The Knicks extended their win streak to a season-best three games with a come from behind road victory against the always tough Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday.
The Knicks had every reason to pack it in when they went down 13 points early in the third quarter. Instead, they began chipping away at the Grizzlies’s defense behind a massive effort from Enes Kanter, who dominated the boards with a career-high 26 rebounds to go along with 21 points. Kanter’s efforts were an integral part of a 25-5 run to get the Knicks in front headed into the fourth quarter.
Tim Hardaway would chip in 22 points, including a late clutch three-pointer that gave New York a one-point lead with 2:20 left. Others found different ways to contribute. Although Trey Burke didn’t shoot well (3/15, 15 points), but he hit clutch shots down the stretch and secured a key steal that lead to a Mudiay And-1 dunk to put the Knicks up three with 1:35 remaining.
What I’ve enjoyed most about these wins is the young guns finding ways to win as opposed to the myriad of ways they stumbled into losses during the six-game losing streak. You can see the confidence building every game in guys like Burke and Mudiay.
Coach Fizdale tried to downplay the importance of this game, but we all know he took immense satisfaction in beating the team that fired him. Think he and Marc Gasol exchanged any pleasantries after the game?
Next up is another road test on Tuesday against Blake Griffin and the Pistons.
If only we could play the Nets the rest of the season. Riding monster efforts from Kristaps Porzingis (28 pts, 6/8 from 3) and Enes Kanter (20pts 20 rebs, 5 asts), the Knicks completed a 4-game season sweep of the Nets 111-95. After falling behind 3-0 in the opening minute, the Knicks never trailed and go whatever they wanted on offense.
KP’s CAREER NIGHT: Porzingis set a personal record with six three-pointers. The Nets were a step-slow in respecting the Unicorn’s range and he never lost his early rhythm. With Kanter dominating the post, this gave the offense a potent inside-outside punch that kept the floor spread.
PROTECT KANTER AT ALL COSTS: Listen, I want all talk of trading this guy to stop. Defensive issues aside, he’s one of the more talented big men we’ve had in years. His offensive rebounding (5) sucked the life out of Brooklyn when they attempted to make runs. Going 8/10 from the floor and looking for teammates (5 assists) makes this one of Kanter’s best games of the season.
DEFENSIVE EFFORT: Although Brooklyn was held to 42% shooting, there was still glaring issues that can’t happen against credible teams. The Nets got multiple open threes but couldn’t convert. It was more alarming that several opportunities like this came in the fourth quarter when the Knicks’s 25-point lead had been slashed to 10.
On the positive side, the Knicks were after it when it came to passing lanes and preventing drives. Frank Ntilikina looked solid at two-guard with Trey Bruke manning the point. Frankie was a +10 off the bench with 8 points, 5 assists and one steal.
The Knicks return tonight with a tough road game against the Celtics.