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Nuggets 130, Knicks 118: ‘Really feels like we should be winning all these games...nah we suck’

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Stealth tanks are fueled by broken dreams and fake comebacks

NBA: New York Knicks at Denver Nuggets Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

I’m going to be straight with you all — I’m probably not about to come at this recap with the same passion and fervor that I normally would. This game just didn’t do it for me.

The Knicks came out looking like the thin air in Colorado was really bugging them, going down by as much as 18 in a positively abysmal first half in which they gave up 73 points. They would show... improvement? Is that the word? I don’t know if that’s the word. What’s like when you go from terrible to slightly less than terrible?

...Unfortunate. I like the word unfortunate there. The Knicks had a terrible first half, but merely an unfortunate second half. The orange and blue got the Nugget lead down to as little as seven at the end of the third quarter behind some awesome play from Trey Burke, only to give up points in bunches time after time to the Denverites en route to giving up a season-high 130 points.

That’s honestly about all you need to know about how this game went. It was a classic fake comeback, but it didn’t even really feel like a real fake comeback, if we’re being honest. It was more of a fake fake comeback. To quote P&T commenters Muruju and NeedforShved, “Really feels like we should be winning all these games. ... nah we suck.”

(Is this the first time there’s ever been a postgame quote that was actually two quotes in the same thread? I think it might be.)

Notes!

— Trey Burke, baby. This is about the only time you’ll hear me gush during this recap, so let it flow over you like a cascading waterfall of positivity. It’s all downhill from here.

Burke followed up a very impressive seven points and six assists in just 11 minutes in the first half with an even better second half, finishing with 18 points on 8-12 shooting, 11 assists and three boards for the game. There were times tonight where I honestly wondered if donning the cornrows and headband on his diminutive body has actually possessed him with Allen Iverson’s abilities in a Like Mikeian turn of events. Seriously, look at this shot to end the third quarter:

Pretty uncanny.

Probably Trey’s biggest strength on offense tonight was his ability to penetrate and kick or finish with gusto off of picks. He kind of played like Jarrett Jack if Jarrett Jack was about 10 years younger but with his present-day mind. As Alan Hahn and Wally Szczerbiak said in the postgame show, Burke looked like the guy who most knew what was going on tonight out there, despite only having been with the team for all of 11 days.

Even on defense, I wasn’t blown away by Burke’s results, but the effort was certainly there. There were a few times where his size (or lack thereof) got the better of him, but he didn’t really seem to take a play off on either end tonight, which was more than you could say for many of the Knicks.

Kristaps Porzingis co-led the team in scoring with Michael Beasley with 21 points on 7-of-16 scoring, but without the aid of a box score I would’ve just assumed he had about five points and shot 2-5 or something.

Due to foul trouble, KP was subbed out early and often. And then, in his infinite wisdom, Jeff Hornacek left Kristaps in with four fouls at about the 7:00 mark in the third quarter. He then got his fifth about a minute and a half later, which kept him on the bench for roughly seven minutes of game time as the Knicks were actually kinda sorta making a comeback to end the third quarter.

Long story short, KP fouled out with just under five minutes left in the game, and that’s how his night ended. The box score didn’t look too bad, but it was not a great night for the Unicorn to my eye.

— Michael Beasley had one of those scoring eruptions in the third quarter where you wonder how this guy never fulfilled some of the promise of a Kevin Durant-type player that he showed in college so long ago. When he’s on, nothing can stop him from getting what he wants.

SuperCool finished with 21 points on 6-of-8 shooting, with 8-10 free throws and a team-leading +2 in the plus-minus column. Like I said, he couldn’t miss tonight. It was a great effort on his part to get the Knicks back in it, but a superstar can only take his team so far on his own.

Damyean Dotson got some valuable playing time — literally the last minute of the game. He scored four points in one minute. How does this kid not get playing time again?

Willy Hernangomez came in early and flashed some of his offensive and rebounding acumen, but he was just atrocious on defense again. Maybe it’s just a coaching issue, or maybe he just has his sliders turned all the way up for offensive awareness and all the way down for defensive awareness. I don’t know. But as of right now, I can’t really fault Hornacek for not playing him much while this team is actually trying to win games.

Frank Ntilikina was practically invisible tonight. He badly missed a couple shots in the second half, including an airball. Tonight was definitely one of those nights where he didn’t seem to be playing with much of a killer instinct (which basically just matched the rest of the team minus Burke and Beasley). Live and learn, Frankie.

— Clyde Frazier said a phrase that I didn’t think was in his lexicon. Kenny Albert mentioned that he wouldn’t be calling tomorrow night’s game, and Clyde said, “I hate you.” Tonight even brought out the hate in Clyde’s heart that I was convinced didn’t exist.

Trey Lyles is pretty good. 21 points on 9-12 shooting, five boards, three assists. He was the main guy roasting Hernangomez tonight. I like that Lyles is thriving in Denver and I want to feel good for him, but I still always get knots in my stomach when his name comes up due to the short-lived rumor that the Knicks were going to draft him at No. 4 in the Porzingis draft. Thanks, Phil!

— I felt pretty bad for Courtney Lee tonight. He came out in the second half playing like a man possessed, and actually managed to bottle up Gary Harris (who had a game-high 23 points) for a little bit to start the third. The rest of the team just didn’t really have that same fire, though.

Enes Kanter was quite bad in the first half. Seemed like a square peg trying to cram himself into a round hole when the Nuggets were playing a smaller lineup. Not that that’s really his fault (*coughHornacekcough*).

He played a little better in the second half and ended with 20 points, but this one certainly didn’t give me any of the warm fuzzies that his good games have.

— Hornacek played a kind of interesting lineup in the second quarter that I wanted to see for a minute or two — Burke, Ntilikina, Lee, Porzingis and Hernangomez — so, naturally, he pulled almost all of them after about 30 seconds and never played them together again. I’m really not digging Mr. Hornacek lately, if you couldn’t tell.

— So for anyone that doesn’t follow baseball... Coors Field, the home of the Colorado Rockies, is notorious for having high scores due to the dry, high-altitude air in the Mile High City “juicing” the balls and yielding lots and lots of home runs — so much so that the team keeps their balls in a humidor to try to takes some pop out of the ball and cut down on the scoring (spoiler: it kinda works, but not really).

This seems like way too long of a setup, but anyway, I noticed basically an entirely opposite effect on the Knicks’ shooting tonight — instead of the ball being juiced, it seemed like every single shot was bouncing off the front rim for our guys tonight.

— Beasley and Burke gave me a little bit of a Carmelo Anthony/Kenyon Martin flashback with on-court doppelgangers — both wearing a headband, both with cornrows, no arm sleeves, and very similar complexion. Luckily Burke wears a double-digit number and is about half a foot shorter than Beasley, but I will fully admit that I did at least one double-take tonight.

So yeah, that’s about all I got for you guys. After a night like tonight, I hope tomorrow’s SEGABABA is filled with surprises, like maybe letting Burke and Dotson get some extended run. Give the vets some rest! Spurs model!