New York Knicks 111 – San Antonio Spurs 120 – Game Recap

Oh, so you thought it was going to be a different season?

Wrong.

In terms of pure win-loss record, we pick up things right where we left off: with a loss that came on the heels of some bad point guarding and a few puzzling coaching decisions (but I have to say that it probably didn’t matter that much). But it wasn’t a bad outing all things considered!

Our Knicks started very slow right off the bat, and while the choice about our starting backcourt didn’t make a lot of sense (we have three “point guards” but we start Trier, a non PG guy who collected a few DNP-CDs during the postseason?) the real problem there was that we couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn if we tried. Not that we tried correctly, since our offense consisted in some vague movement around the perimeter and then a simple iso, sometimes in the post sometimes outside the arc, but whatever. Anyway it was good to see that our “first timeout being called within 4 minutes from the start” tradition was produly upheld.

Fiz tried to mix things up inserting DSJ as his first choice for backup point guard only to be rewarded by a terrible stretch by the third year player. I think he’s still struggling with his health, but that’s definitely not a valid reason for the incredibly bad shot selection displayed by Smith Jr.

The Knicks were still able to stay afloat thanks to a good Melo impression by Marcus Morris and a few buckets by Randle and Barrett, but the real turning point came when Fiz tried again to rearrange the chairs by inserting Elfrid Payton for DSJ. The Spurs started turning the ball over like crazy, and while Payton is not a very good defender at least he’s a not a complete turnstile like Trier and DSJ were. His proclivity for just trying to stay in front of his man and to catch loose balls flying around in the paint was the secret ingredient that propelled a good stretch for the Knicks in the second and third quarters. Randle was a bit more aggressive, Barrett kept on going to the rim like a blossoming bulldozer and Morris was his efficient self.

The Knicks even got the lead in the third, going up by six. Enter fourth PG option of the night, Frank Ntilikina. Do you know the trite gag that goes like “Yeah French people, they surrender at everything yadda yadda yadda” (don’t tell that to Popovich though after that poor US Team outing in the summer)? Well, guess what: tonight Frank tried his best to make that gag reality. I mean, it wasn’t just his fault, but since he entered the game the Knicks lost all composure and wilted away like a malfunctioning firework. The fourth quarter was a bit like the first, where we couldn’t hit anything and the Spurs exploited mismatch after mismatch to get a lot of easy buckets.

By the time the Bockers started hitting shots again the Spurs had gone on an unrelinquishable lead thanks to a 18-0 stretch, and that was the game for you.

All in all, not a bad game. Just a winless one.

The good:

– Let’s start with the obvious, k? RJ Barrett (21 pts, 5 rebs, 2 ast, -2 +/-) had a very, very good debut. It’s not the 21 points (most by a Knicks rookie in a debut since the current record holder, Eddie Lee Wilkins – who? – scored 24 in 1984), it’s the way he played. He quite never forced things, he was a good, active defender and his shot selection was a sight to behold, save for a frustration-induced midrange jumper that clanked on the rim in the fourth. It’s very possible that RJ still has a lot of 3-13 games in his belt, and it’s hard to believe that most teams will be as turnover happy as the Spurs were tonight, but I feel confident in RJ’s output going forward. If he ever adds a reliable jumpshot we probably have our starting wing for the next 10 years.

– I don’t know if I really like Julius Randle (25 pts, 11 rebs, 6 ast, +6 +/-), but I have to say that we certainly need him on offense. He can and will punish teams if he can get down low, he will find cutters and shooters, he will run the court very well during fastbreaks. He can’t defend though, and can be a bit soft on the glass. Definitely a good Knicks debut (with the mandatory injury scare that in the end was just cramps), but playing him alongside Portis doesn’t make a lot of sense for defensive purposes. More Taj, please!

– Elfrid Payton (11 pts, 2 rebs, 8 ast, +14 +/-) got the most of his opportunity tonight. I don’t understand why Fizdale is playing mind games with such a bad team, but if his decision to start Trier was about seeing if one of the three PGs on the roster could be annoyed enough to devour the floor once in, Elfrid did his best. Plus/minus says it all this time, but honestly his game was pretty good in every facet (save for the stupid fouls that limited his playing time). You just don’t stumble into 5 steals by chance. Again, the Knicks won’t always play these Spurs, so you shouldn’t count on another 30+ points after turnovers performance, but Payton’s command of the game in the open court was a joy to watch. A few of his passes were pure threading the needle gold.

The bad:

– AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH

– Ok sorry, I bursted into manic laughs just thinking about Frank Ntilikina (1 stl, 2 tos, 0/1 FG, -6 +/ in three minutes of play). I mean, Frank was just… I don’t know how to say it. This was probably the most discouraging performance ever by a player I invested so much raw emotion into. I wish it was Fizdale who ruined Frank’s confidence, but honestly I don’t think one can deny the simple fact that Frank, while understanding basketball at a macrolevel, doesn’t understand NBA basketball well enough (unless we’re talking about on ball defense). I think we’re well past due the point where Frank should show some improvement on an NBA court. I fear he’s officially a lost cause.

– What’s the point in starting Allonzo Trier (1 to, 0/3 FG, -6 +/- in six minutes of play) if you already have three other shot creators in your lineup? If you really don’t want to start one of your point guards but have Randle, Morris and Barrett out there, wouldn’t it be a bit saner to start Dotson? Trier just shitted the bed this time, and I think it’s gonna be a long long time before he sees the court again as a companion to Barrett.

Fun-sized bits:

– Raise your hand if you never got over the Melo experience and wanted him to retire as a Knick. Ok, thank you, the exit is just right there.

– No but seriously: watching Morris play feels like Melo never left. I don’t think that’s such a bad thing (at least until Marcus keeps hitting his shots), but he’s a genuine ball-stopper on offense. He didn’t play a bad game in itself, but he was involved in every bad Knicks lineup, as evidenced by his game-low -15 +/-. I guess the Spurs aren’t that sad about him reneging his verbal agreement last summer.

– Bobby Portis played meh, which is definitely better than I expected. He just didn’t hit his shots and offered zero rim protection, but he’s not completely useless. He also dished 5 assists, which might be the reason the temperature dropped today and it’s been raining for the last four hours here in Bologna.

– Kevin Knox put up good numbers (13 points, 5 boards, 55% from the field) but he’s the same old Kevin. Putting him on defense against DeRozan or Rudy Gay was like giving them their choice of free ice cream again and again and again. I like his three point stroke, and that’s it.

– During the second quarter MSG went with a Fizdale interview bit. He said “I’m not someone who wants people to be happy. I’m a leader”. Yeah, sure. A tank leader. I have to say that the defense looked much better than last year, though. Part has to be the personnel, but there’s something to be said about intensity, and that’s probably a merit of the coaching staff. Let’s give credit where it’s due.

I think we’re in for a very losing, mildly fun season. RJ Barrett might be for real. Mitch will come back. This might be the stepping stone for a successful 2022-23 season, don’t you think?

 

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Farfa

Just an Italian basketball fan with an insane passion for all things Knicks (and yes, linguine Alfredo is not a real Italian dish).

173 thoughts to “New York Knicks 111 – San Antonio Spurs 120 – Game Recap”

  1. That was quite an entertaining game!

    My takeaways:

    1) there are 3 players on this Knicks team that are better than any player we put on the floor last year — Morris, Randle, and Barrett. That automatically raises the floor for this year. The Spurs aren’t great, but I’d put $ on them being in the playoffs this year in the Western Conference, because that’s just what the Spurs do.

    2) More on Barrett – three early impressions of him that contradict the narrative coming out of college – offensively, he has played so under control without any real evidence of chuckery. 9 of 13 from the field, with 10 of the 13 shots coming at the rim or behind the 3 point line, and only 2 of the 13 from “midrange”. Maybe only 1 out of the 13 shots weren’t in the rhythm of the offense.
    – he is super crafty around the rim, and despite not being that explosive, seemed to have no problem getting his shot off inside against NBA defenders between using his body to hold off defenders and also that money euro-step that he already in his bag as one of the youngest players in the league. I was super impressed by his end of 3Q take against Derrick White, who is a really really good defender (by DRPM he was the #5 PG in the league last year). He had no problem getting to his left hand off a little hesi in-out dribble, and he is just great using his body to create space. I presumed that he’d be miscast as a 2, but even at age 19 he is an absolute load around the basket, and seems like he might physically dominate most SGs.
    – he was completely not noticeable on defense– in a good way.

    3) DSJ — shot is broken. Like Markelle Fultz broken. This is a problem. Hopefully he’s just rusty or his back hurts, but he is unplayable right now on both ends.

    4) Frank – like someone wrote in the previous thread, two good plays to start, then two awful turnovers. Gotta figure he’ll get another chance Friday against Kyrie – always has been tough on him.

  2. 5) Ellington should be like Danny Green or Klay Thompson. As in he should never dribble.

    6) Dejounte Murray basically single-handedly turned the game around with his defense. Man that dude is quick and long.

