This one was never close. Philly steamrolled the young Knicks playing on the second night of a back-to-back.
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Before Wednesday night, the Knicks had played two truly forgettable games this season – consecutive blowout losses to Orlando and Oklahoma City. Since the latter, things had been pretty good, with the team sporting a respectable minus 1.1 net rating over the preceding seven games.
That number is going to dip after what was probably their worst overall showing of the year, a 117-91 loss in Philadelphia. Granted, the team was on the second night of a back-to-back, playing a rested Sixers squad coming off a bad home loss, but they were thoroughly outclassed regardless, shooting a “wait, that has to be a mistake” 34.8% from the field. Most of the guys played a step slow all night on defense and you’ll rarely see a worse shooting night from an NBA team. There were a couple of important takeaways.
- Big picture wise, the “Frank Ntilikina Development Watch” has now reached Code Yellow (that’s the middle one), approaching Code Orange. He played six minutes in the first half, and over a dozen possessions, he didn’t touch the ball on nine of them, all but one of which never saw him leave the corner. The three possessions he did touch the rock, he shot it … and missed all three. This wouldn’t be a story if there was some agreement that the coaching staff is deploying him in a way that is best for his development, but that’s a major source of contention amongst the fan base and NBA people, alike. As a slight silver lining, we saw some Frank at point guard minutes to close out the game in garbage time. This now officially bears watching on a nightly basis.
- On the bright side, Damyean Dotson once again played, and once again looked like his regular, active two-way self. The numbers during what little meaningful time there was in this game weren’t great, but he again exuded the presence of a guy who just looks like he needs to be on the court. His three steals stood out.
- Mitchell Robinson didn’t foul out, so that was a plus. He also had a couple nice blocks on Embiid late. Complain if you want about Frank and Knox, but Mitch is either ahead of schedule, or at worse, right where he should be – looking overmatched much of the time but making a few special plays every night.
- Speaking of Knox, he had seven points on 3-of-7 shooting and generally looked better than he has in a few games.
- The starting backcourt of Timmy and Mud shot a combined 1-for-16 from the floor and missed all nine 3-point attempts. Yeah.
- Lastly, in the irony of ironies, Mario Hezonja may have been the best Knick on the floor, swiping four steals and looking the best he has on offense during a brief stretch in the first quarter. Fizdale’s choices don’t get any easier.
That’s it. Thankfully. The Knicks have two nights off. They look like they’ll need it. They’re home for the Bucks on Saturday.