Recap: Knicks 99, Wizards 115

Friday night was a good reminder of just how much of a roller coaster ride this season is going to be. There will be ups. There will be downs. There will probably be a few more downs than ups.

The important thing isn’t whether the Knicks win or lose games (although at some point, the record will become so bad – or, I suppose, so good – as to matter), but how they do it. If they’re coming out, especially on their home floor, looking like that as we get deep into the regular season, it’s a problem.

That said, I’m not worried…yet

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The Knicks are on a winning streak!

You try.

You reallllly, really try not to get ahead of yourself as a Knicks fan.

There’s been so much heartbreak, so much false promise, so many “there’s no way this can go wrong” things that have gone horribly, horribly wrong that you know better. I know better. We all know better.

But dammit if Mitchell Robinson isn’t making every Knicks fan question what they know and don’t know as this season winds down…

Two days after tying his career high with 15 points and setting a career high with 14 rebounds, he topped the points (17) and tied the rebounds – eight of which were off the offensive glass – while adding three steals and a ho hum six blocks.

We are watching a radioactive lump of clay turn into a monster before our very eyes, and it is stunning. As I said on Twitter tonight, I’m not sure what his ceiling is. He was everywhere, and he was as responsible as anyone for a come-from-behind, out of nowhere 108-103 win against a Magic team that came into the night with the best net rating in the league for the month of February.

He didn’t do it alone. Henry Ellenson, who Scott Perry signed off the street a week ago, had 13 points, nine boards and five dimes. The talent that got him drafted as a mid first-rounder was evident, and maybe the Knicks have found themselves another diamond in the rough.

Not to be outdone, Allonzo Trier had 18 points on five, count ’em, five shot attempts. He is the posterboy for efficiency, and yes, he is still a rookie.

Last but not least, everyone’s favorite tank commander Emmanuel Mudiay once again closed out the game. Unlike Sunday night, though, he helped bring this one home. He’s not efficient, doesn’t defend all that well, and has assist numbers that often rival opposing centers, but he seems to have a knack for big moments from time to time. He has had a hand in most of the Knicks big wins this year, and will continue to be a lightning rod for the fanbase. I’m sure he wouldn’t have it any other way.

Don’t look now folks, but the Knicks might be reaching the “feisty” level of bad.

I’ll take it, happily.

Knicks tie franchise record with 12th straight loss at home

Well that was fun.

Dirk played his last game at Madison Square Garden, and that’s about all anyone will remember from this night.

As they should.

After coming out of the gate flat, the Knicks actually put together about one quarter and a half of solid basketball, taking the lead midway through the second before starting to let go of the rope later in the quarter. Nothing changed after halftime, and by the time David Fizdale gave into the fans’ chants for Enes Kanter, and he had played a few minutes, the Knicks found themselves down by 25. In a recent stretch of games defined by solid effort, on Wednesday night, they “gave into the losing,” as Fiz said postgame.

There weren’t many notable performances, but as in any game, if you look hard enough, you will find at least a few positives…

  • Mitchell Robinson had his usual handful of highlight plays. He finished with four blocks and seven rebounds on a night when the Knicks couldn’t find him as the roll man very often. Other than a stretch in the third where he looked out of sorts, he had a decent showing.
  • Kadeem Allen once again came in and played like you would expect a guy to who is fighting for his professional life. He brings grit and toughness to the team and has more of an offensive game than you might expect for a fringe NBA player. So basically, he’s the complete opposite of…
  • Tim Hardaway Jr. I’m done. I’m soooooo done. He looks like he’d rather be literally anywhere else but on the court, which is a shame because for as ineffective as the rest of his teammates are, at least they’re trying. I can’t say the same for Tim, and that’s been the case for some time now, at least on most nights.
  • Trey Burke had the type of stat line we’ve become accustomed to from him: 16 points on 7-of-14 shooting, three assists, -23 in 32 minutes. If Scott Perry can get a second round pick for him, he’s a wizard.
  • Kevin Knox led the team in scoring with 17, but it came with his usual inefficiency (6-for-16) and couple of bonehead plays, but he also had several moments early on driving to the hoops and showing us some of the gifts he has that you simply can’t teach.

Things don’t get any easier Friday night, when the Knicks are hosts to the Celtics.

Meanwhile, the trade deadline is 8 days away and counting…

Knicks battle through 3 quarters, but lose again

On a day when Knicks fans everywhere were consumed with a player on a team halfway across the country, New York actually had a game to play.

To watch them on this evening was, in a lot of ways, refreshing. Much of the talk over the last week, from some outlets at least, has been about how this season has gone horribly wrong. About how the Knicks knew they were going to be bad, but not this bad. About how they haven’t shown the signs of growth that even a young team should in their first season under a new coach.

With their tenth loss in a row and 18th in their last 19 games, it’s easy to buy into it all. Unless you’re actually paying attention.

For the fourth consecutive game, the Knicks held an opponent to fewer points than they did the previous one (127 vs OKC, 114 vs Houston, 109 vs Brooklyn, 106 vs Miami, and 101 vs Charlotte). For the first time all year, you can watch this group and feel like there is something readily identifiable about them – they’re employing an aggressive defense that picks its spots between when it switches and when it traps, and they’re starting to figure it out.

Most helpful in that effort was the newest Knick, Kadeem Allen, who wrecked havoc on that end of the floor. Fizdale couldn’t stop praising his recent acquisition after the game, and it was well deserved. His energy popped off the screen.

Not to be outdone, the Knicks rookies all had their moments. Kevin Knox broke out of his mini-slump with 19 points, including 3-of-4 from deep. He had a nice sequence under his own basket where he battled for a few consecutive offensive boards before drawing a foul.

Mitchell Robinson, meanwhile, continues to provide a reason to watch this team, netting three more blocks in 13 minutes. His alley oop connection with Allonzo Trier is now officially a thing, and even though Trier couldn’t buy a bucket tonight, he connected with Mitch for three lobs and got to the line eight times.

It goes down as another L though, thanks largely to a stretch in the beginning of the fourth where New York looked out of sorts on both ends. As is often the culprit, the ball stopped moving. Trey Burke doesn’t deserve all of the blame, but this seems to happen more often than not when he checks in, and his entrance into the game is what led to the rough stretch.

The Knicks will try to end this streak against a Dallas team that saw New York play perhaps its best game earlier this season. We’ll see if they can come up with a repeat effort.