    7) Knox – unplayable at the 3 defensively – he can’t get around screens and just isn’t quick enough to stay in front of guys. Needs to be a 4. Jumper looks completely pure though, and I liked his aggressiveness off the bounce. 21 minutes seems about right for him.

    8) Portis – meh

    9) Trier – to be fair I don’t think the start was really his fault. I thought he competed defensively even if he wasn’t that effective. We just have too many guards that aren’t good enough, which is why it’s so hard to choose who to play. I’d favor giving his minutes to Dotson who is bigger moves the ball better (although who knows whether Dotson is physically really ready to play). I’d have been much more comfortable with Dotson guarding Derozan in the 4th as opposed to Knox.

    10) Fizdale – played 11 guys. No real arguments other than the weirdo starting lineup, whose sample size is really too small to judge. He definitely has the players playing hard. And I liked how he did not feel pressured to play DSJ again after how bad he looked. We’ll see what happens going forward, but this is a huge point — that Fiz does not feel obligated to justify the KP trade by playing a guy who just might not be good. Again, super small sample, possibly an injury, but that was a very disheartening performance by DSJ that if replicated, should cause him to be nailed to the bench.

  3. 11) Randle- he’s going to make the All-Star team in this watered-down Eastern Conference. 25/11/6, 3 steals, only 1 TOV, 60 TS on 25 usage. +6 in 36 minutes in a game we lost by 9. Small sample of course, but that is… good.

    12) Morris – needs a PG to control his worst impulses offensively. I thought he was really good other than getting a little shot-happy in the 4th.

  4. @1 – Yes! And Mitch makes four goodish-good players. That’s something right?

    DSJ should not be shooting off the dribble ever.

    Nice summary Farfa!

  5. There’s just one thing standing in the way of RJ and greatness: KEITH SMART.

    From my perspective, the goal at this stage is to find players who could be above average starters in our future. Randle, Barrett, and Mitch are the main candidates. If they all play well this year, I’ll be a happy camper regardless of the performance of others. BTW if Mitch and Barrett eventually turn out to be all-star level or better, we all should be happy with our drafting even if Knox and Frank are busts.

    People were wondering why Fiz didn’t start Payton who was the logical choice. There were rampant rumors that Elfrid was promised the starting spot for the first month or so. If they started him, it might have been perceived as undercutting Fiz’s pronouncement that all 3 candidates could compete for the starting 1. I wanted Fiz to give Payton a chance for the first couple of months to determine if he had made a jump (hinted at last season). I read somewhere DSJ and Trier posted a strong net plus last season when paired together so Payton/RJ as starters and DSJ/Trier off the bench might be the best way to go at the moment. In the meantime, Frank should go to the G-league for a couple of months. He’ll have the opportunity to practice being more aggressive and show whether he’s able to hit 3’s at a decent clip. DNPs or playing 8 minutes/game are not optimal in his situation.

  6. Payton looked like Chris paul compared to the other PGs last night. If he isn’t starting the next game, Fiz is cracked.

    I’d easily give the backup role to Frank. At least he’s only inept on half the court.

    I would scan the league for Smith’s value now. Maybe GM LeBron wants to give up something of value. Sell him before it’s too late. If not, give him the Burke treatment and let him dominate the G League until he can come up. If he kills it down there and Frank stinks it up here, switch places. There’s no use in carrying 3 PGs, especially if Barrett is going to get minutes there, too.

  7. Allow me to attempt some mind-reading of our weird, sketchy head coach on this point guard situation.

    POSSIBILITY 1: The preseason play by Payton, Smith, and Frank (other than on defense) was so dispiriting that Fizdale didn’t trust any of them to start the season. He likes the idea of RJ as a lead ballhandler (even if it’s clear that, at least at this stage of things, RJ is better as the secondary playmaker), knows Trier is a better shooter than any of our nominal point guards, and decided to give this a try. When it was clearly a disaster, he started bringing in actual point guards.

    POSSIBILITY 2: The preseason play by Payton, Smith, and Frank (other than on defense) was so dispiriting that Fizdale felt any or all of them needed a kick in the ass. Starting Trier — who was mostly outside the preseason rotation, looking in — over them was meant to be that kick. He hoped Smith would be the biggest beneficiary, but when that was also clearly a mess, he went to Payton, and stuck with him as long as he could.

    (STRONG) POSSIBILITY 3: Our head coach has no coherent offensive vision (though credit to him for getting our guys to play good D, even sans Mitch). He assumes because RJ is a good passer for a wing that RJ can just slide down to PG. He assumes that because Smith is aggressive in attacking the basket, that he has the highest upside of his three PGs, and went with him after the Trier experiment failed. He fell ass-backward into a strong Elfrid Payton game. And on the nights when Payton isn’t ballhawking like that, Fizdale won’t know what to do.

  8. People were wondering why Fiz didn’t start Payton who was the logical choice. There were rampant rumors that Elfrid was promised the starting spot for the first month or so. If they started him, it might have been perceived as undercutting Fiz’s pronouncement that all 3 candidates could compete for the starting 1.

    We need to stop ascribing intelligent reasons behind an idiot’s choices.

    The guy wasn’t closet tanking last year, either. He’s just this dumb.

  9. Andrew Wiggins line last night in Brooklyn:

    21 points on 27 shots, -23 in 36 minutes in a game his team won. That’s hard to do.

  10. Anybody watch the Memphis game, btw? Curious how Ja looked running the offense, beyond his stat line. I’m exceedingly happy with RJ so far, but I’m a Knicks fan, which means I can never let go of the what-ifs.

  11. Our head coach has no coherent offensive vision (though credit to him for getting our guys to play good D, even sans Mitch).

    I’m not sure you can say that a team that gave up 120 points, allowed the other team to shoot 51% from the floor , had only 1 block, had 18 more fouls than the other team and got out rebounded by 12 played “good” defense.

    The did have a bunch of deflections and steals and mostly competed hard most of the game, but good defense is a stretch….. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen someone as bad on defense as DSJr

  12. One positive about RJ is he rates to be more durable than Zion or Ja. He’s got Rodman-like physique and strength and Dennis played in every game through the age of 31. Randle also appears to be durable. Mitch…..well…..not sure his ankles are gonna hold up.

  13. 7) Knox – unplayable at the 3 defensively – he can’t get around screens and just isn’t quick enough to stay in front of guys. Needs to be a 4.

    I’ve been saying this for awhile too. The only debate is when. He’s too slow to guard quick 3s and not strong enough to guard bigger 4s that can work down low. He’s probably still going to be a huge defensive liability this year. He’s young though and will get a lot stronger. So he could turn into a decent stretch 4 eventually if he can at least get to “average” on defense.

    I’d favor giving his minutes to Dotson who is bigger moves the ball better (although who knows whether Dotson is physically really ready to play).

    IMO, Dotson is the better all around player when he’s 100% than either Knox or Trier. It’s a shame he lost a full summer of development. To me, he should be the more consistent rotation guy out of the two. We should use Trier when the offense is struggling and we need to light a fire and change the momentum. Trier is more explosive.

  14. Anybody watch the Memphis game, btw? Curious how Ja looked running the offense, beyond his stat line. I’m exceedingly happy with RJ so far, but I’m a Knicks fan, which means I can never let go of the what-ifs.

    Did not see the game but when you ws/48 for the game is -0.158 and you turned the ball over 6 times vs 4 assists as a PG you probably didn’t have a very good game…..

  15. but good defense is a stretch

    Yes, I should have written “good D in spurts”. At times they were atrocious and getting mauled on the boards.

  16. I’m not sure you can say that a team that gave up 120 points, allowed the other team to shoot 51% from the floor , had only 1 block, had 18 more fouls than the other team and got out rebounded by 12 played “good” defense.

    And that was despite the Spurs shooting some open bricks in the 1st quarter.

  17. I’m not sure why they insist on Frank playing at point guard. He’d be much better off as an off guard/2nd ball-handler behind Ellington or whoever.

    I also don’t think we have to crucify DSJ at this point. He’s still rusty. Just give him the backup minutes behind Elfrid. He needs to get better before we can even think about trading him.

  18. I may have overstated it with “good.” My point is that they were competing harder on that end, at least in spurts, than they did for most of last season. We also have a number of players who are simply better than guys we had in the rotation last season, so it might just be a talent thing versus a Fizdale thing.

    David Fizdale: a Rorschach test in NBA coaching form. (And just in time for HBO’s awesomely weird new Watchmen series, at that.)

  19. I’m not really comfortable starting Robinson, Randle, Morris, RJ and Payton because of the lack of shooting. But it’s difficult to put together a coherent team given the players management signed. Maybe we can experiment with RJ at SF and move Ellington or Dotson to SG eventually.

    I know people here like Morris so far because he plays hard, the boxscore looks good, and he’s shooting 3s well so far, but I’m not a big fan. I’d like to move him out of the starting lineup. It’s hard to pin down his defects (other than occasionally being a knucklehead), but teams are not particularly productive when he’s on the court and I don’t think it’s random “lineup” issues. It may be more subtle “x” and “o” or defensive things I can’t pick up on. Either way, I’d rather he was coming off the bench and we get a different shooter out there.

