We are privileged to watch the growth of a future superstar. Kristaps Porzingis delivered a career-high 35 points to lead the Knicks to a close 105-102 win over the Pistons at Madison Square Garden. Despite a focused game, the scrappy Pistons made sure the Knicks worked for this win until the final buzzer.
FEED THE BEAST: Melo said before the season that he’s never played with a weapon like Derrick Rose. That applies even more so to Porzingis, who feasted to a 25 point first half and truly showed how versatile (and scary) his game is. He worked unblockable fadeaways in the post, ran the floor for contested layups on fast breaks, and burned Detroit for three three-pointers. He shot 13/22 from the field and managed to get to the line seven times.
I said earlier in the week that Porzingis can take the reins at the #1 option in 2-3 years. But if he keeps up this pace, we might have a changing of the guard by next year.
MELO’S NOT TOO SHABBY: All the attention on KP should not negate another efficient game from Carmelo Anthony: 22 points (13/22), 5 rebounds and 3 assists. For this team to work, both guys need to continue being the one-two punch on scoring.
IMPROVED DEFENSE: We’re still a work in progress, but the last two games have shown some marked improvements. The Knicks are playing defense with their legs and stayed in front of their assignments. The Pistons were held to 12 free throw attempts compared to 19 for the Knicks. Joakim Noah’s (7 points, 15 rebounds, 3 blocks) defense, particularly in the first half on Andre Drummond, proved very effective. Drummond was contained to 15 points and 9 rebounds.
The glaring problem remains the three-point defense, which allowed Detroit to claw their way back in the fourth and nearly force overtime on the final play. Once that area gets under control, we’ll see a lot more easier wins.
SOLID BENCH PERFORMANCES: Justin Holiday (9 points, 5 rebounds) continued his solid play on both ends of the floor. Brandon Jennings was hot-dogging out there too much (got called for a carry), but his 7 assists keep the offense flowing in his 17 minutes. Kyle O’Quinn got the nod over Hernangomez and made the most of his 15 minutes. He tallied 6 points, 5 rebounds, 3 blocks (including one on Drummond) and 2 assists. Outside of KP, O’Quinn just might be our best post defender.
The Knicks complete their back to back tomorrow night in D.C. against the Wizards.