Recap by Remi_Se
The Knicks fell behind by 16 points after one of their worst defensive quarters of the year and could never quite recover as they fell to the Cavaliers 106 to 113.
Turnovers and transition defense failed the Knicks early, but they battled back with scoring bursts from their youngest two players to take a late lead that they just couldn’t quite hang on to. Let’s take a deeper look.
After becoming one of the youngest players in history to drop 25 and 15; Kevin Knox earned his place in the starting line-up and delivered again. This time Knox chipped in 19 points and 7 rebounds with an efficient 7/15 shooting and 3/6 from long rang.
The rookie didn’t let his new role deter him from attacking and the rebound total is impressive in a line-up with Enes Kanter and Noah Vonleh chasing every loose ball. The best part of this was how Knox performed in the closing minutes of the game. The 19-year old rose to the occasion making plays on both ends of the floor when opportunity came his way.
Frank Ntilikina is the latest young player to respond to DNP’s from David Fizdale by playing his best basketball of the season. Frank had some struggles protecting the ball and missed a couple of shots early, but he never let it affect his assertiveness. The aggressive approach paid dividends with Frank scoring 16 points, 3 assists and 3 rebounds on 6/13 from the field and 2/4 from three. Ntilikina flashed scoring ability in a variety of ways; knocking down multiple mid and long range jumpers with a couple of scattered finishes inside. The French Prince even picked up an assist off of a post-up. We know what Frank can provide as a defender, but he’s just scratching the surface when it comes to offensive upside.
The rest of the Knick draft picks didn’t fare as well as the youngest two. Damyean Dotson struggled with his shot going 2/7 and missed all three of his long range tries. Mitchell Robinson had a quiet night with just 2 points and 1 rebound over 16 minutes. Allonzo Trier is still hurt but another undrafted young player, Luke Kornet got first half minutes in his absence and failed to have much impact.
The starting backcourt struggled from the field going 13 for 36 while taking 18 attempts each. Emmanuel Mudiay was able to stay productive by playmaking and chasing down boards, finishing with 16 points, 7 assists and 8 rebounds. Tim Hardaway Jr also chipped in 5 rebounds and while he shot just 6/18 from the field, he did knock down 4/9 three pointers in route to 20 points.
Enes Kanter played really well early, but his performance ended with a big mistake on the game deciding play that Clyde was quick to point out. Kanter failed to come to the ball on the Knicks final inbound play and Mudiay was forced to throw the ball away to avoid a 5-second violation with no timeouts to spare. Kanter had a solid performance overall producing 20 and 10 on 8/12 from the field; but he was quiet late with the late mishap standing out above everything else.
The Knicks offensive chemistry seems to be coming together strong even while Hardaway and Mudiay have been inconsistent from the field lately. The team is putting in a lot more off ball movement and action with 21 assists tonight. The fact that the starting backcourt has struggled with their jumpers and the offense is still rolling shows the growth and development of the Knicks young roster. Kevin Knox, Damyean Dotson and now Frank Ntilikina have all stepped up to provide scoring punch in competitive games. That’s not to mention Allonzo Trier who has been a revelation or the defensive performances that Mitchell Robinson has had. Fizdale might not have the wins but his focus on player development is paying undeniable dividends.