You may have heard this before, but the Knicks lose to the Rockets a lot. Entering tonight's contest, they hadn't won a game in Houston since the night before Malice at the Palace. That happened 11 years ago! Well, I have some good news for you, dear reader: New York has found a prescription for that malady, and his name is Kristaps. Yup, Kristaps Porzingis dominated once again, racking up 24 points, 14 rebounds, and 7(!) blocks in a 107-102 win.
Both teams came out of the gate playing sloppily, with the Knicks especially not defending as well as we've become accustomed to. By the time the game hit halftime, however, the offense seemed to get into a flow and the defense began to pick up. The Rockets wouldn't go away quietly though, and while our boys at one point built up a 7 point lead, Houston kept the game close. They took a 99-98 lead on two Corey Brewer free throws with about 90 seconds remaining, and things looked bleak considering the Knicks' recent history in the Toyota Center. But, as he is wont to do, Kristaps saved the day, drawing a foul after yanking down an offensive rebound and then draining both foul shots. New York would never relinquish the lead from that point on, and finally knocked off the Rockets.
- So yeah, this was definitely Kris's best game, which is crazy because we say that basically EVERY FUCKING NIGHT. Those 24 points came on 8/12 shooting and in a variety of ways. He hit threes (2/3 from beyond the arc). He got to the line (6/6 on free throws). He knocked down post-ups. He nailed a ridiculous lefty hook, which, what the shit?! It was amazing to watch.
- Of the 14 boards, 5 were offensive. And, oh yeah, like I said, 7 blocks. Kristaps Porzingis is a monster. Side note: he caused Clint Capela to foul out with about 5 minutes left, which was nice since Capela put up career highs in points and rebounds.
- Here are some other things to know about Kris:
Knicks defense with Porzingis on the floor: 4th. Knicks defense with Porzingis on the bench: 23rd.— Michael Pina (@MichaelVPina) November 22, 2015
Only 3 times has someone 20 or younger had at least 24 pts, 14 reb & 7 blk. Shaquille O'Neal did it twice Kristaps Porzingis did it tonight— Kenny Ducey (@KennyDucey) November 22, 2015
h/t to our pal Joe Flynn for alerting me to that second one. I really don't want to talk about anyone other than Kristaps, but I probably should, so let's move on.
- Lance Thomas had another good game! He completely shut down James Harden for long stretches. There were a few mistakes in there, including a dumb foul with 8 seconds left in the first half, but James Harden is good at basketball, so whatever. Lance even came in to replace Carmelo Anthony for defense on a few late possessions! Further, Lance was not a total negative on offense, which is about all you can ask for. By the way, if you'd like more proof of Lance's defensive prowess:
I have taken note of literally 10 outstanding individual defensive plays by Lance Thomas tonight— Seth Rosenthal (@seth_rosenthal) November 22, 2015
- Melo wasn't much of a factor tonight for two reasons. One was Kristaps. The other was foul trouble, which led to him playing only 25 minutes. He did score 14 points on 5/10 shooting and pulled down 6 rebounds though. Hit a pretty important three pointer off a Porzingis block late in the fourth too.
- I completely forgot until just now that Dwight Howard didn't play tonight. Kristaps probably would've made him retire due to shame or something anyway.
- The Knicks hit 12/25 threes tonight, which is obviously unsustainable, but it felt much less fluky than it did last night. The guys you expect to hit threes were the ones hitting them: Langston Galloway, Arron Afflalo, Kristaps, Melo, Jose Calderon.
- Afflalo also played a good defensive game, by the way. On offense, he only shot 6/18, but like I said, he hit his threes (4/7).
- Jerian Grant continues to miss literally every shot he takes, but he is SO good at drawing contact. 6/6 from the line in only 13 minutes.
- Here's a cool thing our other pal Christian Baber pointed out:
Never forget that he's the reason we have Kristaps.
- One last thing before we go. Check out the defensive possession that pretty much sealed the game.
That's a full 20 seconds of perfect defense. Look at 9 seconds in, when Afflalo could have easily been shook by Harden, but recovered quickly. Look at freaking Jose Calderon close out on Trevor Ariza as soon as the pass comes at 13 seconds in. Not a single Rocket is open at any point during this possession! The Knicks are good at defense. I still can't really wrap my head around it.
All of this awesomeness adds up to a four-game winning streak, and it's mostly thanks to Kristaps. Probably better to call this a "KNICKSTAPS WINSTREAKINGIS" in that case, like fomalhaut said in the game thread. The Knicks play in Miami on Monday. I bet neither Chris Bosh nor Hassan Whiteside are ready for the full Krisperience, but they're gonna get it. Actually, you know what? I hope they're ready. It won't matter anyway.