Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Utah Jazz 137 – New York Knicks 116 – Game Recap

“Hello, my friend. Stay awhile and listen”*

Today I’d like to tell you the story of Dorando Pietri. I don’t know if many of you already know it just as I don’t know if I use this example pretty often just because the guy was Italian and the episode got stuck in my mind in a bizarre exercise of weird patriotism.

You see, Dorando Pietri was a marathon runner from a little town less than 100 km from where I live. We’re talking about times when sports was much more about the discipine itself than whatever it is that surrounds the ahtletes (endorsements, doping scandals, and so on). This was a guy who started running competitively, the legend says, because he randomly participated in a race (in work clothes) where he, as a debutant, promptly beat the national champion of the time. It was 1904. Thinking to himself “hey! I must be good!” he started running more, and more, and more, and in three years became the undisputed best Italian runner on long runs from 5000 mt to the marathon itself.

In 1908, the Olympics were held in London and he participated, having regularly qualified for the event. At the time, the length of a marathon wasn’t thoroughly regulated. It had to be at least 42 km long, but the official distance was not instituted until 1921, when they set the London 1908 length as the standard from then on. Well, Dorando Pietri was well on his way to win the race with less than 3 kilometers to go, when evidently he started running on fumes. Then on fumes of fumes. Entering the stadium where the final lap would have to be taken, he chose the wrong path and had to be redirected by the umpires, who also helped him when he fell over for the first time. Before crossing the finish line he tripped over and fell three more times. He was able to finish the race (still in first place!) only because he was helped every single time by the umpires. It took him 10 minutes to “run” the last 350 meters, after having run the other 41,950 in 165 minutes. In the end, the umpires’ help got him disqualified from the race, but his legend was still set in stone as the man who crawls to the finish line no matter what, while struggling in an otherworldly way thanks to fatigue and/or exhaustion.

Well, Dorando Pietri is me.

*bonus points if you get this citation

***

I can’t even start to tell you how hard it is to recap these final games. At times, it might even look like I’m not even trying, which maybe subconsciously it’s true, like some sort of maneuver to avoid further psychological trauma. The truth (or the conscious one at the very least) is that I never imagined the situation would have ever been so bleak. I remember the 2014/15 season very well. I found myself able to watch that slog because in the end it was kinda easy to root for some of those scrubs. Galloway, Lou Amundson, even early Lance Thomas: very bad players who tried their darndest to… well, do something, I guess? It was hard to watch but it was kinda easy to sympathize.

This season just drained almost every possibile smidge of joy from watching the team. I said it a million times: it’s not the losing. It’s not even the beatdowns. It’s the fact that for most of the time, I don’t have anyone, anything to root for. It’s starting to feel a bit stale even rooting for Mitch. I was happy to see him post respectable numbers again, but did they matter? No they didn’t. Finally guys were passing him the ball again, but well… when you’re down 30, it’s not like anything still has value, right?

This is why recapping (or doing something else, but still Knicks-related, about) these games is like being Dorando at the entrance of the stadium: you’re trying to do it, but man, you don’t know where you’re supposed to go, or what’s your name, or why you’re in this place to start with. You, my friends, are my umpires. Somehow, you keep helping me every time I fall and feel the urge not to write a single word about this terrible team, at least until October (a very heavy stretch of work-related days doesn’t help either).

I can see the finish line. It’s just soooo far away…

***

There are a few things to say about the game, apart from the fact that it was over very early (the first quarter ended 39-25 for Utah; the first half ended 74-47) and that we had a lot of guys on the shelf, so let’s tackle them:

– Kevin Knox’s March is going pretty well on the offensive side of things. For the month he’s shooting 42.6% from the field and a blistering 48.5% from three. He’s turning the ball less, assisting a bit more and not coincidentally his usage has gone down (19.3%) while his TS% is pretty much at league average (54.9%). Tonight he scored 27 points on 17 shots and grabbed 8 boards. His defense was simply atrocious (Ingles is a very good player, very underrated, but his shot release is not very quick and still Kevin found a way to leave him open time after time after time), but I’ve come not to expect anything from him on that side. I don’t have much faith in Knox, but it’s good to see he’s trending up a bit.

