Porzingis and Hardaway Jr. Both Drop 30+, Stomp Cavs 114-95


Eastern Conference Finals here we come! Ok, I’m getting ahead of myself, but every fan of the blue and orange has to be encouraged by the total team effort last night that lead to a shocking 114-95 win on the road over the Cavs. We saw everything you want to see from a young squad trying to find an identity: poise, scrappy defense, ball movement and hustle.

Will it be this good every game? No, but consistent effort like this will put them in position to be competitive every night.

KP and THJ PUT IN WORK: Porzingis and Hardaway went off to historic proportions. Porzingis had another 30-point game (first in franchise history to start the season with four 30+ point games out of five) and neutralize Tristan Thompson by getting him in foul trouble. Although most of KP’s damage was done in the first half, he had a few timely defensive stops in the fourth (including a block on D-Rose), and a three-pointer to push the Knick lead to 13 with less than three minutes remaining.

Hardaway came into this game shooting an abysmal 28%. Early on, the struggle continued until Tim just exploded from the perimeter. He was red hot behind the line (3/6, 50%). And once the close-outs came, Tim went aggressively into the lane to hit layups or fouls. When the smoke cleared, Hardaway finished with 34 points (11/19) and a +22 when on the floor.

We can thank these two for the reason the Knicks had a 29-19 lead after one quarter, and lead by as much a 19 late in the third.



LOCKDOWN: Unlike the first home game against Detroit, the Knicks didn’t fall apart when the Cavs made a second-half run. They slashed a 19-point lead to six before the Knicks exploded on a 27-7 run to break Cleveland’s spirit. Here the supporting cast shined. Frank Ntilikina struggled with his shot (2/5), but used his length for deflections, steals (2) and pushing the ball to keep teammates involved.

Courtnet Lee had his own milestone with his first double double (15 points, 10 rebounds) of his career. In fact, four of the five starters hit double figures. And the one who didn’t, Jarrett Jack, was the catalyst for the ball movement with nine assists.

The Knicks won’t get to rest on their laurels. They face the scrappy Nuggets at home tomorrow night to complete the back to back. Letdown or another momentum-builder?

[Video] Defense Loses Games: Knicks 107, Raptors 118


Photo Credit: USA Today

I couldn’t write about this game on Saturday because I was too pissed off. If there was ever a game that was an indictment on how bad our defense is, it would be this loss to the Raptors last Saturday.

If you would have told me going in that Carmelo Anthony would have 31 points with Derrick Rose and Kristaps Porzingis adding 21 points apiece, I would have supreme confidence the Knicks would enjoy a blowout win.

Alas, you don’t get easy wins when you statistically have the worst defense in the league. The Knicks couldn’t defend the pick and roll in crunch time, allowing Kyle Lowry several clear drives to the rim to ice the game in the final minutes. Maybe it wouldn’t have gotten to that point if the Knicks could play defense without fouling — the Raptors got 38 free throw attempts to the Knicks’ 16. New York also allowed 20 points in transition.

The verdict is clear nine games into the season. If the Knicks can ever salvage themselves to play adequate defense, they make the playoffs with a decent seeding. If not, we’ll have another extremely disappointing year in the books.

[Video] Wasted Opportunities: Pistons 102, Knicks 89


D-E-F-E-N-S-E. What does that spell, ladies and gentleman? If you’re a Knicks player, you couldn’t spell nor understand the concept as the Pistons torched them from three-point land and dropped the Knicks to 0-2 on the road. Considering this was the first of a three games in four nights stretch, this defeat is extremely disappointing against the “easiest” team paper.

OPEN SHOTS: At one point last in the first half, the Pistons were shooting 59% from the field. Marcus Morris seemed on pace for a career night with 16 points on 7/9 shooting, and repeatedly made Melo look slow and old on the defensive end. Melo was efficient on the scoring end with 14 points, but the lack of defense made it essentially trading baskets with Pistons going up at one point by 13 due to the second unit not being able to score.

