The 2017 Knicks are Chinese water torture and tonight was the night the drip turned truly tortuous. Two good quarters were undone by two abominable ones, and a nightmarish end sequence on both ends on the floor sealed a 113-110 loss to the Washington Wizards. Here is a graphic representation of tonight’s contest:
Both teams were on the second night of back-to-backs, with New York playing its fourth game in five nights, but the opening half was scintillating. The Wizards dominated the opening quarter because John Wall got in the paint at will, paving the way for Marcin Gortat rolling dunks down the lane and wide-open corner three after wide-open corner three. Wall had 11 points and 7 assists in the first, killing the Knicks on high pick-and-rolls. It must be noted while no one on the roster had a chance of stopping this, Derrick Rose did not exactly cover himself in glory trying. When he’d get even remotely bumped by a big it wasn’t that he didn’t recover; it’s how often he didn’t even try to.
The second quarter was historical, as Carmelo Anthony scored 16 straight and netted 25 for the frame, breaking the old Knics record of 24 by Willis Reed and Allan Houston. Seems our man had some outside motivation helping him out. Thank you, kind stranger!
Melo has scored 10 straight and seems to be fired up by someone in the stands.— Al Iannazzone (@Al_Iannazzone) January 20, 2017
Jeff Hornacek, true to his word, played Melo at the 4 with Kristaps Porzingis back from his Achilles injury manning the pivot. New York ran a ton of double high-post sets in the second; with Anthony sizzling and Porzingis out there with him, space was abundant. Unfortunately the defense continued to be the defense, i.e. lousy, and so even after putting up 40 in the second quarter the Knicks were only up 67-66.
The third saw Washington reassume control. Otto Porter Jr. put on a three-point shooting clinic, again thanks to Wall’s irresistible dribble drives. There are rare talents in the game that some nights, there just isn’t an answer for. That was Wall tonight. Washington, who scored 38 in the first quarter, scored 34 in the third. Meanwhile Anthony went ice-cold, going scoreless in the third. Entering the fourth, the Wizards were up 14.
The good news is Washington has lost nine games this year after leading by double-digits, so the Knicks had a chance, and they almost pulled it off. After a Courtney Lee miss, Porzingis — who’d run 94 feet unobstructed — threw in a follow slam to cut the deficit to seven. A Brandon Jennings three with three minutes left made it a three-point game. In the last two minutes, Rose missed a layup but the Wizards couldn’t corral the rebound and his outback made it 110-109 Washington.
Porzingis got caught switched on Wall a couple of times, and managed to stay back and force him to shoot from outside. Jennings missed this, somehow, so with the Knicks down one he inexplicably was pressing Wall tight out high; invariably, Wall blew past him and drew the foul, hitting free throws to put the lead back up to three. The Knicks didn’t call time, which made me happy. What didn’t: the last possession. Carmelo got a clear-out and looked to be setting up for a potential game-tying three, only he drove past his defender and found Lee wide-open for a corner three. Instead of shooting, Lee drove and forced a pass to a not-wide-open and not-good-shooter in Jennings, who is hardly Otto Porter Jr. Jennings couldn’t get a shot off. Knicks lose. I was shocked by Lee’s decision, as he’s generally a cerebral player, and was all set to bust out a Dumb and Dumber reference, but then I saw this:
Courtney Lee says a sly tactic from a Wizards assistant coach tricked him into thinking he had help on the last possession. pic.twitter.com/UhwGIT9JQK— Kristian Winfield (@Krisplashed) January 20, 2017
NBA, put a stop to this shit. Enough already.
- After going 11 for 15 in the first half for 27, Carmelo shot 2 of 12. And until midway through the fourth, he was putting up a second-half goose egg.
- Wall was devastating. Brilliant. He’s so good and so fun to watch that even when he’s dissecting your team, you kinda dig it, and he did it all with a splint on his right pinkie and a sprained left wrist. I really hope he ends up on a legit team before his best years are behind him.
- Otto. Freaking. Porter.
- 29 minutes for Porzingis in his return to action. We cool with that?
- Kyle O’Quinn had a tremendous first half and a decent second. Does his infrequent brilliance bring more to the table than Joakim Noah’s steady mundanity?
- Not a hot night for Kuz. His playing time reflected it.
- Ron Baker has better defensive instincts than any other Knick point guard. And no one on this roster can stop a guy like Wall, and most nights they won’t face someone that good. But on a night like this, Ron needs to do way more intangible stuff to supplement two points and zero assists.
- There’s still a lot of season left. But I’m sooo over Jennings. Every time he jerky-jerks into a stepback three, I die inside. His heart is huge. His basketball mind is not what I’d label “beautiful.”
- Porzingis tried and failed to throw down over Jason Smith. You know how Iman Shumpert is ostensibly athletic, yet God-awful at the rim? As big as Porzingis is, when going in for facials he misses way, way more than he finishes.
- I guess Willy Hernangomez must have set off stink bombs on the team bus. Or maybe he went AWOL some game I didn’t notice. Otherwise, I can’t figure out how he can play as well as he did last night in Boston yet get a DNP tonight.
- TNT went to a Kevin Garnett/Randy Moss segment at halftime to talk about Anthony’s first-half performance. Asking KG to comment about a great day for Carmelo Anthony is like having Hillary Clinton do play-by-play for Donald Trump’s inauguration.
- If the soundtrack from Inception and Curly from the Three Stooges had twin boys, they’d be Kevin Harlan and Reggie Miller: a vapid ostinato of unenlightenment.
- Miller’s opening remarks on KP: “This kid takes up a lot of space.” Later he listed Porzingis as 7’1”. Trenchant analysis, Reg.
- Miller also talked about the need for the Knicks to get Noah back. They’re 5-0 without him this year, so...yeah. Miller is that guy you know who doesn’t really watch the NBA but ain’t too proud to cobble together three or four bits of misinformation he thinks he remembers hearing on ESPN Radio or a dream he once had and going with that. When that’s a dude at the bar, it’s annoying. When that’s your national TV analyst, it’s deplorable.
- Harlan mentioned Washington closed the opening quarter “on an 18-10 run.” What’s the max on how many points two teams can combine for before something stops being a “run”? 28 is def too much.
- Fans of alphabet games: tonight’s game featured the NBA’s closest team geographically to Harlem, a Harlan, and a Haarlow.
Quoth foiegrastyle: “What the fuck was that?” That was the Knicks losing another
winnable game against a good team. Saturday they play the Suns, who are not good and don’t have John Wall. See you then, true believers.