  20. Thanks for the writeup Farfa, only 81 more to go!

    Great point about Morris=Melo 2.0. It would be nice if once in a while he just kept the ball moving instead of immediately deciding to shoot or dribble around his defender. I don’t hate the guy, and lord knows this team needs scorers, (and 26 points on 18 shots is pretty good), but 1 assist in 39 minutes?

    I mean, even Bobby Portis had 5 assists.

  21. David Fizdale: a Rorschach test in NBA coaching form. (And just in time for HBO’s awesomely weird new Watchmen series, at that.)

    Mitch = Dr. Manhattan which I’m more than okay with.

  22. Anybody watch the Memphis game, btw? Curious how Ja looked running the offense, beyond his stat line.

    I watched the first half of it. He looked fantastic. Assertively gets to the rim, tries to use screens to make space and get the ball to people. The early few possessions were all him trying to score, and it was warranted. He roasted Nunn on a (IIRC) a head-fake and cut to the rim; Nunn looked utterly lost, a truly bad defensive play in response to a veteran move.

    I don’t know whether he has the Curry/Harden/Dame gene to jack up 35-footers with psychopathic confidence, but he looks like he belongs. And I fucking hate it, even if R.J. had the best possible rookie debut we could ever expect out of a Steve Mills pick. I didn’t see all of the turnovers though. Six is too many in 25 minutes.

    And on another note, I am enforcing a moratorium on my own R.J. cynicism until he proves that last night was a fluke. I’m in.

  23. Morris is a legit starter on legit playoff team and is at worst the 4th best player on this team and it is a steeeeeeeep drop off to the 5th….. he has to play 32+ minutes for them to have a chance. He is the only legit 3 point threat than can play major minutes. He is desperately needed on the floor.

  24. I’m excited about Barrette, he makes it look so easy. If he develops an outside shot, which I think he will because players with his talent and motivation tend to solve the puzzle one piece at a time he’s going to be a very special player.

  25. I guess this is kind of a defense of Ntilikina, but I don’t think his “mindset” or whatever is the primary obstacle to his success. I think the reason he passes up wide open threes, doesn’t try to start basic penetration actions, usually just dumps the ball off around half court, etc. is because he correctly perceives that he doesn’t have the talent to do anything else. As bad as he looks all the time, I think it would be much uglier if he was out there trying to do stuff with his high ass dribble, broken jump shot, and non-existent ability to finish through contact. It’s kind of like if I took the floor for an NBA team—the best thing I could possibly do would be to involve myself as little as possible. It would still be very bad for my team’s offense because they’d be playing 4-on-5, but it would be the best possible thing for me to do.

    The reason he had more success in FIBA play isn’t because the coach believed in him or he was in a better place mentally or whatever. It was because he, again correctly, determined he could do a lot more basic guard stuff against non-NBA play.

    I guess what I’m saying is let’s apply Occam’s (or Dolan’s) Razor here. We didn’t draft a head case, we drafted a good old fashioned bust.

  26. Mitch = Dr. Manhattan which I’m more than okay with.

    Oh, this is fun. Frank = Nite Owl. Can look the part incredibly well in brief spurts, but lacks the confidence and perhaps physical talent to be the hero he wants to be.

  27. And on another note, I am enforcing a moratorium on my own R.J. cynicism until he proves that last night was a fluke. I’m in.

    Wow, when even Jowles is ditching the cynicism about a player after one game (plus a very promising preseason), we might finally have more than one nice thing (after Mitch) to enjoy.

  28. RJB might not get all of those contested interior shots to go every night, but he is getting to the rim and finishing with power. That bodes very, very well for a modern SG. Just please give me a 38% 3PT shot…

  29. Also, while I’m scanning box scores: KP with 23 points on 7-16 shooting (3-7 from 3, but also 6-7 from the FT line), 1 block, and only 4 boards.

  30. @ptmilo

    RJ is just three assists shy of matching my preseason prediction for his NBA career for now XD

  31. And on another note, I am enforcing a moratorium on my own R.J. cynicism until he proves that last night was a fluke. I’m in.

    The journey of a thousand miles begins with one small steep….. :-)

    No one is canonizing him, but he played a terrific game for a 19 year old on the road in his first NBA game. He DID show some real things to hang your hat on but he has a lonnnnnnnng way to go for sure.

    He certainly didn’t look out of place at all last night but he really needs to call, his Godfather to teach him how to shoot the ball. He seems to do everything else well. I mean how is it even possible Steve Nash’s godson is a great athlete and he never taught him how to shoot?

  32. I know people here like Morris so far because he plays hard, the boxscore looks good, and he’s shooting 3s well so far, but I’m not a big fan.

    This is…not a sentiment I’m seeing.

  33. Morris isn’t quite fool’s gold. Like bobneptune says, he’s at worst our fourth best player, and the gap between him and everyone after is Grand Canyon-sized. But the best outcome we can hope for is that he keeps this Melo impression up long enough to net us a first round pick (and/or a young prospect with more long-term value). I don’t love him, but he’s useful at this stage of things, and he and Randle are in a class apart from the other FA signings.

  34. I mean how is it even possible Steve Nash’s godson is a great athlete and he never taught him how to shoot?

    What does Occam’s Razor say?

  35. Kevin Knox is the second Silk Spectre? Hyped because of his youth and because he looks the part, even though he’s in way over his head?

  36. I didn’t watch the game, but I watched l the highlights from Barrett and yes, it was very promising. The Spurs have good defensive guards, but he was overpowering them on possessions and making good decisions all around. At this point it’s all eye test obviously but the eye test definitely checked out in this game. Just having a rookie that doesn’t look like he’s completely lost for 90% of the game is a very welcome feeling.

  37. James Dolan is Bizarro Ozymandias.

    I always see him as the detached, murderous , grudge-holding , self important Duke of Ferrara in Browning’s “My Last Duchess” !!!

  38. Lauri Markkanen with quite an opening night performance last night: 35 points, 17 rebounds (5 offensive)

    And he was drafted one pick ahead of our boy Frank. Massive sigh……

  39. And he was drafted one pick ahead of our boy Frank. Massive sigh……

    And we made fun of Phil for wanting to draft Makkanen as cover to trade Porzingis. Blind squirrel, nut, etc.

  40. What does Occam’s Razor say?

    Occam’s Razor tells me the most likely thing is he didn’t spend much time schooling his mechanics. ANYONE and I mean anyone can shoot >65% free throws if they are taught proper technique. He doesn’t seem to be a kid that doesn’t put the hours in.

    There is a huge difference between practice and directed practice.

  41. I didn’t get to watch the game. What happened with Trier? Did he only get 7 minutes because he wasn’t playing well?

    It was some of Trier but more of Payton playing really well.

  42. The Bulls box score is interesting. White + Markannen + Carter is the kind of return you want for three seasons of tanking. Sure beats Frank + Knox + Barrett.

    True BUT
    Randle > Markannen
    Mitch > Carter
    Barrett > White

  43. It was some of Trier but more of Payton playing really well.

    TL;DR: The offense was stuck in iso quicksand with the Barrett/Trier backcourt. Fizdale benched Trier for Smith, who looks hobbled and/or utterly clueless, at which point Fizdale benched him for Payton, who finally got the ball moving to spots where guys were hitting shots. Fizdale just stuck with Payton for the rest of the game, other than Frank’s brief and, um, eventful, time in the third quarter. Sigh…

  44. One of the flaws with our roster that you could see last night is that without Mitch there is nobody on this team who can protect the rim. Somehow Wayne Ellington was the only Knick to block a shot last night and the Spurs feasted at the rim. Yet another reason why Kornet for no money over 16 million for Bobby Portis makes no sense.

  45. Morris is a legit starter on legit playoff team and is at worst the 4th best player on this team and it is a steeeeeeeep drop off to the 5th….. he has to play 32+ minutes for them to have a chance. He is the only legit 3 point threat than can play major minutes. He is desperately needed on the floor.

    Except for the fact that teams tend to be worse when he’s on the court than when he’s off and he was a team worst -15 last night despite his marvelous boxscore.

    I know all the issues with plus/minus and on/off, but there are huge issues with adjusted plus/minus and boxscore stats also. When you look at long term on/off averages I think it can pick up on things other models do not, especially if you look at some specific lineup data with it.

    In some cases I can pin down the problem or at least come up with a reasonable theory. In his case I don’t know. I know he does some very dumb things at times, but it looks like he’s carrying a pretty big load and the stats are OK. The problem is the team usually does worse. I’m not buying that it’s all random noise or lineups. It’s more likely that I haven’t been smart enough to figure out what it is yet.

  46. Morris was hitting shots early and looking fantastic but in crunch time he gave away several possessions by taking awful contested shots early in the clock. So his box score looks alright at first glance but I can’t say he played well. He was a key factor in the game getting out of hand in the fourth quarter.

  47. Occam’s Razor tells me the most likely thing is he didn’t spend much time schooling his mechanics. ANYONE and I mean anyone can shoot >65% free throws if they are taught proper technique. He doesn’t seem to be a kid that doesn’t put the hours in.

