Ah, the first gut=punch Knicks loss of the series. We had to get it over with at some point, right? I wish, however, it had come at the hands of a team a little less obnoxious than the Brooklyn Nets.
Alas, it was meant to be. Caris LeVert converted the game-winning bucket with 1.0 seconds remaining, and Tim Hardaway’s desperation heave at the buzzer didn’t connect, sending Brooklyn to a 107-105 victory. New York tied the game a few seconds earlier, when Enes Kanter converted a pretty and-1 layup off a splendid pick-and-roll feed from Trey Burke. It was representative of a beastly overall performance from the Big Turk, who pulverized the Nets’ front line en route to a 29-point, 10-rebound night.
For much of the first half, the Knicks’ offense revolved around getting Kanter the ball on the block and getting the hell out of the way. The problem was that every other Knick was ice cold for much of the half, as Brooklyn built up an 11-point lead. The Knicks finally pulled back into the game in the third quarter, thanks to 7 straight points from Frank Ntilikina, and the rest of the night was a tense, back-and-forth affair until the final buzzer.
— I’m pleased to announce that Kevin Knox can shoot that rock.
The rook followed up his sloppy opening night performance with 17 points on 7-14 shooting, including some of the most feathery jumpers you ever did see. Fizdale elected to play him late in the game, in place of Lance Thomas, and Knox responded with a clutch three to draw the Knicks even in the final minutes.
— The Nets called timeout after Knox’s three, and head coach David Fizdale immediately went over to the kid to take him to task for a blown defensive assignment the play before. Love it. Unlike previous Knicks coaches, however, Fizdale kept Knox in the game. Love it more.
David Fizdale on Kevin Knox (17 points, 7-for-14 shooting vs. BK): “I just want him to keep building his confidence, keep competing at a high level. I’m still on him tough about his defense because I see more there that he can do.” pic.twitter.com/1KxTHO9H3Z— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) October 20, 2018
— Tim Hardaway didn’t have the best shooting night, hitting just 10 of 25 shots. The fact that he still dropped 29 points on Brooklyn is a testament to his rapidly diversifying offensive game. Timmy once again got to the line, hitting 6 of 7 free throws. His biggest problem came on defense, where he was matched up with LeVert (28 points) most of the night, including the decisive bucket. Tim was hard on himself, but Fizdale covered for him.
David Fizdale said he thought Tim Hardaway Jr. did a good job covering Caris LeVert on LeVert’s game-winner. Hardaway Jr. chided himself for not preventing LeVert, his old Michigan teammate, from going right: pic.twitter.com/NEBUzcYNFY— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) October 20, 2018
Personally, I would have preferred Frank be the one covering LeVert, but it is what it is. As P&T’er LegionofBlue said, you live and you learn. Tim is currently averaging 30 points per game, which is pretty cool.
— Bless his heart, Ron Baker can’t hit any sort of basketball shot or really do any offensive things. Fizdale might need to phase him out of the rotation. If Courtney Lee is healthy, maybe he should take Baker’s spot with the second unit. He can definitely hit threes, and his veteran presence would be a welcomed addition to a callow group of youngsters.
Ah crap, the Knicks face the Celtics Saturday night. That loss will probably be a whole lot less entertaining than this loss was.