Last night, rookie Ron Baker had an impromptu meeting with actor Bill Stiller during garbage time of the Knicks’ 93-77 victory of the Mavs. Baker crashed into Stiller while chasing a loose ball and stuck around for a quick dap after the play ended. Hey Ben, do the kid a solid and get him a small role in your next movie.
What a difference a halftime makes. Coming off the disappointing loss to the Jazz on Sunday, and a tough stretch of games coming against division rivals Boston and Toronto, tonight’s game against the Nets was the proverbial “must-win.” With a 2-4 record, the Knicks couldn’t afford to dig themselves an early hole in the win-loss column. Despite the slow start, a 3rd quarter scoring barrage from Carmelo Anthony (22 points) coupled with excellent passing from Brandon Jennings (11 assists) and offense from Kristaps Porzingis (21 points) powered New York to a 110-96 victory at Madison Square Garden.
TRASH EARLY DEFENSE: We don’t carry the dubious distinction of having the worst defense in the league for nothing. The Nets came out smoking from behind the arc with 5 three pointers in the first and backup Justin Hamilton burning us for 15 points. The Knicks shot an abysmal 28% with Melo’s 0/4 start being the main culprit. Down 29-19 after 12 minutes, the Knicks’s bench was also outscored 16-7.
SLOWLY RIGHTING THE SHIP: The second quarter was sloppy (5 Knick turnovers by the 7:52 mark), but sheer effort pulled New York within striking distance. The ball started moving due to Joakim Noah’s passing, and Melo found his offense by via two three pointers that slashed the deficit to three, 53-50. Although the Nets held the lead at halftime, the Knicks kept the fouling and free throw opportunities in check (7 personal fouls, 9 Net free throws).
MELO’S 14 STRAIGHT: Early on, the third quarter was a mixed bag. Derrick Rose (14 points) scored 6 points to narrow the deficit to 59-58, but then the Knicks had one of their bouts of ineptitude and failed to score for the next three minutes. Brooklyn went on a 8-0 run to extend their lead to 67-58.
Then Melo woke up. His did most of his damage on mid-range jumpers, scoring 14 straight points to get New York a 70-69 lead headed into the fourth.
THE EURO LINEUP: The early fourth quarter lineup is where Coach Hornacek has had issues. But tonight, he staggered the starter minutes to allow Porzingis to run with Jennings, Vujacic, Hernangomez and Kuzmiskas. Sasha kicked off the fourth with a three pointer and would be a +23 despite a two bonehead turnovers. Jennings shot poorly (1-6), but was the arguably the catalyst for this victory with his passing. He found Porzingis twice for open three-pointers and as a trailer on a dunk turned three point play. That capped a 20-7 run that put New York up 92-78 and essentially iced the game.
PROMISING DEVELOPMENTS: Porzingis’ 21 points marked the first time in his career where he’s had three consecutive 20-point games. The scary thing is he still hasn’t developed a go-to move in isolation, so he’s dependent on screens and moving off-ball for his opportunities. If he keeps moving at this pace, those moves will gradually come and he’ll be ready to become the first option on offense within 2-3 years.
Willy Hernangomez had his best game as Knick — 14 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocks. He excelled with the second unit manned by Jennings and not surprisingly showed great chemistry with old teammate Porzingis. Hernangomez’s skill with the pick and roll gives him immense upside over Kyle O’Quinn when it comes to playing time decisions.
Today’s win marked the first game this season where the Knicks held an opponent under 100 points. Yes, one of Nets’ key pieces in Jeremy Lin wasn’t playing, but business was handled against a team short on talent. After a first half which saw them shoot 55%, the Nets could only manage 41 points in the second half and had a stretch of missing 14 straight shots.
The Knicks are back in action this Friday against the Celtics.
Derrick Rose met the New York media for the first time today and officially began his tenure as a New York Knick. True to his personality, Rose was very candid about his thoughts on the trade and want he plans to accomplish going forward.
“I hope I can play the rest of my career here, but I understand this is a business,” said Rose, who’s in the last year of his contract. “We’ll see how this one year goes, but I’m putting my all into this. I’ve been working my butt off.”
Undoubtedly, the comment that will get the most airtime is Rose’s thoughts on why the Bulls traded him.
For the second straight game, the Knicks went into overtime, executed better, and defeated a scrappy foe. Last night it was the Utah Jazz, lead by Gordon Hayward’s 27 points and Rodney Hood’s 27 points, that refused to go away until New York edged the OT scoring battle 19-12 to pull out a 118-111 victory.
Yes, New York made it harder than necessary. But these were the type of games we lost regularly last year. We’re now seeing a poise and clutch factor that will be essential to our playoff hopes.
2ND QUARTER DROUGHT AND PLAYING FROM BEHIND: New York went over five minutes in the second without scoring a single point, allowing the Jazz to put together a 13-0 run and go into halftime with a 48-37 lead. Until late in the fourth, the Knicks were playing catch up and struggling to contain the Jazz’s outside shooting (44% from three-point range).