    I’m still trying to get my polyglot U. Chicago PhD-holding friend to stop blundering his queen after hundreds of hours of play, but hey, maybe it’s not so simple.

  48. And we made fun of Phil for wanting to draft Makkanen as cover to trade Porzingis. .

    Right.

    The idea was that Makkanen could do most of what KP could do on offense (stretch the floor etc) but was stronger and less likely to be injured. Then you could trade KP (whose value was through the roof) and get a player and picks that could fill out the youth portion of the team much quicker given that the cupboard was bare for 2 of Phil’s first 3 years. It would have been a great move, especially in hindsight given that KP did get hurt and then asked out. But no way in hell is Makkanen the defensive presence that KP is. I don’t think he’s as complete a player on offense either. He’s just more physically developed and a better rebounder. IMO KP is still the better all around player. Maybe that will change in time, but defense and rim protection matter.

  49. Morris was hitting shots early and looking fantastic but in crunch time he gave away several possessions by taking awful contested shots early in the clock. So his box score looks alright at first glance but I can’t say he played well. He was a key factor in the game getting out of hand in the fourth quarter.

    Thanks.

    I missed a little of the meltdown. It was on in the background. That sounds like typical Morris.

  50. If Minnesota is teetering on making playoffs:

    TWolves….Morris + Another Player (eg Dot, Braz, Trier)
    NYK……….Dieng and 1st round pick

  51. i mean for all the frank apologists out there…. seriously rj not having a consistent outside shot right now is nothing to be worried about at this point….. it’s much much much more important to find ways to score inside than outside… because as we’ve seen with frank and knox… if you can’t generate or make easy opportunities for yourself… you’re left with difficult opportunities….

    if he’s hitting over 50% of his 2p shots at 19… whether he develops a jumper is almost irrelevant…. and his jumper isn’t that bad at this point either… what we’ve seen from him in preseason and regular season is really about as good as you can expect…. there’s no reason to nitpick at this point… this will likely be the best prospect we’ve had since ewing so just enjoy that fact and not ruin a good thing ….

  52. IMO KP is still the better all around player. Maybe that will change in time, but defense and rim protection matter.

    Porzingis had one block last night.

    I’d trade him straight up for Markkanen in a heartbeat

  53. the knicks were competing hard on the defensive end…. except we got killed on the glass…. portis and taj didn’t have great games… and murray absolutely abused dsj and basically everyone else the whole night…. knox wasn’t good either….

    that game looks much different if we have mitch and he plays 30+ minutes…

  54. Markannen has had health problems, too, but I would take the Finn over Porzingis all day.

    It’s a lot easier to hide a poor rim protector at power forward than it is to hide a poor rebounder.

  55. if he’s hitting over 50% of his 2p shots at 19… whether he develops a jumper is almost irrelevant…. and his jumper isn’t that bad at this point either…

    D Wade had a pretty fair career without a consistent jumper…..

  56. I’m still trying to get my polyglot U. Chicago PhD-holding friend to stop blundering his queen after hundreds of hours of play, but hey, maybe it’s not so simple.

    Maybe…. but the intellectual skill it takes to learn 10 languages is a totally different part of the brain than visualizing spacial relationships in advance as in chess.

    I wouldn’t doubt Einstein had a bitch of a time trying to learn how to tie his shoelaces……

  57. The Bulls box score is interesting. White + Markannen + Carter is the kind of return you want for three seasons of tanking. Sure beats Frank + Knox + Barrett.

    need to bear in mind the Bulls played the team that is consensus one of the worst 2 teams in the league.
    And the Bulls actually lost to that team despite getting outlier games from Markkanen and Thad Young (3 made 3’s, averaged 0.6-0.7 3’s made/game the last 3 years).

    Also – Barrett must’ve had a great game, because there is literally no conversation here about Julius Randle, who literally had one of the best box-score stuffing nights of any Knick in the last 30 years. Here is the list of Knicks who have put up 25/10/6/3 since 1990 per B-Ref:

    1994: Ewing (in 45 minutes)
    2003: Sprewell (in 54 minutes)
    2019: Randle (in 35 minutes)

    Randle also did this in the fewest # of shots, had only 1 turnover, and shot 10/18 (56%) from the field doing it, whereas Ewing had 7 turnovers and Sprewell shot 9/25 (36%) in his game.

    When he pulled up lame last night, I really thought he popped an achilles. thank god it wasn’t that.

  58. Again, what strikes me the most about RJ is the way he’s behaving on the court. He looks totally unfazed and in control. I hate the Maple Mamba mentality thingamajig he blabbered on draft night, but there really is some of that Kobe focus about him (hopefully without the creepy maniacality and useless midrangers). I won’t be surprised if he records an efficient triple double before Thanksgiving.

  59. Also – Barrett must’ve had a great game, because there is literally no conversation here about Julius Randle, who literally had one of the best box-score stuffing nights of any Knick in the last 30 years.

    I think part of that is because Randle was routinely roasted on defense. But other than that, yeah, he did have a pretty good game. If only he could ditch that sort of 12-foot fadeaway…

  60. Markkanen was still a -2 on the night and missed most of his threes. I liked him during that draft and still do, but he has defensive shortcomings and might not end up any better than the guy they had before him, Mirotic.

    I’m excited about White’s potential, though. He looks like a pretty unique player.

  61. Morris was hitting shots early and looking fantastic but in crunch time he gave away several possessions by taking awful contested shots early in the clock. So his box score looks alright at first glance but I can’t say he played well. He was a key factor in the game getting out of hand in the fourth quarter.

    Ummmm….. no!

    The notion that Morris somehow chucked them out of the game is not consistent with the facts. He re-entered the game at 7:35 of the 4th quarter with the Knicks up 2. In the ensuing 3:00 they dropped 10 points with SA taking an 8 point lead with 4:35 left.

    In that turning point of the game ( also when Randle was gassed and soon collapsed and went out with cramps and Knox came back in) Morris hoisted up exactly ONE 16 foot jumper! And that’s where -10 of his minus 15 came from.

    When they were down a bunch he did take some desperation shots as he is the only one who historically has a good 3 point shooting %.

  62. RJ is just three assists shy of matching my preseason prediction for his NBA career for now

    yeah the mark to market on my side definitely took a hit last night. luckily i’ve always been more of a cost accounting guy when personal convenience beckons.

  63. randle was also pretty exciting and it’s a continuation of his progress from last year… he is a load inside and is a terror in the open court… he outraced two spurs from half court with the ball to finish….

    i have every confidence in him continuing this and he’s gonna put up a very good year….

  64. Morris played well, especially considering that he was booed every time he touched the ball. It was classy of Pop to go up to him afterwards for closure.

    Morris played a deferential offensive role in Boston, and he’s clearly being coached to take more of a lead role in the offense. His usage % was 22.5 and his TS% was .644. I would sign up for those numbers all day and if he plays that way every night, he’s gonna be hugely valuable at the trade deadline.

  65. You wouldn’t know it from the box score but Taj Gibson was a steadying presence at times actually doing the things they always say vets should do on the floor. Getting a rebound and taking it out to reset instead of putting up a shot with a ton of defenders down low. Or directing a clueless Knox to take a three with a good screen.

  66. Overall I thought we did pretty good. The spurs are probably a playoff team and they were at home and we were missing our best player.

    It was nice to see Payton playing well. I liked the signing and then he was terrible all preseason so I doubted it. If he can be productive we have a pretty solid team.

    I think we need a backup rim protector really badly and need Frank to step up and play well at PG. I think those are our real weaknesses, backup PG and backup C. I still think we should try to trade for Noel, he only played 5 minutes last night so OKC doesn’t really seem to value him, maybe Smith Jr and a couple 2nd rounders for Noel. As for Frank, I’d give him a month and then start shopping for a better PG if he continues to play poorly.

  67. morris looked the same as always. he played better help defense than most of our awful defenders. on offense, he was himself. his shot dropped, but his distribution was typical. over time, he’ll shoot to his league average-ish TS. if he played the same game but his shot wasn’t falling it would look shitty. overall he’ll be in between.

  68. Dennis Smith looked like a broken player.

    Allonzo Trier missed every shot he took, offered literally nothing, and the team was completely discombobulated with him on the floor.

    Frank had two ugly turnovers in three minutes but also had a steal and should have had his layup converted bc of goaltending, but he’s the one people are cracking on?

    In the battle of ridiculously small samples, I’d take Frank. I’d like him to back up Payton and share time with Barrett.

    Regardless, I think either him or Smith needs to be in the G League. We don’t need to carry 3 PGs.

  69. Overall I’m ok with last night.

    RJ looks legit. I mean, he’s gotten better since summer league and basically has played a good game in every game except those first 2 summer league games. I think he’s legit and we may have landed the best player in the draft when you consider the risk Zion has for long term injury.

    Randle looked good. Mitch and more minutes from Frank and not starting Trier probably win us the game.

    It needs to be this rotation:

    Peyton/Frank/DSJ (let Frank play and if he’s really sucking put in DSJ but let DSJ heal)
    RJ/Ellington/Trier (use Trier when we really need instant offense)
    Morris/Knox
    Randle/Portis
    Mitch/Taj

  70. Any thread with references to the poetry of Percy Shelley and Robert Browning is a winner! I had the distinct joy to teach “Ozymandias” and “My Last Duchess” for many years.

