Rusty KP? No Problem! Lee’s 24 Lifts Knicks Over Grizzlies


Kristaps Porzingis struggled in his return from a bad ankle sprain, but Courtney Lee, Jarrett Jack and Enes Kanter provided enough support to hold off the Grizzlies 99-88 and improve to 11-5 at home. As we’ve seen in most home games this season, New York started off slow and caught fire in the second half. However, there remain glaring weaknesses that need to be addressed.

THREE-POINT DEFENSE: No team is ever out of it against us due to our poor perimeter defense. After going up by 17 late in the third, the Grizzlies chipped away behind threes and had cut it to six in the fourth. If it were a matter of talent, I’d be more understanding. But we saw in the closing minutes that guys like Lee and Lance Thomas can lock down the perimeter when needed. Against subpar teams like this, we can get away it. But as the schedule gets tougher in the new year, this will sink us when facing the decent and elite squads.


KP’s OFF NIGHT: Porzingis looked like the KP from his rookie season. The Grizzlies were physical and prevented him from getting set in the post. He started 3/9 and later struggled to make quick passes when the double teams came.

But its how you finish. The Grizz made a late fourth-quarter run to get within six 88-82. KP got physical and pushed off the defender to hit a long jumper, and an open three on the next possession to push the lead out of reach at 95-82 with two minutes left. A funny moment came when he got a tech for hanging on the rim after an alley-oop from Kanter. I’ll take a KP off-night (18 points, 42% FG) when it comes with a win.

ROLE-PLAYER SUPPORT: Courtney Lee led the way with 24 points (10/17 FG). He did it from three (4/6), got to the rim, and played strong defense. When the Grizzlies got it to six in the fourth, Lee was the player who broke the momentum with a slashing drive to make it 90-82. It was also good to see him taking time to hold Micheal Beasley accountable on defense.

Jarrett Jack kept the offense flowing to the tune of 10 assists and chipped in 10 points. Lances Thomas had a quiet scoring night (8 points), but his value can’t be understated. He was a +19 while on the court due to his defense. And late in the fourth, you saw him calling out defensive switches and making teammates press fullcourt to make sure the lead was held.

Kanter never got into a complete offensive flow due to Marc Gasol. He was 4/10 (12 points), but still managed to deliver a double-double by grabbing 12 rebounds.

And as much as we give Beasley grief for his defensive woes, the man was a +19 off the bench with 14 points.

TRAP GAME TONIGHT: We’re facing the lowly Bulls, but it’s not like we haven’t gotten burned by trash teams before (see the Hawks game). Plus it’s a road game. It’ll be interesting to see if the squad has learned their lesson.


[Video] Courtney Lee’s Late Rally and Melo’s Clutch Shot Cap Comeback Over Hornets


Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Images

Through the boos and struggles to the defend the three-point line, the Knicks persevered behind a surprise fourth-quarter barrage of playmaking from Courtney Lee and a clutch jumper from Carmelo Anthony to take a much-needed 110-107 win at Madison Square Garden.

KP’s HOT START: It finally looks like Porzingis’ shooting drought may come to an end. He had 10 points in the first quarter and two thunderous dunks in the second quarter. Things came off the wheels a bit in the third in that he didn’t score and got in foul trouble trying to contest the penetration of Kemba Walker and other guards. Unfortunately, it looks like until the Knicks get guards that can stay in front of their man, KP will be in chronic foul trouble.

He finished with 18 points (8/11), including a timely jumper to make it 107-101 in the final minute before fouling out. The 3 blocks were a huge plus as well. It’s broken record at this point, but the coaches and players need to find a way to keep KP involved on offense throughout the game.


O’QUINN BOUNCES BACK: We’ve been lauding the potential of Willy Hernangomez so much we’ve overlooked how effective Kyle O’Quinn can be. He reminded us with a strong game: 10 points, 7 boards and 3 blocks. A few of those blocks came in crunch time when he swatted a Walker layup attempt and a three-pointer. The man even hit his first three of the season. No complaints.

JENNINGS STEPS UP: With Rose leaving the game with a sprained ankle in the third, it was on Brandon Jennings to step up. He did with marvelous 31-minute performance. We needed his scoring and he delivered with 15 points on 6/11 shooting, including a corner trey that put New York up 105-101 with less than 2 minutes remaining. When BJ is attacking the rim, you can’t ask for much better.

MELO SHUTS UP THE CROWD: It was sad to watch Melo getting booed on every touch. He was having a miserable shooting night (18 points, 8/26, 11 boards), and the crowd was letting him have it. Nevermind he was getting dumped the ball with 5-7 seconds on the shot clock and everyone standing around. The weeks of being made the media scapegoat for all the Knicks’s problems have created this atmosphere. Nonetheless, he still showed why he remains our best closer by hitting a driving baseline jumper on the final Knicks play. The shot came as O’Quinn was fouled underneath the basket, creating a three-point play to make 110-105 with 13 seconds left.

Lord knows I have my issues with Melo’s game, but the constant booing was ridiculous.


