Knicks blown out on MLK Day

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10 and 35.

It starts to wear on you at some point. Maybe that was why the Knicks came out rather listless to start the game today, falling down by 20 before you could blink an eye. Or maybe it’s because they start multiple terrible defenders. Or maybe it’s because the Thunder didn’t want to think about this one too long and decided to settle it early. I’m going with a combo platter of all three.

The fact remains that, although the Knicks never officially let go of the rope, this one was never in doubt, as the lead stayed between 14 and 24 for the entirety of the game after midway through the first.

I’ve defended David Fizdale ever since he went with this current iteration of the starting lineup, mostly because this is a year of experimentation, and the Knicks need to a) decide if they want to invest any more time in Emmanuel Mudiay; b) figure out just how detrimental it will be to keep Timmy on the books; and c) get Kevin Knox experience defending NBA players.

The last one is true, the second probably can’t be answered until next year, and the first is getting closer to a final determination. Mudiay did what he’s been doing well of late – driving and scoring – but also came up short on defense and failed to get the offense in any kind of flow, which he had been doing a better job of initially. It seems like we’re getting pretty close to “this is what he is.”

Frank Ntilikina, meanwhile, had another strong game overall even though his shot wasn’t falling. His defense was the best it’s looked in a while, and he had some moments on offense that made you realize he’s not that far away from being passable on that end. Perhaps he read David Fizdale’s pregame comments and got a jolt of confidence. Either way, it was nice to see.

Allonzo Trier and Mitchell Robinson were the other bright spots for the Knicks on the afternoon. The two connected on two delightful alley-oops, which contributed to Trier’s career high eight assists. He also got to the line 10 times, and was perfect from there. Easily his best game in some time. Robinson, meanwhile, again had moments on defense that made you think he has it in him to be a monster on that end.

Timmy broke out of his most recent shooting slump, hitting 4-of-9 from deep on his way to 23 points. That about did it for positive Knicks contributions. Knox had another rough outing, going 3-of-8 for eight points in 27 minutes. Of note, Luke Kornet didn’t get back into the game after his initial seven-minute stint due to an injury of unknown severity. Enes Kanter took his place as the second half starter and ended up with 11 points in 19 minutes.

And then there was this…

Things don’t get any easier from here, as the Knicks play Houston on Wednesday. Get your abacuses out.

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