    As I said last night, I was weirdly more positive about the Knicks after the game than before. RJB gives reason for real hope, and I’m eager to at least see what the team can do with Mitch out there with him and Randle. Maybe there’s a young 3 core there?

    Make Knox a “stretch” four off the bench. Make Frank a wing off the bench (I’d much rather see him guarding wings than Knox or most anyone else on the team). Neither of these will happen under Fiz, though. They probably should put either Frank (if they insist on him a the point) or DSJ in the G league for awhile. DSJ’s shot looked horrific, but it is only one game, I guess. Still, he can work on it all he wants down there.

  71. My silly rotation:

    Payton/DSJ
    RJB/Trier/Ellington
    Morris/Frank/Iggy
    Randle/Knox/Portis
    Mitch/Taj/Portis

    Really, DSJ and Iggy should be in G League.

  72. Kevin Knox is the second Silk Spectre? Hyped because of his youth and because he looks the part, even though he’s in way over his head?

    This is great, especially with Knox recently adopting II on his jersey.

  73. My silly rotation:

    Payton/DSJ
    RJB/Trier/Ellington
    Morris/Frank/Iggy
    Randle/Knox/Portis
    Mitch/Taj/Portis

    Really, DSJ and Iggy should be in G League.

    I’d rotate the guards like this (and forget about position):

    -Start with Payton and Barrett for 8 minutes.

    -Then let Frank play with Barrett.

    -Bring Trier in for Barrett at the end of the 1Q to give RJ an extended rest. Let Trier do his thing off the bench.

    -Then bring Payton and Barrett back for the remainder of the 2Q.

    That’s a proper rotation that never has two ball hogs or terrible defenders on the court at the same time. It’s the most sensible rotation we have, so Fiz will never use it.

  74. There are a few guys on the team who should play good minutes every game. Probably Payton, Mitch, Randle, Morris, RJ unless he really sucks, maybe Taj. After that you can mix and match based on the opponent/game situation. I obviously don’t like Portis, but if the other team has a guy who can’t guard a stretch 4 out there maybe play some Bobby. When we’re playing Houston we should play Frank a lot because disrupting high usage guards is his most valuable skill. If we need shooting play Ellington or maybe Trier if the other team has someone inept on offense we can hide Trier on, etc.

  75. Is there an under 25 years old point guard who is actually good and we can get for a couple of 1st’s, the current PG selection and any of the veterans?

    btw. Owen I think you forgot Rod Strickland yesterday, he’s probably the best PG this team had since the 90’s. Of course they got rid of him asap and gave the keys to showboat Jackson but that’s another story.

  76. Updates from beat writers:

    * Mitch is questionable for the Brooklyn game. He’s practicing, but also dealing with a dislocated finger in his shooting hand. Fiz thinks he’ll play, says he’s a candidate to start.

    * Fiz effusive in praise of Payton. Won’t commit to him starting — he’s weirdly decided to become Bill Belichick in the secrecy department (but not the, you know, good coaching department) — but when a reporter asked if it was fair to say Payton was a strong candidate to start, Fiz agreed.

  77. @78

    Well there’s the Trae Young / De’Aaron Fox type of guys, who are not going to be traded, then D’Angelo Russell, who probably could be had for the right price, but if management wanted him in the first place, why not pursue him in the offseason? There’s Fred VanVleet, but I doubt the Raptors would be willing to trade him for what he’s worth, considering the circumstances… then the cupboard is pretty bare, with guys like Lonzo, Fultz, Sexton, Rozier etc who aren’t really good.

  78. I was in favor of mini-maxing Russell this offseason and I think that would have worked out well. Russell and RJ is a nice young backcourt, add Morris, Randle and Mitch and that is a pretty solid starting five.

    Now you’d have to give up a bunch of stuff to get Russell.

  79. i really wouldn’t be so eager to give up on dsj…. he made good progress last year.. and yea he’s not looked all that great shooting wise but he’s not hopeless like frank is….

    and i know ppl like flashes of defense and length and all that but what dennis can do right now is a lot more valuable and a lot more closer to viability…. he should be fine unless he’s hurt… but i think he’s taking a little longer than usual to shake off some rust….

  80. @73

    I think Ozymandius was referring to the watchmen character but yes, an indirect reference and works on both levels. Back on the watchmen game tip I’d nominate Isiah Thomas as the Comedian.

  81. I like your takes, djphan. What about DSJ’s game do you like? I’m trying to talk myself into him as a viable prospect but he just looks like he has a broken shot, doesn’t defend and doesn’t have great court vision. I’m not seeing a lot that’s encouraging.

  82. and i know ppl like flashes of defense and length and all that but what dennis can do right now is a lot more valuable and a lot more closer to viability…. he should be fine unless he’s hurt… but i think he’s taking a little longer than usual to shake off some rust….

    i think even in a good case he’ll never be a plus shooter, he’ll never have a good feel for the game on offense as a pg, and he’ll never be even an average defender bc of his regular lapses. his good case feels like a reggie jackson type and that just isn’t that interesting. more likely he’s worse and not useful to a decent team.

  83. I actually have the opposite take on DSJ vs Frank. Both are not good right now and it is not unlikely they might never be good but I look at Frank and I at least see one plus skill. I see no plus skills with DSJ. I can see a future for Frank if everything breaks right and I like that player. I can’t see that with DSJ. If everything breaks right he will still never be a plus shooter or an above-average defender so even if he develops he’s fools gold. He reminds me of Mudiay, in that even after a huge improvement last year he still wasn’t very good.

    I develop Frank because his defense is legit and that is enough to keep me holding out hope.

  84. Thanks, @81. That’s too bad. If RJ continues to show promise and Mitch can stay on the floor this team is a good young PG away from having a future. Maybe we get lucky in the lottery this year.

  85. I like your takes, djphan. What about DSJ’s game do you like? I’m trying to talk myself into him as a viable prospect but he just looks like he has a broken shot, doesn’t defend and doesn’t have great court vision. I’m not seeing a lot that’s encouraging.

    +1. I really don’t see anything there. He looks like the game is very confusing for him.

  86. Everybody mentioned every point guard the Knicks have had in 30 years except the one who played (very, very well) in game 7 of the Finals. Where have you gone, Derek Harper?

  87. Dennis Smith to LA for DeMarcus Cousins and their next available 1st round pick (presumably 2025 or 2026).

    Fair? Too optimistic?

    I’d take two seconds for him, but LeBron might be the only GM who likes Smith, and they don’t have any 2nds.

  88. the basics of being a good basketball player start with how often you create easy opportunities for yourself and how often you convert them…. that relates to 2p shooting… and the filter for guards is 40%…

    dsj is well above that mark and it’s easy to see why … he’s a terror getting to the basket… either taking advantage of space given to him or making it himself… and while we’ve gotten used to seeing guys who are only good at that… like post double knee injury derrick rose… it’s pretty rare…

    on that basis alone it’s worth it to see if he can put it all together… and he was on the cusp of doing that last year if only his free throw shooting didn’t tank…. his #s would look a lot better if he just hit 70% instead of 63%… it’s not just 2p shooting but also.. getting to the line… getting stls… getting blocks… he put up over 2.0 combined stls and blocks per 36… that’s also rare!

    there is lots for him to cleanup on his shooting.. decisionmaking and all that… but in terms of floor time he is more deserving of it… he is on the cusp of breaking out if he improves on his shooting… even a little bit will make him a viable starter…

    frank has no hope…. it is a lost cause…. at this point you’re trying to salvage a guy who might be your 10th man… dsj could be your starter for the next 10 years and only needs to fix a few relatively minor things… dsj isn’t all that different from markelle fultz in that way and you’d equally be bananas to be benching fultz in favor of frank….

  89. there is lots for him to cleanup on his shooting.. decisionmaking and all that… but in terms of floor time he is more deserving of it… he is on the cusp of breaking out if he improves on his shooting… even a little bit will make him a viable starter…

    It’s a super small sample, but he just spent an entire offseason trying to fix his jumper, and it looks more broken than ever. Like super broken, not quite as bad as Fultz but with the same outcome. I don’t think this is like trying to get from being a 72% FT shooter to a 78% shooter — the shot looks broken. The hitch is worse – he’s shooting just before he hits the ground on his descent. A broken shot is not a minor thing. And if he can’t shoot, is his ceiling even as high as Payton’s, who at least does all the other stuff a PG should do AND is interested on the defensive end?

    The other issue is DSJ doesn’t really seem to have a good feel for the game. He’s got the nuclear athleticism of Westbrook, but doesn’t have the mindset. He’s got all the physical tools and more than CP3, but has no idea what to do with it. I know I’m probably overreacting because of two horrendous games, but honestly – it looks really bad.

    frank has no hope…. it is a lost cause…. at this point you’re trying to salvage a guy who might be your 10th man…

    Frank has more paths to an NBA career than DSJ in that he is already really good on one end of the floor, and he has the measurables to play multiple positions. His shot is NOT broken, and at the very least he could become a low-usage wing defender type. Those guys stick around forever — LRMaM, Aminu, etc.

