Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Images
Were you sweating bullets when Melo missed two free throws and Cousins put up that potential game-tying heave from past half-court? In years past, it would’ve been typical Knicks for this game to head into overtime. In 2016, the Knicks have the knack for winning close games as they overcame their inconsistent defense to defeat the Kings 103-100 in Sacramento.
MELO BOUNCES BACK: After a rough two days of deflecting Phil Jackson’s alleged “ball hog” comments and only managing 8 points in a blowout loss to the Cavs, Melo came out firing. He was 6/8 in a 15 point first quarter and had 23 by half-time. With Porzingis struggling, it was again on Melo’s shoulder to carry the scoring load.
Although he cooled off in the second half, he thrived from the free throw line (12/14 including two clutch ones to put New York up 103-100). It’s also important to not overlook Melo’s 7 boards and 4 assists. He made some beautiful passes out of double teams.
JENNINGS GIVES AND TAKETH AWAY: What an up and down game from Brandon Jennings in his second start. Offensively, most of his decision swere sound. He had 13 points on 50% shooting (5/10), and dished out 7 assists. But he also had some highly dubious moments. In the third with the Knicks up seven and trying to pull away, Jennings had back to back bonehead turnovers for easy layups. From there the game turned into a dogfight.
Worst of all was an airball free throw. However, Jennings atoned for his sins with two clutch ones in the fourth. Without him, we lose this game.
O’QUINN AND NOAH: DeMarcus Cousins didn’t have his three-point shooting tonight (0/6), but he ran amuck in the paint to the tune of 28 points and 12 rebounds. But our tandem of O’Quinn and Noah made him work and put their own stamps on the game. O’Quinn was so good last night that Hernangomez didn’t see the floor. Along with 8 points, O’Quinn snatched down 11 boards (5 offensive).
Noah added 9 boards and 2 blocks, but his biggest contribution was at the free throw line. With 2:09 remaining, the Kings held a 98-97 lead and tried the “Hack a Noah” strategy. Noah made them pay by hitting both free throws and New York never trailed again. A moment like that should be a huge confidence boost.
COME BACK SOON, D-ROSE: With Derrick Rose out, our primary backup PG is Sasha Vujacic. I’m sure I don’t need to go into detail why that didn’t work out too well last night (3 turnovers in 9 minutes).
SHOOTING WOES: I don’t know what is going on with Porzingis, but we need him to get it together and fast. Despite being 6/19 from the field (17 points), his 10 rebounds were a huge part of the Knicks’ dominance on the boards. This season has revealed that Melo cannot physically dominate every night anymore. For this five-game road trip to be successful, the Knicks need Porzingis to have a few 20-point games.
Last night’s win makes the Knicks 4-0 this season in games decided by 3 points or less. The Knicks head to L.A. on Sunday to face the Lakers.