Imagine losing on a goaltending violation?

If the lottery balls bounce the Knicks way come May, boy oh boy, is this a game they’re going to remember.

Up by one with three seconds remaining, the Wizards inbounded the ball and got it to a driving Thomas Bryant, who put up a finger roll that was going to miss left…until Allonzo Trier got his fingertips on it while it was above the cylinder, at which point a goaltending was called. Knicks lose, 101-100. A shot in the nether-regions if there ever was one.

Well, depending on your point of view, I suppose. For the Knicks, the line between moral victories and actual ones has been blurred for some time now, and there’s an argument to be made that a game like today, where they looked downright competent on both ends for three quarters before blowing it late, is the optimal outcome. At some point though, you need to pull a few out to keep the scales from tilting too far in the wrong direction.

It’s tough to name a “best” Knick today, as several Knicks had wonderful parts of a game, but there was no one with a complete effort. Emmanuel Mudiay came the closest, as he started 8-for-9 from the field and finished with 25 points. After the Wizards tightened up their defense with ample switching in the second half, he seemed like the only New York player who could generate any offense. That said, he was on the floor for most of the ugly fourth quarter, including the 9-0 Wiz run (as a result of three straight threes) that occurred immediately after he checked in the game. He was unable to generate good looks for anyone but himself towards the end.

Damyean Dotson and Luke Kornet both had outstanding first halves but largely disappeared down the stretch as Washington’s defense cleaned up its act. Allonzo Trier had his best game since his injury, although he, too, had some out of control moments that we’ve come to expect. Vonleh was his usual awesome self, and Mitchell Robinson reminded everyone why he might be the most exciting of all the Knicks’ young players. He does things on the floor that you simply can’t teach, and he had a few of those moments tonight, including one possession where he single-handedly kept the ball alive through a series of leaping tips over several Washignton players.

On the downside, the Knicks last two lottery picks had rough outings. Kevin Knox and Frank Ntilikina combined to go 3-for-18, with both looking out of sorts throughout. Their approach was fine; the execution was bad. Such is life as an NBA neophyte.

Last, and least, was Timmy. If Timmy doesn’t know the team is trying to ship off his salary, he’s certainly playing like it. It would be hard to see any team taking on his contract with the way he’s looked of late, and today fit right in. In 25 minutes he shot 2-of-7 with three turnovers. His defense was par for the course. He is, in a word, brutal to watch right now.

The Knick head back stateside but do have the weekend off, playing next on MLK Day in the Garden vs OKC. We’ll see if the small signs of progress we’ve seen of late (the Knicks almost held a team under 100 points! This is good!) can continue against a damn good team.

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