– We were so depleted at point guard that we were able to witness to the first minutes in history of Mario Hezonja, PG extraordinaire! It really didn’t go well. Mario played a cool game (by the numbers) when deployed as the power forward, scoring 23 points on 13 shots, but was predictably a huge failure as a backup PG (4 TOs, 2 of them very comical). I’m still happy I got to witness that. It’s like those movies where a random schlub becomes president for a day and funny antics ensue. They can be funny sometimes, not like this reality where a non-random schlub becomes president for four years.

– Henry Ellenson has to be the best ball-handling garbage time big ever. A cool line of 7/9/5 in 18 minutes and a super slick pass to Mitch in the fourth. He can’t defend to save his life and he’s slow, but he’s a guy I can root for. One of the very few. His 5 assists were a tie for team high with Mudiay and DeAndre. Maybe next game we will witness Henry moonlighting as a 6’10” dorky poing guard? He was also the lone Knicks with a positive plus/minus, but it doesn’t mean anything at all in a game like this.

– When Mitchell Robinson ends the game with 14/12/1 and 3 blocks in 30 minutes and you’re still meh, well, I guess that’s the best definition of jaded you’ll ever see around.

– Dotson is another guy who’s posting good numbers in March, but to no avail. Still, if March Dotson was everyday Dotson I’d be ectastic: 17 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 2.6 apg on 44/40/80 splits are terrific production for a second round pick.

Guys, I don’t know if I’ll be able to recap next game, but it’s not like these games have a lot to say, so, if we don’t see each other after the Denver game, just know I loved you all. Just kidding. I barely tolerated you :)

See you soon!

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64 comments on “Utah Jazz 137 – New York Knicks 116 – Game Recap

  1. alsep73

    Farfa, in the past I’ve had to recap horrible seasons of television and struggled to find the energy or inspiration to do it. I imagine, if this team in this season was my assignment, I would’ve just quit at some point. But your game recaps have been a real highlight of this dismal dismal dismal season of basketball. Like people said in the last thread, you should not feel compelled to write about the team at all for the last few games, just amuse yourself however you want. It’s OK. I want the team to be good next year as much for you as for me. Thank you for all of this.

  2. Hubert

    Good Knox convo on previous thread I’d like to carry over…

    I’m not sure what, if anything, can be done about the decision-making, though. That was Amare’s problem, even before his knees got really bad. He had all the athleticism in the world, and there was a time in Phoenix when he was trying on that end. He just had no clue what he was doing, except as an occasional weakside shotblocker.

    I hope it’s not that because I’m quietly bullish on the kid. I expect a good offensive player by age 21. I’m concerned about the other end, but maybe as he grows up his brain will slow down. And maybe if Fiz ever, you know, installed an organized defense he would do better with a system drilled into him.

    I know the inclination is to add free agents immediately, but if we did get Zion, I’d be pretty excited about watching a Knox-Zion-Mitch frontline grow together. Those are some incredibly complementary players.

  3. Bruno Almeida

    You’ve helped make this terrible season a lot more bearable, Farfa! But really, if you need a break from doing those last few garbage games, just do it, we’re really not going to hold it against you.

  4. ClashFan

    Another nice recap! Doing so for a game in which the Knicks give up 137 points can’t be much fun.