Knicks lose again in strange night at the Garden

Sunday night at the Garden was unlike just about any other game this season, and quite possibly in some time.

There were, by the sound of it early on, more fans of the opposing team than the home team. The three most notable people in the building were, in no particular order, a dude playing his last game for a team Knicks fans used to loath, a former Knick who no team wants, and a soon to be former Knicks that can’t understand why he’s not playing. A damned wave broke out in the second quarter.

Crazy town, we’ve arrived.

All in all, it wasn’t a banner day for the franchise, but as has been happening of late – if you care to chop through the media narratives growing like weeds recently – the Knicks actually showed some progress on the court. They once again played a spirited brand of defense, employing an aggressive, trapping scheme that sprung more than a few leaks but was also responsible for forcing 15 turnovers and holding the Heat below 30 points every quarter.

Yes, the bigger stories were Wade and Melo, who was in the building while on leave from the Bulls and received a nice ovation from the fans. Late in the game though, MSG came alive as Fizdale’s kids once again took a game against a better opponent down to the final two minutes. As is usually the case, their inexperience foiled the comeback, but the desire continues to be there. It is a small silver lining, but it is real.

Several Knicks had nice efforts, but none stood out more than the man ostensibly replacing Enes Kanter, whose absence is somehow being made out to be a pro-tanking move by some.

Mitchell Robinson was a presence on both ends, and despite the fact that he finished with only 4 points, the Heat were cognizant of his presence on both ends for every possession he was in the game. Their perimeter players simply did not challenge him at the rim, while on offense, he commanded attention without monopolizing post touches that so often drag down the offense. Finding him for those lobs is still a work in progress, but as Fizdale noted after the Nets game, the rest of this season is about getting things in place for when the games once again start to matter.

Also, there was Frank. He was in a nice groove throughout the first half, playing the entire first quarter and a few minutes in the second before checking out with a hurt groin. His absence was felt most in the third quarter, when the Knicks couldn’t get into any flow on offense and watched the Heat get whatever they wanted on the other end. Trey Burke once again had a nice game statistically, but the team just isn’t the same on either end when he’s out there. Fizdale noted postgame how the ball stopped moving in the third quarter. He wasn’t wrong.

The rest of the Knicks had somewhere between “meh” and “ehh” games. No one was bad; no one was great. No, wins are not a priority, but at some point, they need to start pulling some of these games out, ping pong balls be damned.

Knicks are back at it Monday in Charlotte. Giddy up.

Knicks lose to Nets

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.

Knicks back home – their actual home – Sunday night vs Miami. The schnide continues…

James Harden and a lot of crazy happened

(Expletive deleted)

(Expletive deleted) (Expletive deleted) (Expletive deleted)



God damn, I wanted that one. And I know…I know there are fans out there for whom this amounted to a per-fect evening of basketball – Knicks lose but play hard, the kids play most of the minutes and perform admirably, ping pong balls fall from the sky – but I’m sorry, I can’t. I can’t be thrilled about this.

I mean how often do the Knicks get a break like this one?

This could have been one of those rare wins you looked back and remembered in a season of otherwise countless losses. But no.

Am I happy? Of course I’m happy…for Allonzo Trier, an undrafted rookie that put the team on his back to the tune of 31 points and 10 rebounds, finishing with a plus 19 in a game the Knicks lost by four.

I’m happy for Frank Ntilikina, who still can’t purchase a shot with his school lunch money, for coming out and setting the tone on both ends, almost single-handedly upping the defensive intensity and making the smart pass on the opposite end, making sure the ball moved enough to get a decent look.

I’m happy for Mitchell Robinson, who again showed why he’s going to be a monster on both ends once he can stop fouling. I’m even happy for Kevin Knox, who’s in a slump, but battled on defense and made his presence known on the glass.

But I can’t be happy with this result. The last play, where Vonleh was stripped by James Harden…what can you do. I trust Vonleh in that spot. Others may say it wasn’t the guy who should have had the ball in his hands. But you can’t blame Fiz for the play call because he was tossed a few minutes earlier, arguing one call too many on a night when he was often heated.

What you can question Fizdale for, and what will become a bigger and bigger storyline as this season progresses, is his continued faith in Emmanuel Mudiay. I get the rationale for it, for playing a guy who has shown so much improvement and can get to the basket so easily, especially when he’s someone the organization needs to make a decision on this July.

But it is getting hard to watch at times, when the offense clearly does not move with the flow that it can while he is out there. It doesn’t always happen, but it happens enough to now be a question, if not a concern. It is something to be monitored moving forward.

But for now, these young Knicks should hold their heads high. Yeah, James Harden tied the record for a visiting player with 61 points, but as crazy as it sounds, they didn’t do a terrible job on him. Call me a homer if you want, it’s cool. I’ve been called worse.

But the Knicks have nothing to be ashamed of.

Not tonight, at least.

Knicks blown out on MLK Day

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.

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.

Knox, Frank, Kornet, Hezonja shine in Knicks loss

On Sunday, the Knicks came as close to a win as you can get without actually getting one. Maybe for them, in a season that may be defined more by lottery balls than victories, that’s ok. There’s no question David Fizdale disagrees, and would have liked to get this one, but if you’re adding up moral victories, New York fighting back from 24 down to have a shot to tie it as time expired definitely qualifies.

In a 108-105 loss, the Knicks had several things to be happy about, both team-wise and individually. As a unit, New York passed the ball with a purpose more than they have in some time, compiling 24 dimes and employing some nice off-ball player movement throughout the game. They also played what was arguably their best defensive half of the season, holding the Sixers to 42 second half points. Do either of those things happen if Enes Kanter and Tim Hardaway see time on the floor? Your guess is as good as mine.

Individually, four Knicks stood out above the fray. Kevin Knox jumps off the stat sheet the quickest, as he had a career-high 31 points. After getting roasted early, he also picked up his defense over the latter portion of the game. He played another high-minutes game, totaling 44. A trial by fire if there ever was one.

For as great as Knox’s game was, for those watching, he may have been the third most impressive Knick on the afternoon. Luke Kornet was an astounding plus 25 in 34 minutes, which is unreal. He has opened up the conversation about whether he is a part of this team’s core moving forward, not only for his shooting exploits (7-of-13, 3-of-8 from deep) but for his effort on defense. No he isn’t good, but he tries his butt off, and he even got in Embiid’s head at times.

