Talk about anticlimactic! I had been looking forward to this game for 2 weeks-when the unlikely star Jeremy Lin would finally get to play with Carmello as well as Stoudemire.
Going into last night it seemed to be a recipe for a great night. I was visiting my brother and his wife and finally getting a chance to see their new baby-I'm an uncle! Closest I've gotten to fatherhood so far-on the same night. We could watch it on his real big screen and enjoy the great play of the Knicks.
Didn't happen. Lin's numbers weren't bad. Actually he had only 3 turnovers so in that way he had his best night yet. He led the Knicks in scoring with 21 points 9 assists and 6 rebounds. Pretty solid play from the Knicks point guard-after not having a point guard for D'antoni for so long whose whole offense is predicated on a strong point guard to lead the offense.
Unfortunately Devon Williams played better, a lot better, like a man possessed putting up 38 points and hitting 8 of 14 three point shots. Williams came in on a mission as Lin had his first game where he became a big story. That night the Knicks beat the Nets and Lin scored 25. His 21 last night was only a couple fewer, and again, he had only 3 turnovers which is the lowest he's had.
On this night though Devon was better. It happens. You don't win them all in the NBA in an 82 game schedule-the Bulls that year with Jordan in the 90s almost did (72-10). It worked against the Knicks and for Devon in that they had the first game with them all together on the night Melo returned.
Still obviously questions will remain as to if this team will have cohesion. On the face of it you would think that a team with Lin, Stoudemire, Carmello, Chandler, and some good role players like Landry can do better than 90 points at home against the New Jersey Nets.
Last night maybe was not a great test as it's the first game. In announcing the game however, Clyde Frasier did wonder if Lin was holding back and being too deferential with Carmello on the floor. There are some who question Carmello too. There has been a knock on him since he came to the Knicks last year.
The Knicks gave up a lot of quality role players for him-it seemed to me at the time to be more than worth it. However, the Melo skeptics-again I would not put myself in this group-can point to the fact that the Knicks had a better record before he came last year as well as leading the team early to an 8-15 start this year.
Many see him as selfish-again, at least until now, this hasn't been my feeling. I do think though now may be the time to prove he's not selfish: can he handle winning if he's not always the main focus? I think the question as to the kind of player he is will be answered as we watch this story develop.
Besides the rap about being selfish-kind of a character issue-you have the perhaps more substantive issue of whether or not he fits in with a D'antoni offense. Recall last year it wasn't him pushing for Melo to come here. D'antoni's system works best with a strong point guard to lead the offense. That's what the Knicks had been lacking before Lin.
Melo for his part. is more about a perimeter game and banging up on people as he drives to the basket. He's not about layups, dunks, or a run and gun game. It remains to be seen whether this system works for him. The reality is that he may not be the most important player on this team anymore. Can he handle that? If he can't, if it becomes "Lin or Melo" it may just be Melo.