BUILD AROUND COURTNEY LEE!: Ok, I’m exaggerating a bit, but Lee’s fourth-quarter heroics show why we need him to be more aggressive on offense. With Melo unable to bail us out late in the shot clock, the Knicks desperately needed someone to make a play. Lee provided that, scoring nine straight points including a go-ahead three-pointer with 1:39 left. He did it on an array of shots: a mid-range jumper, contested layups and a three.

The most important play from Lee came off a steal and fast-break where he dished to an open Jennings for a corner three-pointer.

I think our sense of urgency is picking up and we realize that we can’t keep saying it’s early in the season. We’re four or five games out of the playoffs, I think we realize now that time is running out.

With Lee’s talent there’s no reason he can’t be a consistent 13-16 point scorer. Let’s hope he keeps this desperation mentality for the rest of the season.

WHAT A DIFFERENCE DEFENSE MAKES: The Hornets were having their way through three quarters, particularly from the three-point line. Of their 13 treys, five of them came from Marvin Williams, who was repeatedly left open. Rose couldn’t stay in front of Walker, who dropped 31 points. It wasn’t until the fourth when the Knicks clamped down to hold Charlotte to six minutes without scoring. New York finished the game on a 17-5 run to cap the comeback.

Triumphant Homecoming: Rose and Noah Lead Team Effort Win in Chicago


CHICAGO — It was an emotional return for Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, but the former Bulls channeled it into efficient teamwork and ball control to score a much-needed Knicks win at the United Center. Coming off two sub-par losses to Detroit and Houston, New York saw every starter hit double figures and gave fans their first true glimpse of this team’s potential.

RED-HOT START: The Knicks came out with strong ball movement and sharp-shooting from Courtney Lee, who went 5/5 (10 points) in the first as the Knicks jumped out to a 16-point lead. Bulls were powered by Dwyane Wade’s (35 points, 10 rebounds) abnormally hot three-point shooting and offensive rebounding from Taj Gibson. Still, the Knicks held a 32-23 lead after 12 minutes for their best quarter of basketball since the Memphis game.

A SCARE AND RIGHTING THE SHIP: The Knicks’s bench unit couldn’t manage to score even with KP in the lineup. Wade continued hitting threes and Jimmy Butler got to the line, allowing Chicago to take the lead in the final minutes. Although New York was outscored 34-24, a breathtaking half-court lay-up drive from Rose with 4.7 seconds left narrowed the deficit to 56-57 at the half.

PORZINGIS FEASTS: It says something about this game that KP had 27 points and still seemed low-key. He was doing it all over court from threes to running the floor for dunks. The ball moved well and allowed him to exploit mismatches. He got into foul trouble and left the game with around 7 minutes left, but his damage had been done. As Coach Hornacek stated, good things happen when the team gets him involved early. This was an excellent bounce back from the previous game where he had no field goals.

ROSE AND NOAH CLOSE THE SHOW: The Knicks held an 87-84 lead going into the fourth against a Bulls team that refused to go away. KP’s hot shooting sparked a 10-0 run, but his foul departure allowed the Bulls back in it due to Melo’s presence stagnating the ball movement. Three straight bad possessions caused an 8-0 Bulls run that closed the Knicks lead to 98-91.

From there, Rose and Noah caused havoc. Their two-man game got Noah several lay-ups. Rose would nail a tough and-1 lay-up with the shot clock expiring to push the lead to 111-102. And on the next play, a drive and kick for a Melo three would ice the game.

Rose would finish with 15 points, 10 assists and 7 rebounds. Noah was equally strong in outplaying Robin Lopez with 16 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals.

STARTERS STRONG, BUT BENCH STILL WORRISOME: The starting five put in work. Aside from those already mentioned, Melo added 25 points and Lee 17. But our bench could only manage 17 points. Horacek will have to continue being creative with the lineups to prevent scoring droughts.

The Knicks are back home on Sunday to face the Jazz.

[Video] Opening Night Statement: Knicks’ Team Effort Holds Off Grizzlies

Memphis Grizzlies v New York Knicks
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Late pass on this review, but before tonight’s game against Detroit I had to drop some thoughts on our impressive 111-104 home opener win over the Grizzlies last weekend. After being embarrassed by Cleveland on national TV, I was interested to see how our squad would perform. Although it’s early, the mentality I saw on the court leads me to say with confidence this might be our most mentally strong team since the late 90s.

BLEW THE LEAD, BUT NEVER GAVE IT UP: Despite building a near 20-point lead in the first half, the Grizzlies slowly got themselves back in it by making it a plodding, half-court game where Marc Gasol and others feasted at the foul line. Like Knicks teams in recent years, there was a lot of complaining to the refs (particularly Melo, who earned himself a technical). But unlike our former teams, we held firm and put the game away in the fourth. Rose’s playmaking combined with Noah’s interior defense proved to be the difference maker in the fourth.

KP and Melo = 41 POINTS: We waited all last season for these two to put up big numbers simultaneously. We got it with Porzingis dropping 21 points on an efficient 7/11, and Melo going for 20 despite getting mauled in the paint and refs swallowing their whistles. That is the main reason for his 5/15 field goal performance, but Melo made up for it by going 9/12 in free throws.

