By David J. Cohen
The Knicks started off slowly in the first quarter again. Then Wilson Chandler took over and led the Knicks to an 85-80 victory.
The second year man out of DePaul had the full arsenal on display and really showed his improved ball handling skills. He attacked the glass and made put backs, hit several mid-range jumpers, and showed off a couple of spin fade away shots. He uses the glass more effectively than most young players. His shot selection was much better in this game and it showed. He scored 31 points off 11 of 19 shooting and grabbed 12 rebounds. He only attempted one 3-pointer and made it; he has shown a bad habit of settling from out there at times so far in his career. His best play of the game was a block of a 7-footer who was posting him up, then running down the floor and finishing with a jam off a nice lob pass from Mardy Collins. The dunk had shades of Lebron bringing down the house.
Collins himself had a steady game at the point. He had 13 points, 6 rebounds, and 7 assists. He played some good defense and looked much more relaxed. He hit a difficult floater inside the final minute to help the Knicks hold on to the victory.
Newly acquired Anthony Roberson struggled again. He scored 13 points but kept up his summer league shooting average at 38%. He had by far the worst shot selection of any Knick. He makes a lot of the smart shots that he takes but simply doesn’t have the ability to knock down difficult or forced shots.
The play of the game was made by someone who won’t make the Knicks team. Former Western Kentucky player Delonte Holland made a great one-on-one block on Suns guard D.J. Strawberry as he pulled up for what would have been the game tying 3-pointer with 18 seconds left.
The only true disappointment for the Knicks was Center Paul Miller. He played well enough in the last game to get the start but was invisible in this game. He had no points and just a single rebound. His play was so non-existent that he was benched for most of the second half in favor of local New York product Zhang Song Tao. Song Tao won’t make an NBA roster but he has a lot of heart. Nate Robinson was cheering for him and he had his couple minutes of glory in the third quarter. He scored six points in a quick stretch, including one basket where he was at the top of the key, then dribbled to his right and spun back to his left, then took the ball to the hole. The spin moved shocked everyone in attendance and got a nice reaction from the crowd.
The game itself was entertaining and the commentary from MSG network was insightful because of the guest announcers. Knicks Head Coach Mike D’Antoni joined the telecast for most of the second quarter and had several interesting comments. He loves Wilson Chandler and compares him to Shawn Marion because he feels Chandler can guard any position besides center. D’Antoni raves about his athleticism and says he could see time in the backcourt next year. He said Chandler should dominate summer league games because of his talent on both ends of the floor, and Chandler didn’t disappoint.
He says Chris Duhon is a great defender who can also push the ball up the floor. He also says Duhon was a good shooter at Duke and doesn’t know why he struggled with his shot in Chicago. He will try to recover that part of his game.
D’Antoni wanted to see Nate Robinson in action but said “I guess he’s taking the day off.”
His comments about Roberson were light-hearted:
“He didn't miss a shot for three straight practices; I think he went 20 for 20. Then we offered him a contract and he hasn't made a shot since." Hopefully that doesn't slow down his paperwork.”
In the third quarter, the guest announcer was the Knicks Assistant Coach for Player Development, Greg Brittenham. He said that David Lee has incredible work ethic and has worked out with the Knicks trainers every day since he’s been in the league. He feels Danilo Gallinari has the same drive and that he and the rest of the staff has needed to slow him down at times. He also said that it’s his understanding that Gallinari has only had three days off in the last year.
The Knicks conditioning will be tested as they play their first game without rest Saturday against the Bobcats. They will look to improve to 3-1 in their first back-to-back game of the year.