistency, sometimes looking like the best player on the floor against solid competition, and then playing horrifically against the same team weeks later. Leslie would save his best for last, though, lighting up the ACC Conference Tournament, shooting almost 70% and averaging 17 and 11 over three games. He regressed a bit in the NCAA tournament, tallying a TS% just under 50% and grabbing only 5.7 rebs over 31 minutes per game. Still, many fans took it as a sign that Leslie was starting to mature and meet his great potential. The only question was whether he would come back for another year, or declare himself eligible for the NBA draft, where he was predicted to be a first round pick with a possibility of being chosen late in the lottery.

Maybe next time I should pass... Nah!Of course, C.J. would come back once again, to a team chosen as the preseason favorite to win the ACC (Leslie himself would be chosen as the ACC preseason player of the year). This should have been his opportunity to shine and show his game and maturity were improving. Sadly, it was not to be. While his productivity didn’t completely collapse, C.J. really showed no sign of improvement over the year before: his TS% stayed pretty much the same from the year before (0.50), but his rebounding regressed (14.3 to 13.0 TRB%) and turnovers increased (14.8 to 17.9 TOV%).

The jump in turnovers in particular earned the ire of State fans; it was obvious that C.J. was forcing the issue, and hurting the team in the process. On the heels of the promise they’d shown at the end of the previous season, the Wolfpack would underachieve, finishing 4th in the ACC and losing in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Fair or not, Leslie became the face of the Wolfpack’s woes, receiving harsh criticism from fans, media and even his coach. C.J. would declare for the draft following that season and — as we all know — go undrafted before being snagged by the Knicks as a free agent.

So what can the Knicks expect from C.J. Leslie if they keep him around (a pretty big if, at this point, given his less-than-stellar preseason play)? He’s shown the ability to be a solid rebounder and at least an average scorer. By not being expected to create offense for himself, hopefully turnovers won’t be as much of a problem as they were in college. He is an incredible athlete, but his size — 6’9″ and around 200 pounds — is going to create issues for his game in the NBA. He lacks an outside shot and seems to be too turnover prone to play the three spot, and lacks the bulk to play inside. It’s clear that to be a contributor in the NBA, C.J. will need to further develop either an outside game, or more likely, add significant bulk and develop a better post game to allow him to contribute at PF.

Still, by far the biggest concern surrounding Leslie is this: in three years of big time college ball, he didn’t show that much in the way of improvement. Unfortunately, that narrative has continued through Leslie’s stints in the summer league and preseason, the latter of which has found him relegated to the end of the bench even during garbage time. If the Knicks keep Leslie around, expect at least a year in the D-league, with a subsequent reevaluation at the end of the season.

C.J. Leslie left a lot of fans in Raleigh frustrated and wondering what might have been. Draft day flyer or not, I hope he doesn’t do the same in New York.

Knicks Morning News (Monday, Oct 21 2013)

  • [New York Times] Lillard Scores 28 as Blazers Beat Kings 109-105 (Mon, 21 Oct 2013 03:58:01 GMT)

    Damian Lillard scored 23 of his 28 points in the second half, helping the Portland Trail Blazers edge the Sacramento Kings 109-105 in a preseason game on Sunday night.    

  • [New York Times] Love Leads Timberwolves Past Celtics in Preseason (Mon, 21 Oct 2013 03:00:55 GMT)

    Kevin Love had 22 points and nine rebounds to lead the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 104-89 preseason win against the Boston Celtics on Sunday.    

  • [New York Times] Thunder Beat Jazz 88-82 in Preseason Game (Mon, 21 Oct 2013 01:45:52 GMT)

    Reggie Jackson had 18 points and six assists to help the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Utah Jazz 88-82 on Sunday night.    

  • [New York Times] Magic Hang On for 87-86 Victory Over Pistons (Mon, 21 Oct 2013 01:01:48 GMT)

    E’Twaun Moore had 14 points in 30 minutes, and the Orlando Magic defeated the Detroit Pistons 87-86 on Sunday night.    

  • [New York Times] Preseason Tries to Promote Global N.B.A. (Mon, 21 Oct 2013 00:19:59 GMT)

    The N.B.A.’s push to become a worldwide attraction turns the preseason into a globe-trotting exercise.    

