What an interesting, amusing, and ultimately extremely disappointing game to watch on a Monday night. Over the past decade, every time Orlando has come to town they've brought with them a boogeyman to score over Knicks bigs with ease. Nikola Vucevic seems to have taken over Dwight Howard and Marcin Gortat's former post, effortlessly destroying the Knicks defense, namely Robin Lopez, with grace and splendor, the real asshole.
The game opened up with an excellent defensive possession by Carmelo Anthony on Long Island's Tobias Harris, which forced a shot clock violation. Anthony looked really excellent tonight, particularly within the realms of his Two Big Knocks: passing and defense. Seemingly every Orlando Magician dropped midrange-to-deeprange buckets, but Carmelo Anthony was the Knicks' best perimeter defender despite playing through pain throughout the second half. He was probably the Knicks' best offensive player as well.
Except, of course, for Lance Thomas. Lance Thomas touched the Monstars ball tonight. He shot a perfect nine for nine from the floor, tossed a couple of excellent passes, and provided much of the energy when the Knicks had suffered one of the fourteen crushing counter-blow three pointers they experienced in the second half. It's a shame the Knicks couldn't win if only to prevent Thomas's performance from going to waste. With a boost from tonight's performance, Thomas's shooting percentages are approaching ridiculous in earnest.
Sasha Vujacic saw first half minutes, checking in with Derrick Williams with 30 seconds remaining in the first quarter. The Knicks ended the first frame with seven turnovers, but recovered nicely by going the entire second without coughing it up. But hey, who cares? They finished with 15 turnovers anyway, the dumb rats.
Sasha is 25 for 89 from the field. 28 percent.— Daniel (@benchwarmerdan) December 22, 2015
Stop uhhhhh playing this guy, Derek Fisher.
Elfrid Payton did not play the second half due to an ankle injury, so Shabazz Napier seized his 12 minute opportunity to put up six assists in Madison Square Garden, a familiar place to the incredibly named young man.
Evan Fournier! Tobias Harris! Mario Hezonja! Andrew Nicholson! You name him, he splashed a three on the Knicks in a timely fashion! The second half proved entertaining down the stretch thanks in large part to Carmelo Anthony and Lance Thomas, but the Knicks could never take the lead. Down the stretch, Derek Fisher went with a lineup of Jerian Grant, Lance Thomas, Robin Lopez, Carmelo Anthony, and Aaron Afflalo. The absence of Porzingis was noticeable, as he recorded four blocks in his 25 minutes. However, Fisher decided Lopez was his best option to combat the Vujevic menace. Lopez responded with an excellent offensive game (12 points on 6-6 from the floor) and, well...
Fisher opts to put Lopez back in as Skiles subs Vucevic in. That matchup hasnt really worked tonight: Vuc has 20 and 9 w RoLo on him.— Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) December 22, 2015
Fisher decided it was time to check Porzingis into the game with 1:07 to go in the game and a 10 point deficit securely in hand. Fisher compounded his relatively questionable decisions by neglecting to have his players foul while the game was still in some form of contest.
So there you have it. It was an awful ping-pong match to watch, as Things WIll Be Better Next Year said in the game thread. The Knicks have lost a disappointing tilt at home to an evenly-matched team playing its second game of a back-to-back. Considering their ability to come up with timely shots, it's a shame the Knicks couldn't stifle the Magic to worse than 10-22 from three point range. The Knicks fly to Cleveland to play on Wednesday night. Let's hope they make it interesting, and let's hope this doesn't turn into a thing:
Carmelo said he sprained his ankle. He said it's hard to tell the severity at this point.— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) December 22, 2015
Melo: 'As of right now I'll be playing' Wednesday vs Cavs.— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) December 22, 2015