Of course, there was also Frank. For maybe the first time all season, we saw a complete, two-way game from Ntilikina – one that stood out as much for what he didn’t do as what he did. He didn’t think; he just played. Despite only finishing 4-of-11 from the field for nine points (and six assists, many of them quite pretty), Ntilikina played the way the coaches have been imploring. That Fizdale eschewed his usual substitution patterns and checked Frank back into the game for the final five minutes (to play alongside Mudiay, granted) should not go unnoticed.

Lastly, Mario Hezonja’s continued strong play should not go unnoticed. He had another two steals, giving him 13 in the last four games, and his defense, especially on ball, has been exquisite. On offense, he seems to be finding the balance that has eluded him all year, his missed highlight reel dunk aside. Maybe there’s more juice left in this orange after all.

Lastly, of note, Allonzo Trier continues to struggle, and it seems his playing time has finally become a casualty. He saw only 12 minutes in a game that Tim Hardaway Jr. didn’t play.

New York now crosses the pond for a game in London vs the Wizards, who lost to the Raptors today in double overtime, 140-138. Stopping Bradley Beal (43 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds today…yeesh) won’t be easy, but if today is any indication, the Fiz Kids will be up for the challenge.

Returning home not so sweet for Knicks

The Knicks returned home after their longest road trip in some time.

In your ideal world, you would have liked to see them come out with an inspired effort against the Pacers…one where they reached a new level of activity and effort on defense and where they moved the ball and hunted for easy shots on offense.

Yeah…not so much. New York dropped this one 121-106. Like a lot of nights this year, they kept it close for a while, actually taking the lead midway through the second quarter, before Indiana exerted itself and put the game away. The lead never ballooned to anything over 21, but there was also no doubt who was winning this game.

It’s not that they didn’t play hard – they did, for the most part – and it’s not like they took terrible shots – they tied their season high with 39 three-point attempts – but this team just doesn’t have enough talent to stay in games against most teams on a nightly basis.

Other than Noah Vonleh, who once again stood out on both ends, the only other Knicks to really show out was Mario Hezonja. He was active on both ends, and even though he couldn’t buy a bucket (4-for-12, 10 points), he finished with five steals and once again looked comfortable. Maybe we all gave up on him too soon.

Emmanuel Mudiay was perhaps the worst Knick in the first half, going scoreless, but like he’s done in several games this season, he bounced back and had a nice second half on offense, finishing with 21 points. Damyean Dotson looked good, and may have busted out of his shooting slump (4-for-7, 3-of-5 from deep, 15 points). Lance Thomas got some minutes at center with Kanter and Mitch still out, and was active as usual on defense.

Knox had a rough game for most of the evening, but finished with some nice moves late to remind fans that this will be a season of ups and downs for the teenager. Tim Hardaway left the game in the 4th with a hamstring injury.

Overall, as the Knicks now officially embark on the second half of the season, David Fizdale must, even if by smoke and mirrors, start to try and give this team an identity on both ends. They take a decent amount of threes and get both to the line and the rim at a respectable rate, but it’s time to try and put a little more in place than we’ve seen. On defense, several players have been given long leashes. We need to start seeing something in the way of results.

Knicks are back in action Sunday against the Sixers, who have treated New York like a rented mule this year. The journey continues…

Knicks no match for Golden State

The Knicks – mercifully, thankfully – ended their one long West Coast road trip of the year in a game that was a microcosm of their season: play a much better team, get hit early, fight back, keep it close for a bit through smoke and mirrors, and then watch as the wheels fall off as the talent discrepancy rears its ugly head.

Speaking of ugly, there is arguably no greater talent discrepancy in the league than the one that exists between the Warriors and Knicks, which led to a 41-14 run that decided the game over the second and third quarters.

The final score was 122-95, but this game will be remembered for Klay Thompson’s exploits more than anything else. He was unconscious from deep, finishing with 43 points including 11-of-13 from 2-point range. He is a max player come this summer, and it is not a discussion.

It’s hard to overstate how much better the Warriors are than the Knicks. Aside from the shooting, which was most obvious, they are a well-oiled machine on both ends while the Knicks are more like a snowball: if the conditions are right, and there are no impediments in the way, and they find a steep enough hill, they can win a game, maybe, if they get a little lucky.

It isn’t that they don’t play hard; they did for most of the night, with the exception of some possessions where the mere gravity of the Warriors onslaught seemed to get to them. They’re simply a team that is still figuring out what it is on both ends. They can navigate it around that issue on some nights, but not against a team like this. On offense, once Golden State made a point to take away driving lanes in the third quarter, New York had no recourse. On defense, we were reminded that if you pass against the Knicks, you usually win.

No Knicks player had a night worth singling out. Fans who care about the progress of the youth got a rough showing tonight. Kevin Knox had some nice moments on offense, but he continues to get owned on the other end. Allonzo Trier finished 5-for-13 and has not looked remotely like the player he was before he was injured. Damyean Dotson’s shooting slump continues, as he missed all seven of his attempts from the field.

Of note, Tim Hardaway Jr., who seemingly heard the fans calls for him to stop taking so many bad shots, attempted only seven field goals, making four and finishing with 13 points. Mario Hezonja again showed signs of life.

Knicks are back home Friday night for Indiana. Can’t come soon enough.

Knicks lose in Portland, as expected

The Knicks lost a game that anyone in the world could have predicted they would lose (on the road, in a tough place to play, to a much better team that needs every win in a do-or-die Western Conference); but the way they went about getting to their 111-101 loss was perhaps a bit surprising.

Of primary importance, the Knicks hung around for almost all of this one. They did so with generally gritty (although certainly imperfect) defense, a first half in which they lived at the foul line, and a few spurts of hot three-point shooting in a second half in which they largely couldn’t buy a bucket. That said, the Knicks didn’t do any of the things you usually see from a team that keeps a game competitive against a superior opponent. They shot 30% from deep and 40% overall, and gave up every big offensive rebound when it really mattered. Portland, meanwhile, hit every three it seemed they needed to hit.

As Clyde would say, the only real Knicks with the knack were two players who have been much maligned of late, Mario Hezonja and Enes Kanter. They shot a combined 13-for-22 and had 14 and 18 points, respectively, with Kanter chipping in 14 boards, including six on the offensive glass, all of which were meaningful in keeping the Knicks close. We need to see a lot more of this from Mario to get excited that it’s something legit, and Fiz may just give him the chance.

