SummerKnicks 71, SummerBlazers 69: Notes and highlights

Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

A dramatic ending in Las Vegas pushed the SummerKnicks to 2-0

A sloppy, disorganized, and often agonizing Summer League game gave way to a dramatic, intense ending. The SummerKnicks were often lacking in execution -- and effort at times -- as they trailed the SummerBlazers for long portions of the game. However, a late flurry, led by some good defensive possessions, some offensive captaining from Shane Larkin, and some big buckets lifted the Knicks to the victory.

A few individual notes on the game:

- Derek Fisher's gotta step up and curb some of these Summer League chucking habits from Tim Hardaway Jr. Though Timmy's a second-year player and already a rotation guy, this is still a learning experience for him, too, and launching haplessly isn't a good way to approach his second year. He finished with 20 points on 6-16 FG, 3-8 3FG, many of which came early in the clock and off little ball movement. If Hardaway gets open looks off swing passes or kick-outs, that's cool; pull-up threes and the like aren't cool, unless he's really feeling it.

- The Knicks missed Cole Aldrich's (strained calf) anchoring on both ends. The Jeremy Tyler-Jordan Henriquez duo offered little in the way of defensive reinforcement, and neither provided the same low-post, high-post initiating on offense. Miss you, Cole.

- Tyler provided some nice moments on the low post, hitting face-up and fade-away jumpers, but he doesn't have a lot of range from the high post, and he simply isn't a great passer (4 TOs). The ball often got sticky in his hands on the low block, and as a result, the offense became stagnant. I counted a few possessions of nice help defense, but he didn't do a great job tracking opposing big men, either.

- Jordan Henriquez gathered 7 boards in 20 minutes of action and was generally pretty active down low. However, he's stiff and awkward on the offensive end and fumbles passes and opportunities around the basket.

- Cleanthony Early mucked up an otherwise solid game with an icky ending. With 20 or so seconds left on the clock, he hedged a pick-and-roll, stopped the ball-handler and seemed to switch onto him. Then he just ran away back to his original man, leaving the Blazers an open lane to the basket. The Blazers bumbled the possession, Early leaked out, got hit with a pass from Larkin, and then missed the wide open layup that would've put the Knicks up four with just seconds on the clock. So, that was that.

- However, elsewhere, Early did a nice job squaring up and hitting a few deep twos on face-ups, and he hit one of his two three-point attempts early in the game. He struggled to defend the bigger Thomas Robinson and got posted and toasted a few times, but that'll happen until he gets bigger. Silly mistakes, like fouling a guy from behind on a pull-up two, will hopefully get ironed out with time, too.

- One other Early note: I like one play he and Larkin run where Larkin dumps the ball into Early in the high post, cuts hard to the basket, and Early turns around, faces up, and hits the jumper. They ran it successfully twice.

- After a really slow start -- 0-7 from the field start -- Shane Larkin got it going in the second half. I thought he did a decent job of fighting over screens and sticking with ball-handlers, but he didn't run a very crisp offense early on. As the game progressed, however, he began making some nice entry passes to the post, and he managed the clock well toward the end of the game. He hit a big three-pointer off the catch and ended up sealing  the game with a lofty baseline floater with 28 seconds to go,

- The defensive intensity jumped up a level very time Thanasis Antetokounmpo entered the game. He hounded ball-handlers, forcing a bad pass as soon as he checked in in the first quarter and later an eight-second violation on an inbounds. His offense needs work, particularly his passing (he telegraphs a bit), but he did follow up a miss with this big putback dunk, so all's forgiven. If he doesn't go back to Europe, I think he's playing himself into a training camp invite (which I guess is expected of a draft pick, but still).

- The bench folks didn't stand out much again. Cameron Moore, I thought, had the best play of the game of the bunch when he chased down Thomas Robinson on a fastbreak, harassed him on a reverse layup attempt, and helped the Knicks re-secure the ball. Effort is always appreciated.

- Brandon Triche got minutes off the bench as the back-up point guard. He didn't really do anything all that noteworthy, either. Consequently, no minutes for Langston Galloway today.

- Shannon Brown is gunning hard for a roster spot. Like, force-a-drive-and-layup-on-a-4-on-1-fastbreak hard.  He hit some nice jumpers and made some nice cuts to the basket, but nothing all that special. I think he looks better than he is because he knows the system better than the rest of these folks. But it's still Shannon Brown. We know what he is at this point.

- Finally: "I have jocks older than the Knicks coaches!" - Clyde, who was quite happy the Knicks won in regulation so he could go eat chicken. Love you, Clyde.

That's pretty much it for this one. It was am ore typical, sloppy Summer League game, and we were maybe spoiled by some pretty clean action yesterday. Nonetheless, the Knicks' top guys have all looked pretty good, and they're still undefeated!

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