Knicks First Preseason Game Recap: Rockets 130, Knicks 103

Hey Vegas, I’ll take the under.

Before the game, Jeff Van Gundy said the Knicks could win 45-50 games if the starters stay healthy. Given that the starters were between -19 and -24, I’m not sure if that’s true. The obvious problem was defense, as the team gave up 68 points in the half, including a putrid 41 point second quarter. If this is what the team will look like in the games Noah misses, then New York is in for a long winter.

I’m going to pass on the starters, and talk about the bench. Brandon Jennings made some nice looking passes, but I don’t care if he’s Magic Johnson, shooting 2-10 will never cut it. Justin Holliday appeared to be equally as cold (1-6, 4pts).

On the positive side, Willy Hernangomez earned some praise from Van Gundy who said something to the effect that he “looks like an NBA player.” Maurice Ndour was quietly +6, chipping in 2 steals. Mindaugas Kuzminskas somehow ended up with 7 points, but I can’t say I was fully paying attention to him.

The best takeaway from tonight’s game was Porzingis. In the first minute of play, he confidently took a mid-post jumper, blocked a shot, grabbed an offensive rebound, and made the Knicks first bucket. He sunk 5 of 6 from downtown, which was impressive. If this is the future, I can’t wait until tomorrow. (But I’m still taking the under…)

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Mike Kurylo

Mike Kurylo is the founder and editor of KnickerBlogger.net. His book on the 2012 Knicks, "We’ll Always Have Linsanity," is on sale now. Follow him on twitter (@KnickerBlogger).

57 thoughts to “Knicks First Preseason Game Recap: Rockets 130, Knicks 103”

  1. it’s just preseason but i think we all caught a glimpse to why rose ftr tanked the last few years…. drives to the buckets turned into floaters….

    he had some ok drives but the physicality and lift just isn’t there and he knows it….

    and if he shoots as much as he does in this game… we can forget about the playoffs….

  2. Porzingis is awesome. I love that Jackson allegedly considered just rebuilding around Porzingis and then decided to go in another direction. Damn, dude.

  3. I’m hoping Ndour gets plenty of burn in the preseason- this team is pretty athletically challenged and he’s the one guy who looks like he’s a plus in that regard. And it looks as they’re really going to need Rose to be good to generate any offense- not a good sign at all. As for the defense, I’ll give them a pass for one game- no Noah and playing a team that going to be a huge headache for everybody on nights they shoot well from three.

  4. My bad. It was some BS journalism where Ian Begley quoted a source saying that Jackson said it. So it’s not a direct quote. I’ll edit my comment.

  5. I’ll take that D Rose line all season, too. And Courtney Lee was efficient in his low volume effort when James Harden wasn’t embarrassing him on the other end.

    KP looks extremely confident from three point range and should have a shot at a .600 TS%. He’s stronger this year and that little crossover stepback he broke out is going to be devastating in time. Pair KP with Noah instead of O’Quinn and our defense gets a lot better. We have to do a better job of defending the 3 point line, though. Not every team has Ryan Anderson but we had that problem last year, too.

    Harden to Anderson is essentially what the Knicks need to build their offense around. A Rose/KP pick and pop could prove lethal. As long as Derrick Rose keeps the 8 for 23 efforts to a minimum, his penetration with KP’s shooting touch should be unstoppable.

  6. KP was on the perimeter on both ends most of the game. Hard to get to the defensive boards when your man never goes below the three point line. It’s not like the Knicks got hammered on the glass- there weren’t a whole lot of defensive boards to get. I’d would like to see KP try to get on the offensive glass a bit more but again, he was out on the perimeter for much of the game on that end as well.

  7. Also, I know it’s just preseason but the Clippers are down 38 points at half time to the Warriors. The score is 33-71.

    Good lord.

  8. Didn’t get to see the game, but box score looks like a pretty dud half undid the team. I am assuming the game was fairly ugly (like most pre-season hitouts are) but some of the lines in the box score don’t look too bad. I can live with 7-14 from Rose. KP’s numbers look okay too, but would like to see those board numbers up.

  9. We
    Will
    Continue to have trouble
    If
    We don’t have a center…This is so blindingly apparent but it
    Needs to be articulated;
    Why. Didn’t. KP. Start. At. C.?

    It’s fucking preseason, we have nothing to lose!

