As far as Knicks fans ae concerned, your feelings toward Sunday afternoon’s 105-100 loss to the Orlando Magic likely depend heavily on your expectations for the team moving forward. If you really believe the Knicks are a playoff contender, you should be a little bit pissed that the ‘Bockers blew a winnable game despite missing Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway Jr., thanks to some questionable coaching decisions and questionable Beasleying. This one will hurt when all the wins and losses are tallied at the end of the season.
The Magic jumped out to a 17-point lead midway through the first quarter, but the Knicks caught up by the beginning of the third thanks to some fine-tuning on the defensive end. The two clubs traded leads for a while until Jeff Hornacek inexplicably brought in Ramon Sessions in the fourth quarter. The Magic lead quickly ballooned to eight as the quintet of Sessions, Michael Beasley, Ron Baker, Courtney Lee and Enes Kanter, who I’m pretty sure hadn’t played together at all this season, played like a bunch of dudes had never met. The Knicks did some last-minute scrapping to get the game somewhat close, but that was pretty much all she wrote. Not sure what Hornacek was thinking there...as P&T’er Kristaps Porschezingis noted, Beasley + Sessions is pretty much the exact formula for an L.
On the other hand, if you’re more ambivalent on the Knicks’ chances at the postseason, you might see some positives in this game. You might point to rookie Damyean Dotson getting the first start of his young career and playing 21 minutes. He have much impact in the box score—2 points, 1 rebound—but he did some quality work defensively on Evan Fournier. You might also point to Frank Ntilikina, who played perhaps his friskiest offensive game of the season—9 points on 4-9 shooting (really 4-8 since he took a halfcourt heave at the end of the first quarter)—shooting off the catch, off the dribble, and even backing down smaller point guard DJ Augustine on the block. The trio of Dotson, Ntilikina and Lance Thomas did some cool stuff together.
Just look at the Knicks defense pic.twitter.com/8eGvjBUE9d— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) December 3, 2017
So the Knicks lost, some coaching boners were made, but the kids got some playing time. It happens.
—Enes Kanter put up some good numbers (18 points on 8-13 shooting, 16 rebounds, 2 assists, but was outplayed by Nikola Vucevic (34 points, 12 rebounds). He refused to contest Vucevic on the perimeter, which was annoyingly in-character for him.
—Beasley led the Knicks with 21 points. He also turned the ball over 5 times and generally refused even to put a hand up to contest shots. In a way he reminds me of former Knick Arron Afflalo, who played for Orlando: decent numbers, horrible defense and effort. Beasley is the new Afflalo.
—I heard somewhere that Doug McDermott shoots much better at home than on the road. That is bullcrap—he was at home today and shot 1-7 from the field. What is true is that Doug shoots much, much better when I’m not watching. Here are McDermott’s shooting splits on the season:
When Joe doesn’t watch: 99.9 FG%
When Joe watches: poop emoji FG%
And yet...AND YET...McDermott managed 5 rebounds, 3 assists and a team-high +8 in 30 minutes.
—When Kristaps plays, Lance Thomas usually sees more minutes that Beasley, which is correct. When Kristaps sits, Beasley sees more minutes. Why? Because offense? Screw that. Play Lance more, Hornacek.
The Knicks play again Monday, this time at the Pacers. Kristaps and Timmy will be out yet again. Eek.