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Knicks 118, Mavericks 106: 'Anything you want!'

Tied for 9th in the East! FOOTSTEPS!

NBA: New York Knicks at Dallas Mavericks Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Beating the Mark Cuban Mavs always feels good. Beating the Dennis Cousy Maravich Archibald Iverson Springfield Smith Jr. Mavs? Same. Getting that first road win of the season? Also always. The Knicks hit the trifecta, riding a dominant second-half to a fun and freeing 118-106 victory in Dallas.

The Knicks got off to a double-digit lead in the first thanks to seven quick points from Damyean Dotson; the Mavericks then found their footing thanks to 10 off the bench for Dorian Finney-Smith. Who ever dreamt of such a sentence? Meanwhile, Luka Doncic. Oh, Doncic...

An 8-0 Dallas run midway through the second saw them retake the lead, one they pushed as high as seven and which was three at the break. It could have been more, but after being fouled on a three by Mitchell Robinson, Smith Jr. missed two of three free-throws, including an airball. You best be down for the DSJ snark, ‘cuz there’s more to come.

Also, Doncic...

The Knicks put it away in the third. If you’ve followed this team for at least, like, a year, you appreciate the irony of that truth. New York opened the second half with a 13-3 run, sharing and raring to go go go. 11 Knicks played tonight and nine had dimes. Seven had multiple dimes. Mitchell Robinson had three!

They were also pushing the pace; it didn’t always result in fast breaks, but it did mean they were running a lot of their offense against a steadily unsettled Dallas D. It helps when you’re 40 minutes into the game and you’ve turned the opponent over twice as often as you’ve coughed it up. An Allonzo Trier three put the Knicks up by a dozen. A Trier dunk in the fourth, two of his 14 fourth-quarter points and career-high 23, pushed the bulge to 15. It’d get as high as 17. The Mavs didn’t even fake the fake comeback, showing sometimes there is honor in capitulating.


  • New York went with the same starters for the fourth game in a row. The kids are all right.
  • Doncic: ¡Que coup! Smarts forever. Quick. Aah’d. Ooh’d. Shrewd. Clever. Slick.
  • If Doncic is a future legend, this isn’t the way you want him to remember you if you’re a teammate:
  • Late in the fourth, Ntilikina went past Smith Jr. and toward the hoop. DSJ bumped, hacked, poked, and pushed him on his way up before stepping over him Iverson/Lue style after Frank hit the floor — all on one foul. They met at midcourt as soon as the game ended and looked fine with each other. I suspect we make more of their rivalry than they do. Whatever.


  • Trier was bringing the ball up the floor a lot late. Good to see him tackling the responsibility of primary ball-handler, though that’s something he has room to develop. Clyde Frazier pointed out Trier ends up holding the ball or dribbling in place too much rather than keeping it moving. On one possession he let himself get trapped near midcourt, committing an over-and-back violation. Sometimes when I close my eyes I flashback to the Iman Shumpert point guard experiment, and then I flashback to the Mets playing Todd Hundley in left field, and just...please learn to dribble better, Allonzo.
  • On the next possession Trier blew by Smith Jr. and as he rose for the uncontested lay-in DSJ pushed him. Smith’s body language late was not inspiring. His team was down and he’d put up a classic vapid boxscore, but still: when Adam Silver went to the podium two summers ago to announce the Knicks’ pick, I’d come to a place of peace with any of DSJ, Ntilikina and Malik Monk. Every day I come closer to a place of joy with how that turned out.
  • Trier led the team with seven free-throw attempts tonight. Vonleh and Trier rank 7th and 5th on the team in minutes, yet 2nd and 3rd in free-throw attempts. Raise your hand if you had that in your preseason betting pool.
  • In the last 30 seconds, Smith Jr. drove the lane, pump-faked and got Robinson flying in the air. Robinson fell on top of him and looked like he shook Smith up a bit. In the opening minute of the game, the same thing happened: Smith missed a fast-break lay-up, grabbed on offensive rebound, pump-faked, and Robinson went up and crash-landed on him. Fearful symmetry for the Mavs’ second-year man.
  • Robinson had a career high in points and rebounds, and I’d guess the three assists were, too. But the big number with him tonight was 34. That’s how many minutes he played. The only Knick to play more? Dotson. I can’t shake the feeling that things will end here in under 3 years for Fizdale, only because they always end in under 3 years for all Knick coaches, and that the end will be ugly. But I am 100% behind his approach so far as far as minutes and big-picture focus. Ntilikina is averaging over 30 minutes this year. How many 20-year-olds average that? Jayson Tatum. DSJ. Doncic. De’Aaron Fox. Deandre Ayton. Trae Young. Good company.
  • Saw some two-man games between bigs tonight — Robinson and Noah Vonleh, later Robinson and Lance. Always love bigs running plays together.
  • Good energy from Emmanuel Mudiay in limited action, the highlights of which were consecutive pull-up fadeaways early in the fourth to preserve the Knicks’ breathing room.

