The Dark Knight Rises was one of the best movies of the year, and another sequel in the Batman line nearly broke out in MSG last night. Kyrie Irving did Christian Bale justice, carving up the Knicks for a career-high 41 points while donning a memorable black face mask to protect a broken bone in his jaw. Yet the Knicks survived by one when Anderson Varejao‘s potential game-tying freebie with one second left hit every part of the rim before bouncing out … For New York, everything down the stretch revolved around the Raymond Felton/Tyson Chandler pick-n-roll. Sometimes Felton (25 points) lofted passes to the top of the square and Chandler (23 points, 10 boards) would go up and get ’em. Other times, the defense would be so out of position, the big fella would get a mitt on an offensive rebound to kick it back out for another possession. The Knicks also got a wide open triple from Jason Kidd out of the play, and we also can’t forget about Felton keeping it himself, scoring easy buckets almost as an afterthought. The play methodically undressed the Lakers earlier this week, and it did it again last night … After two Chandler free throws, Cleveland needed a hoop down four with under a minute left. Instead of going back to Irving, C.J. Miles (17 points) started mashing on the turbo button all the way down the court, and then let J.R. Smith strip him at the rim. Irving had a look on his face that screamed, “Dude, you’re walking back to Ohio.” Miles pissed him off so much that Irving had to come down and hit two ridiculous bombs (and another two free throws) before the end of the game … Is there anyone in the league who has more inconsistent form on their jump shot than Raymond Felton? His shots are like Steve Novak passes: you never know what you’re going to get (in the third quarter, Novak tried to throw a one-hander off the dribble, and it gave three people sitting courtside a beer shower). Felton has been playing pretty good so Knicks fans aren’t complaining … It was more of the same in Atlanta last night: just when we start to take the Hawks seriously, they go out and get annihilated by a contender. It was Golden State this time, embarrassing the ATLiens, 115-93 as Stephen Curry led the way with a near quadruple-double (18 points, eight boards, 11 dimes, seven or eight incredible one-handed passes off the dribble). The Warriors put up a solid 26 in the first quarter, and then stepped it up another notch from there. Between Harrison Barnes (19 points) making quick work of mismatches in the post to Carl Landry (19 points) catching left-handed putback dunks to the guards doing their usual fireworks performance from the perimeter, Atlanta had no answers. The lead eventually ballooned to 25 in the third … The Warriors announcers joked that they looked up “rugged” in the dictionary and there was some picture of Ivan Johnson. They also called him a “D-League legend.” Then they later said, “Lou Williams can score at the rim as well as anyone in the league. He’s got skills like you wouldn’t believe.” We were waiting on them to come next with a comment comparing Kyle Korver to Rick Barry … If you’re ever bored when watching the Hawks – we can’t be the only ones who find their games incredibly mundane – here’s a little mini game to play: compare how often Josh Smith (1-for-12 shooting) and Al Horford (17 points, 9 rebounds) get defensive rebounds, ignore their guards waiting for the ball, and race up the side of the floor leading the offense. It must’ve happened four times alone in the first quarter last night, and contrary to what some “analysts” will tell you, it rarely works out in Atlanta’s favor (except for the time near halftime last night when ironically, Horford led a 3-on-2 fast break and found Smith for a two-handed flush). More often that not, those possessions end in a bad Horford jump pass or a 20-foot pull-up from Smoove that causes five or six parents in the stands to cover their children’s eyes … … Keep reading to hear about Ricky Rubio’s return to the court …
In Minnesota’s 114-106 overtime win against Dallas, it took Ricky Rubio (eight points, nine assists, three steals) all of about three minutes for him to throw his first behind-the-back pass. He followed that up with his first bucket, and then a phenomenal between-his-legs pass to Greg Stiemsma that also went through the legs of Elton Brand. Then when he came back in during the second half, Rubio immediately threw three assists on three straight trips … Is there anyone more happy to see Rubio than Derrick Williams (16 points)? The NBA’s worst consolation prize looked like a new man last night, catching dunks, getting thrown lobs, hitting short jumpers and posting up. Without Rubio, Williams’ impact was way down this year, and before last night, he’d played just 30 minutes in the last three games. Maybe now there’s a chance Minnesota won’t dump the former No. 2 pick at the trade deadline … Miraculously, old man Derek Fisher (he had his first 20-point game in four years) still nearly led Dallas to a win, converting a four-point play in the closing minutes. But in the extra frame, Minnesota followed Andrei Kirilenko (14 points, 10 rebounds), who sparked a 10-0 Timberwolves run … In other scores from last night: Kemba Walker exploded for 32 points, but it still wasn’t enough to keep Charlotte from losing their 11th straight game, 107-98 to Orlando; David West went for 23 points in Indiana’s 88-77 ugly smackdown of Detroit; Tony Parker (22 points, eight dimes) dominated his matchup with Rajon Rondo (six points, nine assists) as San Antonio did the same to the Celtics, running away in the fourth quarter for a 103-88 win; behind 21 points off the pine from Matt Barnes, the Clippers put a beating on Milwaukee, 111-85, for their ninth straight win; Deron Williams dropped 24 on Chicago, but missed a jumper with five seconds left that would’ve tied it, and instead, Brooklyn dropped another one, 83-82; Zach Randolph (25 points, 16 boards) went to work as Memphis got back on track against Utah, 99-86; and in a 30-point loss in Miami, the Wizards were disgustingly bad offensively in the first quarter, hitting just six of 21 shots and finishing with 14 points. Meanwhile, LeBron (23 points, 10 rebounds) swished a flat-footed shot from midcourt near the end of the quarter (although it didn’t count because of a foul) … We’re out like the Derrick Williams doghouse.
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