From Marc Berman:
The Knicks’ magic ran out against the reeling Magic.
A third quarter from hell doomed the Knicks as their Fantasyland three-game winning streak got snapped by an injury-wracked Orlando squad, 107-89, before 4,000 fans at Amway Center on Wednesday night.
Looking like anything but a playoff contender, the Knicks (14-16) missed 15 straight shots in the second half to ruin their chance of moving to a .500 record. They scored just 33 points in the second half.
Derrick Rose and rookie Immanuel Quickley, the new electric point-guard/bench combo, were disastrous, combining to shoot 2-for-22.
Quickley, who was a minus-19, said it was just an off-shooting night, but other elements reeked.
“Our energy probably wasn’t up to where Orlando’s was,’’ Quickley said. “Things like energy, defense, togetherness, toughness, those are things that you can control on a night to night basis. That was a couple of the things that I feel we didn’t do as a group.’’
The 32-year-old Rose killed the Knicks with his second straight off-night (1-for-10, four points), without the spark and shotmaking of his earlier Knicks games. He was a minus-15 and Tom Thibodeau held him to 16 minutes.
Simply put, you’re never as good as you look in your best game and you’re never as bad as you look in your worst game. Coming into the game, the Knicks had the 8th best SRS in the Eastern Conference, but it was just barely positive and it’s possible that it will be back in the negative zone after this game. So far this year, they’ve played about as well as the 8th best team in the conference and that’s roughly where they are in the conference. Since the 7, 8, 9 and 10 seeds all get into the play-in tournament, that’s a good sign that the Knicks will be there come springtime. However, they are unlikely to be able to avoid the play-in tournament if they’re in the playoffs.
Or maybe they’ll get hot again. They luckily now avoid a back-to-back this weekend after Saturday’s game against the Spurs was postponed due to COVID restrictions, meaning they get the Timberwolves after a nice stretch of time off to practice. However, it is interesting to see how much better the Timberwolves played last night now that KAT is back. It is striking just how central star players are to their teams nowadays. The Wizards looked worse than a G-League team without Bradley Beal, but now with Beal back, they’ve won three straight! So who knows?
Speaking of “you’re never as good as you look in your best game and you’re never as bad as you look in your worst game,” that likely goes for Derrick Rose, as well. As Early Bird pointed out in the comments, a lot of Rose’s numbers this year are scary (he’s no longer going to the basket and when he does, he can’t convert at all) and there’s a good argument that his hot hand from the midrange as a Knick has now led to his worst impulses (taking stupid shots and missing a lot of them), but at the same time, it’s evident that he’s still better than Austin freakin’ Rivers, ya know? So he definitely has value out there (enough for it to be worth trading for him? Perhaps, perhaps not). That said, we should likely try to avoid, like, mythologizing the guy after a week here, like some of the newspaper articles talking about him like an assistant coach or whatever. Back in his last stint with the Knicks, his agent noted that Rose was not the mentoring type, explaining, “You’re a mentor when you no longer can play. This league you get paid to perform. You don’t get paid to be a mentor.” Obviously, years later, Rose is more willing to be a mentor, but we might not want to confuse Rose’s “better than Austin Rivers” skills (and his willingness to at least consider passing the pall to Obi Toppin) as some preternatural “coaching” he’s doing out there. At the same time, his goddawful game shouldn’t be evidence that he’s trash, either. You’re never as good as you look in your best game and you’re never as bad as you look in your worst game.
But for the Knicks, for a change, not being as good as their best game is still pretty darn decent, which is pretty freakin’ awesome to root for this season.