We should have known Friday was going to be the Knicks’ night when everyone’s grandpa, Walt “Clyde” Frazier, returned to the MSG broadcast booth following an extended post-hurricane stay at his house in St. Croix. As fate would have it, Friday was also the MSG debut of the Knicks’ most recent lottery pick, Frank Ntilikina. At one point during the broadcast, Clyde hearkened back to his own first home opener as an NBA point guard—like Frank, he started off his first season missing time due to an ankle injury before making his debut for a woeful Knicks club.
But the comparisons to the franchise’s greatest point guard—nay, player—end there. Frank didn’t shoot 1-8, like young Clyde; instead he managed to drop 9 points on 4-11 shooting (after missing his first six shots, I believe) to go along with 5 assists, 2 rebounds and a steal. And unlike Clyde’s teammates, Frank’s fellow ‘Bockers hounded and pounded the Brooklyn Nets into submission Friday night, 107-86. It was the first win of the season for New York, who came into the evening as the league’s last remaining winless team.
Don’t be fooled by the score—this game was very much in doubt until the Knicks stomped on the gas pedal in the third quarter. Brooklyn was even up by 10 in the first half, when the young Frenchman teamed up with Kyle O’Quinn, Michael Beasley, Doug McDermott and Courtney Lee to turn the tide firmly in the Knicks’ favor. Frank missed all four of his shots in that second quarter run, but otherwise displayed all the qualities we have been dreaming on for months now: the splendid court vision, the preternatural defensive presence and the insane wingspan that discombobulated Nets passers.
Frank showed off a bit more in the second half, though this time his shots started to fall. By then the game was comfortably in the pocket of the Manhattanites.
—Is this good? It seems good.
NBA players age 22 or younger who've scored >=30PTS at least 3 times in season's first 4 games (since 1980):— Dan Favale (@danfavale) October 28, 2017
Giannis, Shaq and Kristaps. pic.twitter.com/AHsSmJrycq
It felt like Kristaps Porzingis kept his dominance on the down-low for the most part on Friday...or as down-low as can be expected from a 7’3” kid who is clowning dudes off the dribble, blocking three shots, and baptizing opposing big men with dunks. What I mean is that Kristaps’ performance—30 points on 13-24 shooting, 9 rebounds—came so naturally. Maybe it was the excitement of Frank-o-mania, but there was little need to pay attention to the steady rise in Kristaps’ point totals. He set the tone early, shooting easily over Ronda Hollis-Jefferson—exactly the kind of rugged undersized defender who used to give him fits. Once RHJ failed, you just knew the Nets had no way to bother Kristaps. And with his delightful newfound habit of staying out of foul trouble, Kristaps didn’t beat himself, either.
—So apparently all Jeff Hornacek needed was to insert Jarrett Jack into the starting lineup. It seems so obvious in hindsight! Seriously, though, the veteran point guard played with poise and moxie, pitching in 8 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists while committing only 1 turnover. He provided the kid of control the offense needed and (thankfully) kept the mid-range heat checks to a minimum.
—The Knicks’ three-headed center monster had an effective, if odd game. Enes Kanter was basically unplayable in the first half, then unstoppable in the third quarter, decimating the Nets down low as the Knicks pulled away. Hard to believe he only ended up with 6 rebounds. He had 12 points, though. Kyle O’Quinn grabbed the most rebounds (12) and settled down after allowing Quincy freakin’ Acy to can a bunch of threes all up in his face early in the first half. Willy Hernangomez produced in his 13 minutes, and also nearly got into a fight with Acy, which is something I would have expected from O’Quinn.
—Is Doug McDermott good? The COACH’S SON (broadcasters never tire of saying that) chipped in an efficient 12 points (on 6 shots) and 5 rebounds in 20 minutes. He’s not a good defender, of course, but he’s been holding his own on that end to a surprising degree. Doug has impressed throughout the preseason and now regular season. This is really becoming a thing.
—Tim Hardaway Jr. shot 4-12, which significantly raised his overall field goal percentage. He looked more confident as the game went on (20-point leads will do that for a player, of course). Let’s hope this is the beginning of a breakout for Timmy.
—The defense was excellent. I’m scared to bring it up. Good Knicks defense is like a Halloween urban legend.
Sorry, commenters, but I’m going to have to give the recap quote to the rook. Let’s get a streak now, indeed!