NOAH IS OUR HEART AND SOUL: This man was fired up from the opening tip and his energy proved contagious. His post presence was a big factor in holding Gasol to 5/15 from the field, and he cooled off a heating up Zack Randolph in the fourth. His stat sheet (6 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists) shows the versatility Noah brought. His passing was crucial in getting others like Courtney Lee (16 points) off to quick starts.

Barring no serious injuries, it’s hard for me to imagine this team not making the playoffs.

3-and-D! Knicks Sign Courtney Lee to 4 Year, $48 Million Deal


The starting lineup is complete. Eight year guard Courtney Lee has signed four year, $48 million contract with the New York Knicks.

Word broke earlier this weekend about the Knicks’ offer. A confidential source told ESPN that Lee mulled the offer before speaking with the team’s othrt new signee — Joakim Noah.

[It] would not have happened without Joakim Noah. Courtney understands what playing for the New York Knicks means. He wanted to play in New York and Joakim Noah was instrumental recruiting him. Would not have happened without Joakim. Courtney couldn’t be more excited.

Lee started last season with the Memphsi Grizzlies before being traded to the Charlotte Hornets. He played in 79 games (started 65), averaging 9.5 points (45% FG, 38% 3P%), 3 rebounds and 2 assists.

This could be our sleeper free agent signing of the summer. With D-Rose’s penetration ability and the double teams that will come Melo and (to a lesser extent) Porzingis’ way, Lee will be get a lot of open looks from three-point range. Another plus is Lee’s playoff experience (including a Finals trip with Orlando in 2009) means he’s not one to shy away from the big shot.

But even more important than Lee’s offense is his ability to shut down opposing players. Too often in recent years, the Knicks have gotten killed on the perimeter due to our slow guards. Lee, as recently as this year’s playoffs, showed how underrated and important his defense can be in the fourth quarter.

And Lee is not injury prone! If our starting five stays healthy, I like our chances to make noise in 2017. Now let’s hop Phil can work some magic filling out this bench.



[Videos] Backcourt, Where Art Ye? — Celtics 90, Knicks 86


BOSTON, MA —  Considering it was “Friday Night Knicks” AND Friday the 13th, another ridiculous and painful loss should have been expected. After a masterful third quarter filled with excellent ball movement with our frontcourt of Melo (26 points), Bargnani (22 points) and Stoudemire (18 points) carrying the scoring load behind nice pick n’ rolls and sweet passes from the likes of Pablo Prigioni, it all went to hell in the fourth with ice-cold shooting, broken plays, and a fatigued Melo trying to bail the team out with seconds remaining on the shot clock (he couldn’t). As you can deduce from the title, the bulk of this defeat falls on our backcourt and the coaching rotations of Coach Woodson.

BACKCOURT INEPTITUDE: Let’s get started with the reason the game was lost. Our guards shot a combined 3-20. Prigioni was 1-6 (although he did contribute 8 assists), Iman Shumpert 1-8 (including several airballs), and JR Smith went 0-1 despite playing 26 minutes and the entire fourth quarter (he sheepishly said afterward he was trying to get his teammates involved). There’s no way a team can win getting that little from their guard rotations.

The main issue that stood out is when the defense tightens, none of our guards can break down their man and get to the rim. This leads to a lot of passing on the perimeter that fails to set up the plays and leaves Melo, the only player that can consistently take his man one on one, being left to try to make something happen (many times 20 feet away from the basket). Secondly, our backcourt can’t keep anyone in front of them, putting a lot of pressure on a frontcourt that isn’t the most savvy defensively with Chandler still out.

4TH QUARTER CHOKE: The Knicks had a 73-68 going into the quarter but had to go at it without Kenyon Martin , who left the game limping with an abdominal strain. That hurt on the defensive end because K-Mart was having a strong game altering lay-ups and snatching down rebounds (8 points, 7 rebounds). Our defensive rotations got sloppy and the Celtics went on a 13-2 run to tie it at 81. A Melo drive for a three-point play would give NY their last lead to 84-81. Open back to back threes from Courtney Lee (18 points) and Avery Bradley (13 points) put the Celtics up for good 86-84. New York had their opportunities — Bargnani had a few open mid-range jumpers that bricked, and Melo’s pass out of a double team for an open JR Smith three could have put the Knicks back in front. The team could only manage 13 points in the quarter and were outscored 22-13.

STAT POSITIVITY: Amar’e Stoudemire continued his excellent offensive play, shooting 7-9 (18 points) and nabbing 5 rebounds. Once again, he seemed to be phased out for much of the 4th despite hitting a bailout jumper to put the Knicks up 81-78. We’ll all continue to be skeptical in wondering if his knees hold up, but so far he’s looking spry and strong in the post. As a precaution, he’ll likely sit today’s game against the Atlanta Hawks.

MORE HOPE ON THE HORIZON: From comments yesterday, it appears that Tyson Chandler will return this coming week. That won’t fix everything, but at least the interior defense and rebounding will get a boost.

The Knicks are back at the Garden tonight to face the Hawks at 7:30 p.m. ET.