  10. Um, was it just me or was there basically zero triangle after the 1st quarter?

    Thoughts on the players:

    Thumbs up:

    1) Porzingis – dude just swallowed up Capela at the rim within the first couple minutes. And Capela is supposed to be super bouncy and athletic. bye bye rim run. And he is going to be a nightmare (offensively at least) if/when he plays at the 5. Funny how we went on that 3rd quarter run as soon as Rose and KP started doing pick and pop. (stray thought – if refs are going to allow Capela to constantly stand in the paint for 5-6 seconds, he’s going to be very hard to stop on those Harden drives).

    2) Willy H – dude can play in this league. Offensively at least.

    3) Kuzminskas (playing against scrubs) looked pretty darn good. Really under control in transition, looks to have a decent handle at least in a straight line. Made a really nice pass for a Plumlee dunk.

    Um, that’s it for the Thumbs up:

    Thumbs down:

    1) most notable – Melo looked totally lost on offense. Maybe that was by design. But his shots basically came in isolation, highly contested. Much of the time he was just camped out behind the 3 point line pointing randomly at stuff. No bueno.

    2) Courtney Lee – our wing stopper was roasted by Harden. I mean, he could not have been worse IMHO. Harden is pretty awesome, but if he’s going to be our best wing defender, we are going to have some problems.

    3) Brandon Jennings – looks quick again. Can’t finish at the rim.

    4) Lance Thomas – I’m happy that reports from camp are that his shot looks really good. It certainly didn’t last night.

    5) Willy H – he is ROUGH on defense. And not in a good way.

    Basically the team just looked lost last night, and maybe that was by design. Nothing focuses a team more than getting run out of the building. It’s a preseason game, and so that’s fine. Still have a few weeks to get ready.

    Is it just me or does it seem like training camp should be longer?

  11. Meanwhile I love how Melo said they didn’t get a scouting report for the Rockets. MELO – YOU PLAYED THE SAME SYSTEM FOR TWO SEASONS. YOU KNOW WHAT’S COMING.

  12. I’m going to chalk that up to being the first preseason game plus missing a key cog in Noah, but that was the only game in recent memory that’s made me pine for the triangle. Houston was out there having Capela rub KP to setup a Harden/Anderson PNR, then using Gordon to backpick the Capela delayed secondary roll. We were…running the 2015-16 last possession of a quarter drill? We also seemed totally confused about who was supposed to rotate where when they got penetration and kick, which was basically every possession. Whatever, preseason. And we have Zinger.

  13. A major key to this team is going to be how much KP improves. If he’s the same or just inches forward, we are not going to be very good. If he explodes forward and becomes a real star, we can be pretty darn good. So I’d consider last night a success despite how lost everyone looked on both ends.

  14. Meanwhile I love how Melo said they didn’t get a scouting report for the Rockets. MELO – YOU PLAYED THE SAME SYSTEM FOR TWO SEASONS. YOU KNOW WHAT’S COMING.

    ? That’s not how it works

  15. Is there a stat for team dunks? Last night the Rockets were having an alley oop fest and I can’t remember any for the Knicks, although I turned it off after 3 quarters. Is it our bad offense or our bad defense? Or both?

    That being said, I’m not going to overreact to last night, Isola and Haywood on NBA radio this morning basically wrote off the Knicks and said Noah was a shell of himself despite the fact that he hasn’t played yet.

  16. Um, was it just me or was there basically zero triangle after the 1st quarter?

    Our spacing was so bad that I honestly couldn’t tell what we were running on about 75% of the possessions. We just looked very, very confused a lot of the time. Whatever we’re calling the offense we’re trying to install, we appear to have a good amount of work ahead of us. Overall though I think Frank’s thumb’s up/down are right on the money, with my only qualm being that Kuz might be getting a bit too much credit for a couple easy run-outs at a point in the game where the Rocket’s deep bench guys were turning the ball over on every possession. He looked a little befuddled on both ends in the half court.

    Obviously it’s just preseason game #1, but I will say the game reinforced to a certain extent both my greatest hope for this season (Porzingis serious breakout on offense), but also a lot of my biggest concerns (Noah out injured, inability to guard the perimeter, incoherent offense, sketchy-as-hell depth). Unfortunately the concern list is a lot longer, and we lost by 30 points, so, yeah. That’s why I’m not team optimist I guess. I will in our defense say that Houston having already played once is a significant preparation advantage at this early stage.

    Anyways win or lose (by 30) it’s absolutely awesome to have basketball back.

  17. I mean Rockets have one game under their belt and this was our first, so I don’t think the loss means anything at all. We do have a new coach and new players so I hope the negative nancy crowd will at least give this team a quarter of a season before saying “I told you so.” If that starts with the first loss of the regular season this board is gonna get stale real fast. Regardless of what you think of Phil’s acquisitions you have to acknowledge that a mostly new team with a new coach should take awhile to gel. And they were missing Noah.