  5. Farfa Post author

    Thank you guys! Actually, I think the workload of my Clark Kent job is weighing on me more than these Knicks really do. But at the same time, I’d like to offer some superficial analysis of what happens on the court and… there’s nothing to be said, really. There are losing seasons, there are tanking seasons, and then there’s this incoherent bumbling of a lost season. What’s really, really bugging me is that even with 10 games to go they’re not trying anything funny just to see if it works. Knox at the 4 with three small guys! Tasking point guards to pass the ball to Mitch or Jordan at least 10 times per the game in the pick-and-roll! Playing Kornet at the 3! This coaching system looks like resignation to the void, while we’re left hoping for a monster Mitch block to wake us up from the slumber and crossing our fingers so hard that come May, 14th they’ll have snapped and we’ll replace them with frankfurters with the name Cam Reddish written on them.

  6. alsep73

    I hope it’s not that because I’m quietly bullish on the kid. I expect a good offensive player by age 21. I’m concerned about the other end, but maybe as he grows up his brain will slow down. And maybe if Fiz ever, you know, installed an organized defense he would do better with a system drilled into him.

    I want to be optimistic on Knox, if only because it’s a good thing when players your team drafts highly turn out to be good. But he’s also not half the athlete Amare was, so it’s going to require some hardcore defensive coaching to do anything about his instincts.

  7. Farfa Post author

    What worries me most about Knox is the fact that he’s just not athletic. You can survive in the League without top-notch athleticism, but you have to have at least average basketball instincts. He doesn’t have them. So

    a) he develops some fast-twitch athleticism (unlikely) or
    b) the coaching staff helps him understand his role and help him harness whatever potential he has (unlikely but not impossible).

    I hope for his sake that Fiz improves a lot next year.

  8. Z-man

    “What’s really, really bugging me is that even with 10 games to go they’re not trying anything funny just to see if it works. Knox at the 4 with three small guys! Tasking point guards to pass the ball to Mitch or Jordan at least 10 times per the game in the pick-and-roll! Playing Kornet at the 3!”

    They did try a very big lineup in the second half…Mitch/Ellenson/DJ/Knox/Dotson? or Hezonja? So there’s that.

    “What worries me most about Knox is the fact that he’s just not athletic.”

    I wouldn’t go that far. I think he’s plenty athletic, just a kid who hasn’t grown into his feet yet. He’s not an Amar’e-level athlete (very few are) but I’ve been pretty impressed with some of his moves in transition, his drives and his rebounding. He’s just crazy inconsistent and slow on the draw.

    One thing I like is that he is making fewer incomprehensibly stupid plays…passes to oblivion, drives into traffic that get swatted around like a volleyball. He’s taking fewer impulsive shots, which means he’s thinking more, but that slows him down until he has enough reps to not think so much, i.e. to become reactive rather than impulsive.

    I essentially see a gangly overgrown kid out there who has played a relatively aggressive offensive style (decent FTr for a 19yo rookie) and will wind probably up playing 75 games and 2000+ minutes without getting hurt. I’m pretty confident that he won’t turn out to be a total bust, just not sure at all where his ceiling is.

  9. Farfa Post author

    They did try a very big lineup in the second half…Mitch/Ellenson/DJ/Knox/Dotson? or Hezonja? So there’s that.

    That’s true (it was Mitch Kornet Ellenson Knox Dot). I wish it was less sporadic. But point taken.

  10. Owen

    Well, the tourney is on at least, small salve to put on the raging abcess that is this Knicks season. I was happy to see Mitch get his numbers at least.

    Great job Farfa, feel free to store up your strength for a year of Durant/Kyrie/Zion/Mitch – just kidding! Kemba/Knox/Cousins/Mitch/Mudiay…..

  11. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    I suspect that if Duke gets bounced before the Final Four, it’ll be on the back of a horrible shooting performance from Barrett and/or Reddish. Given that there’s a 60% chance of a 4th or 5th pick, the best thing for us is Reddish putting up a terrible tournament performance and scaring teams off him as a top-5 pick (as if it weren’t clear from his first 1,000 minutes).

    If the Knox 3-on-3 stuff is to be believed, this front office loves a good small sample. So we need Reddish to put up the worst small sample possible.

  12. ess-dog

    Nay on Proposition Mudiay!

