Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Images
Three nights ago, Karl-Anthony Towns burned the Knicks for 47 points in Minnesota. The Knicks made a vow that wouldn’t be the case in their house.
“We accepted the challenge,” Kyle O’Quinn said.
The Knicks did just that in holding Towns to 4 points in the first half and locking him up for two blocks in the final minute to take a hard-fought 118-114 victory at Madison Square Garden. Aside from a ridiculous collapse at the beginning of the fourth, the Knicks showed great composure and dominated the game with good passing and defensive rotations.
MELO IN THE FLOW: Everything was clicking for our leader. He was a +22 on the floor by making quick decisions with the ball. He hit the open man when the double teams came, and worked well off picks to get open looks. He had 25 points on 50% going into the fourth and was able to conserve energy by having two other guys score 20 points despite Porzingis struggling. He finished with 29 points.
ROSE IN ATTACK MODE: Derrick Rose didn’t get every call, by his aggressiveness forced the refs’ hands. His 24 points came not only from his creativity at the rim, but also several solid mid-range jumpers. If this can become a consistent weapon, the team offense opens up even more.
KYLE O’QUINN = TOWNS STOPPER: Ok, I might be going a bit overboard, but Kyle O’Quinn deserves tremendous praise for one of the best Knick performances so far this season. O’Quinn delivered 20 points (9/11), 13 rebounds and 2 blocks. He was a complete animal on the offensive boards with 7 and made all the critical hustle plays.
When the momentum shifted and Minnesota took a 102-101 lead, it was O’Quinn who grabbed the offensive board off two Porzingis missed free throws. He scored a contested layup to retake the lead and the team never looked back. The Knicks’ 13-4 run over the last six minutes was punctuated by O’Quinn delivering a rifle pass to Anthony for a fast-break layup and a 112-106 lead.
The Wolves went back to Towns, but O’Quinn blocked him in the paint. On Town’s second attempt, O’Quinn forced him into the help defense of Porzingis, leading to a jump ball and another Knicks possession.
Who would have thought tonight’s game would end up being a duel between Towns and O’Quinn with our guy being the winner?
BENCH DIFFERENCE: The fortunes flipped tonight with our bench being the one that struggled. The worst stretch was the first 3-4 minutes of the fourth as the Knicks committed 5 turnovers leading to a 12-2 Wolves run. The lineup (Jennings, Sasha, Kuzmiskas, O’Quinn, Hernangomez) was completely inept with Jennings showing visible frustration and not getting back on defense. It was surprising to see Jennings get that rattled and Coach Hornacek wisely benched him in crunch time.
Overall, the Knicks bench was outscored 47-21.
PORZINGIS OUT OF SYNC: KP had a horrid shooting night (11 points, 2/12), but made up for it on the defensive end (3 blocks). Most of his shots were good looks, but his positioning just seemed off. Another matter was him not being aggressive on mismatches. Several times in the fourth, he settled for passive jumpers despite having a little guard like Ricky Rubio on him.
OTHER BUSINESS: Joakim Noah and Courtney Lee sat this one out with injuries. Lance Thomas returned, but only played three minutes. He did hit a three, so maybe he’s brought his jumper back from rehab.
- Carmelo Anthony was 5/10 from three-point range. (season high)
- Every Knick starter hit double figures for the second time this season