Late pass on this review, but before tonight’s game against Detroit I had to drop some thoughts on our impressive 111-104 home opener win over the Grizzlies last weekend. After being embarrassed by Cleveland on national TV, I was interested to see how our squad would perform. Although it’s early, the mentality I saw on the court leads me to say with confidence this might be our most mentally strong team since the late 90s.
BLEW THE LEAD, BUT NEVER GAVE IT UP: Despite building a near 20-point lead in the first half, the Grizzlies slowly got themselves back in it by making it a plodding, half-court game where Marc Gasol and others feasted at the foul line. Like Knicks teams in recent years, there was a lot of complaining to the refs (particularly Melo, who earned himself a technical). But unlike our former teams, we held firm and put the game away in the fourth. Rose’s playmaking combined with Noah’s interior defense proved to be the difference maker in the fourth.
KP and Melo = 41 POINTS: We waited all last season for these two to put up big numbers simultaneously. We got it with Porzingis dropping 21 points on an efficient 7/11, and Melo going for 20 despite getting mauled in the paint and refs swallowing their whistles. That is the main reason for his 5/15 field goal performance, but Melo made up for it by going 9/12 in free throws.
NOAH IS OUR HEART AND SOUL: This man was fired up from the opening tip and his energy proved contagious. His post presence was a big factor in holding Gasol to 5/15 from the field, and he cooled off a heating up Zack Randolph in the fourth. His stat sheet (6 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists) shows the versatility Noah brought. His passing was crucial in getting others like Courtney Lee (16 points) off to quick starts.
Barring no serious injuries, it’s hard for me to imagine this team not making the playoffs.