The Knicks lost another fake comeback — or, depending on your worldview, earned more ping pong balls — trailing by double-digits most of the way en route to a 112-104 loss to the Brooklyn Nets. It cannot be overstated how ugly this one was to watch. Not only because the Knicks lost to Team Straight Edge.
Nets with the plate of PB 'n J sandwiches in the post game locker room. With the crust cut off.— Mike Vorkunov (@MikeVorkunov) December 9, 2018
The game itself was disgusting. The teams combined to shoot 55 free throws and miss 40% of them. New York’s only reliable offense much of the night was the interpretive dance of Enes Kanter rocking and rolling in the paint. Give Brooklyn credit. They were aggressive throughout, particularly on defense, denying passing lanes and forcing hesitation. They deserved the win.
The only joy for Knick fans was Frank Ntilikina returning from his organization-mandated Ayahuasca vision quest to play and play well. Trust me: if you DVR’d this game, delete it. Twas a miserable menagerie of mistakes and marred moments. In the first quarter Kanter and Noah Vonleh both went for a defensive rebound and ended up knocking it into the basket. Vonleh looked sick afterward; Kanter was demonstrably pissed. In the second quarter, Tim Hardaway Jr. traveled and snapped at Damyean Dotson. Hardaway didn’t score for the first 14:30, and when he finally did it was one of just two makes on 12 attempts.
The first half was loaded with potential low points. An Allen Crabbe three-pointer put the Nets up 11. A Joe Harris three put them up 14. It got as high as 15. Oddly enough, Mario Hezonja was neither the answer nor even a welcome part of the question.
A few Knicks players look pissed at Hezonja for how he mishandled the last few seconds of that possession.— Kristian Winfield (@Krisplashed) December 9, 2018
Your stat of the half: the five Knick subs (Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson, Courtney Lee, Allonzo Trier and Dotson) combined for 34 minutes, six points (all by Trier), 22% shooting from the field, three rebounds, zero assists, zero steals and zero blocks. And yet, Ntilikina was still stuck to the bench. To call this half butt-ugly would be to slander butts the world over, and God worked too hard on our asses for me to blaspheme so callously.
The destruction kept on keeping on until 3:40 left in the third, when the Knicks, trailing 80-65, finally shuffled Ntilikina off the bench. The Garden crowd gave him a nice cheer the first time he dribbled up the floor.
Listen to the Knicks fans as Frank finally gets back into the game pic.twitter.com/QrqxIg7H16— Knicks Film School (@KnickFilmSchool) December 9, 2018
Then Dotson hit back-to-back threes and a couple other buckets, and that was your fake comeback ribbon-cutting.
The deficit was 17 entering the fourth and would get as low as five and almost three. Knox got going in transition, hit a jumper and drew a foul on a drive where Rondae Hollis-Jefferson tried to de-pants him. The youngins — Robinson, Dotson, Trier, Ntilikina and Knox — went on a 15-3 run to cut it to 101-96. The Nets scored seven in a row to create some distance, but very few distances are beyond the wingspan of Mitchell Robinson.
Spencer Dinwiddie, the most unlikely Knick killer since Tyler Hansbrough, could not be stopped.
Dinwiddie blows right past Frank and no help inside. pic.twitter.com/MmFOZDWvds— Knicks Film School (@KnickFilmSchool) December 9, 2018
There was one last Frankening.
But right after that bucket, the Knicks played aggressive, pressing defense for 20 seconds, then committed what looked like a premeditated foul to send the Nets to the line.
<The rage of 28 years of games filling my bloodstream as it all distills down to the things that angry me the most...>
WHAT’S THE #&$%ING POINT OF DEFENDING FOR 20 SECONDS, THEN FOULING WITH 4 LEFT?!?
- 16 minutes, seven points, three assists and a +7 for Frank. Don’t know if the paid leave helped his offense any. The defense is still there: he’s D’Angelo Russell’s own private Freddy Krueger and what looked like a mismatch in favor of the bigger stronger Hollis-Jefferson was, in reality, not.
This is what happens when you play defensive players at key positions pic.twitter.com/MUdgzDcZwQ— Knicks Film School (@KnickFilmSchool) December 9, 2018
- Whatever you wanna say about Kanter, he was a one-man resistance tonight. He’s not a superstar. He’s not a star. But for much of the night tonight he was the only light out there. The Euro even threw in a Euro step.
- Kanter had 14 and 9 in the first half, which feels pretty typical for him. Every game he seems to near a first-half double-double. Tonight he finished strong, with 23 and 14. Yet for the season he averages 15 and 12. How is he so Joel Embiid in first halves yet so Joel Przybilla in seconds?
- If I may, a note on Allonzo Trier. He does good things. Goes strong to the hoop.
Creates his own shot.
Undeniably a grand-slam undrafted free agent. Having said that...I’m tired of the Point Trier experiment. At least I am when it comes at the expense of Ntilikina’s minutes.
- Another Trier plus: kid’s tough. Kept getting knocked around tonight. Almost like the Nets came in determined to attack him, in a criminal sense. He’s being double-teamed more and more; anticipating that and improving his passes out of them could elevate him from undrafted pleasantry to God only knows...
- THJ and Trier both had moments tonight where they absolutely shook their defenders off the dribble, had miles of open room, and missed. I’d love to see the shooting percentages on guys who catch and shoot with 5+ feet of space versus guys who create that space off the dribble. The latter has to be shooting under 50%.
- On one sequence Frank and M-Rob doubled Dinwiddie off a pick and their freaking 15 feet of arms forced a turnover, ignited a break and gave a glimpse of what could be.
- During the Knicks’ last timeout, the camera zoomed in on David Fizdale and Kristaps Porzingis was standing behind him. Ended up getting a 40-second uninterrupted Porzingis crotch shot. His suit and pants’ design looked like TV static.
- Watching Russell and Mudiay, the second and seventh picks in the 2015 draft, on their second teams, knowing both may very well be on their third teams next year, is a reminder of both why patience is warranted with Ntilikina (they’re both 2 years older than he and still unfinished products) and why you can’t rely on losing and lottery picks to turn things around.
- Shout out to the dude wearing the Montreal Expos hat at the scorer’s table. I had a red Expos cap for many years. Still my fave ever. When I find a genie in a bottle one of my wishes is to resurrect that franchise. MLB did them and them fans wrong.
- One time I was doing a little maintenance near my junk and I nicked the most sensitive part with a pair of scissors. It was so painful and so scary that for a couple minutes that shit turned gray. Jared Dudley looks like a frightened, gray, circumcised penis.
Quoth ClydeandthePearl73 — and someone on the Nets when Hollis-Jefferson got Knox on an isolation — “He too little!”
Next game is tomorrow night when the Knicks host the Hornets, led by Harlem’s own Kemba Walker. He’s little, but he ain’t too little. If there are any games you might label winnable for this team, four of the next five games (Charlotte twice, Cleveland, Phoenix) are. Good a time as any to start a little winning streak.