  • [New York Daily News] Knicks injury bug bites Bargnani (Mon, 21 Oct 2013 04:27:00 GMT)

    There was a point during the Knicks’ open scrimmage on Sunday at Columbia, in which Carmelo Anthony was teamed with Ike Diogu, Cole Aldrich, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Chris Smith. What made that quintet significant was how many regulars were unavailable for the session due to injuries    

  • [New York Daily News] Bargnani added to list of nicked-up Knicks (Mon, 21 Oct 2013 02:29:24 GMT)

    There was a point during the Knicks’ open scrimmage on Sunday at Columbia, in which Carmelo Anthony was teamed with Ike Diogu, Cole Aldrich, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Chris Smith. What made that quintet significant was how many regulars were unavailable due to injuries.    

  • [New York Daily News] Knicks Insider: Peace talks, says he won’t go easy on Melo (Mon, 21 Oct 2013 02:21:44 GMT)

    Metta World Peace has been matched up against Carmelo Anthony in practice for much of his first training camp with the Knicks, and the last thing the veteran forward says he’ll do is take it easy on the NBA’s reigning scoring champion.    

  • Knicks Morning News (Sunday, Oct 20 2013)

  • [New York Times] Paul Scores 40, Clippers Top Nuggets 118-111 in OT (Sun, 20 Oct 2013 06:11:21 GMT)

    Chris Paul scored career preseason high of 40 points and added 11 assists to lead to the Los Angeles Clippers to a 118-111 overtime win over the Denver Nuggets on Saturday night.    

  • [New York Times] Pacers Beat Cavs for First Preseason Win (Sun, 20 Oct 2013 02:27:55 GMT)

    David West scored 20 points and the Indiana Pacers beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 102-79 on Saturday night for their first preseason victory.    

  • [New York Times] Pelicans Hold Off Wizards, 93-89 at Rupp Arena (Sun, 20 Oct 2013 02:18:49 GMT)

    Anthony Davis scored 16 points and blocked Bradley Beal’s game-tying drive attempt with 11.9 seconds left to help the New Orleans Pelicans remain unbeaten with a 93-89 exhibition victory over the Washington Wizards on Saturday night.    

  • [New York Times] Mavericks Beat Bobcats 89-83 in Greensboro, NC (Sun, 20 Oct 2013 02:12:58 GMT)

    Shawn Marion had 13 points and eight rebounds, leading the Dallas Mavericks to an 89-83 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats on Saturday night.    

  • [New York Times] Wade’s 25 Points Lift Heat Over Spurs, 121-96 (Sun, 20 Oct 2013 02:07:02 GMT)

    LeBron James spent most of the night sitting with fans, Ray Allen didn’t re-enact his famous shot and the Larry O’Brien Trophy was nowhere to be found.    

  • [New York Times] James Sits Out Heat-Spurs Preseason Game (Sun, 20 Oct 2013 00:01:13 GMT)

    LeBron James missed Miami’s preseason game against San Antonio on Saturday night, sitting out in favor of rest and maintenance.    

  • [New York Daily News] Lupica: Season of Melo-Drama set to begin for Knicks (Sun, 20 Oct 2013 05:26:18 GMT)

    So this was the first official week of a season that will be about Melo-Drama Anthony, who’s almost as difficult to guard talking about his impending free agency as he often is when he gets hot shooting a basketball.    

  • [New York Daily News] Amar’e practices, but uncertain if he’ll be ready for opener (Sun, 20 Oct 2013 00:50:47 GMT)

    You can remove Amar’e Stoudemire from the side of those milk cartons. Missing in action for the first 18 days of training camp, Stoudemire took a small but significant step Saturday in Knicks practice when he went through 5-on-5, halfcourt contact drills for the first time.    

  • Knicks Morning News (Saturday, Oct 19 2013)

  • [New York Times] Lillard Leads Blazers Over Clippers, 94-84 (Sat, 19 Oct 2013 05:30:47 GMT)

    Damian Lillard scored 12 of his 16 points in the third quarter to lead the Portland Trail Blazers to a 94-84 exhibition victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night.    

  • [New York Times] Sports Briefing | Basketball: Bayern Munich Can Play Basketball, Too (Sat, 19 Oct 2013 03:57:32 GMT)

    Bayern Munich made a memorable debut in the Euroleague, romping to a 94-73 victory at Stelmet Zielona Gora of Poland.    

  • [New York Times] Rose Scores 32 to Lead Bulls Over Pacers (Sat, 19 Oct 2013 03:10:16 GMT)

    Derrick Rose scored 32 points, including eight in the final three minutes, and Luol Deng added 22 as the Chicago Bulls remained unbeaten this preseason with a 103-98 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Friday night.    

