It’s funny how much the officials can do to ruin a game or make it for some teams, particularly teams without much shared experience or who are slumping.
The Knicks were on a losing streak going into tonight’s game against the Celtics, and they were not getting calls. Questionable contact was going unwhistled or being called against them on the road, and it was hurting their momentum and particularly taking high usage Carmelo Anthony out of his game. Two of their losses turned on these questionable calls or no-calls. They could easily have been two wins better had the zebras seen things a little more their way.
Not so tonight in New York. They got the benefit of the doubt on every whistle in the first two and a half quarters at home. Rebound in the second quarter comes down in Garnett’s hand, Amare tangles up in KG’s arms and Field’s jumps over his back to swipe at it… Foul on Garnett. In slow motion it was inexplicable. Garnett pokes the ball away from Amare in the post. Ray Allen tries to get around Amare to pick up the loose ball. Amare holds him off with one arm and then trips / pushes him to floor. Foul on Ray. Again, completely inexplicable in slow motion. Ray and Murphy both got bloody heads from loose ball fouls with no whistles. Things were going New York’s way.
Then after a nice run by Boston, the officiating went from one sided to just sloppy. Amare drove baseline to put the Knicks up 2 possessions, elevated, got contact as he tried to dunk over Davis… no call. Sure looked like a foul on all the replays I saw, though Clyde Frazier was so upset at Amare for not getting back on D, he let it go. One possession later Boston had its first lead since the first quarter. Later Anthony got a gash above his eye from an elbow from Rondo on a loose ball. No call against Rondo’s elbow or Melo’s forehead. Boston ball. After the Celtic score, Anthony is still huddled on the ground. Rondo trips over him in the open floor. No call. Next play KG hand-checks Amare on a jumper. No call. Huge miss because it would have made it a one possession game.
Inside a minute left, the Celtics go up 8, and that’s all she wrote with Pierce and Allen to ice the game at the line. Game ends with Boston up 10. Melo looks shellshocked and like he just took an elbow to the eye from Kenny Florian. Spike Lee looks upset too, but Ray Allen’s mom is consoling him, so he’ll be fine.
Garnett had a magnificent second half. He figured out that Amare is unguardable in isolation from the elbow, so he flipped the switch, pretended he was a small forward again, and denied him the ball the entire fourth quarter. He also cut out the overpassing and took advantage of his length on the offensive end. He had 24 points and 11 boards, but the ball denial was the key to the game.