The only other Knicks remotely worth the cost of their plane tickets were Noah Vonleh, who has just continued his season of quiet brilliance, and Emmanuel Mudiay. Mudiay once again didn’t shoot it well, finishing 7-of-17 for 17 points, but he continues to scratch the surface of being a really useful point guard on offense. He finished with 8 assists after netting 15 dimes over the last two games combined. He continues to intrigue.

Everyone else vacillated between “not impactful” and “terrible.” Leading the latter train was Tim Hardaway Jr., who, for what seems like the 20th time this year, couldn’t buy a basket. He finished 2-for-12 and 1-of-7 from deep. Yeah. His shot selection continues to be an issue, but this seems like him missing open looks more than anything else.

Not to be outdone, Trey Burke was 3-for-9, which included several possessions that made Knicks fans cringe. The shots that were falling last year are no longer going down. It’s as simple as that. No one else did anything of note.

Overall, another game where the Knicks showed up and played hard, which, 40 games into a lottery-bound season, isn’t meaningless. Tomorrow night, they take their annual (thank God it only happens once) visit to Golden State. That should be interesting.

Knicks snap 8-game skid with win in Los Angeles

Say this: they still care.

For professional athletes, no matter how lost of a cause a season becomes, this should be a prerequisite. But as we know, here in New York especially, that isn’t always the case. But it is with this team.

The Knicks followed up a nice effort in Denver with a 119-112 win against a desperate Lakers team, albeit one without LeBron James, for a victory they themselves desperately needed. No one had a particularly great game from start to finish, but collectively, they did enough to get the job done.

The biggest factor was the start they got off to, as the Knicks raced out to a 24-8 lead. It sustained them through second and third quarter stretches in which they were badly outplayed, not for lack of effort, but mostly due to missed shots and the lack of a tenable post defender on the active roster. Emmanuel Mudiay had a brutal shooting night overall, but kept the team in the game in the third with his energy in transition. Timmy also had a quiet but necessary 22 points on 18 shots.

On the night, the Knicks shot just 37.4%. That sounds bad, but they did get to the line a season-high 41 times, hitting 34, and took 37 three-pointers. They missed a ton of makable looks around the rim, but if we’re valuing process over results, they had the shot profile of a modern NBA team. Progress, we see you.

Sure enough, the three most standout performances came from perhaps the three most maligned players on the roster this season: Enes Kanter, Mario Hezonja and Trey Burke. The trio combined for 42 points, and each came up huge at different points in the game. Although the ball movement stopped a bit when Burke came in early, he seemed to find his shot and looked like himself again. Hezonja came in with both Knox and Vonleh in foul trouble late and not only made a few big buckets but had some key defensive moments as well.

More than either of them though, this game was belonged to Kanter. He had a huge moment in the fourth where he jumped out of bounds to secure a loose ball, and followed that up with a big put back and later had a key block (!) down the stretch. His effort on defense was also up there with the best performances we’ve seen from him this season. Credit to him, of course, but credit also to David Fizdale for not losing one of his players who is clearly frustrated with his role.

After the game, Fiz talked about the team’s effort, how they shared the ball, and how they trusted each other down the stretch and closed the game defensively. He seemed like a coach who was not only pleased with his team, but one who feels they are exactly where they should be at this point in time.

Also of note: Damyean Dotson and Noah Vonleh each had four steals and were active on defense in their limited minutes. Kevin Knox’s shot once again abandoned him after some early makes, but he did get to the line four times and finished with 14 points in 37 minutes. His rookie season is the definition of trial by fire.

Two downers: Frank Ntilikina only played one minute after turning his ankle in the first quarter. X-rays were negative and he was diagnosed with a strain, so that’s not terrible. Alonzo Trier, however, was terrible once again. He played only nine minutes and still looks out of sorts following his return from a bum hip.

Sometimes you just need a win. Tonight, the Knicks got one. LeBron or no LeBron, it counts just the same.

Kornet shines in loss to Milwaukee

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.

Kevin Knox impresses early, but Knicks lose to Atlanta

Well that was rough.

I get it. I get that you have conflicted feelings right now. We all watched Zion Williamson have his moment at the Garden, heard him after the game, saw him pay reverence to the locker of the one true unicorn.

Tonight, in all likelihood, gets the Knicks closer to a future reality where Zion is, as he alluded to, making MSG his home for 41 nights a year (and hopefully more).

I get all of that. But in the meantime, well…in the meantime, the reality sucks.

The Knicks have now completed the poop superfecta, losing to the only four teams in the NBA with a worse record than their own. Yes, it’s what this young team was expected to do, even more so because it’s missing Mitchell Robinson and Allonzo Trier, two imperfect players who nonetheless play important roles for this skeleton crew. But at some point, the high morale David Fizdale has built up despite the losses is going to subside. Maybe that matters, maybe it doesn’t. It certainly can’t be fun for the parties involved.

If you’re looking for bright spots, there aren’t many. Kevin Knox lit the Garden ablaze with a first quarter (17 points) that once again reminded everyone why his ceiling could be an eventual top-five scorer in the league. If he can figure out some semblance of sustained effectiveness throughout an entire game, he is going to become a problem. If it happens this year, great, but as far as anyone should be concerned, he is already ahead of schedule.

Then there was Emmanuel Mudiay, who had yet another thirty-point night, his third in five games. This Mudiay thing appears to be real. He is becoming a problem for opposing teams to deal with on offense. How we can judge anyone’s defense on a team with so many bad defenders is a tough topic to handle right now, but he doesn’t appear to be a lost cause on that end of the floor. He hit 3-of-7 from deep tonight, further verifying that this needs to be taken seriously.

On the opposite end of the spectrum was, well…just about everyone else. Other than Vonleh, who has been a steadying presence all season long, the only other guy who stood out was for all the wrong reasons. Frank Ntilikina once again looks somewhat lost. He missed both of his shot attempts tonight, one of them badly, and got visibly frustrated with the refs after a couple of tough foul calls. Everyone seems to acknowledge he is back in his own head. As Steve Mills said today, it is up to the Knicks to help him find the light. Jump ship at your own risk, but I’m waiting the 20-year-old out until he gets right.

Perhaps most importantly, the Knicks, while quite bad and becoming impossibly challenged in closing games, have continued to pay hard. That might seem like a bogus silver lining, but for anyone who’s watched season after season go off the rails, it is not a basic prerequisite. For me at least, I can at least leave these evenings feeling mildly not terrible about where things stand.

