With New York mourning the 16th anniversary (are we really that old?) of the death of Biggie Smalls yesterday, the Knicks gave the city something to celebrate. But fittingly, on this day, they also announced another injury to a major star, one that might murder the rest of his season … J.R. Smith had 24 points, and Steve Novak added another 20 off the pine in New York’s 29-point dismantling of Utah, a game that was never close after the first quarter. New York’s ball movement was incredible crisp in the first half, and towards the end of the second frame, the Knicks reeled off 15 straight points. If it hadn’t been for Alec Burks and Gordon Hayward (combined 27 off the bench) stealing some of the gel from NBA TV’s Rick Fox‘s head and using it to slick up their wheels, the Knicks really could’ve sat everyone for the entire second half. It was that much of a mismatch. This one was pretty much a schedule loss for the Jazz, but with their lead on the No. 8 spot in the playoffs all gone, and with Kobe Bryant burying teams left and right, it still hurts … Not only were the Knicks playing without Carmelo Anthony, they also missed Amar’e Stoudemire. STAT needs surgery – again – on his right knee and is going to be out for at least six weeks. He had this same surgery on the left knee during the preseason. You have to feel for the guy as he’s quickly entering into that territory where the damage is just so great that there’s no way Amar’e can even regain some semblance of his former dominance. His knees are just that brittle. They might be made of Penny Hardaway. Well, at least the Knicks have insurance on that contract. Oh wait… We don’t want to say we called it, but we kind of did: Syracuse is just not very good, and an early tournament loss is in their future. They played No. 5 Georgetown on Saturday afternoon, and got worked over. Badly. The final score was 61-39 as ‘Cuse shot less than 32 percent as a team and gave up 19 points to Markel Starks. The Hoyas will have the top seed in the Big East Tournament … In Kentucky, No. 11 Florida scored their last point of the night with 7:36 left, going on to lose 61-57. They had one stretch where they turned it over on four of five possessions, and then not 30 seconds later, Patric Young bricked a wide-open bunny. Kentucky had every chance to finish them off, and while they never really did, the Gators were just so bad that it didn’t matter … This’ll definitely help Kentucky’s NCAA resume, but there’s still a good chance they don’t get in the tournament. Either way, it’ll be interesting to see what freshman like Archie Goodwin (16 points) do. Will he stay or go pro? At first glance, it’d be easy to say he should stay, try to improve and possibly raise his stock. But with Kentucky bringing in the Monstars next season (their recruiting class), he almost has to leave this summer … Meanwhile, the potential No. 1 pick Ben McLemore had 23 points, but was completely overshadowed by Pierre Jackson‘s night (28 points, six boards, 10 dimes) as No. 4 Kansas got demolished by Baylor, 81-58 … No. 3 Duke also put a hurting on UNC, beating them by 16 behind Mason Plumlee (23 points, 13 rebounds) and Seth Curry (20 points) … And while UNC was getting manhandled, Kendall Marshall showed out in Phoenix. He had a couple of great hustle plays, and even threw a bounce pass in-between Omer Asik‘s legs. Marshall is also somehow already going bald. He’s on pace to shatter Manu Ginobili‘s record for “fastest to develop a Richard Jenkins.” The Suns thrived off his energy in the second quarter, building an 11-point lead. The Lakers can smile, too. The Suns got big nights from Jared Dudley (22 points, seven dimes) and Goran Dragic (18 points) to shock Houston, 107-105. In the loss, James Harden still had 38 points and eight assists, and was so hot towards the end of the game that he probably would’ve pulled it out had there been an extra 40 seconds … … Keep reading to hear about a nasty crossover from Jerryd Bayless …
While Memphis was busy beating the Hornets, 96-85, the announcers were repeatedly talking up Marc Gasol as one of the best, if not THE best, big man in the NBA. They might just be right. He doesn’t score big numbers (only 10 points last night), but he is an advanced stat lover’s dream, and has to be in the conversation for the most underrated big man in the game. He also got his Steve Nash on last night, finishing with six dimes and a host of one-handed backdoor bounce passes. Tony Allen and Tayshaun Prince should both fork over last night’s game checks to him … Midway through the third quarter, Jerryd Bayless hit Greivis Vasquez with a crossover that could’ve been classified as assault it was so deadly. General Greivis ended up on his side about five feet away, and the sequence ended up in a wide open Quincy Pondexter triple. The Grizzlies closed that quarter on a 9-1 run to go up 18 and all but wrap this one up … One night after Deron Williams had one of the best shooting nights in NBA history, Brooklyn didn’t so much break open their matchup with the Hawks in the third and early fourth quarters in Atlanta. It was more like the Hawks got their wings clipped and just gave up, going on to lose 83-70. Brook Lopez and Andray Blatche both had 18 points, and the announcers described Blatche’s fourth quarter as “all universe.” About the only thing the big man did wrong all night was travel a couple of times in the post in the midst of some Hakeem Olajuwon imitations … In the ping-pong ball invitational, Washington took care of business against the Bobcats, overcoming 29 points from Kemba Walker to win by 17. Trevor Ariza (26 points, 10 rebounds) had one of his best games in Washington … Ty Lawson missed only five shots and scored 32 points as Denver won again, 111-88 over Minnesota … While Golden State fell by 10 to Milwaukee as Brandon Jennings (31 points, 10 assists) and Monta Ellis (26 points) went off … And we’ve found the next JaVale McGee … We’re out like Mariano Rivera after this summer.
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