What is this? Is this some magical artifact shaped like two mountain peaks, only upside-down? What in the world should I do with this W? I wasn’t ready anymore to write about… a win? And a from start to finish line one to boot?
Seriously, where do I begin? This was like watching a usual Knicks game, only from the other side of the mirror.
Oh, ok, I’ll start from the beginning: the Knicks came out with guns blazing and got to an early 14-0 lead thanks to some good shooting and abysmal Hawks offense. Dennis Smith Jr was hitting his shots (not the free throws, though). Mitch dunked a lob just 5 seconds after he got onto the court. John Jenkins shot and hit with a vengeance against the team that originally drafted him, and the first period ended 28 to 13. The lead could have been larger but the Bockers couldn’t stop turning the ball over. In the second quarter the table turned, our offense ground to a halt (Kadeem Allen’s efforts to involve people notwithstanding) and the Hawks scored 38 points. Mitch blocked two shots but was involved in early foul trouble, with a useless foul on a double on Trae Young 27 feet from the basket. The Hawks weren’t ever able to gain the lead, though, earning a couple of ties (47-47 and 51-51) before a Dotson three broke the tie for good. The third quarter never saw the Knicks gain enough separation (at most they led by 9), and the fourth was a matter of keeping the Hawks at bay (Smith was pretty good at it). An unremarkable win, but a win nonetheless that ended the longest losing streak in Knicks history. It’s amazing to think that, as bad as we have been, we don’t have anymore the worst record. The Phoenix Suns, who have arguably more talent than us, are 0.5 games behind us. That Devin Booker must be really worth a max extension (thank you, Janis)! I don’t know, I don’t feel so happy about this win, not for the tank but because it was pretty meh all around.
– Dennis Smith Jr (19 pts, 2 rebs, 7 ast, +9 +/-) played the game you’d like to see on a regular basis from him, free throws aside. 19 points on 10 shots, 7:1 assist/TO ratio, passable defense. If this was what you’d get from him every night, he would be the surefire starting PG for the next two years and nobody would bat an eye. I don’t like particularly the type of player DSJ projects to be, but what he is now doesn’t scream “future failure” as some egregious examples we have on our roster when they were in their second year in the League. His shooting problem reeks of Nick Anderson-itis, so maybe the coach who taught DeAndre his “Who ya got?” routine could be helpful. Speaking of DeAndre, DSJ found him on a couple perfect lobs. I can’t wait for him to develop the same chemistry with Mitch.
– Kadeem Allen (14 pts, 2 rebs, 9 ast, +8 +/-) keeps on being a net positive for this team, as his steady hand and defensive competence provides stability to the team. I can only imagine Steve Mills watching him play and getting ready to offer him a 14/2 contract with a player option for the second year. Seriously, though. Kadeem is averaging good numbers in his Knicks stint (.136 WS/48 included). I don’t know if he has a place in the future of this team, but it’s really hard to get a feel of that right now. Let’s enjoy his teamplay while we get sad thinking that Frank has never produced like this.
– I don’t know who told Luke Kornet (11 pts, 3 reb, 4 stl, +17 +/-) he can create from the dribble, but I guess it’s the umpteenth side effect of the “eat what you kill” offense. I mean, I have no issue with Kornet shooting 10 threes in a vacuum, provided that those 10 threes are open and/or last second heaves. Those 6 attempts from two, though (all misses) were extremely terrible. I used to have a cover image on Facebook that looked exactly like one of the attempts from Luke tonight (pic taken on a Brooklyn playground): a shot from 18 feet, left leg up, turning around to face the basket. The pic was super cool, especially because it didn’t included the aftermath: a clunk on the rim very similar to the ones Luke experimented last night. Anyway, his fit with the team is becoming clearer by the day. I hope he sticks and he never forces a shot again.
– What about Mitch? He played pretty well as usual, but Fizdale kept him on the leash thanks to two quick fouls in the second quarter (I would have left him on the floor, but whatever): 6 points, 7 boards, 4 blocks, 1 steal in nineteen minutes of play. To be honest he had 5 blocks, but one of them was on a halfcourt heave after the buzzer. It was exhilarating and very stupid (why risk a foul there?).
– Dotson played well enough, apart from his errant shooting. 13 points and 5 boards in 21 minutes.
– DeAndre had another double double and is looking a bit more interested in the game than when he got here. My guess is that he likes playing for the Knicks (no idea why). We really might have a puncher’s chance to retain him at a fair price. 10 points, 13 boards, 3 blocks in 30 minutes.
– Our bigs need to do a better job of knowing which opposing bigs can be left open on the perimeter. Alex Len = good. Dedmon and Spellman = bad.
– Knox ended with 10 boards, a good number. I think it’s a fluke, since most of them ended in his hands without him making a serious attempt to get them. Mitch’s boards, instead, were of the good kind (effort and focus). Kevin scored 9 points on 2-for-9 from the field. A lot of cringe-full drives to the rim that ended nowhere. At this point Knox looks like a parody of himself (who in turn is a parody of Andrew Wiggins), but in the end he’s only a rookie, let’s try to be patient here.
– John Jenkins had the second most shots for the Knicks. He started on fire and cooled off a bit. I like him, but when a shooter (not a shot creator) ends up with 13 shots in 27 minutes something’s gone wrong, much like Kornet’s 16 shots in 31 minutes seemed to indicate. The five boards were cool, though.
– Noah Vonleh is looking lost on the court. It’s discomforting, but that’s what it is. Also, has anyone ever botched more alley-oops and putbacks than him in a season for the Knicks? Iman Shumpert : layups = Noah Vonleh : dunks when you get the ball while you’re already jumping. Also, he was able to post a negative plus/minus in this game, the only Knick to do so.
– Quiet night for Trier, who shot only twice and hit both times. 6 points, 1 rebound, and nothing else in 19 minutes.
All in all, a good team effort by our Knicks. They can go to rest for a week, as I will, while we root for Knox in the Rising Stars Challenge and DSJ in the Slam Dunk contest. I think Knox will suck but Dennis can win it. See ya!