FRONTCOURT DOMINANCE SANS DRUMMOND: Coming into last night, the main concern was containing Andre Drummond, who on a good night can have a 20-20 game. In that regard, Joakim Noah (2 points, 12 rebounds, 8 assists) did a fantastic job holding him to 9 points (Drummond did manage 13 rebounds). The problem was due to Noah not being able to slack off Drummond, Tobias Harris and Morris (22 points) went off. The former had 25 points on 8/12 shooting, which is a big indictment on how bad Porzingis and Lance Thomas guarded him. Harris had way too many easy looks at the rim. Overall, the Pistons outscored the Knicks 50-32 in the paint.

RANDOM BIG NIGHT: If you’re looking for an x-factor, it was Pistons guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. He nailed four treys and delivered 19 points. Once again, the Knicks failing to close out adequately on shooters was a huge issue.

CLOSING WITH A WHIMPER: Despite how bad we looked for three quarters, the Knicks were right there in the fourth down 89-92 with nearly six minutes left. From there we had two bad iso situations with Rose and Melo, and would not have a field goal the rest of the game.

BAD LINEUPS: Because we’re playing Houston tonight, I understand Hornacek was trying lineups that would preserve our starters. The problem was the guys he selected for big minutes, like Lance Thomas (1-6 in 26 minutes), couldn’t produce. Since our bench is weak when it comes to offense and playmaking, every lineup out there needs to have at least one starter that can score (Melo, Rose or KP). Thomas wasn’t pulled until 3:22 left in the fourth.

We’ll see if home court gets us re-energized for the Rockets.



Knicks Contain Drummond, Defeat Pistons 108-96


NEW YORK — The Knicks received by efforts from Robin Lopez (11 points, 6 blocks) and Derrick Williams (18 points) to snap a four-game losing streak and beat the Pistons 108-96 at Madison Square Garden.

Melo lead the way with 24 points and kept the Knicks close throughout until Williams exploded for 16 points in the fourth on 5-6 shooting. The team effort was rounded out with Calderon (15 points), Kyle O’Quinn (12 points) and Kristaps Porzingis (10 points).

The main threat coming in was Andre Drummond, and the Knicks did a superb job of throwing different bodies at him and keeping him from dominating the glass. Although no Knick had more than 7 rebounds, Drummond was held to 13 points (5/15) and 9 rebounds. Leading the way for Detroit were Ersan Ilyasova (19 points) and Reggie Jackson (17 points).

A big positive to take from this game is the Knicks are 11-2 when they score at least 100 points. But a glaring problem this season has been the losing streaks — this was the third time the Knicks had lost four straight. If we hope to get a playoff spot, these stretches of futility cannot keep happening.

The Knicks are back in action on New Year’s Day against the Bulls.

Guard Blues: Knicks Drop 4th Straight in 100-91 Loss to Celtics


BOSTON — New York’s slide continued in Boston with the team showing urgency too late and dropping their fourth straight in a 100-91 defeat to the Celtics.

As was the case last night, the Knicks looked outmatched against a team that showed more poise, execution and diversity in their offense. This game was an alarming example of how inadequate our guard play is on both ends. The backcourt (including subs) produced 14 points on 6/23 shooting. Meanwhile, Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas alone had 21 points and a field day against Jose Calderon. The guards couldn’t keep their assignments out the paint, forcing the defense to collapse to help and opening up other opportunities for Celtics scoring.

On offense, no one is taking it to the hole consistently. We’re a mid-range shooting team that can’t shoot.The Knicks are 43% in field goals for the season. Last night, New York shot 21% from three and 37% from the field, making any hopes of a comeback nil despite getting within 5 points with five minutes remaining.

With no help from the guards, the scoring load fell on Melo and Porzingis, who both put up numbers but couldn’t be efficient. Melo lead all scorers with 29 points (11/26) and 10 rebounds, his second double double on back to back nights. KP went for 16 points (4/13) and 12 rebounds.

Every game is making it clearer is that the Knicks need to make a move for a dynamic guard (or two) before the trade deadline.

[Video] Melo’s Near Triple Double and Porzingis’s Block Party Lead Knicks Over Timberwolves 107-102


NEW YORK CITY — Karl Anthony Towns “won” his rookie battle against Kristaps Porzingis, but the Knicks, powered by a near triple double from Carmelo Anthony and 29 points from Arron Affalo, held on for a 107-102 victory last night at Madison Square Garden.