Next up: Christmas Day, back at home, vs Milwaukee. Should be interesting, if nothing else.

Knox continues scoring streak as Knicks play no defense in Philly

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.

Knicks lose (win?) tank battle with Suns

Monday night was a tale of two halves for the Knicks. They came out playing loosy-goosy, as they say, defending just well enough and scoring mostly at will, and went into halftime with a 66-59 lead. Then the Knicks stopped playing defense, and ultimately lost 128-110.

Well, they attempted to play defense…they just did it really, really poorly. There was a spark missing on that end, and it didn’t take long to realize that with a little bit of effort, they could basically get anything they wanted against New York. There was no one player to blame for the defensive woes, although at the same time, no one stood out either.

There were, of course, a few vaguely bright spots, but none brighter than the most improbable of success stories this season…

  • Emmanuel Mudiay had his second 30-point game in as many outings finishing with 12 on 21 shooting, including 2-6 from deep. Offensively, he is playing like one of the better point guards in basketball. He seems to have achieved the balance between guiding the offense and looking for his own shots. He pushes the pace whenever he gets an opportunity. Defensively, obviously work to be done, but he has without question injected himself into the conversation about the Knicks future.
  • Kevin Knox started off hot, netting 13 first quarter points, but finished with only 17 on 16 shots to go with only four rebounds. He was aggressive early and seemed to fade after that. You’re guess is as good as mine as to why.
  • Frank Ntilikina, on the other hand, was aggressive for the whole game. The only problem was that the shots weren’t falling. He finished 3-of-11 for nine points. Despite the stat line, you had to be at least a little encouraged by the assertiveness he showed on both ends (of the Knicks many defensive culprits tonight, he was not one of them). Despite sharing his minutes with both Mudiay and Burke, he had control of the offense for much of the time he was on the floor, and perhaps more importantly, was active off the ball, which will be key for his development.
  • Courtney Lee had an ok little audition as the starting shooting guard, getting 12 points on eight shots. Hopefully someone in the league with a need for shooting and no designs on having cap space this summer was watching.
  • Lee was starting because Tim Hardaway Jr. was out with a bum heel. Ironically, the Knicks had maybe their worst defensive effort of the season despite being without perhaps their worst defensive player. Not sure what to make of that.
  • Mitchell Robinson, Allonzo Trier, and Damyean Dotson also missed tonight’s game.
  • Trey Burke was 2-for-9 from the field and still looks out of sorts. Gold star if you can cogently phrase what role he should have on this team moving forward.
  • That’s it. Everyone else was pretty bad. Or really bad. Somewhere in that gray area.

Knicks will look to rebound against the last team that truly whooped their butts, the Philadelphia 76ers, on Wednesday night. It will be very interesting how they respond. 

Knicks come up short in Indiana

Recap by Remi_Se

The injury racked New York Knicks gave a spirited effort but came up short against the Indiana Pacers, losing 110-99. The Knicks were competitive for most of the night, but as crunch time kicked in, it was the Pacers who kicked things up a gear and ran away with the lead. The Pacers are among theEastern Conference’s best teams and the Knicks just seemed to be outgunned in this one.

The Knicks frequently employed the zone defense again and kept the game competitive, but is it sustainable? The Pacers shot a solid 36% from three on the night despite missing a lot of good looks. Any time the Pacers attacked with ball movement, they were able to exploit holes to generate easy takes inside or open shots outside. Tonight the defense was more “bend but don’t break” as a whole, but that won’t last as teams learn to anticipate the zone and attack it.

On the offensive end, the Knicks backcourt rotation has got to be more efficient if they expect to win games. Mudiay was the lone bright spot, shooting 5/11 from the field and reaching the free throw line 10 times with 7 makes on his way to 18 points. The rest of the Knicks failed to convert even their open looks. Tim Hardaway Jr needed 18 attempts to reach 19 points; Trey Burke shot just 1/7 for 3 points in his 13-minute return; and Frank Ntilikina was 1/4 on the night to tally his own 3 point contribution. The Pacers forced the Knicks to take some tough shots in the half court but Knick guards missed jumpers even when they had space.

On the other hand, the Knicks’ ball movement has been improving lately and tonight continued that trend. The Knick point guards all notched multiple assists; Mudiay with 6, Ntilikina with 4, and Burke notching 3. The team had 21 assists total and should have had more if not for three-point shooting woes. New York made only 10 of 32 attempts from distance and that’s not due to them forcing the issue.

Speaking of three-point shooting; the only Knick to make more than 1 three-point field goal was Kevin Knox who went 3/9. The young rookie continues to be the brightest spot on the Knicks as he flashes scoring ability all over the floor. The highlight of the night for Knox was a baseline drive past his defender for a dunk; but the 19 year-old showed promise all night. It wasn’t a spotless performance though. Knox is still struggling to find efficiency, going 6/15 from the field. The rookie also picked up a couple of traveling calls in route to 3 turnovers. That said, the growing pains are easy to look past when he flashes ability to drag defenders out to the three-point line and attack off the dribble once they chase him out there.

While the backcourt struggled and Knox shined; the Knick bigs lost a competitive battle against the talented Indiana front court. Enes Kanter led the way with 20 points and 15 rebounds but struggled late: turning the ball over, missing shots and getting beat on the glass in the fourth quarter. Noah Vonleh was good on defense, and the glass, but had struggles offensively with 7 points and 12 rebounds on 3/10 shooting. Luke Kornet and Mario Hezonja both gave respectable effort off the bench in spot minutes. In spite of that effort, the Pacer bigs had the edge behind quality play from Turner, Sabonis and Young.

The injury bug has David Fizdale trying to integrate players and change rotations on the fly nightly. Courtney Lee looks like he’s shaking some of his rust off with a 3/6 effort that included some of his patented pull-up jumpers from midrange. Trey Burke’s first game back was shaky but he found his space on the floor to get off looks, he just failed to make his shots. Lance Thomas was also available for the first time since November 5th, but was a coach’s decision DNP. There may be room for Lance to carve out some minutes as the Knicks try to develop a defensive identity.

Finally, it wouldn’t be a Knicks game if we weren’t making a big deal out of everything Frank Ntilikina does. Ntilikina had a quiet night with 3 points, 4 assists and 2 rebounds over 18 minutes, but he showed some truly promising signs. Frank tallied 4 assists and mixed in a handful of clever passes that led to free throws or scores that didn’t make the stat sheet.