MELO LEADS THE CHARGE: Our leader scored 22 of his game-high 30 points in the second half. Melo did most of his damage in the paint, including several late dunks and nifty passes (9 assists) to keep other guys involved. He hit Williams (18 points), Afflalo (14 points) and Galloway (9 points) during crucial fourth quarter possessions for three-pointers.
And remember Melo did this in his second game back from an ankle sprain and just one game removed from logging 49 minutes in double OT against the Sixers.
ROBIN LOPEZ OWNS THE PAINT: Rolo delivered a marvelous stat line of 22 points, 12 rebounds and 3 blocks. He battled tooth n’ nail the entire night and made sure driving guards got nothing easy at the rim.
PORZINGIS’ LEARNING CURVE: Our star rookie was had to sit in overtime after fouling out via a bonehead foul on Gordon Hayward’s three point attempt. The foul was especially costly as it came with 9 seconds left and New York leading 99-96. Hayward sunk his free throws and the Knicks had to end matters in overtime.
“There were a couple of unnecessary fouls for me that I can avoid and I’ve got to learn from those,” Porzingis told ESPN. “I’ve got to learn from my mistakes. It’s frustrating to sit on the bench and in overtime.”
BACK AT .500, BUT FOR HOW LONG?: The Knicks sit at 22-22 and just a half game behind Boston for the final playoff spot. Should New York put together a win streak, jumping as high as fifth isn’t impossible with Indiana holding just a two-game lead.
But let’s temper excitement. In recent weeks, the Knicks have gone on losing streaks every time they’ve hit .500. Getting over the hump won’t be easy as the Clippers come to town on Friday.
NEW YORK — Despite losing Carmelo Anthony to injury in the second quarter and Kristaps Porzingis to fouls late in the fourth, the Knicks received a spark from Jerian Grant to hold off the Celtics 120-114 in a Madison Square Garden thriller.
FIRST HALF BRILLIANCE AND LATE SCARE: The Knicks ball movement has been rolling and that continued in the first half. Porzingis (26 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks) blitzed Boston for 16 first quarter points, including 3 three-pointers. Melo chipped in 12 and looked fantastic as our main ball facilitator.
Then, disaster struck.
A freak accident happened when Melo was going back up the court and twisted his right ankle on the ref’s foot. We all held our collective breaths and breathed a sigh of relief when he walked out under his own power. X-rays later turned up negative, and just one half of play showed what a tear he was on with 17 points (7/10), 4 rebounds and 3 assists.
A PLAYOFF-LIKE BATTLE ENSUES: Melo tried to give it a go, but felt too much pain and had to come out just 19 seconds into the third. That left Porzingis as our primary scorer, but he was benched quickly after collecting his fifth foul. The Knicks had every reason to fall apart with Isaiah Thomas (34 points, 8 assists) cooking them on drives and threes for a 12-point third quarter. But New York never gave up the lead due to timely hooping from Robin Lopez (15 points) and Derrick Williams (15 points, 10 rebounds) to take a narrow 85-81 lead into the fourth.
THE TEAM DELIVERS: In crucial moments, every Knick carried his weight. Robin Lopez kept working in the post on both ends, D-Will got out on breaks, and Arron Afflalo (24 points) abused Jae Crowder in the post. These contributions kept the Knicks competitive with Porzingis not coming until under 5 minutes. Unfortunately, KP then fouled out with over 2 minutes remaining.
Boston briefly got the lead due to KP’s foul being on a three-point attempt (105-106), but New York scored on back to back possessions via a Lopez hook and Williams dunk to take the lead for good.
CONFIDENCE BUILDER: This was a fantastic win. First, we need to overtake Boston if we hope to get a playoff spot. Second, the role players discovered they can compete and win by moving the ball, playing smart defense and trusting each other even in the absence of Melo and Porzingis.
Most important was Jerian Grant having his best game as a Knick with 16 points and 8 assists. He was what we sorely need at point guard — a two-way threat. If this game marks a turning point, the sky is the limit.
New York is back at .500 (20-20). The last time that happened, we promptly went on a four game losing streak. This time, it feels different. We’ll know for sure tonight when the Knicks are back in action against the Brooklyn Nets.
I think it’s safe to say we’ll be hearing that chant at Madison Square Garden for years to come. With no foul trouble holding him back, Kristaps Porzingis put it all together tonight with the best game of his young career (29 points, 11 rebounds) as the Knicks beat the Hornets 102-94. Although this was yet another game with fourth quarter woes, our team showed resilience in tightening up and getting the job done.
DREAM SHAKES AND LETHAL LONG-BALL: Porzingis was all over the court tonight. His teammates kept him involved on the perimeter and fed him down low. His showed how killer he can be in the post with a smooth Dream Shake fadeaway. His hands were active around the basket and that made Melo confident in feeding him for layups:
Offensively he came through for us. It felt good to hear his name chanted in the arena. I’m proud of him.
Melo’s passing (5 assists) and rebounding (11) were strong, but his shooting touch was off (6/18). He missed numerous layups at the rim, and usually a night like this would produce a Knicks loss. Porzingis showed his value in not just being a strong second option, but also being able to take over on a cold Melo shooting night.
