Give Enes Kanter an inch and he’ll take a mile’s worth of space in your head. Devin Booker found that out last night as he let Kanter goad him into a second tech while his Suns were outhustled at home 107-85. After three games that saw us give up over 120 points, it was a great change of pace to see the team playing with some fire and demoralizing another squad. We can also expect this game to start the rumblings for a new starting point guard.
KANTER GOES OFF: With Phoenix missing their best defender in Tyson Chandler, Kanter was able to dominate. Greg Monroe is not known for his defense nor rebounding and couldn’t do anything with Kanter, who led the team with 20 points and 10 rebounds. He was active in rolling to the basket and got several easy layups and dunks. But his biggest play came with four minutes remaining in the third when he blocked Devin Booker. He let Booker know about it and the Suns guard, who was already was struggling on 4/12 shooting, shoved Kanter in frustration.
Booker had received a tech earlier in the game for a flagrant 1 on Tim Hardaway, who he pushed in the back on a fast break. The Kanter shove proved costly as Booker was tossed with his second tech. Without Booker, the Suns offense got even more anemic and the Knicks lead was 81-67 entering the fourth.
TREY BURKE BUILDS HIS CASE: There might be something to Trey Burke’s physically resembling the second coming of Allen Iverson. He scored 15 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter, looking unstoppable at mid-range and getting to the basket. The pace picked up considerably with his floor presence and the Suns were prevented from the quick double-teams on KP and others we see when Jarrett Jack is in the lineup.
I’m not ready to jump the gun just yet on Burke starting. However, if he keeps this up for five more games, Coach Hornacek has a no-brainer of a decision to make.
QUIET BUT EFFECTIVE KP: Porzingis didn’t have a monster game, but the Unicorn was impactful on both ends. He shot an efficient 6/11 from the floor, prowled the paint with three blocks, and broke the game open in the third on a fast break dunk that made it 67-51. I’ve noticed that KP plays more relaxed when others have their offense going. I was impressed to see him quickly passing out to reset the offense when good post-up positioning wasn’t there.
STARTERS GET IT DONE: Four starters hit double figures and everyone had monster plus-minus numbers: Lee +27, Jack +23, Kanter +22, Hardaway +19, and KP +15. The third quarter, where the Knicks outscored the Suns 28-18, essentially put the game out of reach.
THE ROAD TRIP ENDS: Going in, most of us believed this extended road trip would decide the season. That’s not quite the case since our 3-4 record keeps us in limbo. The playoffs are still within reach but so is a high draft pick. No matter which direction we go, my concern remains that are young guys (KP, Frank, Dotson etc.) continue to develop and not get stagnant at the expense to playing time for guys who aren’t in our long-term future.
The Knicks are back at MSG on Tuesday January 30 against the Nets.