10.24.19. Morning News: Knicks lose 120-11

So, so many recaps of last night’s game…

Recap: Knicks 116, Pelicans 117

Not that anyone should put much credence in statistics from fake basketball games, but for what it’s worth, the Knicks finished the preseason as something they’d probably sign on for this year:

A slightly below-average basketball team.

According to Cleaning the Glassthe Knicks enter the real games with a negative 2.5 net rating, sporting the league’s 21st ranked offense and 16th ranked defense.

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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…