Knicks Survive An Ugly Night of Basketball

Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler carry their shorthanded team

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Getty Images
    Melo was there for the Knicks when they needed him most.

    There were moments on Monday night when the game between the Knicks and Bucks was so ugly that it was hard to believe they are battling for a NBA playoff spot.

    Those were the best moments of the game. Most of the night was so hideous that it was hard to believe that both teams were made up of men being paid to play professional basketball.

    In a game that no aspiring young roundballers should ever watch, the two teams combined for 42 turnovers, 13-of-55 shooting from three-point range and numerous moments when it was hard to tell if you were watching a basketball game or some kind of ancient pagan ritual designed to anger the gods enough to destroy the next village.

    Luckily for the Knicks, they had two guys able to step up above the muck and get them an 89-80 victory on a night when they were without Amar'e Stoudemire and Jeremy Lin.

    Tyson Chandler thoroughly dominated the offensive glass, either grabbing caroms himself or swatting them around the zone to teammates like some bizarre carnival game where you win an oversized teddy bear. During a third quarter of chillingly awful shooting, the Knicks would have been sunk without Chandler's rebounding leading to second efforts and 18 free throws that allowed them to turn around a Milwaukee halftime lead.

    Carmelo Anthony did just what many of us called on him to do when news of Stoudemire's injury broke on Monday afternoon by stepping up and taking control of the Knicks offense. His shooting still wasn't perfect, but he scored 28 points by taking the ball to the hoop for buckets and fouls and he would have picked up several assists if there was anyone on the court capable of hitting shots.

    It was an impressive performance, made all the more impressive by the fact that Anthony hurt his groin in the third quarter and played the fourth on one leg. It was gutty stuff that you hope doesn't lead to any absence from Anthony because there's simply no way this Knicks team could survive such an absence right now.

    Baron Davis was forced into the starting lineup by Lin's injury and he spent most of the second half looking like Dennis Hopper in "Blue Velvet" in search of an oxygen mask. His game was just about as crazy as Hopper's performance, right down to his nine turnovers and the inexplicable decision to cast away his headband in the middle of a play.

    J.R. Smith and Landry Fields are two sides of the confidence coin with Smith never meeting a shot he wouldn't take and Fields playing offense like a man who needs Freudian analysis to help him understand why it is okay to actually try to score. And the less said about the extended appearances of Mike Bibby and Josh Harrellson the better.

    The Knicks, so deep a week ago, were showing a lot of rib without Stoudemire, Lin and Jared Jeffries on Monday night.

    It was still enough to take out the Bucks, who wouldn't have been in the game if not for Mike Dunleavy continuing his career-long ownership of the Knicks with 24 first-half points. Brandon Jennings, who normally kills the Knicks, was awful and the non-Dunleavy Bucks shot under 30 percent for the evening.

    That meant the Knicks did enough to get the win. It wasn't impressive, outside of the fact that the Knicks continue to win games without everything clicking under Mike Woodson after years of letting the smallest bump in the road throw them off track with Mike D'Antoni on the bench, but there are nights when a win is a win.

    Games against your closest playoff competitors as the season winds down are just those kinds of nights. You don't want to try to do this kind of thing every night, although nothing would surprise us anymore in this Knicks season of varying extremes.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.