The Knicks won again! They outlasted the Sixers in overtime. They are one of the greatest teams to ever play sports. Let's talk about it!
- Kristaps Porzingis had another entertaining, interesting, mostly positive game. Jahlil Okafor absolutely worked him early on, leaning and feinting and spinning for inside buckets as he's wont to do. Porzingis got him the other way with a prompt long two and that watery stroke from a step inside the free throw line. Kristaps took a seat after that first stint looking a bit frustrated, and returned with a new plan.
For the rest of the game, Porzingis fronted Okafor aggressively every time the ball was on his side of the floor. Because Krispy stands 8'8 with a 12-foot wingspan, he barely has to stand in front of a person to "front" him. That effort kept the ball out of Okafor's hands a few times and forced a few turnovers, wavering only when the Sixers were able to repost Jahlil or draw Kristaps away with guard penetration. Jahlil's buckets and trips to the line the rest of the way mostly came when Porzingis abandoned him to help -- something he does a touch too soon at times, without a very quick revoery. Down the stretch of OT, Kristaps made up for a lost step by gobbling Okafor's layup (the second time he'd done that), which pretty much iced the win.
Kristaps looked good again. His rebounding fundamentals got him in trouble a few times, his defense against strong drives and post-ups was flimsy, and god DAMN Kristaps, you need to demand the ball and shoot sometimes and stop being such a generous teammate ... but everything else was a delight. Great pick-and-roll D, great screens, a couple lovely buckets, bits of success adapting to Okafor's presence, and ... yo, the kid knows a thing or two about operating in a Triangle set:
Kristaps with the great pass to Early for the And 1! http://t.co/fWu7E7TEJh— NBA (@NBA) July 14, 2015
- It's nice to see Cleanthony Early play a role. Very quietly, and with little use of the ball, he registered 13 points on just 9 shots. His jumper wouldn't really fall, but he filled every lane in transition and found seams in the halfcourt sets to get easy buckets. Kept the ball moving, shuffled to the right places on defense, didn't mess up much. If he ever really plays in the NBA, I think that's how he's gonna play.
- Alex Kirk is bad now. He is no longer Earth's best basketball player. That crown has been passed to Maurice Ndour, who has to have a training camp roster spot locked up at this point. He's got a real jumper (hit threes in college!) to go with all those rugged (and kinda ragged) post buckets and put-backs. And he, too, absolutely ate one of Okafor's attempts at the basket.
- Jerian Grant and Langston Galloway got beat off the dribble a bit more than they did Monday night, but both also beat guys off the dribble going the other way more than they did before. Galloway still can't get the ball to actually go in, but he got to the line a bunch. I'm probably imagining things, but I swear Jerian looks more comfortable in halfcourt sets (including the odd sideline Triangle) each night.
- Thanasis Antetokounmpo hit both his threes off the catch, which is something he absolutely must do to have any chance of making this or any team.
- You rarely need to jump on defense, Kristaps. That goes for a number of plays down low, and it definitely goes for last-second desperation three-pointers when you've got a hand up. No biting on fakes. Ever!
Good job, Knicks. Y'all might just be a contender in these playoffs (schedule coming out tonight, probably).