    The biggest plus for me last night was KP looks ready to take the next step. That and Rose and Jennings are definitely gonna be a big upgrade at the PG spot at least in terms of quickness and getting into the paint. Hopefully Jennings can chill out a bit and not shoot us out of games.

    A Dantoni led Rockets team with Harden is gonna score A LOT of points esp when they are hitting their 3s. They’re gonna be probably top 3 offenses in the league this year. So this was a hard opening game esp with them all ready having played one.

  18. Porzingis and Plumlee each had a dunk that I remember.

    Yeah, but it felt like KJ McDaniel had about 10.

  19. Is there a stat for team dunks? Last night the Rockets were having an alley oop fest and I can’t remember any for the Knicks, although I turned it off after 3 quarters.

    The Knicks ranked 28th in the NBA in dunks made last year. They were middle of the pack in dunks surrendered.

    Two of the Knicks’ leaders in dunks last year, Robin Lopez and Derrick Williams, are gone. They had 47 and 44 dunks respectively. In his prime Joakim Noah was good for 50-60 dunks every year but two seasons ago he had only 25 in 2000 minutes and last year he had 9 dunks in 635 minutes.

    It seems to me like it’s a virtual certainty that the Knicks will be at the bottom of the league in terms of dunks this season, and that’s a problem. This offense is probably not going to excel at generating easy buckets.

  20. Think begley said that hornacek didnt have a defensive gameplan and just told them to play…. which explains why we were getting murdered by harden in the pnr…

  21. yeah okay…so all you folks out there “pounding” the under on our win total this year (amazingly enough, gambling is one of the few vices i’ve managed to not acquire over the years) – don’t go spending that money just yet (maybe just pick out a few nice things you may want next April)…

    just wondering – out of all our off-season acquisitions which are new to the nba, any guesses on whom actually ends up playing a role in helping us win some games this year…

    my guess is that out of: kuzminskas, ndour, plumlee, hernangomez, randle, holiday (not new, but still pretty fresh), baker and tokoto – it’ll be big willie whom ends up stepping up the most, mostly because i think he’ll get a lot of opportunities to play this year…maybe plumlee also…

  22. On the very mild plus side- Rose doesn’t look like he’ll be a total disaster. He’s still got a very good first step but without the lift/explosion to the hoop that he once had- my prediction is he’ll be a slightly better Ray Felton. TS% around 50-51 with solid assist and turnover %’s. Melo’s presence should keep his usage from reaching team-sinking proportions. The under still looks like a nice bet given that the team somehow manages to be both slow (it doesn’t matter how much Rose or Jennings push given how slow the wings are and neither guy can finish at the rim on his own) and poor shooting though KP looked like he might be able to remedy a lot of the shooting woes single-handedly.

  23. my guess is that out of: kuzminskas, ndour, plumlee, hernangomez, randle, holiday (not new, but still pretty fresh), baker and tokoto – it’ll be big willie whom ends up stepping up the most, mostly because i think he’ll get a lot of opportunities to play this year…maybe plumlee also…

    If you’re including Holiday, then it’s gotta be him. I think he’s too established to count in that group. Taking him out of it, I would imagine it would be Willy, as well, if only because they’ll give him the most opportunities.

  24. I dunno. First preseason game may have looked worse than I expected, but I didn’t expect alot of great things.
    1. Defense. I wondered how the defense would look without Mike Longabardi on the staff. Clearly, the team has a long way to go. Hopefully the rumors of Noah and his lateral quickness are exaggerated and he and KP can lead the charge. Lee looked AWFUL against Harden. Although many players look bad defensively against Harden, Lee has to do better. Ultimately, I chalk the team’s bad performance up to installing a new scheme in the 1st preseason game against the only other team who can most likely go shot for shot vs The Dubs. That said, the defense will be better and resemble last season more than last night.
    2. Rose. Ahhh the elephant in the room. He looked quick..really quick. Just not bouncy. I can live with that as long as he refines his pull up game. He can still get to the rim against just about anyone, but he can’t finish. You can tell he’s a bit afraid of absorbing contact and landing awkwardly. Maybe he adjusts his game and gets more assists on his forays to the rim as opposed to shots. I love the 2 man game with him and KP. If Hornacek can take advantage of that, with Melo as a secondary option on those plays- that could be one scary weapon. I like it.
    3. Billy. He does play like a vet. It’s weird. Almost has the same demeanor as “TIMMAY!” as a rookie. Kinda the same style too..minus the rim protection. Color me intrigued.
    4. Cheese. Love his confidence and aggressiveness. Loves the way he talks on the court too. I think he may become a pleasant surprise.
    5. Jennings and Holiday. Maybe they were too juiced up. They tried to do way too much in a bid to impress. That disappointed me because I’m looking for them to be valuable off the bench.

