Some semblance of normalcy appeared to hover around our beloved New York Knicks Wednesday night. Sure, Tim Hardaway Jr. was on the bench in a walking boot, but the Unicorn himself, Kristaps Porzingis, returned to the starting lineup. And, as they have done more often than not with Kristaps this season, the Knicks defeated the Memphis Grizzlies, 99-88.
But that doesn’t begin to tell the story of this game, my friends. Kristaps wasn’t the panacea that we thought he’d be— in fact, he legitimately struggled with his shot outside of the last few minutes of the game, finishing with 19 points on 8-19 shooting and a plus/minus of +1. Kristaps’ early shooting struggles created a glitch in the Knicks’ offense that the Grizzlies were quick to exploit as they built a double-digit lead early in the second quarter.
But the Knicks would storm back by halftime thanks to the strong play of...Michael Beasley? Your favorite player’s favorite player, who has proven to be the favorite player of nobody on this website, managed to provide the scoring the Knicks were missing without his customary turnovers. Beasley finished with 14 points on 5-7 shooting, coughing the ball up only once on the way to a startling +19 rating.
Beasley’s yeoman’s bucket-getting work would have been for naught, however, if not for the heorics of New York’s leading scorer on the night, Courtney Lee (24 points on 10-17 shooting). Lee drew the Knicks even with a buzzer-beating three at the half, then exploded for 10 points in the third quarter as the Knicks pulled away for good. Lee has been terrific all season, but he has truly stepped up his game with Hardaway on the shelf. Great stuff.
—Two Knicks recorded double-doubles on the evening: Enes Kanter (12 points, 12 rebounds) and Jarrett Jack (10 points, 10 assists). The former has 10 double-doubles on the season, while the latter represents a rise from nearly being out of the NBA to a legitimate starting point guard that is simply astonishing to behold. I mean, just think about how crazy it is to see a Knick with 10 assists. That never happens! After I wrote “10 points” I reflexively typed “10 rebounds” three times before my brain and fingers could finally process the concept of “10 assists.”
— Spot the lie.
I see nothing but elite players on this list. pic.twitter.com/CBILS8CgHA— Joseph Flynn (@ChinaJoeFlynn) December 7, 2017
—Elite scorers can still get points even when their shots aren’t falling simply by concentrating more on getting to the free-throw line. Frank Ntilikina is about as far from an elite scorer as you’ll find in this league, but the rookie did nab an impressive 8 free-throw attempts on the evening, with some of them coming on legit drives to the hoop. Yet another drive resulted in a pretty dish to Doug McDermott for a corner trey. Keep driving, young man.
—Yeah, I’ll watch this.
—I was disheartened to see Damyean Dotson only got 5 minutes of playing time. I know Lee was playing lights-out, but you can play them together, Jeff Hornacek!
And so the Knicks are back to .500. It hasn’t always been pretty—especially lately—but it’ll do for the moment.