The ingredients were all there for wild and frothing beakers to report on the Knicks game last night: A Friday night. A terrible opponent. One superstar is introduced to an otherwise stable (for the Knicks, anyway) environment, with basically nothing at stake. And, of course, weeks worth of wondering aloud if such an outcome would occur. The tabs brought their own dry ice and water to this class.
Stoudemire has been getting the same questions about team chemistry and the role of two "alpha scorers" and has a more than reasonable response.
"When Mike took over when I was on the court, our record was 6-1,'' Stoudemire said. "I don't see what the big deal is. We'll get back to doing what we did before. We were 6-1 with me, Carmelo and the full team with Woodson taking over. We'll get back to that.''
Then the Knicks went out and dropped a stinker against the Cavaliers. Since everything must always have a meaning, even meaningless late season games against an inferior opponent, the lose is directly attributable to the return of Amar'e Stoudemire and the subsequent wilting of Carmelo Anthony.
Stoudemire's teammates seemed unexcited to see him on the court and interim coach Mike Woodson ripped the team afterward, saying they "didn't compete and that's unacceptable'' and felt they were complacent after clinching a playoff berth the night before.
Stupid unexcited teammates. Amar'e's back! You're playing the Cavs. If you can't get un-unexcited for that, you're doing it wrong, guys.
As feared, Anthony looked disengaged with the new alignment and finished with a paltry 12 points (5-of-13 from the field) and four turnovers. Woodson didn't play him in the fourth quarter when the Knicks fell behind by 19 points with 9:03 left.
Ho.ly. Shit. Cancel the parade and forget the ticker tape. As we all feared, our subjective assumptions were confirmed. Carmelo "looked" "disengaged." Nevermind that Carmelo flatly denied the chemistry issues. The problem is, how can you believe him at this point? His answer is as predictable as the stupid question. He was ready for it since it was announced Stoudemire was returning. So, instead of some kind of reasoned analysis of a single game at the end of the season, we get a storyline that has been in the queue for weeks—that everyone knows about, players included—that comes to fruition in the form of a single game at the end of the season. Everything writes itself. The questions, the answers, the headlines and story.
We get it, Carmelo had been scoring a lot in Amare's absence, and now, in this one game, he scored a "paltry" amount. Sounds pretty bad, but then you, reasonable reader, remember there was one extra person playing that had not been playing before and Carmelo basically did not play in the fourth quarter. You also remember that the game meant largely nothing (other than a potential change in seeding) to the Knicks, that Amar'e Stoudemire was playing in his first game in weeks and that it was, you know, one game.