The French Prince was demonstrative after a bad foul call by the refs which is refreshing for the typically meek youth. Frank could certainly have had more aggressive attempts to get into the teeth of the defense. His first possession was a trip through the paint that concluded with an assist to Vonleh, but for the rest of the night he settled on swing passes and jumpers. That said, it’s probably worth noting that Frank hurt his ankle last game and also shifted into a secondary ball handling role for chunks of his time as Trey Burke was back in the mix. Ntilikina’s role has shifted from game to game and in this one from minute to minute; consistency might be easier to come by with a more guaranteed role in the rotation.

Knicks-Hornets Observations From Charlotte

I moved to the Charlotte, NC area from New York in 2013, and have been attending nearly every Knicks-Hornets game at the Spectrum Center (formerly the Time Warner Cable Arena) since. While the games have usually been extremely entertaining (remember KP’s almost game-winner?), the Knicks always failed to do one thing when visiting Charlotte – win the basketball game!

Finally, on a rainy, chilly Friday night in mid-December, the Knicks snapped their infamous Carolina drought as they rode the backs of. . . . . . Emmanuel Mudiay, Luke Kornet, and a Syracuse-esque zone defense?

Kornet, who had not scored in his previous seven appearances this season, put up 13 and 6 while anchoring Fizdale’s zone throughout the second half.

Mudiay dropped a career high 34 – ironically, I had witnessed Trey Burke hang a career high 42 on the Hornets only nine months earlier!

Here are some of the things I caught keying in on the Knicks throughout the game.

Just about every active Knick came out to shoot an hour-plus before the game – save for Courtney Lee and Damyean Dotson. Even Trey Burke and Allonzo Trier, who each missed the game, were out there getting some shots up before the game.

While they were never all out there at once, I had never seen that many players come out for the Knicks before the game – usually the most you would see is 4 or 5. It was very cool to get to see basically the entire roster.

I was able to get signatures from nine Knicks (my previous career best was four!) – Kevin Knox, Frank Ntilikina, Noah Vonleh, Enes Kanter, Emmanuel Mudiay, Trey Burke, Allonzo Trier, Tim Hardaway Jr., and Mitchell Robinson.

Good luck trying to guess whose is which!

Kevin Knox was one of the first players out there and I believe had put in the most time getting some work in of all the players on the team (from when I was there). Our own Spencer here at KFS has done some tremendous breakdowns of Knox’s shot form, and we’ve had some discussing of the intricacies of his shot, so I focused a lot on watching the fluidity of his form.

Knox worked almost exclusively behind the arc during his shootaround. You can see in that kind of calm environment the potential he has as a shooter – such a smooth release at a high point where he can get it off unaffected from any spot on the court over any defender.

At one point, Knox hit nine straight pull-up jumpers from a couple of feet behind the line at the left elbow. He can make it look as effortless as I’ve seen any player make it look live – I’m pretty sure Knox hit a higher percentage of his practice 3’s that night than any other Knick.

Here’s a look at Knox getting a few up.


A few other notes from the shootaround:

  • Trey Burke had a knee brace on but did a lot of extended work before the game shooting off the catch and off the dribble. He didn’t seem very limited at all.
  • Same goes for Allonzo Trier. He was out there shooting some corner threes and mid-range pull-ups, didn’t seem too limited.
  • Frank Ntilikina worked a lot on his mid-range game. He spent a lot of time around the elbows trying different isolation moves and shooting out of them. He was inconsistent, coming up short frequently, but his makes tend to be about as pretty as they come.
  • Enes Kanter spends a surprisingly decent amount of time shooting threes during his warmups. He was making at least half of them, too.
  • Conversely, Mitchell Robinson barely even shot any jumpers. He worked on his free throws and his short corner J’s a bit, but he mostly focused on finishing out of pick-and-rolls.
  • Non-basketball note here, but I asked Kanter when we could expect him to appear on the truTV show Impractical Jokers (he’s a noted fan of the show) – he laughed and said “we’ll see!”



Let’s move on to the game! Here are some things I noticed being there live.

  • I’m 100% convinced former Knick Willy Hernangomez was acquired by the Hornets simply for a cheerleader role. Willy had very long and detailed handshake routines unique to just about every other individual player on the Charlotte roster that he went through pregame. He had one routine with I believe Deonte’ Graham that involved a frozen position for what felt like almost ten seconds. I’ve never seen anything like it. He may not be able to defend the pick and roll, but the man has handshake game!
  • David Fizdale is so fun to watch coach a basketball game. Obviously we still have a long way to go before we can be certain he is the man to lead the Knicks back to the promised land, but all we can say for sure right now is that this man is a ton of fun to root for. He is standing for the majority of the game and reacts to each play just as I was in the stands; fist pumps after good plays, stunned silence when the team was playing terribly, and that “that ball was halfway down!” look after Mudiay’s missed game-winning attempt.
  • Michael Jordan had the best plus-minus in this game. He sat on the Hornets bench for the first half, but left to a suite in the second. Shouldn’t have done that. Not GOAT material right there.
  • Muggsy Bogues was honored by the Hornets at halftime. I never watched him play and first knew about him from Space Jam, but I’ve seen his highlights and am aware of his achievements – and you can’t help but love the guy. Possessing a frame that would get him picked on in a sixth grade classroom, he once had a season where he averaged FOUR REBOUNDS PER GAME in the most elite basketball league in the world. 7’0 Andrea Bargnani had four seasons in his career where he couldn’t hit 4.0 ‘bounds a game! Bogues averaged 2.6 rebounds per game for his career – 6’10 Steve Novak never even averaged 2.0 rebounds per game in a single season! Overall Bogues averaged 9 points, 9 assists, 3 rebounds, and 2 steals over 10 seasons in Charlotte. He was top ten in assists in six seasons and sits at 21st on the all-time list. Heck of a career.


