In a season like this for the New York Knicks, losses are going to come in many shapes and sizes. Some will be embarrassing, some will be heartbreakers, and some, like tonight, against the second best team in the league, with the likely MVP, that scores more points than anyone, can actually make you feel ok.
The final score didn’t indicate it (partially because there is simply a massive talent discrepancy between these teams), but the Knicks fought hard on their way to a 112-96 loss. There were a few highlights, starting with, of course…
- Luke Kornet, who set a Knicks record for most 3-point field goals by a 7-footer with seven, was a revelation. On offense, his floor spacing opened up the court for the Knicks (which didn’t help because several of their players couldn’t throw one into the ocean…we’ll get to that in a bit) and on defense, he tried. Like, gave actual effort…hands up, feet shuffling…the whole gamut. Amazing what basic competency and energy can do for a defense from even a far-below-average NBA athlete. He is an NBA player. He was not, however, the Knicks best player. That honor goes to…
- Noah Vonleh. If I was a team that maybe had to play the Bucks in the playoffs, I’d think long and hard about giving up something legit to try and get this dude. Hell, if I’m the Bucks I might trade for him just so someone else can’t use him to defend Giannis. I’m not sure you can play the probable MVP any better than Vonleh did, who just keeps impressing, ending up with 15 and 13 in 35 grueling minutes.
- No one else was particularly good for the Knicks, but as a team, they competed hard on defense, giving up 112 points, yes, but to the highest scoring team in the NBA in an incredibly fast-paced game. I do not think it was a coincidence that such an effort came with Tim Hardaway Jr. out sick and Kanter relegated to only 14 minutes.
- Oh yes, that guy. He got ejected for mouthing off to Giannis and getting in his face. Antetekounmpo laughed, as he should have. Kanter needs not be taken seriously by anyone at this point. His pre-game Twitter emoji nonsense is laughably immature for a guy who is supposed to be one of the vets on this team. Seriously…I teach 8th grade and most of them wouldn’t pull the kind of nonsense we see from someone getting paid $18 million a year to be a professional athlete. Enough is enough.
- Frank was back, and he was…fine. Some nice moments on offense, one ugly brick, some solid defense and a few breakdowns (which we’ve seen more than last year, it seems). He was probably one of their better players overall, which isn’t saying much.
- No one else could make a shot, but Trier particularly was bad. He finished 2-10, complained about several non-calls, and played some of the only bad defense we saw tonight. If Frank’s play warranted a seat on the bench on Christmas, Trier’s might on Saturday.
- Lance Thomas, Mario Hezonja and Trey Burke were all healthy DNP’s.
That’s it. This team could use a win. Maybe it comes against Utah on Saturday. Crazier things have happened.