Hey, the Knicks won! It would be easy to chalk up Friday night’s 107-85 victory to the ineptitude of their opponent, the Phoenix Suns. Yes, it is true that the Suns are terrible. Starting center Tyson Chandler was held out at the last minute with some kind of illness. Devin Booker started his first game at the point guard spot, so the team was clearly in “The season is a wash; let’s experiment” mode. But make no mistake—the Knicks controlled this one pretty much from beginning to end.
The lone exception to the Knicks’ Friday night dominance came in the second quarter, when the Suns’ young reserves started pushing the pace, racing past the Knicks, who had earlier built a 15-point lead. Phoenix tied the game, but that’s when they turned back into pumpkins. The Knicks took a 4-point lead into the half and quickly rebuilt their advantage in a ghastly third quarter which featured approximately 50 combined fouls. Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway were instrumental in making sure Phoenix would not come back, while Trey Burke helped turn the game into a laugher. If only every game were this easy.
— Tim Hardaway Jr. is one tough hombre. First he turned his ankle landing on an opponent’s foot while taking a jumper, only to tighten his shoelaces and remain in the game. Then he crashed headfirst into the stanchion padding on a reckless foul from Devin Booker. The foul was ruled a flagrant, meaning Timmy didn’t have to stay in to take the free throws. Hardaway shook off the pain, however, and sank both from the line before leaving the game to seek medical attention. He would return yet again to put the game away playing alongside some of the bench bros. His final line—15 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 1 block—is impressive enough without the beating he took to earn it.
— Nice, efficient game from Kristaps Porzingis, who actually seemed to struggle a bit in the first half before asserting his will on the Suns early in the third quarter. The Unicorn finished with 19 points on 6-11 shooting. I’ll take that shooting percentage any day of the week.
— Trey Burke had 2 points when Frank Isola unleashed this tweet near the end of the third quarter:
Trey Burke struggling. Three straight possessions; air ball, turnover, turnover. Knick fans may want to hold off putting him in Springfield.— Frank Isola (@FisolaNYDN) January 27, 2018
Now, I highly doubt Burke is checking Twitter, but almost immediately hereafter, the diminutive guard ripped off 16 points. Suns coach Jay Triano called a quick timeout to try to stop the barrage, but that seemed only to encourage Burke. It was low-key one of the most delightful moments of the past month or so.
This is the point where I should point out that Frank Ntilikina only played 9 minutes in a blowout win, and that the Knicks are hampering his development. But there’s so much bad shit going on in the world right now, so I’m going to keep on thinking about Burke making Isola look like a dunce.
— Enes Kanter: 20 points, 10 rebounds, 1 case of getting Devin Booker ejected after trash-talking the young Phoenix guard into matching T’s. Booker had already earned a technical for his cheap-ass foul on Hardaway, so jawing with Kanter earned him a ticket back to the locker room. Kanter wouldn’t let him forget it.
Hold that “L” kid.— Enes Kanter (@Enes_Kanter) January 27, 2018
Talk to me nice or don’t talk to me at all... pic.twitter.com/tS3mLgClTA
There’s way more to this story, but I think that’ll be a later post. Let’s end instead with Booker holding this ‘L’. Enjoy your weekend, everybody!