    Looking back, I was surprised to see how highly ‘experts’ had DSJ ranked – almost even with Fox. My hope is that he’s a keeper who’ll keep learning the position, but it will be hard to pass on Ja if he’s there at 2.

    As for Knox, I think he’ll top out as an Al Harrington type, which isn’t great since he’ll be too expensive for a bench scoring big role. Even if he does improve at a conservative estimate, he won’t be worth a 2nd contract, so the best move would be to trade him for something of value (which I doubt will happen).

  13. Hubert

    Farfa, in the past I’ve had to recap horrible seasons of television and struggled to find the energy or inspiration to do it. I imagine, if this team in this season was my assignment, I would’ve just quit at some point.

    Imagine if you were forced to cover every season of the walking dead. That’s what Farfa’s doing. Epic.

  14. Zippy Le Pin

    Superb job, Farfa. As others have said, your recaps are by far the best part of this season. Hugs for the pain it brings.
    I like the Harrington comparison. Well no, I agree with Jowles on vomit, but it still might be accurate.
    Since I’m apparently the new master of posting my occasional comments at the end of threads after other ones have already opened, I’ll re-post this since I really am trying to understand.
    ‘I’m sorry, I’m struggling to visualize any existing or alternative reality where the need to win the game to get into the playoffs, gain experience through trail by fire, and/or having a massively depleted bench due to a rash of injuries and a wildly contagious disease can lead to playing Kevin Knox 47 minutes. Can someone help me with understanding how that was a decision, much less a good one?’

  15. Hubert

    I suspect that if Duke gets bounced before the Final Four, it’ll be on the back of a horrible shooting performance from Barrett and/or Reddish.

    I know next to nothing about college basketball. I do know that Tom Izzo is the Pop of the NCAA, though, and that Mike Kr_____sky is one of the worst game coaches I’ve ever seen (based on USA basketball). So I took a flier on Izzo being able to force Cam Reddish and RJ Barrett to beat them and picked Michigan State to be in the final 4. Hopefully that will carry me because I don’t know what the hell else is going on.

    Ja Morant’s team is only a 12 seed and not expected to go far. That’s a bummer.

  16. Hubert

    Can someone help me with understanding how that was a decision, much less a good one?’

    When I saw the 47 minutes I just figured Fiz is focused on conditioning the kid and is whipping him into shape. It’s not the worst idea. The kid played a ton. I definitely think it impacted his performance, but it should pay off a lot next year.

    EDIT: actually, I just looked it up, he only played 28 mpg, which was 92nd in the league. Still good, but not what I thought.

  17. alsep73

    Imagine if you were forced to cover every season of the walking dead.

    Had to do that for a while until I begged my editor to let me stop.

  18. Stratomatic "I'm tired of the Knicks paying lip service to DEFENSE. Get defenders & two-way players. Then play them!

    As for Knox, I think he’ll top out as an Al Harrington type,

    That’s a pretty good compare. Let’s hope he exceeds that.

    I heard Donovan Mitchell had some very positive things to say about Frank’s defense and upside last night. I know they are friends, but I put some weight on comments from players that have actually been guarded by the player they are talking about. Most guys won’t say “so and so sucks on defense”, but if they are especially good they will say something. “He shut me down”.

  19. DRed

    Knox is making a Ntilikina-esq 38% of his 2 point shots, which is completely unacceptable. Some of that is probably just noise, because he’s been atrocious from 16-23′, but he’s sub .500 at the rim and that should not happen for a player his size who is at least somewhat athletic.

  20. JK47

    What worries me most about Knox is the fact that he’s just not athletic.

    Knox only has 15 dunks all season in 1800+ minutes. That’s not a real pretty number for a guy who is supposed to be an athletic scorer.

    Mitch has 96 dunks in 1066 minutes. 50% of his FGA are dunks.

  21. d-mar

    Knox only has 15 dunks all season in 1800+ minutes.

