The Knicks talked about getting younger and more athletic after hiring David Fizdale. The Knicks are, and nights like tonight’s 115-96 blowout of the Brooklyn Nets offer a glimpse of what the future might be. If this be the future...give.
Seven Knicks scored in double-figures, six grabbed 5+ rebounds and five had multiple assists in a true and truly satisfying team effort. Fizdale kept the same starting five as last game, despite what some would have you believe.
Initially that looked to be a mistake, as a blistering Brooklyn bombardment from deep put the Nets up 11-3 and led Fizdale to call time barely two minutes into the game. It took most of the first quarter for the Knicks to pull even, thanks in part to the continued all-around efforts of Frank Ntilikina. On the heels of his coming-out party against Golden State Friday, the second-year man remained aggressive looking for his shot and attacking the defense. Enes Kanter put up a first-half double-double (more on him later), and Tim Hardaway Jr. got it going late in the half, blocking a shot and hitting two in a row before drawing a charge and an elbow that busted his lip and sent him to the locker room.
Give Tim Hardaway Jr a ton of credit, gets to his spot to draw a charge and might have lost some teeth or broke a nose or something nasty pic.twitter.com/krUf4yoKz3— Knicks Film School (@KnickFilmSchool) October 30, 2018
An invigorating Knick defense and dominating performance on the boards saw them up eight at the break after being down nine earlier in the half, and the third quarter was sweet as the sweetest cheeb. Hardaway returned without cooling down any. Tim’s shown toughness of late. I enjoy the extinction of all the “Tim’s a spoiled weak son of a millionaire” takes that sprung up during his first Knick tenure.
New York was defending and deflecting and running and gunning and I don’t care that it was the Nets. It wasn’t who they were beating as much as how they looked doing it. Exciting. Athletic. Entertaining. Like a team that isn’t just theoretically capable of perhaps conceivably maybe possibly being great someday. They could be that sooner than later.
It helped that Brooklyn played the role of Houston in game 7 of last year’s Western Conference finals, missing 16 of 17 threes at one point. The Knicks went up as many as 25 before the Nets offered the obligatory 10-0 losers’ run to cut it to 15. It got as low as 11, but the home team got the stops and run-outs needed to push it safely out of reach.
- Kanter had 10 and 12 in the first half. If he defended half as effectively as he accumulates counting stats, he’d be a legit dark-horse All-Star candidate in reality rather than his dreams. On the other hand, he led the team in plus/minus. On the other hand, I’m always hearing what a misleading stat that is. On the other hand, I’ma trust my eyeballs and settle here: when the Knicks took control of this game in the opening half, Kanter was there. Patrick Ewing he’s not, but he also wasn’t riding no coattails, either.
- And yet, and I’ve said this since he got here — Kanter’s run in this town, for a whole host of reasons, is going to end ugly. Very ugly. It begins:
- A few years ago in the Finals, Cleveland tried to make Steph Curry switch on LeBron James every single play the Cavs ran. The Net offense tonight was a whole lotta “Where’s Kanter? There? OK. Pick and roll time.”
- Ntilikina does this thing now where he takes the handoff at the top of the arc and drives to the elbow, then looks to pass to the cutting screener, and if that’s not there he’s tall enough to pull-up and shoot over both the big waiting for him to pass and the guard trailing after him. This could be devastating moving forward, especially if he and Mitchell Robinson establish chemistry together.
- When Kanter, Mario Hezonja and Allonzo Trier are all on the floor together, it’s a miracle the ball ever moves.
- Hardaway 25, 8 assists (!) and 5 rebounds. Complete games have gone the way of the do-do in Major League Baseball, but THJ pitched one tonight.
- Trey Burke posted up Shabazz Napier.
Trey Burke posted up.
- Tonight was your classic NBA paradox: one team gets up 20+, loses 10 points off the lead, and their announcers lament them letting the other team back in the game; one team falls down 20+, cuts 10 off the lead, and their announcers lament them having to get down to get up. I don’t know how much evidence is needed that runs are normal occurrences, even within blowouts, which are not, before we all act like adults and chill.
- Joe Harris looks like he lost three brothers at Gettysburg.
- The numbers won’t tell you how well Noah Vonleh played tonight. Intangibles like contesting shots, handling the ball...easily one of the pleasant surprises of this early season.
- Vonleh’s also the clear front-runner for Knick most likely to pull an Al Harrington and cost them a game by hanging unnecessarily from the rim. We see you, Seth!
- If 15 minutes of fame were ever a literal thing, Mitchell Robinson’s 15 minutes tonight was it. Soooo exciting.
- 10 years ago, before the English Premier League’s ruling power became its ruling power, Manchester City signed a vaunted Brazilian named Robinho. It never panned out. His moves were incredible, but he was very much not clinical with his shots.
Vonleh is the Knicks’ Robinho. At least once a night his aspirations write a very dreamy check his skill set is nowhere close to cashing.
Noah Vonleh with a nasty dunk on Jarrett Allen. The Knicks big man does what Blake Griffin couldn't do and finishes on Allen. pic.twitter.com/AaMCX3d6MU— Mike Vorkunov (@MikeVorkunov) October 29, 2018
Btw remember when amare dunked on Anderson varajao and obliterated him? That vonleh play was literally the exact same thing— Zach DiLuzio (@zjdiluzio) October 29, 2018
Yes. Yes I do.
- Nine minutes for Lance Thomas tonight.
- Damyean Dotson is a player. Full stop. It’s at the point where if he gets any daylight on a clean look, I’m kinda expecting it to go in.
- Emmanuel Mudiay made his season debut in the closing minutes. His box score was zeroes across the board, so he’s already in mid-season form.
- Ron Baker entering blowout wins in the last 2-3 minutes with the crowd chanting his name is exactly the Ron Baker this team needs.
- No words.
- I wish teams would stop interviewing players right after the game. It’s the most asinine, abhorrent form of public relations. Proof? Rebecca Haarlow’s first question to Hardaway, moments after the final buzzer: “Tim, 25 points and 8 assists tonight. When you can lead this team in scoring and assists, does that just come down to your ability to pick...great shot selection?” She sounded just as not into it as we listeners are. Walk away, Rebecca. We won’t blame you. We’ll respect you for respecting yourself.
- The first three Knicks shown in MSG’s opening montage are Jarrett Jack, Michael Beasley and Kyle O’Quinn.
Quoth Carmelapplestapz Godzingodthony: “[oqewb ygfdaushvs;ljufyq vuwh poad.” It really was an orgasm of joy tonight. Lay back, light up a cigarette and enjoy it for a while. Next game is Wednesday in Indiana. Doubt that one’ll be anywhere near this easy.