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Langston Galloway has boosted the Knicks with clutch transition defense

The best kind of transition defense, really.

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Knicks sophomore slumps are absolutely soul-crushing. Every player goes through slumps, but whenever I see those symptoms in a promising second-year Knick, I feel like a 14th-century European villager living through The Black Death: Just throw him on the corpse pile next to Landry Fields and Tim Hardaway.

Langston Galloway caught a mean case of Sophomore Slump Fever at the beginning of December. He couldn't hit a shot to save his life, and whether coincidentally or not, the rest of his play fell off as well. There were times when barely looked like an NBA player, though, to be fair, neither did most of his teammates.

But fear not, friends, for Galloway is experiencing a Renaissance over his past few games. The three-ball isn't quite back to the level it was -- though, let's face it, he was never going to be a 50-percent shooter from beyond the arc -- but he's back to doing Langston stuff: rebounding, defense and clutchness.

In each of the past two games, Galloway helped lift the Knicks to victory with superlative transition defense at key moments. The loudest, most spectacular play came Wednesday night against Minnesota, with New York clinging to a seven-point lead.

"Oh, my bad, Zack LaVine ... didn't realize you were the reigning slam dunk champion."

As awesome as that block was, however, its overall impact can't quite match what he did to Damian Lillard on Saturday in Portland. The Knicks' bench had staged an improbable fourth-quarter comeback, but the Blazers still held a one-point lead when Lillard grabbed a long defensive rebound and streaked down the court. This was a moment made for FARTDOG -- the kind of situation where Knicks fans would probably settle for just the bucket, without the and-1 foul. But then Langston happened.

Transition D doesn't get much better than that, folks. Kyle O'Quinn grabbed the rebound, the Knicks scored on the other end and never trailed again.

Galloway has earned a reputation for hitting clutch shots over the past year, but we should never forget the effect his late-game defense can have on the Knicks' chances of pulling out the W. There's a reason Derek Fisher usually has him on the court late in the fourth: Kid just knows what to do.