  • [New York Times] Mike Miller Scores 19, Grizzlies Down Magic 97-91 (Sat, 19 Oct 2013 01:42:49 GMT)

    Mike Miller had 19 points and 11 rebounds, Ed Davis added 16 points and 10 boards, and the Memphis Grizzlies earned their third straight preseason win with a 97-91 victory over the Orlando Magic on Friday night.    

  • [New York Daily News] Isola: Melo move rings true (Sat, 19 Oct 2013 02:20:05 GMT)

    Carmelo Anthony has this free agent thing down to a science. In one breath he admits that testing the waters appeals to him while in the next he pledges his undying loyalty to New York.    

  • Knicks Morning News (Friday, Oct 18 2013)

  • [ESPN.com – New York Knicks] MSG unveils plans for new media display (Fri, 18 Oct 2013 01:12:59 EDT)

    Madison Square Garden has revealed plans for a new scoreboard display at the arena. Here’s the press release:Madison Square Garden unveiled today the design for the Arena’s new state-of-the-art, one-of-a-kind, center-hung multi-media display. The display will serve as the centerpiece of The Garden’s brand-new LED video display system, known as GardenVision, which will debut on October 25 as part of the third and final phase of The Garden’s unprecedented, $1 billion, three-year Transformation.

  • [New York Times] Cousins, Kings Win 3rd Straight, 107-90 Over Suns (Fri, 18 Oct 2013 04:43:30 GMT)

    DeMarcus Cousins had 29 points, nine rebounds and six steals to lead the Sacramento Kings to their third straight preseason win, a 107-90 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night.    

  • [New York Times] Roberts Hits Jumper, Pelicans Top Thunder 105-102 (Fri, 18 Oct 2013 03:06:48 GMT)

    Brian Roberts scored 12 of his 14 points in the second half, including the go-ahead jumper with 30.6 seconds left, and the New Orleans Pelicans stayed unbeaten in the preseason with a 105-102 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night.    

  • [New York Times] Nets 86, Heat 62: For Garnett and Pierce, New Uniforms Do Nothing to Ease Rivalry With Heat (Fri, 18 Oct 2013 03:03:36 GMT)

    When the Nets acquired Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce this summer, they took not only their skill and spirit, but their enmities, too.    

  • [New York Times] Nets Retire Kidd’s No. 5, Then Beat Heat 86-62 (Fri, 18 Oct 2013 02:57:55 GMT)

    The Brooklyn Nets retired coach Jason Kidd’s number, then gave him an 86-62 preseason victory over the Miami Heat on Thursday night.    

  • [New York Times] Questions Follow Knicks’ Anthony During a Return to His Hometown (Fri, 18 Oct 2013 02:16:57 GMT)

    Carmelo Anthony reiterated that he planned to test free agency next summer, but he doesn’t want anybody to get the impression he won’t stay with the Knicks.    

  • [New York Times] Spurs Top Hawks 106-104 on Baynes’ Late Basket (Fri, 18 Oct 2013 02:03:50 GMT)

    Aron Baynes sank a floater in the lane with 3 seconds remaining to lift the San Antonio Spurs to a 106-104 preseason win over the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday night.    

  • [New York Times] Anthony Nets 22 in Knicks’ 98-89 Win Over Wizards (Fri, 18 Oct 2013 01:43:05 GMT)

    Carmelo Anthony had 22 points in the first game he’s played in his hometown to lead the New York Knicks to a 98-89 preseason win over the Washington Wizards on Thursday night.    

  • [New York Times] Irving Scores 15 as Cavs Down Pistons 96-84 (Fri, 18 Oct 2013 01:37:21 GMT)

    Kyrie Irving scored 12 of his 15 points in the third quarter to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 96-84 win over the Detroit Pistons in a preseason game Thursday night.    

  • [New York Times] Rivers’s Move Brings Power, and Scrutiny (Fri, 18 Oct 2013 00:26:23 GMT)

    Doc Rivers left the Celtics, pro basketball’s most successful franchise, for the Clippers, a team that had won two playoff series in 40 years.    

  • [New York Daily News] Melo hints his ‘Decision’ will be between Knicks and Lakers (Fri, 18 Oct 2013 06:18:58 GMT)

    Carmelo Anthony reiterated that he wants it all; he wants to be a Knick for life yet he also wants NBA teams — the Lakers, really — to court him when he becomes a free agent on July 1st.    

