Tonight was one of those games where, if you didn’t watch, woke up in the morning and saw the final score, you’d be embarrassed that the Knicks gave a poor effort coming off what was perhaps their worst showing of the season in the second half vs the Suns.
To a certain extent, you’d be right. 131 points is 131 points, any way you slice it. Defense is somewhere between 50 and 85 percent effort, and when you allow a team to score that many, there is a level of exertion that is simply not being reached. Some of that goes on the players, some on the coaches.
That said, this was a three-point game with under eight minutes to go in the third quarter against a team that might be the worst matchup for New York in the league, and one that was coming off an embarrassing loss. Philly was engaged and firing on all cylinders. You’d be fair to kill them for the final result but this was a team that came out and at least attempted to show some pride. That most guys in a New York uniform couldn’t buy a basket certainly didn’t help. Make of that what you will.
In terms of individual performances, probably the most notable one came from Tim Hardaway Jr. On the day it was revealed that he’s been dealing with planter facia for over three weeks, Hardaway busted out of his slump with 27 points on 16 shots, and got to the line 10 times – always a barometer for his game. Hopefully this gets him going in the right direction.
Kevin Knox stayed with his trend of coming out on fire early and fading a bit late, but it was another game with over 15 points. He finished with 21, and Coach David Fizdale praised his work ethic after the game, saying he’s learning how to get ready more and more. Damyean Dotson was another plus in his first game back from injury, finishing with 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting. He looked like he hadn’t missed a beat, other than a couple of defensive breakdowns. Vonleh did about as well as you could do guarding Ben Simmons.
On the downside, Emmanuel Mudiay came back down to earth, finishing just 3-of-12 from the field. His shot wasn’t falling but the offense had its moments when he was in the game. Enes Kanter, as usual, got targeted on defense, with the Knicks once again trying zone to mitigate his issues. It has yet to work.
We end, of course, with Frank. Like the 131 points the Knicks gave up, three points on 1-of-7 shooting is what it is. People are going to start giving up on him. You can feel it in the air. I’m refusing. His approach – perhaps in part because Trey Burke didn’t see the court tonight – was once again aggressive. He drove when he could and shot when it was the right play to do so but also didn’t force the action. If three more of his looks go down, he’s getting praised.
Of course, they didn’t, and this is a results-orientated business, so that’s a bit of a problem. At some point it will need to change. Either you want to give him more time or you don’t. But if you’re looking for progress, it is there.
Knicks are back in action again Friday night against the Hawks in what will likely be the last game they’ll be favored in for a few weeks. If ver they could use a win, it is now.