Losses are to be expected in the wake of the devastating ACL injury last week to Kristaps Porzingis. In the meantime, us fans will have to look for hope where we can find it. Last night it came in the debut of Emmanuel Mudiay, who had a double double (14 points, 10 assists) and played most of his 29 minutes alongside Frank Ntilikina.
Hornacek’s rotations looked the best it has in weeks with aging starter Jarrett Jack only getting 8 minutes, allowing the young guards to work through mistakes and build chemistry. Ntilikina (12 points,+8) looked more comfortable playing off-ball and allowing Mudiay to push the pace and initiate offense.
However, the big concern remains Mudiay’s shaky jumper (5/14 FG). There were several times where he passed up on open shots to try and get closer to the rim. This allowed defenders enough time to close out and force the offense to reset. He can get away with that against the second units of decent teams like Indy. But against starters or good teams, it remains to be seen how detrimental his lack of shooting will be to our backcourt and overall offense.
Outside of the backcourt, Kyle O’Quinn (14 points, 9 rebounds) and Enes Kanter (17 points, 11 rebounds) delivered their usual gritty efforts. O’Quinn was an early fourth quarter spark and at one point scored 7 straight points (including his first trey of the season) to bring the Knicks within 10 after trailing by 20.
Unfortunately, the Knicks just couldn’t get stops when it mattered. They repeatedly gave up offense rebounds late in the fourth and couldn’t contain Victor Oladipo, who came on strong from a slow first half to drop 30 points in a 121-113 Pacers win.
We’ll see if the Mudiay-Ntilikina tandem can repeat their chemistry tonight at the Garden against the 76ers.