  • [New York Daily News] Shumpert leaves game with elbow injury (Fri, 18 Oct 2013 04:11:54 GMT)

    Iman Shumpert’s bid for a starting job took a slight detour on Thursday when the third-year guard suffered a sprained right elbow in the first half of the Knicks’ 98-89 preseason victory over the Washington Wizards.    

  • Preseason Recap: Knicks 98, Wizards 89

    New York Knicks 98 Final
    Recap | Box Score
    89 Washington Wizards
    Andrea Bargnani, PF 25 MIN | 4-7 FG | 4-4 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 3 BLK | 3 TO | 13 PTS | -4

    THAT’S what we’re kinda sorta talking about! Kinda! Bargs forged an effective niche early, taking what the defense was giving, attacking the tin aggressively, and hitting his throws when he did. On defense, a 6-foot ball of dryer lint could be rolling towards him at one mile an hour, Bargnani still wouldn’t take the charge. He relied a little too much on his J in the second half, but did manage a trio of well-timed snuffs. Promising signs of progress, albeit mostly in one dimension.

    DID HE SPRAIN HIS ELBOW: No.

    ODDS OF MAKING THE TEAM: C%

    Carmelo Anthony, SF 29 MIN | 8-17 FG | 5-6 FT | 5 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 22 PTS | +1

    Prodigal Son blah blah pffffffffffft whatever. Like every preseason game Melo’s ever played, tonight’s tilt was less about mimicking real time flow or getting others going than it was lubing up the ol’ bucket launcher. That sounded a lot better in my head.

    Anyway, some classic concerns turned up: Completely ignoring open teammates; taking plays off defensively; relying too much on defender-lulling dribbles and pull-ups. Just chalk it up to brandishing on behalf of the WB, and nothing else.

    CHANCES OF MAKING THE TEAM: The same as me doing a Father Knickerbocker installment every week for the rest of the season, whether you fucking like it or not.

    DID HE SPRAIN HIS ELBOW: Melo’s elbow might be stronger than Kevlar at this point.

    Tyson Chandler, C 6 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +2

    I think Tyson had full possession of the ball once, when he missed a mid-range jumper early in the game. Every other time he looked like the flailing receiver reaching for the wildly high thrown ball in Tecmo Super Bowl – no chance at all and holy shit did I just date myself. Basically he snagged three boards in six minutes and missed a couple of rotations on D. And sweated, kind of.

    ODDS OF MAKING THE TEAM: 100%

    DID HE SPRAIN HIS ELBOW: Probably.

    Raymond Felton, PG 15 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 6 PTS | +5

    God bless Raymond Felton, but you’d have a better chance getting Ted Cruz to start a Franklin Roosevelt Fan Club than you would getting Felton — or anyone, for that matter — to stay in front of John Wall consistently for 15 minutes. In fact, Ray had one and only one recourse: pull Wall down by his arm just as he was hitting 90 in transition. Which, amazingly, wasn’t called.

    On offense, Ray was… exercising? His stroke looks noticeably less hitchy, and he continued to bound spry off the dribble. Works for me.

    ODDS HE MAKES THE TEAM: 100%

    DID HE SPRAIN HIS ELBOW: No.

    Iman Shumpert, SG 10 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | -4

    I don’t know who that bald-ass stunt double was, but damn if he didn’t pull off a good Shump impression: hitting a couple smooth jumpers, occasionally turning overzealous on defense, and throwing down a nuclear put-back that got by far the night’s biggest crowd rise.

    Then, disaster, in the form of an ill-fated attempt at a purple nurple on a streaking John Wall. The result: FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK!

    ODDS OF MAKING THE TEAM: SHUMPUNDRED%

    DID HE SPRAIN HIS ELBOW: FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK!

    Josh Powell, PF 19 MIN | 0-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +5

    Productive in spurts, but didn’t do enough to assert himself as an end-of-bench option.

    ODDS OF MAKING THE TEAM: No.

    DID HE SPRAIN HIS ELBOW: No.

    Ike Diogu, PF 23 MIN | 5-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 10 PTS | -3

    By far Diagu’s most impressive performance to date. The unthinking midrange jumpers make you cringe a little, but the confidence is there, and anyway his deftness around the rim more than makes up for it. He timed his rebounds well, boxed out effectively, and pretty much launched himself atop the 15th man fray. We’ll see if it lasts another week, but Ol Ike Diego (h/t: Mike Breen) is looking like he wants some of those stale-ass leftover media room cookies.

