In a thrilling game at the Garden, the Knicks pulled out their best win of the season behind impressive performances from Kevin Knox, Emmanuel Mudiay, and Damyean Dotson.
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MACRI’S GAME NOTES
ARE YOU KIDDING ME???!! pic.twitter.com/BbRoc23nxN
— Knicks Film School (@KnickFilmSchool) December 1, 2018
Often, in a season going nowhere fast, wins that won’t lead to a playoff berth are seen, at best, as meaningless, and at worst, as harmful.
Tonight wasn’t one of them. The Knicks fell behind the best team in the NBA (by net rating at least), fought back, fell back again, fought back again, and won in overtime, 136-134. There were too many big performances to count, but we’ll go through them all, as well as the DNP-CD heard round the City:
- For most of the night, this was shaping up to be the Kevin Knox Game. He found himself, finally. He ended up with 26 points in 37 big minutes, including 5-of-12 from deep. We finally saw the “Oh snap, this guy is going to be a problem” player that we all thought the Knicks had drafted after Summer League. That it came after the NY Post article featuring several scouts questioning his ability, his response spoke volumes. But it wasn’t his game. That honor belongs to…
- Emmanuel Mudiay. Admit it…you wanted to send him back to China. Or Antarctica. Or the Moon. We all did. How could you not? He was terrible last season and not great in the preseason. Boy, how things have changed. He channeled Steph Curry for a while there, leaning into three after three, finishing 4-of-5 from deep on his way to 28 points, including several huge buckets late. When he is in, more often than not, the offense hums, and he’s starting to (gasp) fight on defense. Reminder: he is 22-years-old. All of the sudden, his cap hold doesn’t look like so sure of a bet to be renounced.
- Damyean Dotson did what he always seems to do: be a model of the perfect modern two-way wing. He has an 21 points on nine (Nine? Nine!?!?!?) shots, while being a presence at the opposite end. He would play at least 15 minutes a night for virtually any team in the league. The Knicks have a choice to guaranteed his contract next summer; he is an asset and should be treated accordingly.
- It’s a testament to the performances in this game that Noah Vonleh is getting mentioned fourth. He’s probably four spots too low. His defense on the Greek Freak was good, bordering on great. On offense, he was literally perfect, nailing all six of his shot attempts, including all three from deep. Again: anyone could have had this guy for nothing. Anyone. Kudos to Scott Perry for the move, and for David Fizdale for trusting and empowering another young player with talent. His emergence is a monumental feather in the organization’s cap.
- Timmy and Kanter didn’t have great nights in the box score, but helped in their own way. Tim was a solid distributor, netting eight dimes, and even though he couldn’t hit the far side of a barn most of the night, had several big buckets late. Kanter, well…this wasn’t the game for him, with both Giannis and Brook Lope serving as massive matchup nightmares for him. That said, he held his own when his time came. Kudos to the big guy.
- Trey Burke had a knee scare in the first quarter, but it looks like he’ll be ok.
- Mario Hezonja had maybe the most memorable moment of the Knicks season when he dunked on Antetokounmpo, stepped over him, and then stared him down in the first quarter. He ended up playing only 12 minutes, perhaps in relation to that post-dunk reaction, but it was a cool moment nonetheless.
- Courtney Lee was active but did not play.
- Mitchell Robinson more than held his own in a high-stakes environment. Like Vonleh, he fouled out, but his defensive progress is evident.
- Finally, of course…Frank. He got the DNP-CD. Knicks Twitter was ablaze with every hit take you could imagine throughout the game. Afterwards, David Fizdale did not beat around the bush, saying flatly that it was his decision, and cheering Ntilikina for being a great teammate throughout while making sure to say that he will be back “in no time” and that nothing with his rotations is permanent (we’ve noticed). He also said that’s he’s continuing to try and pump confidence in him. Many will hear that last part and throw their hands up in the air. I get it. It doesn’t make sense on it’s face. But if you think that a coach who refused to give up on Emmanuel Freaking Mudiay has already thrown in the towel on a 20-year-old with Frank’s ability, you’re not paying attention. We saw tonight a Knicks team that plays the way David Fizdale wants. Frank was doing anything but. There is a rewiring going on, and it’s been tough. Much harder than anyone anticipated, for sure. It does not mean they are out on him. It’s a long season, and while you may not think the tough love approach is the wisest one, David Fizdale at least deserves all 82 before he is judged.
That’s all I got. Great win. Important win. Let’s get another one…Knicks vs Wizards Monday night.