For about a quarter in Brooklyn, the Knicks looked like the spunky, overachieving team that was winning games despite having less talent than their opponents.
Sure, it was helped by some unsustainable shooting, but they were moving the ball (six assists to Brooklyn’s two) and playing solid defense. Frank Ntilikina, who got the start in place of an injured Emmanuel Mudiay, had four of those assists and stood out on the defensive end. He also got two buckets before picking up a second foul and being sent to the bench. Thanks to some other quick fouls, he only ended up playing 19 minutes, although he did have a nice sequence in the fourth where he had a steal, a block and drew an offensive foul on three consecutive possessions.
In his place stepped Trey Burke, who shot his way to 25 points on 19 attempts. The ball moved less and the defense, predictably, suffered, but David Fizdale didn’t have much of a choice. You could argue Burke kept them in the game or took them out of it with his play. What was undeniable is that Brooklyn started to find their flow from the late first quarter onward, and ended up rolling to a 109-99 win, aided by 37 free throw attempts and a rebounding margin of 26.
Noah Vonleh had a career high with 22, but got a little three happy, finishing only 3-of-11 from deep. Mitchell Robinson had his usual half-a-dozen eye-opening moments where he looked like a future force to be reckoned with. Allonzo Trier had a tidy 13 points on six shots.
Everyone else stunk something fierce. Tim Hardaway Jr. had another night where he couldn’t hit anything, finishing 2-of-14. He looks and plays like he is in a cloud. Kevin Knox was also pretty brutal, hitting only 2-of-11. Lance Thomas, God love him, had some wonderful defensive possessions but the Knicks get killed when he’s at the four, as he only grabbed three boards in 26 minutes.
Enes Kanter, notably, did not play. After the game, David Fizdale said what many fans have thought for some time: that he needs to get the team used to playing a more modern style of defense – a style that Kanter has been proven to not fit within. In the locker room, Kanter said this philosophy had not been conveyed to him as the reason he wasn’t getting time. Distress over this if you will; I choose to count the minutes until Enes is off the team.
As I’ve been saying. You can’t trap with your big, or occasionally switch, when Kanter is your center. And if Kanter isn’t your center, he can’t be your PF either because in the modern NBA too many teams have versatile players at that position, so you play Lance. It’s simple https://t.co/yE63YcN94g
— Knicks Film School (@KnickFilmSchool) January 26, 2019
Knicks back home – their actual home – Sunday night vs Miami. The schnide continues…