  90. i mean eye test and small sample arguments aside…. smith also has a higher 3p % than frank over their careers…. why is it that dennis’s shooting is broken yet there’s tons of ppl letting frank slide on that? because of defense? dennis also forces more turnovers and grabs more rebounds and also generates more assists….

    like i know box score stats aren’t everything but this is essentially across the board better contributions… and i would question anyone’s eyes who thinks that frank has shown more ability than dennis at any point in their first two years….

    there’s not much separating fultz from smith.. in both good and bad ways.. you might even include lonzo ball in that… (it’s really weird how this pg class had these same issues and de’aaron fox with the biggest shooting question mark is the best shooter)… and you’d be BANANAS if you’re not trading frank for fultz… and you’d be equally bananas to be trading fultz for something like jonathan simmons….

    frank is very much in danger in being out of the league after his contract is up… that’s how bad he is… there’s zero path for anyone in the nba who can’t make a layup….

  91. i mean eye test and small sample arguments aside

    DSJ’s shot is broken by the eye test – I can’t imagine you can find an example of someone whose shot looks this broken that ultimately turned into a league average shooter. Lonzo’s shot was less broken than this – all he had to do was move the ball from the left side of his head closer to the center. DSJ’s hands, arms, elbows, and legs are all going different directions. yes it’s only been a couple games, but it looks much more broken than it did last year.

    Fultz has spent 2 seasons trying to fix his shot, and it still looks terrible.

    Look, I’d love to be wrong because he really does have all the physical skill in the world. But even before his shot broke, there was a fair amount of concern that he didn’t have the mindset or feel to be a winning basketball player.

  92. think Ozymandius was referring to the watchmen character but yes, an indirect reference and works on both levels. Back on the watchmen game tip I’d nominate Isiah Thomas as the Comedian.

    Yeah, I was referring to Watchmen still. Ozymandias is tall, blonde, athletic, Olympic gymnast. James Dolan is, uh, not so much.

    Ozymandias is brilliant and all his plans have contingencies. Dolan doesn’t have a plan outside of “shiny, I want.”

    Ozymandias is a self made man who built a fortune. James Dolan wasn’t so much born on 3rd base as intentionally walked followed by 3 consecutive balks. He probably tripped over second on his way around.

    Bizarro Ozymandias.

    That said, I absolutely love the poem as well and in many ways it applies.

  93. Mitch even took a Mars hiatus when he sat out in college. He has all the power in the world but sometimes seems to miss common sense.

  94. I think Frank is a lost cause at the one- he does throw a nice pocket pass in the pnr but besides that the cupboard is completely empty. He can’t score from anywhere or break down a defense to create for others and maybe most damningly for his prospects as a point, he can’t handle ball pressure at all- even token pressure makes him either back up or just freeze and turn his back to the play. You can’t run an offense 30 feet from the basket and facing the other way. That doesn’t seem fixable to me at all. He can certainly has value as a defender so at this point I’d rather see the Knicks try to develop him as a 3 and D wing who can run some pnr on occasion. As for Smith, I’d keep running him out there as the backup and hope for a miracle but he’s looked god-awful in his limited minutes so far this season.

  95. I prefer Frank at the 1. His D has more impact there. Part of the problem is he’s better in a system where he knows exactly what he’s supposed to do. Dribble to the top of the key and dump the ball to Randle in the post or hand it off to RJ. The Knicks don’t have that. See generally, Fizmagic.

    Fiz will play with the lineup a lot. Payton is only one game away from being doghouse again and Trier/Frank/Smith are one game away from starting. None of them are as bad as they played yesterday.

  96. Whoever you prefer between frank and smith, one of them should be in the g league. No need having two young backup PGs.

  97. Fultz’s injury is likely the result of a traumatic injury off the court. He’s still not healthy and at this point, his career is looking a lot like Brien Taylor’s. Dude is broken and if he did injure it on a dirtbike as is rumored, it sucks for him. If he had even a halfway-decent jumper he would be a 100% lock for a max contract after next year. He is absurdly athletic in a way that makes scouts drool.

  98. Agreed, I don’t see how a guy goes from his jumper being his greatest skill to it being his biggest weakness in the span of a few months unless there was some sort of injury.

  99. morris looked the same as always. he played better help defense than most of our awful defenders. on offense, he was himself. his shot dropped, but his distribution was typical. over time, he’ll shoot to his league average-ish TS.

    Morris is the only Knick on the roster (other than Randle) who can shoot average volume at league average TS% and not be embarrassing on defense. He is Steph effin Curry compared to the rest of the roster.

    Most people don’t look great when their shot doesn’t fall yet Morris’s shot has fallen quite well over a large sample the past two years. And he isn’t an eyesore on defense at the same time. There is a reason Pop jettisoned a sharpshooter like Bertans when he had a chance to sign him.

  100. The Good
    I expected ridicule & blowout but we even had a good chance of winning that one.
    Fiz benched the right players on the right times (mostly) and showed a nice feel on the rotations (although he started it strangely)
    Elf-RJ-Julius-Morris-Knox played well and look like a nice pack of ‘dogs’ to carry the team.
    NY 24 assists vs 22 SA
    NY 16 Steals vs 6 for SA
    NY 14 TOs vs 21 for SA

    The Bad
    Portis-Ellington-Taj played between mediocre to bad and didn’t help the team to have a better luck on a tough road game. They need to step up their game.
    Rebs NY 39 vs 51 for SA
    FTA NY 18 vs 36 for SA
    PF NY 32 vs 18 for SA

    & The Ugly
    Trier-Smith-Frank
    Only a few minutes for all of them but pretty ugly stuff in general.
    That’s one small sample for a man, one giant (although expected) shock for knicks fans.

  101. Morris just doesn’t make sense here. His win curve is way off from the rest of the team and he’s a free agent at the end of the season. I’m a big fan, but if they don’t trade him before the end of the season, they’re incompetent.

  102. Good game. Knicks settled for jumpers in the 4th or they could have won. Obviously, the starting 5 going forward is Payton, Randle, Barrett, Morris, Robinson. Knicks have to bully people down low. Prioritize the “in the paint” part of the modern formula. Morris getting the awful offensive foul call maybe changed things. Him and Randle can put people in spin cycle down there. Just don’t get tired and start chucking. Meanwhile, Randle is very good. We would have hailed a game like this from KP as the second coming. The fast break basket a thing of beauty. I really had a lot of fun watching that third quarter. Barrett looked great as has been said and got to the rim when he wanted to.

  103. Side note: thanks to everyone praising Big Thief, inadvertently getting me to try them out again. I checked them out back in 2016 or so, when they first got buzz. Liked the singles, wasn’t enamored with the rest of it. Listened to Two Hands and liked it, then U.F.O.F. and got hooked on that one. Going to see them with L.J. tonight in Portland — good timing!

  104. Awesome, we need a report on that show. I had heard the single from their new album but I was really struck by what they did on Colbert, I have been putting that performance on not infrequently lately. She has an amazing edge in her voice.

    Re Barrett, everything people have said about being able to get to the basket despite clearly going left everytime, is spot on. Just one game of course but I am really intrigued by that debut.

    And I realized today that Zoolander can’t go left. I knew he was not an ambiturner but I had his turn mixed up. Excited to see what kind of nickname RJ gets because Maple Mamba has got to go.

  105. Are refs still betting on games? Yes, and how much money are they betting?

    Exhibit A: This Rockets game. Jesus Christ.

  106. So D. Rose looks like he’s going to have a great year somehow. Detroit could have a stout offense if he takes over the point and Kennard’s shooting is for real. The defense though…

  107. Trae Yong is looking pretty spicy. Whenever Curry is ready to pass the torch he’ll be ready…

  108. Side note: thanks to everyone praising Big Thief, inadvertently getting me to try them out again. I checked them out back in 2016 or so, when they first got buzz. Liked the singles, wasn’t enamored with the rest of it. Listened to Two Hands and liked it, then U.F.O.F. and got hooked on that one. Going to see them with L.J. tonight in Portland — good timing!

    I think I preferred Two Hand over U.F.OF., but both were great records. It was amazing to hear the variance in the two albums, despite the short turnaround time between them.

  109. Trae Young and a 1st round pick for Doncic doesn’t look so bad for Atlanta anymore, does it?

  110. 25 game suspension for Ayton. Tested positive for a diuretic. $2.2M in lost pay — poof!

    Looks like he could get it reduced. Ten games wouldn’t be so bad for him. I wonder if they can suspend part of the suspension to a second positive test.

  111. Dolan is more of a bumbling pompous figure with delusions of grandeur.

    He’s really Big Figure in the Watchmen universe while Mills is the henchman he orders around to kill at command.

  112. Giannis already with a triple double.

    He’s just unfair in a custom-made video game player sort of way.

  113. 25 game suspension for Ayton. Tested positive for a diuretic. $2.2M in lost pay — poof!

