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Rockets 130, Knicks 103: “We are not very good at the buckets currently”

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NBA: Preseason-New York Knicks at Houston Rockets Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Knicks were back in action (that’s good!), opening their preseason with a 27-point loss (that’s bad!) to the Houston Rockets. Blowouts don’t come much more comprehensive: Houston was up double-digits early and maintained a comfortable cruising altitude throughout. The high points for the Knicks?

  1. There were some really pretty stretches of offense in the third quarter.
  2. Nobody got hurt.

The defense looked ragged, the halfcourt spacing looked scrunched, and New York looked they haven’t played together much, which happens when 11 of the 16 who got run were Knick noobs. Preseason openers aren’t about narrative arcs, though. They’re about overanalyzing every little thing we can. So let’s get to it!

Notes:

— The starting five = Derrick Rose, Courtney Lee, Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis, and Kyle O’Quinn.

— Joakim Noah was out with a hamstring problem. Lou Amundson missed the game with a bad back.

— Future trivia when we’re soaking in the champagne of the Jeff Hornacek era: his first subs were Brandon Jennings and Lance Thomas.

— His first international sub? Willy Hernangomez.

— Last two firsts: Porzingis stuffed Clint Capela on the Knicks’ first defensive possession and scored their first bucket off a putback.

— Porzingis had 22 points, hitting 8 of 11 shots and 5-6 from distance. And I mean distance all over. He hit corner threes. He hit threes from the top of the key. In the third he drilled consecutive 25-footers from the right elbow. Then he hit from the left side. He also busted out a crossover to free him for a midrange jumper. Civilization? There’s a phone call for you. It’s the Apocalypse.

— Rose finished with 16 points and 5 assists. He takes a lot of high difficulty shots, so his misses are really ugly. The jump passes are going to drive people crazy. But the man can dribble penetrate. And he made a number of cross-court passes! That alone gives us something new to look forward to this season. I haven’t seen a Knick point guard make a cross-court pass since Paris Hilton was a thing.

— A quiet night for Melo. 10 points in 22 minutes. A brief flurry of buckets at one point to remind everyone why he’s fun to watch, even in defeat. I hope that’s not his Knick epitaph.

-- O’Quinn had 9 rebounds in 18 minutes. If that does anything for you.

— The. Knicks. Did. Not. Get. Back. In. Transition. At. All.

— While you were reading that, Hernangomez just got schooled again by a Nene/Pablo Prigioni pick-and-roll.

— The starter who took the most shots? Rose. The sub who took the most? Jennings. No judgment here. Just wondering when was the last time the Knick point guards led each unit in shots taken..

—Justin Holiday didn’t do anything spectacular. His stat line is no one’s envy: 1-6 shooting, 4 points, 2 boards, 2 assists. But watch him play. He appears to be smart. He makes the right decisions, again and again. I’m putting my deposit down on the Holiday Bandwagon today.

— Marshall Plumlee moves like he’s RoboCop.

— The two teams combined to take 73 three-pointers. Enough with the threes already, NBA.

— Even in preseason garbage time, James Harden makes sure he gets off the last shot of every quarter. My brain respects this; my heart rails against it.

— I know this is preseason for the refs, too. But at 99-70 in the third quarter, do we really need a replay to figure out if Harden’s toe was on the line when Sasha Vujacic fouled him on a corner jumper? Ken Maurer only took like 3 seconds to decide, but still. Come on, man.

— Tonight we enshrine a new member in the Knick Faces Hall of Fame, alongside the Kurt Thomas Crazy Face and the Andrea Bargnani Thousand-Yard Sulk: the Courtney Lee Dramedy Face. When Lee’s called for a foul, he looks both wounded and entertained. Over-under on Clyde busting out “amused and bemused” = four games.

— PABLO!!!

— Ladies and gentleman, your mustache-less Mike D’Antoni! Without the glory of Pringles on his face, D’Antoni looks cruel. Like a villainous extra from a political thriller.

— We actually almost had a grown-up MSG network moment when Mike Breen brought up Noah’s West Point stance...except, naturally, this was followed by a heavy-handed afterschool-special clip of Noah making nice with a handful of cadets. As embarrassing as the Knicks usually are on the court, they’re mad more mortifying off it.

— Secret fun subplot of the 2016-17 Knicks: watching Maurice Ndour try to out-windup Melo on attempted shot blocks. My man gets after it like he wants to concuss the ball.

— Breen brought up the Rose trial early in the game. Sketched the background of the story, mentioned Los Angeles. What would Clyde say? “Seems like Rose must have a home out there.” Sigh. I shouldn’t expect more. But I do.

Quoth Carmelapplestapz Godzinggodthony: “We are not very good at the buckets currently.” While that’s true, it’s also true this game doesn’t count. The Knicks next game that doesn’t count is Saturday when they host the Brooklyn Nets, who are even worse at the buckets. See y’all then.