Every NBA team enjoys a few cakewalks during the season. Rarely are they as enjoyable as they are on opening night. Rarely is any opening night as cake a walk as tonight’s 126-107 Knick victory over the Atlanta Hawks.
This one was decided in the second-quarter, when the Knicks scored 49 points, the second most in a quarter in the 72-year history of the franchise. That didn’t look likely early on. The Hawks got out to a 10-2 lead as New York missed its first nine shots. Kent Bazemore blocked a Tim Hardaway Jr. drive and ended up riding his neck for a hot sec. THJ threw him off with an effort of intensity that seemed fair for when someone’s riding your neck, especially when your neck’s been rode before.
Trey Burke completely shook Bazemore on a step-back, drawing oohs and ahhs, then bricked it front-rim. That felt like a strong candidate for Prematurely Negative Sequence That Will Best Sum Up This Team, until like 30 seconds later when Frank Ntilikina’s haunting defense of Taurean Prince for 50 feet, then the contesting of his shot, forced Prince into a turnover, which Hardaway gobbled up before almost losing his dribble, gathering, and missing a pre-heated heat check 1-on-3 three-pointer.
But the second quarter was very much not the first. After missing his first four shots, Hardaway started getting to the basket and drawing fouls. Bada boom, bada bing bang boom. The Knicks started getting deflections and building momentum, and by the time he threw down a breakaway dunk it was 40-28 New York.
Son of Tim scored 16 in the second and 22 in the opening half as the Knicks took a 72-49 lead. That ballooned to 28 in the second half. The Hawks, who missed 14 of their first 16 three-pointers, took advantage of probability and hit six in a row to cut the lead to 13. But the run was ceremonial; before the third was over the Knicks had 100 points prior to the fourth for the first time since the world’s first and fattest digital athlete poured in 62 against Charlotte. Allonzo Trier punctuated the quarter with a throwdown reminiscent of a quarter century ago, when another 6’5” undrafted Knick guard had his Garden coming-out moment.
(That clip’s for you, James Marceda.)
Let’s get to the happy recap!
- David Fizdale is the first Knick coach to win his first game with the club on an opening night since Mike D’Antoni. Celebrate!
- Kevin Knox def looked nervous at times. Made the kind of turnovers you remember making when you were lost in the moment. If Knox develops the finish to go with some of his moves, he’s gonna be a bear, man. Even when he doesn’t score, he does other things.
Such a good sign.
- Same for Frank. Had some lovely shakes and jakes he ultimately didn’t make. Tighter handle.
Highlights on D. Highlight passing.
- I don’t know if Trier is a surefire NBA player. But he def carries himself like he knows he is.
- Eight points in 14 minutes for Jeremy Lin. OAKAAKUYOAK.
- A double-double for Noah Vonleh: 12 and 10. Wonder if anyone had him pegged for most improved Knick this year...
- One thing I learned about Vonleh tonight: he must have short arms. Every time someone went to the rim against him, they won. I also learned Vonleh does that thing Kevin Garnett used to do, where anytime an opponent puts up a shot after the whistle, when it clearly doesn’t count, he goaltends to keep it from going in anyway. Dunno why but that always strikes me as ill-advised, karmically.
- Kent Bazemore is the 2018-19 Hawks’ Knicks’ 2009 Al Harrington.
- Seven Knicks scored in double-figures, four off the bench. New York went 12-of-33 on 3s. Last year they averaged 8 of 23. Nice...
- 15 tonight for Mario Hezonja. I’d say most came with the game decided, but to be fair that covers most of the game.
- Trey Burke backing down Trae Young? Fascinating post-play and word play.
- Young started slow but hit shots late to end with 14 on 5-of-14 shooting. Five assists. The first time he pulled up suddenly from 25 feet out and launched off the dribble, it was exhilarating. You just don’t see many gunslingers with the cojones to take that shot. By the third such miss, I felt a bit uneasy in my stomach, imagining how it’s gonna go down if Young ends up a bust. He made one late in the third. It was pretty cool.
- Happy-eyebrows-raised numbers from the game: 31 to 18. Knick free throw attempts to Atlanta’s. Eight of those were Hardaway’s. That’d be cool if it kept happening.
- Vince Carter made an athletic, delayed lay-in and — and it was just a glimpse — showed more athleticism at 42 than many NBA players do in their primes. Later he gave ‘em one to remember him by, making an unlikely save of a ball inches away from being a backcourt violation and seconds later drilling from beyond 30 feet with the shot clock expiring.
- If the Hawks signed London Perrantes, a Cav last year now playing for Limoges in France, and his nickname was Lon, they’d have a Lon, a Len and a Lin.
- In the pregame Al Trautwig was sweating like Roger Ebert.
- My six-year-old daughter, watching the pregame laser light bonanza: “Why are they celebrating about the Knicks?” The woke is strong in my child.
- This came to me early in the action, seeing Fizdale’s expressiveness: the world needs someone to make a 20-minute video that’s just a loop of Jeff Hornacek smiling while the theme from “Curb Your Enthusiasm” plays.
- Look who was ringside!
!!!!! David Lee... Is Woz in the house? She's prolly in Singapore for the WTA Finals next week... pic.twitter.com/GB5oz42Hje— D L (@kusmog) October 18, 2018
Quoth Melo’s Bucket Hat Collection: “Phenomenal.jpg.” Twas. Let’s see if the Knicks put the “fun” in phenomenon Friday in Brooklyn. Enjoy the buzz, true believers.