Preseason is over. Instead of releasing stored energy from a few days off, the Knicks just kinda got their last exhibition game out of the way and fell to the rowdy rowdy Celtics. The score doesn't matter, but I do think we'll see some games like this in the regular season, especially early. Derek Fisher's going to send out some lineups with slow defensive backcourts, and that's going to make the big men roam and scramble trying to patch all the leaks. There will be easy baskets and fouls, and those'll tilt the game if New York can't take care of the ball and hit their jumpers and stuff. Such was the case for a while tonight, so the Knicks found themselves in a hole. Even half-assed, they nearly climbed out of it, which was nice, but forget it. Let's talk about the individuals.
- Kristaps Porzingis is gonna foul some people sometimes because he just takes up a lot of space and generates a lot of lateral momentum. Someday, he'll learn to harness that and be a monstrous defender, but for now it's a coin flip between Kristaps using his length to stop people and Kristaps's length using him to topple people. Honestly, the fact that he provides *any* of the former sort of possession -- and he's been good for a handful of seriously impressive contests each night -- pleases me. 3 fouls in like 4 early minutes tonight, though.
Aside from a pretty hideous turn-and-fire off the backboard on his first real touch, Kristaps had a very clean offensive game. He took care of the ball and met aggressive Celtics defense with some effective dribble moves. It was fun watching him lope all the way from the arc to the right side of the rim for a gentle lay-in -- a finish that I think would have been a dunk if Porzingis weren't so astonished he'd slipped through the defense.
Dude also slammed a mighty put-back dunk late in the game and I barely even reacted. It's weird watching a Knicks rookie find his sea legs without freaking out over every little success.
FIsher said he wasn't gonna play Afflalo at all in the second half but was persuaded by the player, who was hurt couple minutes into third.— Stefan Bondy (@SBondyNYDN) October 23, 2015
I can't tell if that's throwing Arron Afflalo under the bus or not, but whatever. Afflalo tweaked his sad hamstring early in the second half after a pretty nice first half. I like that the Knicks have set him up in the post against smaller guards, and I like that he's gotten buckets down there. I'd love to see him survey the floor a bit from that position, but we can't have everything.
- Jose Calderon looks as bad as he's supposed to look on defense, even with healthy legs. Calderon does some shit, though, man. I suppose that's easy to say after he shot 6-11 from the field on a variety of looks and helped out a bunch on the glass. I was intrigued by Fisher's decision to play the starters with Langston Galloway instead of Afflalo for a bit in the second half until I realized that was just the product of Afflalo going to get his hammy checked out. I like that backcourt pairing, anyway.
- I get the feeling that when the going gets tough, the sentiment of "Robin Lopez does a lot of little things you don't necessarily notice" will drift toward "Robin Lopez does nothing." He turned some deep post looks into absolute garbage this evening, and he arrived a step late to a succession of Tyler Zeller and Jared Sullinger attempts around the basket. His screens remained the most useful on the floor, and he made a bunch of other shots and passes more difficult for the Celtics, but ... yeah, this was one of a couple games in which Lopez was more glaringly absent than present.
- Overpassing sometimes. Just sometimes. Better than underpassing! Mostly the bench guys. They're fun.
- If Derrick Williams is just gonna keep hitting open, assisted jumpers then I don't really know what to say or do. He was quite a boon to the second unit throughout preseason.
- On the overpassing note, I LOVE O'Quinn's dishing, but he's also gotta figure out which shots are his favorites and just pull those when they're open. The big guy improvising like a guard is mostly fun and endearing, but it gets a little wacky sometimes.
- Cleanthony Early cutting to the right spots: Good. Cleanthony Early pull-up jumper: Good. Cleanthony Early filling the lane in transition and launching smoothly to dunk in traffic: Good. Cleanthony Early's preseason overall: Pretty good!
- I don't know why MSG showed us grainy footage of Lance Thomas accidentally elbowing Cle in the face during warmups -- an incident with no lasting effect to speak of -- but they did that!
- Don't care about Melo's shooting line. 4-18 is gross, but it'll happen. Do care about Melo very much having that wrong-footed Dirk step-back in his repertoire now. Should be a once-a-night thing.
- Jerian Grant stays keeping his head up and stays lasering the ball up the floor at every opportunity. Jerian Grant also stays getting cooked by cutters a couple times per outing.
- The Knicks went "small" at times -- Melo/Cle/center or Melo/Williams/Center -- but that just seemed like a result of foul trouble. The spacing actually seemed worse for those minutes than it has with bigger lineups around Melo, which makes sense to me given the skill sets of the players involved.
I'm ready for some real basketball. I don't think it will be a triumphant season, yet I am convinced it will be fun and productive. 5 days!