Competition improves the breed

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Competition improves the breed

Remember Baron Davis, the veteran backcourt man New York Knicks picked up when the Cleveland Cavaliers dumped him through the amnesty waiver clause?

He had been unable to play since last April because of a herniated disk in his back, but the Knicks were so desper­ate for a legitimate Point Guard to bring the ball up court and get it to megabucks superstars Carmelo Anthony and Amarè Stoudemire that on December 19th they signed the 32-year old Davis to a one year contract.

(For those who've been in a coma this month, on February 4th Knicks Coach Mike D'Antoni actually found his Point Guard sitting forlornly on the end of his bench, and that was the start of "Lin-sanity!")

Davis finally suited up for his first game this past Monday, played 10 minutes off the bench and scored three points in an embarrassing home loss to the New Jersey Nets.

Tonight's game in Madison Square Guarden against the Atlanta Hawks turned into what is colloqually known as a "laugher" midway through the first quarter as the Knicks ran off to a 25 point halftime lead and coasted to a 99-82 victory.

The remarkable Jeremy Lin played a solid but unremarkable 34 minutes, scoring a team high 17 points on 6-for-11 from the field and a perfect four-for-four from the free throw line, one of the "soft" parts of the young sensation's game.

But he made nine assists... which is what Point Guards are supposed to do... and more importantly, only turned the ball over four times, the weakness which occasioned the now notorious "chink in the armor" references.

In his once unthinkable reserve role... the man was the third choice overall1 in the 1999 college draft as a UCLA sophomore... Davis logged 14 minutes, hit one of two free throws for his only point on the night as he missed all three of his attempts from the floor. He added six assists, but... uh oh!... committed five turn-overs.

It's just possible that Lin and Davis are pushing one another competitively, though the latter said in a post-game interview on cable MSG, that he's "all right with coming off the bench."

In all, it's an encouraging sign for the Knicks' faithful... the team suddenly has both talent and depth again, one year to the day after the trade with Denver for Anthony.

Lest anyone think I've completely gone over to Ray Over­ton's cheer-leading squad, the Knicks are at 17-17, three games behind the surprising .588 Philadelphia 76ers.

Even more importantly, starting with Thursday evening's game at the LeBron James-led Miami Heat (26-7), the Knicks start an 18-day, eight game (six on the road) schedule against teams presently with a combined 169-107 (61.2%) won-lost record.

By comparison, during the 11-game "Lin-sanity" stretch, the Knicks were 9-2 against teams with a combined record of 127-172 (42.5%) at the times of their meetings.

If 10 games from now, the Knickerbockers are still even playing .500 ball coming out of their St. Patrick's weekend home-and-home series with the currently .636 Indiana Pacers, then I'll buy Ray a new set of blue and orange pom-poms and join him in the bleachers.

Oblogger Re-Dicta

Fittingly, following his Monday debut in a Knicks uniform, Davis was the subject of cyber speculation when an image was Tweet'd that Davis had celebrated his first basket by mimicking smoking a joint.

Unknown at this time is if Lucius Ware and the East End Anti-Bias Task Force or the NAACP will step in and demand that Twitter disable involved customers' accounts because of the racist connotations associated with the suggestion.

Note
  1. The Knicks first and second round draft picks that year: Frederic Weis and J. R. Koch, neither of whom ever played a minute in an NBA game.

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