I don’t like people playing with my emotions.
I was ready to watch the Knicks test themselves against a great Western Conference team. Fresh off a bad loss to a crummy Hawks team the day before, I figured the Knicks would get a loss, but this new, prideful Knicks squad might play angry and at least compete.
I decided, with the help of an Ian Begley tweet, that maybe I should dampen my expectations.
Enes Kanter (back spasms) and Kristaps Porzingis (lower back tightness) are out tonight against Houston, the Knicks announce.— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) November 25, 2017
Just then, Air Beasley, the walking bucket himself, drops 17 first quarter points. Courtney Lee added in 15, the Knicks scored 39 points and racked up 13 assists, and the lead was 10 after 12 minutes of play. My obligatory night of Knicks fandom had purpose again!
11-3 early lead for the orange & blue in H-Town. pic.twitter.com/Tr4j7fCVBf— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) November 26, 2017
For now the second straight game, the Knicks would give up a big first quarter lead en route to an eventual double-digit loss. According to advanced analytics, professional scouts, my mother-in-law, and this guy named Larry who sells snow cones on my street, the Rockets apparently shoot a lot of threes. That’s become common knowledge at this point, but the Rockets still got off 47 shots from deep in their (successful) attempt at erasing an early 22-point Knicks lead.
On the contrary, the Knicks shot just 4-17 from behind the arc—with three of those shots coming from Courtney Lee in the first quarter.
Despite the 30-point effort from Beasley (yes, really), the remainder of the game would alternate between slow Houston runs to chip away at the lead and robust avalanche-like runs where the Rockets would drain four straight long balls. Beasley would impose his will early on the offensive end, but would also eventually lead the Knicks with six of their 18 turnovers. As well as the Knicks played in the first quarter, they would be outscored in the third quarter 37-13.
Frank Ntilikina (my godson) did not have one of his finer games, though as Joe Flynn pointed out in the post-game, he would play only 15 minutes.
Noooo Eric Gordon made the rook sit down like he at Ikea tryin out bean bags for the living room pic.twitter.com/oRDOssWoje— Rob Perez (@World_Wide_Wob) November 26, 2017
Don’t worry, I’ve already called the cops and filed a report on that Eric Gordon fella.
As for Beasley, once the Rockets realized the Ryan Anderson defensive matchup was not going to work (even Larry the snow cone guy knows that), the walking bucket became the occasional bucket, and eventually the walking turnover.
Although it took him 27 shots to do so, James Harden definitely cooked to the tune of 37 points and 10 assists.
Despite a decent defensive effort and a ton of unnecessary shit-talking from Beasley, Harden also got this little pseudo-highlight which resulted in a Clint Capela dunk.
The Beard cooked Beas pic.twitter.com/zZaiPO71te— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 26, 2017
Willy Hernangomez logged a season-high 21 minutes and looked undeserving of every one of them. His pick-and-roll coverage was still his biggest weakness, only now his offensive polish that made his future so bright seemed dull and muted.
Kyle O’Quinn had 20 points (7-9 from the field) and 15 boards, but Clint Capela’s size and athleticism was a lot to handle, and O’Quinn battled foul trouble most of the night.
Tim Hardaway Jr. seemingly vanished tonight, scoring just 11 points in 37 minutes on 33% shooting.
34-year-old Jarrett Jack played 32+ minutes for the second time in 24 hours and was still somehow productive. Jack’s penchant for pushing in transition is surely a factor in Hornacek’s adoration for him, but sooner or later we may need to show more caution with a guy who played only 34 games over the previous two seasons.
Houston native Damyean Dotson only got about 10 minutes of burn and the rest of the bench (Thomas, McDermott, Ntilikina) were non-factors.
Although a season-high from Beasley (30 pts), a big game from Harden (37 pts), and a 22-point blown lead will all be headlines for this game, the three point differential and turnover differential tells the true story — as it so often does.
The Knicks actually shot better from the field (49%) than the Rockets (43%), and that is pretty much Morey-ball in a nutshell. Mike D’Antoni (OAKAAK) gets a lot of credit for being an architect of modern basketball offense, and on a night like tonight where the Knicks were forced to play heavy minutes with paint-cloggers like O’Quinn, Hernangomez, and Beasley, it’d be hard to stare into those whiskers of wisdom and deny the dominance of the pace-and-space offense. It’s worth noting too that Houston only turned the ball over seven times, which is well below their average of 17 per game.
Outside of the first quarter, only Lance Thomas made a three point shot for the Knicks, and he only did it once. It’s hard to know which is worse, only attempting 12 3-pointers in the final three quarters, or only making one of them. Nevertheless, the Rockets shot 38% on 47 3-point attempts, while the Knicks shot 24% on 17 attempts. That’s your ball game right there, folks.