    Very sucky performance as a whole, but I’m not too concerned- unless we see more of the same vs the Nets.

  25. Brian, I think you’re underestimating Kuz’ value. The guy is a savvy ballplayer who knows how to play. He’s long and aggressive. He can shoot too. And a young veteran, albeit of international ball. His passing is excellent as is his spacing the floor.

  26. Our offense will be fine. We have plenty of weapons there. Obviously Noah’s absence hurts our defense. If we can improve just one aspect before the season starts it would be perimeter defense and we will.

    Love Willy, Noah, Randle, Plumlee, Kuz, and Baker too. Our future is bright.

  27. Of course there will be diminishing returns with GSW, but of course they will be better offensively with their top players on the court!

    Jowles, did you place on any Warriors futures? They’ll obviously win more than 73 games, right?

    Golden State is at -130!!!!! to win the NBA championship at 5dimes.

  28. Bad defense by the Knicks, but the Rockets will be great offensive team this year with a full commitment to a spread pnr system with a ton of shooters.

    On nights when they are rolling they’re capable of blowing out anyone in a regular season single just as MDA’s Suns did.

  29. Ugly performance, lot’s of room for improvement. Not a bad stat line for D Rose and C Lee, although Harden went off on Lee – he does that to a lot of players

  30. He’s still got a very good first step but without the lift/explosion to the hoop that he once had- my prediction is he’ll be a slightly better Ray Felton. TS% around 50-51 with solid assist and turnover %’s.

    Except that Felton’s usage was lower than Rose’s is likely to be. Felton has a 20.7 career USG%, and Rose’s is 28.2 and is often over 30, even post-injury. If Rose has a .500 TS% and a 30 USG%, that is no bueno. I’d love to see Rose’s usage in the low 20’s but that just doesn’t seem likely to me. He has been a high usage player his whole career.

  31. He’s still got a very good first step but without the lift/explosion to the hoop that he once had- my prediction is he’ll be a slightly better Ray Felton. TS% around 50-51 with solid assist and turnover %’s.

    Except that Felton’s usage was lower than Rose’s is likely to be. Felton has a 20.7 career USG%, and Rose’s is 28.2 and is often over 30, even post-injury. If Rose has a .500 TS% and a 30 USG%, that is no bueno. I’d love to see Rose’s usage in the low 20’s but that just doesn’t seem likely to me. He has been a high usage player his whole career.

    it was a little more troubling to me that he didn’t really seem able to stay in front of his man on defense…hopefully there won’t be a constant parade to the rim or free throw line all year…

  32. Jowles, did you place on any Warriors futures? They’ll obviously win more than 73 games, right?

    Injury volatility. At max strength with close to a playoff minute allocation (i.e. Curry, Thompson, Green, Iguodala, Durant and Pachulia playing much of the game), I bet they’re a favorite to win 95%+ of their games.

  33. Courtney Lee – our wing stopper was roasted by Harden. I mean, he could not have been worse IMHO. Harden is pretty awesome, but if he’s going to be our best wing defender, we are going to have some problems.

    This is a guy with a career TS% of 60.5 who averages 25% more FGA and 200% more FTA than the average wing player. I wouldn’t sweat it.

  34. Go Mets!

    Once the real games start, I’d imagine that great penetrators like Harden may blow by the guards, but hopefully KP will be coming over to help rather than OQ or Hernangomez like last night.

    BTW,the only guy other than KP who might provide some shotblocking is Plumlee. That is, if he makes the roster and gets some playing time.

  35. I wouldn’t sweat it.

    Pretty much. I was happy (and also kind of confused and taken aback) to see him go OVER some picks early in the game. That’s unheard of for NYK guards.

  36. Z-Man — unfortunately, my bet is that fewer than 10% of the readers here are old enough to get that joke…

  37. lol Z-Man, unfortunately being old enough to know the reference, means I forget the next line.

  38. ESPN Headline, October 5, 2525 “New York Knicks seeking their first championship in 552 years.”

  39. Nike let Stephen Curry walk away, too. Just saying.

    Do you know how big Kristaps Porzingis is going to be in Europe now that he signed an Adidas deal? Yikes, man. He’ll have the Kristaps Porzingis Invitational in Berlin by 2020.

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