Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Images
There was so much optimism coming into this game. We had a real chance to be 3-0 on this road trip headed into a difficult game on Thursday against Golden State. So what did the Knicks do? They played lethargic for most the game, get the lead, then choked away a 6-point cushion that results in a BS overtime loss.
There will be a strong desire to point fingers at the glaring culprits (Melo’s shooting and Jennings’ defense), but this loss goes deeper than that.
WAITING TOO LONG TO CARE: The Suns destroyed us in transition, holding a 33-8 edge in fast break points. Simply put, the Knicks just weren’t getting back on defense. In the second and third quarters, the Knicks went down by as much as 14. It wasn’t until the bench combination of Baker-Holiday-O’Quinn-Thomas-KP that New York got their offense together. You can credit a flagrant 1 committed by Marquese Chriss late in the third on Porzingis for finally getting the Knicks fired up.
BAKER OVERSTAYS HIS WELCOME: With Derrick Rose leaving in the first with back spasms and Jennings (3 points, 1-6) not playing well, Coach Hornacek turned to Ron Baker early in the fourth. The moved paid off immediately as the Suns racked up fouls and went into the penalty at the 9:18 mark.
A 19-4 run powered by Kristaps Porzingis and Kyle O’Quinn got New York a 95-91 lead. Then Baker showed his rookie decision-making. He blew a layup, made a bad pass for a turnover, and made an ill-advised one on one move to the basket. By the time he was pulled at the 1:40 mark, the game was tied.
MELO AND JENNINGS: I don’t think I’ve ever been more disappointed with these two. Melo was a horrific 3/15 (13 points). We saw the worst of Melo from airballs to getting stuffed at the rim by a guard in Devin Booker. With Jennings, he was a virtual turnstile on defense, allowing Bledsoe (31 points) to get to the rim at will. This resulted in KP fouling out and Bledsoe hitting the go-ahead OT jumper that sealed it.
KP and O’QUINN COULDN’T DO IT ALONE: These two nearly won the game. Porzingis had one of his best games — 34 points, 8 boards, 3 steals and 3 blocks. O’Quinn added 22 points and 14 boards. A key mistake from Hornacek was pulling Kyle in the fourth to get Melo back in during crunch time. That allowed Tyson Chandler (13 points, 23 rebounds) to crash the boards for second chance opportunities.
Let this be the game that’s a sobering reminder that we have a lot of work ahead. A good team has no business going life and death with the Phoenix Suns.