The Knicks’ 113-106 loss in Cleveland tonight featured all three faces of tanking. Tanking = crazy. Tanking = classic. Tanking = life.
Kevin Knox started for the first time since mid-November at small forward, which was interesting ‘cuz:
When Knox plays the 4, the Knicks net rating is bad (-7.9), but when he plays the 3, it is downright awful (-32.5), and that is the product of replacing a clumsy big next to him with a willing defender like Dotson next to him https://t.co/mB9wyAaztz— Knicks Film School (@KnickFilmSchool) December 12, 2018
Cleveland would score a scorching 39 in the first frame. Crazy, right?
New York’s lost seven of eight, with most of those losses coming against teams .500 or worse. Anybody can lose the games you’re supposed to lose. It’s these coin-flip failures like tonight’s defeat that separate the mid-lottery and high-lottery teams. That’s a classic tank job.
Life comes at you fast, but tonight the Knicks were slow getting into the action. They scored just eight points in the first five minutes, a stretch consisting mostly of Emmanuel Mudiay takes, but no makes. Rodney Hood scored 12 points in the first eight minutes of what was a first quarter from hell. The Cavs were up 16 entering the second and got it as high as 22 after a Jordan Clarkson four-point play. Cleveland was looking to run every single chance they could. Matthew Dellavedova hit three three-pointers in his first home game as a Cav since helping the team win its only championship two-and-a-half years ago. The lead was 11 at the break.
The Knicks went on a 9-0 run bridging the halves to cut into the deficit. Tim Hardaway started percolating. Enes Kanter worked the paint and offensive glass. Knox was getting out on the break and blocking shots with authority.
Don't make @KevKnox angry... pic.twitter.com/2IzJvUIFuf— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) December 13, 2018
A Noah Vonleh post move over Cedi Osman capped an 18-2 run to tie the game, where it stood entering the fourth. Frank Ntilikina was doing it on both ends.
He’s going... pic.twitter.com/CJNP5AhYl7— Knicks Film School (@KnickFilmSchool) December 13, 2018
Frank again makes the Cavs pay for creeping off in help— Knicks Film School (@KnickFilmSchool) December 13, 2018
He has 12 of his 16 in the second half pic.twitter.com/NtQwjPt803
Try to make an entry on Frank in the post pic.twitter.com/PVEX5Cmcl6— Knicks Film School (@KnickFilmSchool) December 13, 2018
A Clarkson runner put the Cavs up 105-99, and the fake comeback could have died then and there. But as an unlicensed LL Cool J impersonator said, “Don’t call it a fake comeback!” Knox hit a three and a breakaway dunk to give New York its first lead since 6-4. Regrettably, Rodney Hood is no easy cover.
Frank does his best pic.twitter.com/Ewwi5wYsr6— Knicks Film School (@KnickFilmSchool) December 13, 2018
Mudiay missed a tough pull-up where he may have been fouled from behind by Dellavedova. Could have given the Knicks the lead. Another thing that would’ve helped: inbounding the ball.
Knicks are stifled on their inbounds play with 15.7 seconds left in Cleveland and that will cost them the game. Mudiay with no one to pass to and throws it into a turnover. Cavaliers get the win. Knicks drop to 8-21. pic.twitter.com/hzaWSCXj9k— Mike Vorkunov (@MikeVorkunov) December 13, 2018
Emmanuel Mudiay explains to @RebeccaHaarlow what happened on the last inbound play. #Knicks pic.twitter.com/JF8n2mKyrV— MSG Networks (@MSGNetworks) December 13, 2018
The Cavs would win, but not without some First World NBA controversy. Tim Hardaway Jr. is not here for David Nwaba’s gratuitous ornamentation of the mundane. Game’s over, bub. Act like it.
"Ho, ho, but no matter. @dnwaba0 was on his way. Lovely, glorious, beautiful Nwaba, upon which this entire moment revolved."#BeTheFight pic.twitter.com/ciOEaklikE— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) December 13, 2018
C’est la tank.
- Cavs bench = 64 points. Knick bench = 24. That’ll do it.
- After failing to score 18+ points his first 16 games, Knox hit 26 twice in the past five games and 19 tonight. Seven rebounds and two memorable blocks, too. He don’t turn 20 till next summer. Five years from now, he’ll only be 24! In some ways I’m more excited about his prospects than any other player on this roster. Even you know who.
.@KevKnox is heating up in December pic.twitter.com/dQ2MYLOTzT— NY_KnicksPR (@NY_KnicksPR) December 12, 2018
- Just because Dotson doesn’t score doesn’t mean he’s not bringing things to the table.
WHOLETEAMDOT Defense pic.twitter.com/0vpDzsiNfq— Knicks Film School (@KnickFilmSchool) December 13, 2018
- The Mets used to have a shortstop named Mike Bordick. Whenever he made a throw to first, it looked like he was casting a spell. Dellavedova hurling threes looks like he’s cursing your village’s water supply.
“@matthewdelly works in TREYS the way other artists might work in oils or clay. It was his true medium, a master.”— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) December 13, 2018
3-3 3PM pic.twitter.com/eFdOL278Fo
- You have lived long enough on this Earth to see Dellavedova getting MVP chants.
Delly on @Larrydn22 starting the "MVP" chant: "He's fun to play with but he needs to stop that." pic.twitter.com/qGlFyuWpRa— FOX Sports Ohio (@FOXSportsOH) December 13, 2018
- Dellavedova also looks like a human/rodent hybrid who hangs around the bar till last call waiting for women to kill and stitch into clothing.
- Dellavedova also looks like the only player in the league who should be wearing a fanny pack while balling.
- Ornery night for THJ. In addition to the endgame beef, he got hit in the face early by Osman going for a rebound. Gave him a blatant shot next time they crossed paths. Osman accepted it. It was admirable to see.
- Clarkson’s neck tattoo looks like someone took a Scantron test on his neck, where you fill in the circles with pencil, then erased all the answers and left a big smudge behind.
- Kanter ranks among the league leaders in rebounds, offensive rebounds, and rapidity of complaining. After the late non-inbounded inbounds, he LITERALLY threw up a frustrated hand the instant the ball was in Nance’s hands.
- One of my biggest surprises this season is Kanter not taking more threes. He hit one tonight, but I thought under David Fizdale he’d be launching like Marc Gasol.
- Tristan Thompson. What a huckleberry.
- You wouldn’t think Cleveland matching up against Sacramento would be a big deal. But keep April 4th circled on your calendar. Collin Sexton versus De’Aaron Fox gonna be like Ken vs. Ryu.
Quoth me: “A perfect game.” It really was. Saw things from Frank. Saw things from Knox. A spirited comeback. A loss that gets the Knicks within 1.5 games of the second-most ping pong balls. Next game is Friday in Charlotte. Keep ‘em coming, boys!