Mudiay shines in Knicks win

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MACRI'S GAME NOTES

Don’t look now, Knicks fans … we have ourselves a winning streak. New York beat their second presumptive playoff heavyweight in a row, defeating the New Orleans Pelicans 114-109. It was an exciting game throughout, marred only by a brief Anthony Davis injury scare in the 3rd quarter quarter. He returned late, but it wasn’t enough, thanks to the effort of several Knicks, none of which get the game ball. That honor goes to …

  • Scott Perry took over the GM job about 17 months ago, and quickly realized the roster he was in charge of building was short on talent and athleticism. He didn’t have many options to build this thing by traditional means, as he was short on cap space and extra draft picks. But boy, did he make due. Three Knicks who literally anyone in the NBA could have had – Emmanuel Mudiay, Noah Vonleh and Allonzo Trier – were plucked off the scrap heap and combined to score 66 points tonight. Awesome job so far in his first chance as a head man.
  • Emmanuel Mudiay, several years after the fact, had himself the kind of game the Nuggets envisioned when they drafted him seventh overall in 2015. He’s finally figured out how to use his huge frame and elite athleticism to his advantage, getting six buckets at the rim to go with six from the free throw line on his way to 27 points, including several huge baskets late. If the 3-point shot he’s showing is real, he’s about a 20% improvement on defense away from becoming a dangerous, dangerous NBA player. After the game, Fiz did not rule out him starting at PG for the rest of the year.
  • Mudiay’s late game heroics overshadowed what might be the most efficient game an undrafted rookie has ever had, finishing with 25 points on 12 shots, and added 8 rebounds and 4 assists to boot. He’s already shown himself to be a guy who won’t always have it, but when he does, he can single handedly alter a game. His passing and court vision continues to improve.
  • Noah Vonleh will wind up getting relegated to an afterthought, but his early offense may have kept the game close. He continues to be a threat from deep, netting four threes on his way to 14 points, 11 boards, 5 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks. If there was any doubt as to whether he’s a valuable NBA rotation piece, there isn’t anymore.
  • That the Knicks won this game while getting perhaps Tim Hardaway Jr’s worst performance of the season was telling. Timmy couldn’t buy a bucket and never got into the lane or to the line to make up for it, but after the year he’s had, he gets a pass.
  • Trey Burke was quiet after a scorching four games, finishing with 7 points on 2-for-8 shooting. To his credit, David Fizdale recognized it and didn’t force the issue.
  • Rookies Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson had nights where they looked their age, although Mitch did pick up another 2 blocks to go with his 6 fouls in 9 minutes.
  • Lastly, Frank Ntilikina’s defense shined as usual, and he made his only 3-point attempt, which had to feel good. He only played 14 minutes, which is less than we’d all like to see, but he continues to look more comfortable and confident on offense than he did during his down stretch earlier in the season. 
  • #FreeDot
  • Last, but not least, Enes Kanter had a nice two-way game, and for the first time that I can remember, his defense may have overshadowed his offense. Aside from three blocks, he was in solid position for much of the game and contested several shots better than he normally does.
That’s it…Fiz makes his return to Memphis on Sunday night, where the Knicks will look to do the unthinkable and beat three good teams in a row. Do you believe in miracles?