You know that one aunt in the family who can't cook? And when you're all at the Thanksgiving meal, every dish on the table is three-quarters empty but hers is still untouched? Tonight's game between the Knicks and Magic, two early-season resurrections in the East, was yuck. Orlando won, 100-91, but really, no one won. This was a moral defeat for everyone who played and even those who watched.
Picture a butt. Now picture it ugly. That was the first half. No one could shoot; with three minutes left in the half, both teams were under 30% from the field. The Magic were ice cold; the Knicks were frostbitten. New York's most effective offense was missing a shot and hoping Robin Lopez corralled the offensive rebound. The Knicks blocked six shots in the first, which would've been kinda awesome if the Magic guards weren't getting to the rim every fucking play. The penetration broke down the Knick interior integrity and led to seven Orlando offensive rebounds in the opening quarter. The Knick energy was off from the get-go. There were a lot of lowlights, led by this eternal sunshine sequence by Carmelo Anthony.
Anthony and Lopez combined to shoot 8 of 15. The rest of the Knicks were 4 of 26. The half ended with Jose Calderon missing a free throw and Elfrid Payton hitting a pull-up jumper, which as far as NBA omens go is a blood moon and the seven seas catching fire.
The Knicks opened the third with a 7-0 run, nailing seven of 11 shots. Convenient. But all night their runs were unsustainable, in large part because Orlando wasn't turning the ball over (only three giveaways after three quarters) and because they got to the line all. Day. Long (27-32 FTs). The high point of the Knick runs was continuing to expand our consciousness of what 7'3" can look like.
After scoring 31 in the first half, the Knicks scored 28 in the third quarter. But they only cut two points from the Magic's lead and never really threatened.
- Your nightly Kristaps Porzingis Mother of God! moment:
Another angle of that KP block on Oladipo pic.twitter.com/JBFXF1GGiX— Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer) November 26, 2015
- Carmelo had 28 points on 9-17 FGs and 13 rebounds. There were stretches of time he was the only offense the team could muster. And yet...not a great game for Anthony. Normally scoring nearly a third of your team's points making over half your shots while leading the squad in rebounds grants one immunity. But there was something off with him tonight.
- Lopez had 8 points, 12 rebounds, and 2 blocks, like all in the first quarter.
- Porzingis shot poorly (3 of 13). But he had eight rebounds and six blocks.
- Calderon was great...on offense: 25 points, 8-14 FGs, 4-8 3PTs. On defense, he was the front door of a store opening at 6 a.m. Black Friday morn and Elfriid Payton was 300 people bum-rushing the front door.
- Payton: 12 points (6-12 FGs), 11 assists, 6 rebounds, only 2 turnovers. Tonight's apparently the night he figured out how to hit a jumper.
- Victor Oladipo was getting to the basket all night, too. 13 of 15 free throws, 24 points off the Orlando bench.
- Nikola Vucevic missed 7 of his first 10 shots, then hit 7 of his last 9. Tidy 22 and 12.
- The Knick bench shot 3-20. Cleanthony Early, the bell tolls for thee, yo.
- For a good stretch of the fourth quarter, Derek Fisher played the much-anticipated KP at 5/Melo at 4 lineup. Too early to really give it a review. But I hope/suspect we'll see more of this look late in games.
- Also in action tonight: the unanticipated Kyle O'Quinn/Kevin Seraphin lineup, once in the first half, once in the second. It was undoubtedly a thing that occurred.
- Watching Channing Frye matching up with Porzingis was a great moment in 21st century Knick fanboy history. One month into Frye's career, there were Tim Duncan comparisons and Isiah Thomas bragging he'd have taken Frye with the number one pick. Just keep working, Kristaps. Just keep on keeping on.
- Early in the game Porzingis put on a one-man full-court press, and I imagined the terror the first dinosaur ever to see a T-rex on the move must have felt.
- There were an unusual number of New York possessions where not one guy on the floor realized the shot clock was running down. Like, it happens, but it happened a lot tonight.
- Despite the bench's struggles, no Derrick Williams tonight.
- Sasha Vujacic played big crunch-time minutes. I mean...
- Lance Thomas plays like he has Michael Jordan's brain, but Lance Thomas's body.
- Early in the fourth, ex-Knick Jason Smith did this to Porzingis.
Dickish? Yes. Unwise, considering Porzingis is a god and Smith looks like the guy who invented clip-on ties? Yes. But it was part of a night of continuous Smith antagonism toward KP. He kept roughing him up away from the ball, too, throwing him around. A half-minute later:
That wasn't the worst of his assaults, but it was the last. Carmelo came over and stood up for Porzingis, which was nice but unnecessary. Kristaps had already cursed Smith with an ancient Latvian spell, the darkest fate known to man: every day for the rest of time, Jason Smith will be Jason Smith.
Quoth JR and the Off-Balance Shots: "Goddamn this lineup is not good." The bench was especially not good. The Knicks have all the motivation they need to pick it up for their next game Friday at home vs. the Heat, who embarrassed them Monday in Miami. The only thing that ages better than turkey day leftovers is revenge.