He may never become a reliable shooter, but when he’s pushing and passing and upright he makes plays. He made passes — not highlight reel passes, but practical, meaningful passes — that the other New York guards just don’t.

He also hustled his way to an offensive rebound that led to the pass that led to the pass that led to a lay-up for Mario Hezonja. A good night for Emmanuel.

  • Hezonja also with a restrained, effective effort. Hit his first five from the floor en route to 11 in just 9 minutes.
  • Imagine if all these young Knicks start seeing the game more slowly all at once. Somewhere there’s a dimension where they tell of a legendary team that was highly regarded but quickly dismissed before putting it all together together. Why not? The 2018-19 Knicks are essentially The A-Team.
  • Somewhere there’s a dimension where the 2017 Knicks drafted DSJ instead of Frank. In that dimension you’re watching him and Kanter slowly hate each other while the fires of their respective greed sucks all the air out of this team. In that dimension, Tim Hardaway Jr. has already lost his mind.
  • Even Lance Thomas was mostly commendable, never more than when he hit a quick-hitter step-back jumper off the dribble to help the Knicks put it away in the third. The Knicks as a team hit an exceptional number of fadeaways and step-backs.
  • Hardaway drew another charge, this time on DeAndre Jordan. David Lee is the Knick I always think of when I think of guys who added something new to their game every year. What if THJ is that? Wouldn’t that be cool?
  • Relatedly, in the third quarter Hardaway showcased a spinning lefty floater we haven’t seen from him before.
  • Six assists in just 15 minutes for J.J. Barea, legendary Puerto Rican baller. Allow me to segue from him existing to reminding you the worst loss USA Men’s Basketball has ever suffered came at the hands of Puerto Rico.
  • It’s been a minute since I saw a Knick big dribble up the floor with the comfort Vonleh shows. My thoughts turn immediately to Anthony Mason. Vonleh’s not at Mase’s level, but it makes me wonder: what Knick bigs do you think of when you think of deft ball-handling?
  • Would you sign up today for these numbers from Kevin Knox over his first six season?

You know who that is?

  • ”Dorian Finney-Smith” reminds me of the name of this Christian singer my parents drove us 60 miles to see. That was my first concert ever. My first secular concert was Barenaked Ladies, a fact I can’t scrub clean no matter what I do in life.
  • As Mark Cuban ages, he looks more and more like Sidney Blackmer, who played half of the creepy older neighbors in Rosemary’s Baby.

Wait a few years. Trust me. It’s coming.

  • The stats above belong to current Mav Harrison Barnes. I don’t think most Knick fans would settle for Knox’s ceiling being Barnes. I know it’s way too early to have any impression of Knox. And I am the guy who would have drafted Melo over LeBron because I worried with all the pressure around James, even if he turned out to be Paul Pierce, meaning a Hall of Famer but not an all-time great, he’d be considered a failure. I love betting over/unders and I can’t help wondering about what we hope Knox becomes versus what he could end up being that we’d do well to be grateful for.

Quoth David Fizdale (not an unimaginative comment handle, but the actual Knick coach):

Next game is Sunday at 6:00 p.m. in Washington. The Wizards lost tonight at home to OKC, badly, dropping them to 1-7. Strange but true: the 3-6 Knicks are facing a big test when they visit the Wiz. Washington is the better team, despite their record. “Anything you want” Sunday would mean winning a second straight on the road. Let’s see what happens.