Alas, here we are. The final preseason game before these young Knickerbockers embark on a journey to discovering themselves. The Knicks played the Wizards Friday night, and if any of the earlier games were any indication, the Knicks were not expected to win. It certainly doesn’t help that the two (hopefully) future cornerstones, Kristaps Porzingis and Frank Ntilikina, were not available for this one. And as if that wasn’t enough enticement to watch, Clyde was not available to call the game either. We were instead treated to a guy on the complete other end of the spectrum, both in fashion sense and a voice so monotonous it put my dog to sleep. And I don’t even have a dog!
Unlike the past few games, the Knicks actually put up a fight in this one. Both teams exchanged leads for quite a while until late in the 4th quarter, when a red hot Wizards lineup provided clutch shooting the Knicks could not match. Early in the first half, the team found their offense anchored by Enes Kanter in the paint and Doug McDermott from all over the floor. Just as LatvianPrankster so elegantly noted in the game thread, do not anger the (non-Beasley) Walking Bucket. Tim Hardaway Jr. also had a great night shooting and running the break as usual. However, his poor defense on the perimeter offset much great shooting, especially with plays like this (with a huge non-defensive assist from Kanter):
In the second half, Jeff Hornacek decided to bring on Willy Hernangomez and Kyle O’Quinn for more minutes in a rather big lineup. In a surprising turn of events, this decision helped decrease the Wizards’ lead by owning the glass on both ends of the court. The pre-season for me so far has been a test of coach Hornacek’s true abilities. The pre-season is for making some of those higher-level decisions before the start of the regular season. Tonight, he made better lineup decisions, but still featured more players than I am comfortable with. Luckily, a strong outing from McDermott and Tim Hardaway Jr. kept the team in the game and made for an entertaining final quarter. But the preseason is over, Horny, and it is now time to pare down that rotation.
To the notes:
- Rebecca Haarlow introduced the MSG studio as the Squarespace studio early in the broadcast...is the jersey massacre not enough?!
- The starting lineup tonight featured a five-some of Ramon Sessions/Courtney Lee/Hardaway/Michael Beasley/Kanter. I guess this means Kanter is probably winning the starting job over Willy Hernangomez.
- I have been a rallying member of the camp that Willy should start alongside KP, but tonight Kanter might have made a case for himself. His offensive game is just a bit more polished than Willy’s, despite being marginally worse on defense and a black hole in terms of passing. This is just a long way of saying the Knicks are going to suck either way.
- Ron Baker was really active on defense today. He and McDermott played excellent together in limited minutes. Ron’s willingness to make the right pass and Doug’s constant back-door cutting can be a second unit tandem to look out for this season.
- The MSG crowd came alive tonight with booming chants of “DEFENSE” early in the fourth after several back to back solid plays. I’m fighting back tears just typing this.
- Book it right now: Damyean Dotson will carve himself a 22+ minute slot by the end of the season. Even when his shot isn’t falling, he makes all the right plays on both ends of the court. I can definitely see him filling Justin Holiday’s role well.
- I enjoyed the battle between Hardaway Jr. and Bradley Beal. Beal had 24 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists to counter Hardaway’s 23/3/2. I wouldn’t be surprised if Tim gives KP a run for his money this season for scoring leader.
- Mike Breen noted that the league is doing away with 20 second timeouts in favor of all TO’s being 75 seconds. Interesting. Between that and the limited number of breaks in the final two minutes, let me know what you think.
It’s the final preseason game before we kick off this new year, so why not give out some awards?
- Knick of the Night: Doug McDermott. He had his way with the likes of Kelly Oubre en route to a line of 21 points, 2 rebounds, and an assist. Tonight was indeed the night Doug McBuckets’ed.
DickDud of the Night: Michael Beasley. Dude turned the ball over every chance he could get in the first half. A bunch of bad decisions brought us 10 points and 4 fouls in 22 minutes. When Beas is bad, he’s extraordinarily bad.
That’s all for pre-season, folks! I know I’m a new face around this side of the P&T board, but I’ve been an avid commenter/lurker for years. I’d love to hear what you guys think of these exhibition games so far, so please leave your comments down below for me to read over doing any productive work. Next game will be the first game of the real season against a familiar face (*pssst* it’s Carmelo Anthony) in Oklahoma City on Thursday. Be there or be Squarespace.