    Well, the good news is he won’t get any techs for hanging on the rim a la his newest comp, Al Harrington (remember he cost us a game for doing that?)

  22. Owen

    That’s a big win for the Rays. A huge win even though Snell may never repeat his 2018 numbers (although he is super talented.) It is in line with the trend of young starters signing cheap extensions – Severino did the same. Pitching is extremely hazardous to your health and young hurlers are right to seek security. It’s a win for Snell too I would say, 50 million is pretty good money even after you take the taxes and fees out. All their careers could be over tomorrow unlike with position players.

  23. ptmilo

    the really winner of the snell deal is tony. you can be a 25 year old cy young winning pitcher and sing a contract that probably takes you right to the moment when your arm falls off your body from misuse and it’s still worse than a 25 year old below average 3&der. play basketball, kids.

  24. Farfa Post author

    Wait, was that a Diablo 2 reference, Farfa?

    Oh yes, good sir (I think Deckard Cain used to say it in the original Diablo too)!

    Ah, 1999. Good times. Knicks playing the Finals. My first ever true love. And smashing mouse buttons like there was no tomorrow :)

  25. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    Tom Izzo screaming and pointing at a bunch of unpaid teenagers under his supervision is a bad look.

  26. Stratomatic "I'm tired of the Knicks paying lip service to DEFENSE. Get defenders & two-way players. Then play them!

    Yeah, here are Mitchell’s comments. He’s shooting 43% so it doesn’t take that much to shut him down….

    Mitchell got off to a rough start, but he’s playing well now. On that team on many nights he’s forced to be the #1 and #2 scorer, yet they still win with what he can give them. Plus, I’d call him a plus defender. I wouldn’t mind having him.

    Frank did the same thing to Harden earlier in the year. I haven’t seen anyone else shut Harden down like that. When he’s focused on D he’s a stopper. I really hope they are patient with his offense. I haven’t surrendered on him becoming a very valuable piece on a very good team in a few years. His D can be elite.

  27. Stratomatic "I'm tired of the Knicks paying lip service to DEFENSE. Get defenders & two-way players. Then play them!

    Knox only has 15 dunks all season in 1800+ minutes. That’s not a real pretty number for a guy who is supposed to be an athletic scorer.

    I’m going to guess it has something to do with him being physically overmatched virtually every time he goes into the paint. That’s probably why he relies on that floater. When I saw him up close at MSG, I was kind of surprised by how thin he is. He’s going to have to spend some serious time in the weight room this off season.

  28. JK47

    Ja Morant is a lot of fun. He turns it over too much because he tries to make too many crazy high-risk passes but that seems easily correctable. He’s a wizard off the pick and roll, has amazing timing on his passes. Very skilled player, he would indeed be a very nice consolation prize.

  29. Owen

    He just had an amazing two handed dunk. I agree he’s a decent consolation prize. Probably have to wait a few years on him maturing but would be worth it….

  30. JK47

    He just knows WHEN to pass. Catches defenders leaning the wrong way, knows where the open man is when he’s double teamed, disguises his passes well…

    He’s going to make it in the NBA. He’s really a brilliant passer.

  31. Stratomatic "I'm tired of the Knicks paying lip service to DEFENSE. Get defenders & two-way players. Then play them!

    So if we get Ja Morant instead of Zion Williamson I’m not exactly going to lose sleep. That kid is one of the best passers you are going to find.

  32. Owen

    Messed around and got a triple double….

    That was impressive. Struggling for a comp but he looks good…

    Here is Fangraphs on the Snell deal. The major takeaway is that given how the rules are written these deals do make sense for the players on some level. It’s lifechanging money. But it’s also very inequitable, or you are going to feel that way if you are on labor’s side here.

    https://blogs.fangraphs.com/snell-trades-15500-for-50-million/

  33. JK47

    I haven’t watched Morant play much outside of this game and highlight reels, but he seems to have the body type and end-to-end speed of De’Aaron Fox but is a more prolific passer. I would think he’s going to rack up big AST% numbers in the pros, it’s obvious that he is a stellar passer, and has the supporting attributes like foot speed and body control that you need to really excel at it.