  • Mudiay had 5 points on 1 of 4 shooting from the field in the first half, Hardaway had 3 points on 1 of 5 shooting. When the team came out for the second half, neither shot the ball around, as both came out of the tunnel late and sat quietly on the bench. Their methods of isolated thought worked out, as Mudiay scored 29 points on 13 of 17 shooting in the second half while Hardaway scored 9 points on 4 of 7 shooting.
  • The Knicks were playing awful defense in the first half of this game (72 points allowed, and 12 made threes on 60% shooting) – so in the second half when me and my dad started noticing Mudiay, Hardaway, and the other guards seemingly floating around on the perimeter guarding nobody, we chalked it up as more classic terrible Knicks defense. However, after the Knicks came down on the defensive end and did this multiple times in a row, we quickly realized they were playing a zone defense.
  • Early on, the zone wasn’t very fruitful. The Hornets were getting some good looks, but just couldn’t get them to drop (after hitting 60% from deep in a half, you have to expect things to average out regardless of how good the looks are). Fizdale’s team did try this sparingly in a few games this season, but never for too long of a period, so I expected the Knicks to revert back to man soon enough. It never happened though, and the comeback began on the strength of that zone due to one change – Luke Kornet’s entrance into the game. Kornet’s length and mobility advantage over Kanter changed the dynamic of the defense, and things started to click when he entered that 5 spot. While they missed a lot of solid looks, especially in the corner spots that the zone defense will often yield, the Hornets seemed befuddled by the zone look at times. They made a lot of uncharacteristic sloppy mistakes, throwing the ball into the stands multiple times and allowing the Knicks to create transition opportunities off of defensive rebounds and live ball turnovers. The zone defense was as much of a star in this game as any individual player, adding to the shock of this improbable win.

Fun victory for the Knicks! There are always a lot of Knicks fans in the building there (I’d estimate 30-35%), and as always, home teams love few things more than to beat a visiting New York opponent and send us rowdy fans packing.

Finally, we were able to leave Mike’s house with a victory! Take that, MJ!

Another exciting night for Knicks youth ends in loss

Recap by Remi_Se

The Knicks fell behind by 16 points after one of their worst defensive quarters of the year and could never quite recover as they fell to the Cavaliers 106 to 113.

Turnovers and transition defense failed the Knicks early, but they battled back with scoring bursts from their youngest two players to take a late lead that they just couldn’t quite hang on to. Let’s take a deeper look.

After becoming one of the youngest players in history to drop 25 and 15; Kevin Knox earned his place in the starting line-up and delivered again. This time Knox chipped in 19 points and 7 rebounds with an efficient 7/15 shooting and 3/6 from long rang.

The rookie didn’t let his new role deter him from attacking and the rebound total is impressive in a line-up with Enes Kanter and Noah Vonleh chasing every loose ball. The best part of this was how Knox performed in the closing minutes of the game. The 19-year old rose to the occasion making plays on both ends of the floor when opportunity came his way.

Frank Ntilikina is the latest young player to respond to DNP’s from David Fizdale by playing his best basketball of the season. Frank had some struggles protecting the ball and missed a couple of shots early, but he never let it affect his assertiveness. The aggressive approach paid dividends with Frank scoring 16 points, 3 assists and 3 rebounds on 6/13 from the field and 2/4 from three. Ntilikina flashed scoring ability in a variety of ways; knocking down multiple mid and long range jumpers with a couple of scattered finishes inside. The French Prince even picked up an assist off of a post-up. We know what Frank can provide as a defender, but he’s just scratching the surface when it comes to offensive upside.

The rest of the Knick draft picks didn’t fare as well as the youngest two. Damyean Dotson struggled with his shot going 2/7 and missed all three of his long range tries. Mitchell Robinson had a quiet night with just 2 points and 1 rebound over 16 minutes. Allonzo Trier is still hurt but another undrafted young player, Luke Kornet got first half minutes in his absence and failed to have much impact.

The starting backcourt struggled from the field going 13 for 36 while taking 18 attempts each. Emmanuel Mudiay was able to stay productive by playmaking and chasing down boards, finishing with 16 points, 7 assists and 8 rebounds. Tim Hardaway Jr also chipped in 5 rebounds and while he shot just 6/18 from the field, he did knock down 4/9 three pointers in route to 20 points.

Enes Kanter played really well early, but his performance ended with a big mistake on the game deciding play that Clyde was quick to point out. Kanter failed to come to the ball on the Knicks final inbound play and Mudiay was forced to throw the ball away to avoid a 5-second violation with no timeouts to spare. Kanter had a solid performance overall producing 20 and 10 on 8/12 from the field; but he was quiet late with the late mishap standing out above everything else.

The Knicks offensive chemistry seems to be coming together strong even while Hardaway and Mudiay have been inconsistent from the field lately. The team is putting in a lot more off ball movement and action with 21 assists tonight. The fact that the starting backcourt has struggled with their jumpers and the offense is still rolling shows the growth and development of the Knicks young roster. Kevin Knox, Damyean Dotson and now Frank Ntilikina have all stepped up to provide scoring punch in competitive games. That’s not to mention Allonzo Trier who has been a revelation or the defensive performances that Mitchell Robinson has had. Fizdale might not have the wins but his focus on player development is paying undeniable dividends.

A lot to be excited about in Knicks loss to Charlotte

It’s only one game.

Actually, it’s not even really one game. It’s a quarter and change of one game. And it’s a game where the kid we’re all focused on played a grand total of 20 minutes because he fouled out. No…as far as breakouts go, this wasn’t your typical effort.

But it’s still the game that, should Frank Ntilikina go on to have the Knicks career his talent portends, we’ll remember as the moment when it truly began. Following a buzzy fourth quarter vs Brooklyn and a fairly nondescript first half when he played a scoreless eight minutes, Frank came out in the third quarter like a man on fire, taking ownership of the court like we’d never seen before. 

Gone was the player that had to think for a split second about whether to fire away on an open 3-pointer. In his place was a dude who was trying to get into spots that would allow him to fire away. He was looking for every possible opportunity to use a screen for even a sliver of an edge that would allow him to beat his man. Ironically enough, perhaps his two most standout plays – a no-look alley-oop attempt to Mitchell Robinson that resulted in a turnover and a hard drive to the basket that was called for a questionable offensive foul – resulted in no points. 

Just as significant as Ntilikina’s effort was his head coach’s reaction following that phantom offensive foul. David Fizdale was beside himself, and following Frank’s sixth foul on the next defensive possession, got himself ejected to make absolutely clear that he had the back of a 20-year-old everyone seemed to think he had a vendetta against just days ago.