    ODDS OF MAKING THE TEAM: 65%

    DID HE SPRAIN HIS ELBOW: No.

    Cole Aldrich, C 4 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +8

    COLE ALDRICH ANAGRAM FUN: Acid Cell Rho

    ODDS OF MAKING THE TEAM: Halo Circled

    DID HE SPRAIN HIS ELBOW: Cole ain’t got time to sprain.

    Chris Smith, PG 7 MIN | 0-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -2

    Screen Shot 2013-10-17 at 11.10.52 PM
    Screen Shot 2013-10-17 at 11.12.13 PM

    Pablo Prigioni, PG 14 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | -6

    Hit an open three, forced a feisty 10 second call late in the first half, had beautiful teeth. Not exactly sure when it happened, but Prigs apparently tweaked HIS elbow, too. The left one, but still: srsly?

    ODDS OF MAKING THE TEAM: ALL OF THE SECRETS

    DID HE SPRAIN HIS ELBOW: Whatever Spanish for “yes” is.

    Beno Udrih, PG 26 MIN | 5-9 FG | 0-1 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 12 PTS | +24

    Looked really, really good running the show, especially in the second half. He’s not the most fleet-footed defender, but he’s active, smart, and is able to use his deceptive size to hawk passing lanes. All but two shots were either wide open from deep or chippies in and around the paint – exactly what we need from him.

    ODDS OF MAKING THE TEAM: 100%

    DID HE SPRAIN HIS ELBOW: Be-NO!

    Toure’ Murry, SG 25 MIN | 5-7 FG | 3-4 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 14 PTS | +11

    No one benefited more from Shump’s and Pablo’s respective joint fails than Murry, who capitalized with cool, confident stretches of perceptive D, controlled offense, and timely jumpers. He still has a tendency to get caught in no man’s land on rotations and help defense, but the on-ball instincts – aided by absurd length and quick hands – are there in spades. Whether Toure’s NBA ride ends with a Chris Smith smirk, I have no idea. I do know, however, that he is a far, far better basketball player. And I don’t think I’m alone in this assessment.

    ODDS OF MAKING THE TEAM: 50/50

    DID HE SPRAIN HIS ELBOW: Yes. He sustained it punching the computer screen after finding out HE DOESN’T HAVE A FACE.

    Tim Hardaway Jr., SG 36 MIN | 5-12 FG | 1-2 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 14 PTS | +8

    It’s been a helter-skelter preseason for our lithe legacy, with moments of timely heroics interspersed with, well, terrible basketball. But that’s to be expected. Given extended burn, Junior looked light of foot and sweet of stroke, if lacking a bit in lateral quickness on the other end. He showed off keen athleticism on a third quarter off-handed transition reverse, deft touch on a couple of clang-around threes, and generally looked like, well, a legitimate NBA rotation player. His dad can go to hell.

    ODDS OF MAKING THE TEAM: Tim Hardaway%

    DID HE SPRAIN HIS ELBOW: No.

    Five Things We Saw

    1. Seriously, what’s with the ObamaDrone3000 camera view? I felt like I was conducting science experiments on a bunch of Gatorade-addled mice.
    2. The Wizards’ plan was simple: Hawk the passing lanes, and get out in transition by any means necessary. The strategy paid dividends early, with the Knicks – seldom terrific in transition D – looking fairly uninterested in participating in a preseason track meet. The game’s pace eventually slowed, but for a few brief spells it definitely looked like the ‘Zards had a formula that could prove playoff-sealing come next Spring.
    3. Chris Herring pointed out that the Wizards were 47% on threes from the corner a year ago. Which explains why corner threes made up approximately 47% of their offense tonight. They would cool down eventually, but Washington seems particularly bent on exploiting this, most efficient of hoists. For their part, the Knicks weren’t too great at closing out, which will have to change as we enter the shit.
    4. The son of the guy who plowed Sarah Palin that one time isn’t half bad.
    5. The Knicks outlasted the Wizards with a combination of solid perimeter shooting and Washington sucking at shooting. Still, this is a team clearly on the rise; no longer a doormat, and hell-bent on nabbing one of the bottom three seeds. Which made it a good test, I think.