Despite the Knicks blowing a 20 point halftime lead and letting the Wolves get within three points in the last minute, you never got the feeling New York would blow the lead. Melo, Galloway and Affalo all hit clutch free throws to ice the game. Moving forward, the first half should be the template for how the Knicks play going forward.

MELO’S BRILLIANCE: This was by far Melo’s best game of the year. When Affalo having the hot hand, Melo focused on defense, rebounding and being a facilitator. His stat line of 20 points (6/15), 15 rebounds and 9 assists shows how much of a two-way threat he can be when his teammates are hitting shots.

AFFALO LESSENS THE LOAD: Affalo was aggressive all night with his outside jumper and slashing to the basket (8/9 from the line). Every game, he contract looks to be an absolute steal.

BENCH PLAY: The Knicks got key contributions from Lance Thomas (14 points, 7 rebounds) and Langston Galloway (12 points, 6 assists). It was great to see Galloway finding confidence in his shot and being locked in on defense. In the crucial final minutes of the fourth, he had a key offensive rebound and a nice chase-down block on Zach LaVine.

PORZINGIS VS. TOWNS: KP was overly excited with this matchup and didn’t shot well (4/14), but his defense was fantastic. The Latvian prince has 7 blocks on the night to go along with 11 points. Towns was a beast all the court wit three-point plays in the post and hitting outside jumpers. He finished with 25 points and 10 rebounds.

The Knicks are back in action this Friday against the Sixers.



[Video] The Buck Stops Here: Knicks Stomp Milwaukee By 25 in Season Debut


MILWAUKEE, WI — Watch out starters, the bench players are coming for your jobs. With Carmelo Anthony and the rest of the starting lineup struggling with their shots, the Knicks bench shouldered the load with a combined 73 points to lift New York to a crushing 122-97 road win.

COMING BACK STRONG: The Knicks had a slow shooting start (2-12) and struggled with keeping the scrappy Bucks out the paint. An 8-0 Milwaukee run had them down 11-4, but the insertion of Derrick Williams and Jerian Grant provided a big energy spark. Even in the penalty with 4 minutes remaining in the first, the Knicks remained aggressive with their man to man defense and forced the Bucks into woeful perimeter shooting. Powered by DWill’s 11-point first quarter (24 for the game), New York went on a 15-0 run between the first and second quarters to take command of the game with a 34-23 lead and never looked back.

ALL-AROUND CONTRIBUTIONS: Even when the Bucks got down by over 20 in the third, they remained determined to get back in the game. But every time they got close to single digits, a key basket shut them down. Four bench players hit double figures, and Kyle O’Quinn had one of the better all-around performances with 8 points, 11 rebounds and 2 blocks. Rookie point guard Jerian Grant stepped up due to Jose Calderon’s foul trouble and dropped 10 points, 5 assists and pocketed 3 steals.

PORZINGIS SHOWS HIS VALUE: Our prized pick struggled with his shot (3-11), but still made a strong impact by getting to the line (9-12). He ended up with 16 points and 5 rebounds on a “bad” night. When that shot starts going down, he’ll be a constant threat that opens up the game for Melo. [youtube https://youtu.be/Qy1kjYVvQGs]

TEMPERED EXCITEMENT: While it was great to dominate like this with a key starter (Arron Affalo) and bench big man (Kevin Seraphin) out, we need to keep in mind the Bucks were missing two of their best players (Giannis Antetokounmpo, O.J. Mayo). However, the effort and focus we saw was missing most of last season. In addition, this year’s team has playmakers. I’m on board with Charles Barkley (gasp) that New York makes the playoffs barring any serious injuries.

MELO CONTRIBUTES IN OTHER WAYS: Melo finished with 11 points (4-16), but impressed me with 5 assists, including one to kick off the game. No, Carmelo won’t be dropping triple doubles anytime soon, but this indicates what he can do when surrounded by competent athletes.

OTHER KEY POINTS: The Knicks won the rebounding (49-47) and assist (24-17) battles, and also forced 18 turnovers (6 alone on Michael Cater-Williams), helped by 11 steals.

BACK AT IT TONIGHT: The Knicks get no rest as they’re at MSG for a stiff test against the Atlanta Hawks. I’m interested to see the reception Tim Hardaway Jr. gets.

