This one is going up late today because we had some issues getting my videos online but better late than never, I hope. Andrea Bargnani’s career-best performance deserves comment. If Raymond Felton doesn’t make that lucky three-pointer that rattled in with two seconds left in the fourth quarter, the game would have gone into overtime and Bargnani might have pushed for 50.
When considering what Bargnani’s 41-point performance means, it’s important to take into context that he did this against the same team that allowed Kevin Love’s 30-30 performance, a 44-point, 15 rebound game by Blake Griffin and a 36-point performance by Brook Lopez this season. The Knicks’ frontcourt defence is tissue-soft partially from lack of effort by Amar’e Stoudemire and Danilo Gallinari and partially because Stoudemire avoids contact so he can stay out of foul trouble.
On this night, the Knicks tried guarding Bargnani with a variety of players — Stoudemire, Gallinari, Shawne Williams, Wilson Chandler, Landry Fields — but none of them could stop the onslaught. He scored from inside, mid-range, outside, with jumpers, turnarounds, hook shots, you name it. If you watched this game, you saw Bargnani in absolute top form. He took 24 shots, but none of them seemed forced except for the final desperation heave that failed to connect. And when he wasn’t scoring, he was facilitating easy baskets for his teammates — his six assists were one off his career-high.
I compiled 10 of his most impressive plays from last night in this clip. All the points were impressive, of course, but I was even more intrigued by his passing throughout the game which was uncharacteristically Hibbert-esque.
Andrea was certainly a force to be reckoned with in this game but unfortunately for the Raptors, so was Stoudemire. He scored 18 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter and 14 of those points came in the last 6:50, as you can see in this video. It’s not really saying much to suggest the Raptors don’t have a defensive answer for Amar’e — pretty much nobody does, these days.
On the three baskets he scored on Bargnani here, Andrea played off him a little and Amar’e simply buried a jumper over him each time. A guy like Bargnani can’t really defend him any other way without getting blown by, so what was he supposed to do? When the $100 million man is clicking like he has over his last six games (scoring at least 31 points in each game), all you can do is lick your wounds and move on to the next game.