Besides Frank fouling out, the shame of this evening was the fact that perhaps Kevin Knox’s best game as a Knick will be overshadowed. He scored 26 points on 25 shots and pulled down 15 rebounds, including several on one possession that saw him refuse to be outbodied, ultimately resulting in him drawing a foul. You get the sense that it’s starting to come together for this young man, and it’s coming together quickly. On offense, at least.

As for the other young Knicks, Mitchell Robinson had his usual couple of nice moments, while Damyean Dotson continued to play defense at a elite level – a true standout on this night, when the Knicks “veterans” failed to show up on that end of the court. It was the reason this game wasn’t nearly as close as the 119-107 final made it seem.

It doesn’t fall on any one player, but collectively, the lack of defensive urgency from the starting lineup following a similar effort last night vs Brooklyn was troubling. It’s not hard to see Fiz making another change to the unit soon – something he may have previewed by starting Knox in the second half as opposed to Mario Hezonja, who never saw the court after the first five minutes of action.

All things to think about moving forward, but this night belonged to Frank. After the game, David Fizdale said the thing that has kept the Frank stans believing through all of the down times – that he’s shown flashes – but when asked what was different about Ntilikina tonight, Fiz was on point: “He finally tsaid ‘screw it’.”

Indeed he did. Hopefully, the first of many such occassions. 

A night for Knicks fans to somehow relax, despite the loss


No…after one quarter’s worth of a fake comeback, David Fizdale probably doesn’t feel vindicated. For one, the Knicks lost 112-104 to a Nets squad that was playing on the second night of a back-to-back. Over three quarters, his team played like it collectively had too much to eat at a Vegas buffet. Other than Enes Kanter, who beasted, as he always does vs Brooklyn, the team was largely “blah” at best, and effortless, at worst. No, Fizdale is too competitive to feel anything positive after a loss that began like this.

But at the very least, the guy can take a damn breath now and relax. He’s earned at least that.

It seemed like by the end of Frank Ntilikina’s third straight DNP-CD, the entire basketball world had its eyes on the Knicks head coach. They were wondering, questioning, doubting. Trade rumors were swirling. It seemed like all the good that had happened over the course of this season had gotten flushed right down the toilet, all because a player who had struggled immensely had been given some time to sit and simply watch and learn. A man with two decades of NBA experience– one who is not only universally praised, but loved by anyone without the last name Gasol – was being called out as having some kind of personal vendetta against a kid that isn’t yet old enough to drink.

Well, in the words of Aaron Rodgers: R – E – L – A – X.

There’s a reason an NBA season is 82 games. For a rebuilding team like this one, it’s 82 chances for trial and error. To tinker and prod and pry and figure out what you have and what you don’t. Over the first 24 games of the year, although Frank Ntilikina had moments of burst here and there, the aggressive player the team wanted to see before the season started was not a consistent presence.

Tonight was a different animal. Some will point to the fact that Frank was given the point guard reigns again, which happened through much of the quarter, and that was why he was successful. But the guy with the ball in his hands tonight was 180 degrees different than the one we saw over his last five starts, when the team produced a sub-90 offensive rating during his minutes. Something wasn’t fully clicking. It sure looked like it clicked on Saturday night.

We’d be remiss not to mention the efforts of the other young guys in a fourth quarter that was played exclusively by rookies and second-year players. Damyean Dotson was a monster, scoring at will for a stretch early in the fourth. Mitchell Robinson once again showed why he might have the highest ceiling of anyone on this team. Kevin Knox showed a few more flashes, which we’re seeing more and more of. Allonzo Trier got repeatedly cooked on defense – he was burnt to a crisp by night’s end – but he again got to the rim when he needed to.

But this night belonged to Frank and Fiz. The Knicks have a coach who has engendered buy-in from every individual on his roster, which isn’t easy to do when you’re bad. They also have a precocious kid who took the first real challenge of his career in stride, came out, and responded about as well as any of us could have hoped.

We saw the future on Saturday night. It looked pretty good. Most importantly though, it seems like the man who’s been tasked with taking us there might have a clue after all.

Celtics get revenge on Knicks in Boston

Game Highlights

Well you could see that one coming from a mile away, huh? Even though this game was a lot closer than the 128-100 final score made it seem, from almost the opening tip, you got a sense that this was not a contest the Knicks were going to win.

The Celtics feel like a team that is about to go on a massive run, as their new starting lineup is clicking and Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward off the bench is almost unfair (Brown in particular couldn’t miss tonight).

Simply put the Knicks lost to a much better team, partly because their defense couldn’t keep up with an offense that is starting to operate on all cylinders and partly because they didn’t shoot it particularly well. On to individual notes:

  • Noah Vonleh was about the only positive on both ends for the Knicks tonight. He’s been their best player this year, and it’s not particularly close. He put up another double double and was defending everyone from Kyrie Irving to Al Horford. Everyone is scheming to try and get him back next year, but don’t underestimate a team giving up a real asset for him at the trade deadline.
  • The kids, for the most part, played fine. Knox’s shot, especially on drives, still isn’t quite there, as he needs to learn how to finish at this level, but he was 2-of-6 from deep and he once again looked comfortable out there. Mitch more than held his own, getting another couple of blocks and snagging a beautiful alley-oop from Mudiay in the first quarter. Iso Zo had a nondescript six points in 18 minutes, and offensive fouls are not officially a thing he needs to be cognizant of doing. Finally, while Dotson was his usual active self on defense, he couldn’t buy a basket, finishing 2-of-11, including 0-of-6 from deep. You would have liked to see him take it to the hole a bit more.
  • Courtney Lee played again, hitting once from long range and looking…fine.
  • This was a terrible matchup for Kanter, and his 24 minutes was probably a dozen too many.
  • Mario…oh Mario. Super? No…no no no no no, no no…not so much. It’s 26 games and I think most New York fans have seen about enough. The poor decision making, the bad shooting (1-of-4 tonight, an ungodly 38% on the year, including 26% from deep). I don’t know if there’s a team in the league that would trade even the expiring contract of a dead man for him at this point, but his minutes are officially a waste at this point.
  • Finally, of course, Frank. That’s 3 straight DNP-CD’s. Luke Kornet came into the game for the last couple minutes of garbage time, although it’s probably best Fiz didn’t think so little of Ntilikina to throw him into this poopfest. I’ve written and said too much about Frank as it is. They may trade him. Who knows. But they better give him one more honest to goodness shot on this team before they do. They owe him at least that.

It’s back to MSG for a game against Brooklyn Saturday night. Something tells me it’ll be a close one.