And when we have nights where both are shooting well and scoring over 20? Whew, watch out league…
HORNETS 2ND UNIT HAS OUR NUMBER: Once again, the Hornets benched outscored ours 41-27. Jeremy Lin had a strong second quarter where he got to the rim at will (13 points). Even Spencer Hawes was balling for a stretch, hitting two three pointers and finishing with 14 points. Luckily, the Hornets as a whole took some sloppy shots late in the fourth and the Knicks were able to pull away. Kemba Walker decided he wanted to show out for his hometown (31 points), but his one-man show wasn’t enough.
UNSUNG HEROES: Much attention will be paid to Porzingis’ big night, but several cast members made this victory possible. Arron Affalo looked for his shot the entire night, dropping 16 points and doing his part (along with Melo) to hold Nic Batum to 1/9 shooting. Langston Galloway (9 points, 4 rebounds) continues to hit clutch shots (usually threes) to lift our team in key moments. His three to close the third put us up 80-72. The Hornets would get close, but never got the lead.
Karma for Toronto? What should have been the biggest highlight of Kristaps Porzingis’ young career turned into massive disappointment when his three-point buzzer beater was waived off for being a millisecond too late.
Here’s my take — I’m not mad at the refs for calling it off. From most angles, the ball appears on Kris’ fingertips with 0.0 remaining on the clock. My main problem is the time he was given to make the shot. Zoeller’s layup on the previous play should have left 0.08 on the clock instead of the 0.06 we were given. If that had been done, Porzingis would rightly have his buzzer beater.
Nonetheless, that’s not why we lost. The rotations were head-scratchers at times and one the catalysts that helped Charlotte erase two double-digit leads we had in the second half. Robin Lopez has proven to be our best defensive big and needs to be coming in the fourth as early as possible. Amundson needs to be in the rotation before Kevin Seraphin. And speaking of Kevin, playing him and Derrick Williams at the same time should never be done again. Losing this game rests solely on being outscored 14-26 in the final 12 minutes (Note: a lot of it was due to dumb fouls on NY’s part). Not to mention Charlotte dominated the bench battle 45-29.
Despite the bad bench play, we had a few bright spots. Arron Affalo looked good offensively in his first game back. He had 12 points (50% FG) and 6 rebounds in 28 minutes. The only issue for him was defense as Nic Batum beat him off screens several times. Porzingis notched another double double (10 points, 15 rebounds), and Melo had a scorcher of a second half to finish with 29 points.
The Knicks will quickly have to put this heartbreak behind them as the Cavaliers come to town on Friday.
In all honestly, I planned on doing a recap of this game on Wednesday, but I was too pissed off. The Cavs were begging the Knicks to beat them. Their three-point shooting was non-existent, defense suspect, and LeBron couldn’t get into a shooting rhythm.
But never fear Knicks opponents, victory is always within reach when Jose Calderon is on the floor! The season is young, but it’s no hyperbole to state Calderon is the worst starting point guard in the league. On paper, his stats are atrocious — 4.6 pts (27% FG), 2.4 assists, and three-point shooting at 31%. But the eye test is where Calderon looks even worse. He literally can’t keep any opposing guard in front of him. Mo Williams dropped 22 points on him. Amazingly, Fisher had Calderon playing in the final seven minutes. At the time, the game was even. A few minutes of errant passes and stagnated offensive sets later, we found ourselves down by double digits.
This rant sums up my feelings quite well.
WHERE ART THOU SHOT, MELO???: Games like this are when we could really use the old Melo. Unfortunately, most athletes don’t hit the ground running after major knee surgery, so I’m not expecting Melo to return to form completely until around late December. Despite the bad shooting (17 points, 6/18), Melo was strong with his defense on LeBron (23 points, 9/23) and getting boards (12).
PORZINGIS EXCELS…WHEN HE’S ON THE COURT: Our rook continued to impress. In 21 minutes, he put up 13 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks. He’s currently leading the team in the latter two categories. The problem is the foul trouble kept him benched for long stretches in the second half. It really hurt us because he went out midway in the third just when he had started putting repeated buckets on Kevin Love. Outside of his brain fart fouls, Calderon’s issues with keeping his man out the paint contributed to Kris’ fouling. Nonetheless, Kris’ confidence is growing. Phil got us a gem.
Kristaps Porzingis’s best game of the young season was overshadowed by a scary fall with Carmelo Anthony that resulted in a neck strain.
Late in the fourth quarter tonight against the Spurs, Porzingis fell while battling for an offensive rebound. Anthony secured the ball but tripped while going up for a shot. He fell with full body weight on the back of Porzingis’ neck.
The rookie was down for several minutes before rising under his own power.
X-rays were negative and a concussion was “ruled out,” Knicks officials confirmed. The strain is being viewed as a “soft tissue injury.”
Porzingis scored struggled with his shot (5/15, 13 points), but was a force on the glass with 14 rebounds (8 offensive), and on defense with 3 steals and 2 blocks. The Spurs would win the game 94-84.
At press time, Porzingis is expected to be reevaluated tomorrow.
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.