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Knicks 116, Nets 98: “Sounds like a fun game”

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The Knicks employed two NBA-caliber point guard this evening, neither of whom were Sasha Vujacic.

NBA: Preseason-Brooklyn Nets at New York Knicks Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Ah, the majesty of Saturday night preseason basketball. The Knicks and Nets took the court in front of a surprisingly raucous MSG crowd, who were brought to fits of ecstasy in the third quarter by the passing of Brandon Jennings and the bucket-getting of Chasson Randle. Perhaps, like Rice2012, you checked in from time to time while doing something more with your Saturday, only to find a game that was more fun than it had any right to be.

  • Carmelo Anthony was Melo for the first time this season — 16 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, no turnovers. Clearly he knocked the rust off in Houston. I like to believe he visited Pablo Prigioni after the game and received some guidance.
  • Kristaps Porzingis struggled in the first half, showing that annoying tendency to rush shots which occasionally plagued him. He settled down in the third quarter, driving to the basket and finishing with panache. I’m enjoying the new “Dominate every 2nd Half” version of Kristaps.
  • Brandon Jennings don’t give a fuck. After years of Knicks point guards who cowered with the ball in their hands, afraid to throw even a remotely risky pass, it’s jarring to watch Jennings whip behind-the-back looks to trailing bigs on the break. Derrick Rose is quick, but his game is more about bull-in-a-china-shop athleticism, whereas Jennings runs the point like Jackson Pollock splattering paint and cigarette ashes on a canvas. I’m glad to have him on board.
  • Most of the assumed second unit players — Kyle O’Quinn, Lance Thomas and Justin Holiday — received little playing time, which makes sense. You know what you’re getting from those guys — a few nice passes mixed with overall sloppy play from O’Quinn, some nasty shots mixed with solid overall play from Holiday. And as for Lance, his game is like the Supreme Court definition of pornography — I can’t describe it, but I know it when I see it.
  • With Rose out, the backup point guard was allegedly Sasha Vujacic. In reality, Holiday did most of the ball-handling once Jennings sat, leaving Vujacic free to let opposing guards drive past him at will while bitching at the refs. Then this next cat took over, and Vujacic was a distant memory ...
  • Chasson Randle dropped 14 points in 20 minutes, including a molten-hot stretch in the third quarter where he simply could not miss. The jumper was sopping wet (3-5 from beyond the arc), but there were a few other things that stood out to me. The kid can handle the rock, committing only 1 turnover despite controlling the ball during a sloppy, fast-paced game against consistent pressure D. On several occasions he juked overzealous defenders with a behind-the-back dribble. Randle is far from a lock-down defender, but I was impressed with the way he managed to stay in front of bigs on switches, which resulted in a few Brooklyn turnovers.

Suffice to say, Melo is a fan”

  • Ron Baker hit all of his shots and was generally quite solid, quite ... how should I put this ... quite Ron.
  • Just as Randle and Baker took advantage of the absence of Derrick Rose, young bigs Maurice Ndour and Willy Hernangomez took advantage of the time allotted them in the absence of Joakim Noah with matching 12-point, 4-rebound performances. They both shot 6-10 from the field, and now this is getting kinda freaky, isn’t it?
  • Seriously though, these two couldn’t go about their business any more differently. Willy is so damned polished on the offensive end, dropping baby hooks with either hand and spinning past poor suckas on the block. He’s more athletic that he looks ... at least on offense. The defense, though, may be worse than advertised. Either somebody forgot to tell Willy that the Knicks aren’t playing zone or he sees ghosts, because Willy struggles to pick up real basketball humans on that end.
  • I’m worried the Knicks won’t be able to find a role for Ndour, who is all fast-twitch razzmatazz. He seriously struggles to box out opposing bigs on defense — 3 of his 4 rebounds came off the offensive glass, and that lack of size is something this franchise usually frowns upon. But the dude is soooo quick, especially with his hands. He notched 2 steals and stripped at least one other ball that the offense recovered. If this team is indeed serious about running and creating turnovers, Ndour could be very useful. But you gotta box out, Maurice.
  • Ndour’s preferred nickname is “Nature Boy.” Clyde believes it was given to him because he loves the outdoors.
  • Clyde, on doing yoga back in the day: "I didn't really tell anybody I was doing it. I went to a GU-ru. Nowadays I just do it on my bed."

The Knicks play again on Monday. Hopefully Randle plays some more.