You know, for a second there, it was shaping up to be a pretty good Wednesday night for Andrea Bargnani.
Sure, the New York Knicks were down two scores to the not-really-trying-to-be-good Philadelphia 76ers late in the third quarter in front of the increasingly faithless Madison Square Garden faithful, but he didn't stick out as especially deserving of blame for that; as a matter of fact, he'd actually been fairly helpful on the offensive end, chipping in 15 points on 10 shots and looking both interesting in attacking the basket off the dribble and capable of doing so, especially when defended by Philly center Spencer Hawes.
Things turned around for ol' Bargs fairly quickly, though, when the Italian big man caught a kickout pass from rookie Tim Hardaway Jr. pump-faked past 76ers reserve Lavoy Allen, set sail for the paint and began a run for glory. As detailed by our friends at the Yahoo Sports Minute, it turned out to be a drive that will live in infamy:
First off: Thank goodness nobody got hurt. Bargnani came down really hard on his left wrist — and, of course, Sixers defender Thaddeus Young — but after taking a few seconds to collect himself, he got back to his feet, headed to the free throw line and made his two free throws, and remained in the game. That's good. It could've been way worse.
Now, that said ... this was a pretty ambitious takeoff for the 7-foot, 250-pounder, wouldn't you say? You can almost hear the strains of inspirational music pulsing through his head, propelling him forward, swelling toward a crescendo as pumped and drove; luckily for us, the folks at SB Nation heard it, too:
Unfortunately, Bargs didn't exactly stick the landing. We've seen a version of this movie before, but the ending of the reboot was even more powerful.
The same, naturally, could be said for the Knicks. New York bounced back from Bargnani's off-the-bounce tragedy to begin the fourth quarter with a 10-0 run and take a six-point lead, only to give it all back in a hail of turnovers (five in the fourth, leading to seven Philadelphia points), defensive confusion (particularly on a pair of late-fourth plays on which Carmelo Anthony and Iman Shumpert badly botched communication as to whether they should be switching assignments defensively, a topic of much recent discussion in New York, leading to two big 76er buckets) and missed shots (the Knicks went 4 for 18 from the field over the final nine minutes and 27 seconds). Add it all up and you've got a 110-106 76ers win highlighted by a star turn from Evan Turner (a career-high 34 points, 11 rebounds), all-court play by Young (19 points, seven rebounds, four assists, four steals) and a solid floor game from rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams (19 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists and two steals).
The Knicks are now 15-27, losers of five straight, and have fallen to 7-15 at MSG, the league's second-worst home record. The Knicks are now 0-3 on an eight-game homestand on which they desperately need to scratch some victories together to get back in the Eastern Conference playoff conversation; they now sit three games back of the eighth-seeded Charlotte Bobcats, who come to New York on Friday having scored a big home win over the Los Angeles Clippers without injured point guard Kemba Walker.
New York faces a favorable schedule over its next handful of games that feature opponents most competitive teams would mark as likely wins, but at this point, it seems that the only truly likely outcome of any Knicks game is that they will defend poorly, stagnate offensively and do at least one thing that makes your jaw drop in disbelief.
Thanks for holding up your end of that bargain, Andrea.
Once more, with feeling:
Thanks, DavidS, for the Loop.
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