    There goes my prediction of Suns being the surprise team…

  114. Gotta love the 1st week of the season where everyone forgets to play defence. I know it is early but that is a massive concern for the Warriors they gave up 141 points in regulation.

  115. How does Draymond Green hang a -35 in 28 minutes? That’s some impressive shit. I had some high hopes for them this year as a dark horse, but that sure as hell ain’t happening if they’re running Glenn Robinson III in the starting lineup.

  116. Dray hurt himself in the first quarter. Might be part of the problem.

    Clips look pretty good without Paul George.

  117. I’ve been thinking about that RJ Barrett point guard situation and then saw this article by George Willis in the NY Post and decided that I had to respond somewhere. I disagree 10000000% with Willis. Maybe I’m giving Fiz too much credit but I think it was BRILLIANT to have RJ start at point and it’s not about pushing the other PGs on the team.

    One thing that struck me when I watched the game is that he reminded me of (shudder) Clyde when he played. No. He’s not Walt Frazier, but while we’ve been asking “when was the last time the Knicks had a functional back court?” I’ve been asking “When was the last time the Knicks had a HOF point guard that played most of his career with the Knicks?” The list is short: Walt Frazier and Richie Guerin. We got to sniff Jason Kidd and Mo Cheeks but we haven’t had one in decades – literally. We’ve barely had NBA point guards on this team!

    What made me think of Frazier was RJ’s poise with the ball in his hands. The game seemed slow to him. He was in control. He made the right plays. He has court vision. He is fearless driving to the hoop. He played defense.

    Point guard is probably the most important position on an NBA team and also the most difficult position to fill. While Barrett has a lot to learn to be great at the position, I think that if Fiz works with him and grooms him right, we’ll have found something that we’ve been looking for for half a century.

    Am I out of my mind?

  118. 25 game suspension for Ayton. Tested positive for a diuretic. $2.2M in lost pay — poof!

    Looks like he could get it reduced. Ten games wouldn’t be so bad for him. I wonder if they can suspend part of the suspension to a second positive test.

    I am not sure under what rationale it would get reduced. Matters not that he didn’t have any other positive substance in the test – the whole point of the diuretic is that it dilutes the urine enough to bring concentrations of whatever else you’re testing for below the positive range. Is there any precedent for players getting it reduced under the “i took it by accident and by the way i know it’s a masking agent meant to make other tests negative but all my other tests were negative”?

    I’m not specifically anti-PED, but if you’re going to have an anti-PED stance as a league, you have to hit these violations hard.

  119. I am not sure under what rationale it would get reduced. Matters not that he didn’t have any other positive substance in the test – the whole point of the diuretic is that it dilutes the urine enough to bring concentrations of whatever else you’re testing for below the positive range. Is there any precedent for players getting it reduced under the “i took it by accident and by the way i know it’s a masking agent meant to make other tests negative but all my other tests were negative”?

    I’m not specifically anti-PED, but if you’re going to have an anti-PED stance as a league, you have to hit these violations hard.

    There really isn’t any rational reason for a healthy 20 year old to have a diuretic in his bloodstream other than to mask something else. I trained race horses for over 40 years and trainers put horses on Lasix for reasons “other” than “bleeding” :-)

  120. Am I out of my mind?

    I generally like the idea of letting Barrett play PG this year for his development. I think of the year Jordan played PG, for instance, and how that expanded his court vision and awareness.

    It was silly to start the season with him at PG, though.

  121. Yeah, with Winslow in Miami, we’ve seen the value of having a switchable wing player with the ability to run the point. If Barrett eventually turns into a lead ballhandler to go with his other skills, that’s a huge coup for a team that’s had to get by with the likes of Ray Felton and Jarett Jack for most of this century. But he’s not there yet, and I think for now, Fiz needs to pick his spots where RJ is on the court without a traditional point guard next to him.

  122. @ 128
    Clyde would appear to agree with your pov on RJB. This from today’s Post

    “To me, I liked how this worked out,” Frazier said. “Barrett is the better basketball player. Zion is a freak and those tendencies are catching up with him in injuries. Maybe he can’t play at 6-6, 280 pounds. Maybe he has to lose some weight with the pressure on his knees.
    “I think the Knicks are in good position. … I like when he gets into the paint it’s not with a lot of quickness. it reminds me of myself. When I got to the paint, because of my size, I could overpower guys, especially backcourt guys and that’s what he’s doing.”

    Here is the link to the entire article:https://nypost.com/2019/10/25/clyde-fraziers-case-for-why-the-knicks-arent-doomed/

    Clyde rarely makes comparisons of current Knicks to himself, with damn good reason.

  123. Clyde rarely makes comparisons of current Knicks to himself, with damn good reason.

    The only reason I think this is a bad idea right now is Barrett does not handle the ball with point guard dribbling skills. During the preseason/summer league when he ran the point any little 94 foot pressure made it difficult to cross the 8 second line.

    He needs to do a few years of Steph Curry drills and then this may be a viable alternative. The point guard must play with the ball like it is an extension of his hand to be effective.

  124. One statement in that Clyde article caught my eye:

    “Are the Nets ever going to have more fans than the Knicks? No, that battle has already been won by the Knicks,” said Nets No. 2 play-by-play man Ryan Ruocco. “Could the Nets take over the city for a great run the way the Mets and Jets can? I think so. The way that happens is success. I feel like they are on their way to that.

    I gotta say no, they can’t. Mets and Jets fans are two of the best fan bases in the world. I would literally put them against anyone for passion, commitment, and excitement. They just happen to be slightly outnumbered in their own city. The Nets have nothing like that. If the Nets make a run to the Finals, I don’t think this city would react any more than it did when Kidd led NJ to two straight Finals appearances. Or when Pierce and Garnett led them to the 2nd round and no one cared.

  125. @134 I agree. I think the point Clyde was making was the way RJB uses his body to backdown a weaker defender in the paint and shield the ball. Clyde was masterful at that not only in the paint but in bringing the ball upcourt against pressure. When RJB improves his handle, he will be a load for wings to defend.
    Both possess a preternatural cool and great court sense and RJB didn’t seem to get rattled when he made a couple of errors in the paint in the 4th quarter. You get the sense that RJB’s learning curve will be rapid and he won’t repeat errors.
    @135- For all of the ostensible coolof Brooklyn, the Nets seem to have a carpetbagger status to them. I don’t see hardcore fans embracing them even if they eventually make a chip run. I have nothing against them and will root for them against any other team save the Knicks.

  126. I do think it’ll be easier for the Nets to get a bandwagon for a following for a potential title run in Brooklyn than it ever was in New Jersey. It is just such a hassle to get to the Meadowlands from the city (and I say that as someone who has spent most of his life on the Jersey side of the Hudson), whereas the subway goes directly to Barclays. Would it be a sustainable fanbase? Probably not. But if the Knicks are still floundering next year and Durant is improbably close to what he was pre-injury, the Nets could become a hot ticket for a bit.

  127. @135- For all of the ostensible coolof Brooklyn, the Nets seem to have a carpetbagger status to them. I don’t see hardcore fans embracing them even if they eventually make a chip run. I have nothing against them and will root for them against any other team save the Knicks.

    Brooklyn will never have the cachet of Manhattan no matter how gentrified it becomes…..

  128. In six years of coaching my kids’ basketball games and in the last three years attending events at their high school in North Jersey, I have seen hundreds of kids wearing Knicks gear. I have literally never seen any kid in Nets gear. In talking to my kids’ friends, a grand total of zero care that they signed Irving and Durant.

  129. Trae Young and a 1st round pick for Doncic doesn’t look so bad for Atlanta anymore, does it?

    It depends how much you factor in the fact that they used that pick on Cam Reddish (0-6 in his NBA debut last night, to the surprise of no one).

    Trae Young is a delight. It feels like his career is going to follow a familiar arc, though: we all marvel at how brilliant he is until his team hits a ceiling that is slightly below championship level because he turns every PG he guards into Trae Young. NBA first world problems, though.

  130. @136 – Thanks for that link Bo.

    I remember watching Clyde back in the day. RJ has lots of Clyde in him. Now RJ needs to get Frazier to teach him the head fake!

    What I’m curious about is how well RJ can defend a really fast PG like Trae Young or a healthy John Wall. I would love to watch him on Kyrie for a bit tonight.

  131. In talking to my kids’ friends, a grand total of zero care that they signed Irving and Durant.

    There is probably more national interest in the Nets than local. I bet if you look at jersey sales by location Irving and Durant have the highest percentage of jerseys purchased outside their own market.

  132. Trae Young is a delight. It feels like his career is going to follow a familiar arc, though: we all marvel at how brilliant he is until his team hits a ceiling that is slightly below championship level because he turns every PG he guards into Trae Young. NBA first world problems, though.

    Definitely good problems. I’d still want Doncic, but yes, in hindsight, the Hawks did not fleece themselves. It was Cam Reddish that fleeced them.

  133. Hunter and Fernando both look like they could become solid starters, but yeah Reddish was a dumb flier. Imagine if they’d taken Clarke or Alexander-Walker at that spot, smdh.