[Video] Melo, Knicks Excel in Preseaon Debut, Blow Out Brazil 100-81


The Knicks are back and we’re undefeated! Look, I know it’s just one game, but after last year we need every chance to celebrate.

Before our Garden faithful, the Knicks dominated the Brazilian Paschoalotto Bauru 100-81, blowing the game open by outscoring them 36-19 in the second quarter.

Carmelo Anthony showed no signs of any issues on his surgically repaired left knee, scoring 17 points in 20 minutes on 8/10 shooting. The squad also got big efforts from our newly acquired big men Kevin Seraphin (14 points, 7/11) and Kyle O’Quinn (14 points, 5/7).

Our prized rookie, Kristaps Porzingis, had a rocky start (2 misses and 2 turnovers to start), but eventually settled down to contribute 7 (2 three-pointers) points in 21 minutes. You see the potential, but you also see the long road of work ahead — the standout sore area is rebounding (just 2).

The Knicks are back in action tomorrow with a road game against the Washington Wizards.

[Video] Lopez Game-Winner Extends Knicks Losing Streak to Eight


NEW YORK CITY — The Brooklyn Nets blew a 16-point second half lead, but were saved by the Brook Lopez putback with 2 seconds left to hand the New York Knicks their eighth consecutive loss.

The Nets rode the output of Lopez (18 points, 7 rebounds, 5 blocks) and Deron Williams, the latter having one of his best games of the season with 26 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists.

The Knicks struggled for most of the game but ignited a 17-7 run to start the fourth. Rookie Cleanthony Early (14 points) was a focal point and eventually tied the game on a 3-pointer with 1:07 left. Unfortunately, Early would miss a game-winning three on the final play. Andrea Bargnani also had a solid game on the offensive end with 22 points.

The Nets win gives them their first 4-0 season sweep of the Knicks since moving to Brooklyn. New York travels to Washington D.C. on Friday to face the Wizards.

Boos, Cheers and Late Hustle: Pistons 97, Knicks 81


Make that 10 straight losses. The Knicks suited up just nine players tonight against the Pistons and spent most of the game in an offensive and defensive fog, going down by as many as 30 points before settling on a 97-81 defeat. Game like this don’t yield many positives. However, the game’s last few minutes allowed for a few moments of cheering.


EARLY PROVIDES A SPARK: Rookie Cleathony Early suited up for the first time since mid-November after going down with a knee injury. Nothing about his numbers tonight will jump out at you — 5 points, 1 rebounds and a steal in 14 minutes of play. But the rook showed strong effort. His most notable moment was a coast-to-coast drive that resulted in a three-point play opportunity. His ethusiasm picked up the energy of the rest of the team and got JR nailing a few threes to bring the lead back under 20.

With only a two minutes left, the fans knew the Knicks wouldn’t be overcoming a 16-18 point deficit. But the fact the team actually gave a damn resulted in loud cheers that would make you believe we were watching a tight playoff game.

Early hasn’t been tainted yet by the constant losing. Fisher should keep him in rotation and maybe his youthful enthusiasm will get contagious.


ANGRY BOOS: Before the late run, most of the night was filled with irate boos from the Garden faithful. The Pistons started pulling away in the second via an 11-0 run that put them up 40-27. With their best players out (Melo, Hardaway Jr, Stoudemire etc.), that Knicks were relegated to contested jumpshots and were shooting well under 40% They were outscored 33-18 in the second and down 58-37 at halftime.

The hammering continued in the third with Brandon Jennings sinking repeated threes. The fans were booing at every intermission and each time it seemed to sap the team’s focus and confidence. The lowest point came with Jennings hitting a three at the end of the third that put the deficit at 82-52.


RANDOM NOTES: JR Smith lead the team with 22 points, going 8/20 from the field (mostly due to chucking threes in the final minutes). Cole Aldrich had a solid outing against Andre Drummond with 11 points, 14 rebounds and 3 blocks. Drummond had a low scoring night (7 points), but was a beast on the boards with 20 rebounds.

Andrea Bragnani was playing just his second game this season when he re-aggravated his right calf and left after a minute. No word on how much time he’s expected to miss.

The Knicks’ challenges mount as the team will play tough teams over the next week in the Grizzlies, Rockets, and Wizards.