    He also flashed a Harden-esque stepback J in this game and he has crazy hops. He turns it over a lot, but a lot of those turnovers come from him trying to make insane highlight reel passes. That really does seem like an easy thing to cut down on. He does not turn the ball over because his handle is bad or because he doesn’t see the floor well.

  34. ptmilo

    he manages to keep his court vision even while doing the herky jerk slot receiver thing. that’s something rod strickland was also really good at.

  35. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    I saw a lot of Fox too: skinny, athletic passer with an aggressive dribble drive. Wouldn’t be upset at all with the #3 pick and Barrett off the board.

  36. Sir Robin

    You guys hear what T-Mac said on the Jump? He said “I’m hearing Zoon doesnt want to play in a big market.” Draw you own conclusions.

  37. JK47

    You guys hear what T-Mac said on the Jump? He said “I’m hearing Zoon doesnt want to play in a big market.” Draw you own conclusions.

    Maybe Cleveland’s getting the frozen envelope again

  38. JK47

    I’ll say this about Ja Morant, he’s very watchable. You can’t take your eyes off him. I think NYC would fall in love with him, his game has lots of style.

  39. Stratomatic "I'm tired of the Knicks paying lip service to DEFENSE. Get defenders & two-way players. Then play them!

    Ja Morant to Robinson might be fun.

  40. Stratomatic "I'm tired of the Knicks paying lip service to DEFENSE. Get defenders & two-way players. Then play them!

    You guys hear what T-Mac said on the Jump? He said “I’m hearing Zoon doesnt want to play in a big market.” Draw you own conclusions.

    I saw an interview with him where he was asked about NY and he said (paraphrase) “Barrett belongs in NY”. Then he backed off, but it sure sounded like he didn’t want NY.

  41. Owen

    Zion and Ja are small town kids. They are both from South Carolina and in fact played on the same AAU team in high school. Pretty unbelievable.

  42. Stratomatic "I'm tired of the Knicks paying lip service to DEFENSE. Get defenders & two-way players. Then play them!

    It might be possible to trade up for Ja Morant using our pick and the Dallas pick. It’s not like the perceived gap between Barrett and Ja Morant is so huge that he can’t be pried away from some of the teams that could wind up above us at #2 . I think as long as we are in the top 3, we’ll be fine.

    Ja Morant, Frank, Knox, and Robinson wouldn’t be the worst young core we’ve had even if they are a lot of years away from doing anything significant. Adding KP to that group would have been a lot of fun though.

  43. d-mar

    Last year with the worst record we would have had a 46.5% chance of getting #1 or 2 in the draft. This year it’s 27.4%

    FML

  44. geo

    give zion a full season of some good ol’ new york pizza and bagels, he’ll never wanna leave…of course he may not be able to jump and even touch the rim anymore, but, he’ll be happy…mmmmm, maybe a little soft serve carvel too…

  45. JK47

    Last year with the worst record we would have had a 46.5% chance of getting #1 or 2 in the draft. This year it’s 27.4%

    Dolan’s Razor is real

  46. Bruno Almeida

    Well, even if it comes to a point where Zion Eli Manning’s the Knicks, you just trade him. It would still be a very valuable asset.

    I really loved Morant today, if he gets more under control he’s such a special player, just great vision, very skilled, great instincts. I would be happy with him for sure, he’s just not Zion you know.

  47. Z-man

    I’m not as sure about Zion as some here. His floor is Blake Griffin, a very good player but not a true max guy. Not sure what his ceiling is, but he does have some disadvantages. He’s not particularly long and not a great perimeter shooter. There could be a bit of overhype with him, mainly because of the weakness of this draft class. Would he be a sure-fire #1 last year? Ja’s ceiling is definitely higher than Zion’s floor, right?

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