  134. But if the Knicks are still floundering next year and Durant is improbably close to what he was pre-injury, the Nets could become a hot ticket for a bit.

    @137 – If RJ and Mitch prove to be legit and Randle is still on the roster, and we get the high lottery pick we’re expecting, I look for AD to bail on LA and LeBron and come east to NY.

  135. It’s seriously Charlie Brown and the football. “This time for sure! Everything is coming up Knicks!”

  136. The Great Pumpkin would also work in this context, thenamestam. We’re just not sincere enough for any of these free agents to come to our pumpkin patch.

  137. I can dream, can’t I?

    And it’s not that far fetched. We know the Knicks are probably the best positioned team salary-wise. AD and Randle played together and played well. There’s a history and a friendship. The Lakers are an ancient team (aside from LeBron they have Rondo, Dwight Howard, Danny Green).

    And if I was really dreaming, Knox would learn how to play defense and achieves his objective of hitting 40% of his 3pt shots.

  138. What I’m curious about is how well RJ can defend a really fast PG like Trae Young or a healthy John Wall.

    Very badly, I guess, although the effort is there.

  139. The guy that I always comp Barrett to in my head, before setting the comparison aside, is Ben Simmons. They both can’t shoot (RJ can shoot a little I guess) and they both have terrific builds and the ability to operate effectively in the paint. Simmons though is just a much much better ballhandler. Barrett can pass and seems to have good instincts and court awareness but he isn’t like Simmons, who isn’t just faking it out there.

    Simmons is also a beast on defense and we don’t really have a sense of how RJ will do.

    I am all for the experiment as long as it doesn’t mess with his head. I think giving him 5 minutes a game for a while to test it out seems fine. But I think Barrett ends up more of a 2-3 tweener than a 1-2 tweener.

  140. I think it might be a little too soon to write off Cam Reddish as a bust.

    A lot of smart talent evaluators rated him highly pre draft. Then they got to see him stink out the joint in pre season and still think he’s going one of the best all around player in this draft class. I’m sure every one of those people have seen his bad shooting and boxscore stats. But they are obviously seeing some talent or skill they think can and will be developed.

    Personally, I haven’t seen enough of him to have any opinion. But it’s not like he went into college (and now the NBA) as some raw defensive talent that people are hoping can develop on offense 5 years from now. This kid has been a hot prospect since high school and was playing hurt during college. If you are a Hawks fan, I think you have to give it some time.

  141. I wouldn’t write off Cam so early either but where I think Zion’s insane athleticism nudged RJ down at Duke, I think that RJ and Zion actually might have covered for some Reddish blemishes. He deserves time and no rookie should ever be judged until December – that includes RJ.

  142. I do think the Hawks would be just as well positioned if they simply drafted Doncic, but Trae Young was a big hit for them, he’s simply a very very good player. The team that will end up regretting the most not picking Doncic is probably going to be Sacramento though, as they could have a core of Fox, Doncic and Hield, and they wouldn’t have traded for Harrison Barnes and could have used that cap space to get better big men. I don’t think Bagley is going to be a bad player, but they missed the opportunity to add a truly special player to their young core.

  143. I think we should make Barrett exactly what he is. He’s a SG/SF that can rebound and make plays better than the typical SG/SF and certainly better than you’d expect from a 19 year old at this stage.

    He should be a secondary playmaker when he have a more traditional PG on the court (like Payton) and he should step up his ball handling and playmaking when he’s on the court with a player like Frank.

    The latter is the kind of team Phil envisioned when he was in charge. He wanted multiple playmakers and a lot of player and ball movement driving the offense (like the Spurs and Warriors) instead of all P&R or isolation (like the Rockets and most other teams).

    The idea being, when you are running a traditional PG dominant system that’s heavy on the P&R like everyone else, a good defensive playoff team can take that away or at least throw a damaging money wrench into the gears. When you are running an offense with multiple playmakers and a lot of player and ball movement, it’s a lot tougher to stop. It’s also a lot tougher to learn and master. But Frank, RJ, and Randle may be able to pull it off.

    The real problem is that you probably have to commit to one style or the other. Personally, I think it’s obvious which style works better. Defense (stress on defense and two way players), multiple playmakers, ball and player movement, and one or two players that can score out of ISO late in the clock is what wins championships.

  144. Go see Big Thief live. Aside from not playing the title track on UFOF, they sold me on the stuff from Two Hands. “Not” and “Forgotten Hands” were especially good.

  145. you can’t really trust a front office’s drafting ability if they had the opportunity to pick luka and said ‘no thanks’…. trae young will probably be good to great… but passing on the best prospect since durant and yes probably better than zion is gonna wind up being a huge mistake…

    their draft moves since then were highly questionable and passing up guys like culver or white for hunter and reddish is gonna wind up hurting them a great deal in the long run… young and collins are fine but but they’ve languished multiple opportunities to add to that great core…

  146. @156 I think Trey is going to be an absolute beast though. Certainly more than defensible that they traded Doncic to get him plus an extra pick. May be smart even.

    Now using that pick on Cam Reddish though…

  147. he’s probably good.. he certainly has played the part in the last calendar year… but luka put up unprecedented numbers in the spanish league for a guy his age… he was as sure a thing as there was going into the draft and the upside for him was very high….

    trae also has some of that upside but the bar for him is raised considering where luka was at… there’s no way they were equivalent and trae is gonna need to get very close to what curry is doing… and he’s simply not curry… he might get close in the shooting department but there’s a lot of other components to curry’s game that trae probably won’t ever get close to which limits his ability to capture that upside…

  148. Right — djphan hits it on the head. Luka was hands down the best prospect in that draft class. Let’s accept it: there is no reason to trust a scout when he says that an NCAA player will catch up to a guy playing at that level at that age on that stage.

    Anyone who told them to pass on Doncic was doing it out of ego or ignorance. He was the Euroleague MVP as an 18-year-old.

  149. Out of the three teams who passed on Luka, I give the Hawks most benefit of the doubt. At least they got Young and a pick.

  150. Forgotten Eyes is definitely my favorite so far off of Two Hands. NYC definitely inures you to other people around you having issues that threaten to disrupt your day and not facing suffering has a cost on both sides. And the delivery of her vocals is just heart rending.

  151. I was as high on Young as anyone last year, I had him even with JJJ as the best college prospect, but even I thought Doncic was a no brainer at #1. I think history will be kind to the Hawks because Young is so good but I think the Kings and to a lesser extent the Suns will be kicking themselves for the next 10 years.

  152. By some measurements Trae Young was the worst defensive PG in the league last year.

  153. I haven’t heard Big Thief yet but there is currently a 100+ comment thread on my Facebook feed about forgotten eyes being a knockoff of oasis.

  154. Any song in particular? I don’t hear a bit of Oasis. This might be one of those things where someone with limited genre exposure draws a weird comparison, like when I was in a band that sounded a lot like darker-era Dinosaur Jr. (You’re Living All Over Me, as opposed to, say, Beyond) and a girl I was seeing (who had never listened to loud indie music) said it reminded her of Blink 182. For the musicians out there, our guitarist used a ’62 AVRI Jazzmaster, a Klon Centaur and a Fender Bassman stack; drummer used K Zildjians; and our bassist had a Sunn 300 bass stack with a ’62 AVRI P-Bass with the crunch channel engaged. We sounded NOTHING like Blink 182’s Mesa Boogie/A Custom Zildjian sound, not even in gear/tone. But that’s what she knew, so that’s what she said.

  155. Starting lineup presumably

    Payton/RJ/Morris/Randle/Mitch (if healthy)??

    Or do people think Fiz will do something else funky.

    Good opportunity for Frank to get some burn against Kyrie.

  156. Big Thief
    Ok. Since i read about them in here for days now i thought of giving em a spin.
    Just heard ‘Not’ in my cellphone via youtube.
    Not bad. I wasn’t very impressed at the first part where the vocalist sang(too much pedestrian indie for me) but the instrumental part was pretty good !
    I definitely prefer my beloved Pavement and Mazzy Star over them but i wouldn’t mind checking them out under better conditions (audio system/better audio source).
    Nice

  157. I think tonight the rotation will be

    Payton
    RJ
    Morris
    Randle
    Mitch/Portis

    DSJ
    Ellington
    Knox
    Portis/Trier
    Taj

    With Frank and/or Dotson on the outside looking in if a lot of guys foul like crazy.

  158. Fiz should start 5 PFs and send the NBA to another level of consciousness !

    I can definitely see him running Randle at point and Knox at the 2 sometime.

  159. Its pretty possible that we’re living in historic times for the sport.
    We may be witnessing history in the making of the New Basketball.
    Positionless & Coherentless.
    Instinctive !
    Get in ! Kill ! Eat !!
    ‘Jungle’ Basketball invented by Fiz.

  160. My AD wants me to bet a burrito that the Knicks won’t beat the Lakers in LA.

    What I should I do, yall?

    (to clarify, I’m not bragging that the Knicks will beat the Lakers at all this season. What I told him was, “Don’t let the Knicks even beat you once this year, especially at Staples” since he thinks we can be beat by the top G-league team.)

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