The New York Knicks are fast becoming the Switzerland of the NBA. No invading force is capable of defeating them while they’re tucked away in their impregnable lair. On the other hand, they are not powerful enough to go out and overpower their neighbors. Sadly, unlike the Swiss, the Knicks don’t have the choice to stay at MSG, declare NBA neutrality, and work on perfecting their watches and chocolate. If New York wants to make the playoffs, they’ll have to start winning road games like Saturday’s desultory 107-102 loss to a Charlotte Hornets team missing two starters.
The story of the Knicks-Hornets home-and-home series was really a tale of two stars: Kemba Walker and Carmelo Anthony. The dynamic Walker, plagued by some early foul trouble, seemed to sleepwalk his way through Friday night’s game, whereas Melo put on one of the finest displays of his career. Saturday night the tables turned; Walker carried the scoring load with 28 points, while Melo reverted to piss-poor defense and iso-madness. He wasn’t the only reason the Knicks lost, but it was rough watching him stubbornly trying to carry a team that didn’t need to be carried.
After Melo hit the overtime game-winner on Friday (after missing at the end of regulation) he told reporters, “I wanted that shot. I wanted that moment.” Well he got the moment. Perhaps he should have spread that feeling around to some of his teammates on Saturday.
- Take a bow, Brandon Jennings. The backup point guard laid into the team about their lack of focus on the road following last week’s loss at Washington, and on Saturday he backed that up with perhaps the finest performance of the season: 12 points (5-10 shooting), 4 assists, 5 steals. His defensive intensity at the point of attack finally slowed down Charlotte’s offense after they had repeated torn through the Knicks like tissue paper to start the game. He even shot the ball like a normal person! See, Brandon, you can make jump shots if you jump straight up into the air instead of flinging yourself in a random direction.’
- Derrick Rose had very good counting stats: 18 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks. It took him 20 shots to get those 18 points, which usually bodes ill for New York’s chances at victory:
Knicks are now winless (0-6) when D Rose attempts more than 16 shots.— Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer) November 27, 2016
Knicks are 8-2 this season when Rose attempts 16 FG's or less https://t.co/wQKj3pNFO6
- Kristaps Porzingis had yet another efficient scoring night — 25 points on 7-16 shooting — but he struggled in the fourth quarter, hitting only 1 of his 5 attempts, and he was out-clutched in the final few minutes by the notorious Frank Kaminsky (second coming of Nowitzki!). I guess that means Kristaps is not clutch now? Honestly, I have no idea what clutch is supposed to mean for this Knicks squad. One thing he did well was get to the free-throw line, garnering 11 of New York’s 20 free-throw attempts on the night. But yeah, in the end it was Kaminsky. As P&T’er Kristropolis said, we probably should have seen it coming.
- Kyle O’Quinn had himself a nice game, with 2 points (1-2 shooting), 5 rebounds and 3 assists (against no turnovers) in 17 minutes of playing time. Under-control KOQ is by far the best KOQ, and he has been under control more often than not recently. He took off his goggles after pre-game warmups, which confused the Hornets announcers: "I cant figure this Kyle O’Quinn out. He was warming up for an hour with reading glasses now he's got nothing on and strokes his first shot."
- It was nice to see Justin Holiday back after appearing to injure his shoulder Friday night. He had a typical Justin Holiday game — effective, though easily overlooked. He dropped 4 dimes on a bevy of surprisingly slick passes. Hopefully that shoulder gets back to 100% ASAP.
- This Joakim Noah thing is never going to end, is it? He played 12 minutes, attempted no shots, dished no assists and grabbed 3 rebounds. He was outplayed by the combo of O’Quinn and Willy Hernangomez (whom I love, but who really needs to stop grabbing balls off the rim ... this ain’t Euroball, Willy). Only in KnicksLand could possessing a surplus of effective centers under long-term contract turn into an avalanche of bad press.
And that’s pretty much it, children. The Knicks are now 1-6 on the road, the second-worst record in the NBA. That’s bad. But they’re returning to MSG Monday, where they have the second-best home record in the NBA. That’s good! But they’ll have to face Russell Westbrook. That’s bad. But the Thunder no longer have Kevin Durant. That’s good!