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Warriors 125, Knicks 111: “Can’t hate it”

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What’d you expect?

Golden State Warriors v New York Knicks Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Tonight’s Knicks-Warriors tilt was played under an unspoken gentleman’s agreement there’d be none of that plebeian, prole-ish defense we’re so often subjected to. Like Hitler betraying Stalin in 1940, Golden State tightened up the D in the third, creating all the separation they’d need en route to a 125-111 victory.

It looked like New York might go down for the count right off the bat, but after falling behind eight early they turned things around. Emmanuel Mudiay was doing it all, hitting his first five shots and collecting five first-half assists, leading the Knicks to a competitive showing. There was a lot of pleasing, effective ball movement throughout the first half. At the break the Knicks were up 64-63, thanks in large part to Mudiay, Frank Ntilikina and Trey Burke combining for 33 points on 14/22 shooting. There’s a point guard “Frank”-enstein joke in there somewhere.

You may have noticed the complete and utter absence of any mentions of the Knick defense so far. That’s no accident. As well as they were shooting and passing, there was no resistance on the other end. The Warriors were getting good looks at the rim, backcutting the Knicks to death; it was like the Knicks were defending in 2-D while Golden State’s offense was in 3-D. The Warriors were getting good looks from downtown, and you know how that goes. The second half began with one of those Golden State Mike Tyson-esque sequences where you blink and suddenly you’re down double-digits.

As that was happening the Knicks were missing 11 of their first 12 shots of the second half. The deficit hit 20 after this Steph Curry four-point play.

The third quarter was a 39-18 Warrior romp, rendering the fourth extensive garbage time. Despite the Knicks shooting 49% from the field, 40% from distance and 28 assists to just 14 turnovers, they got blown out. There’s a lesson in there, somewhere.

Notes:

  • Mudiay finally broke his three-point duck. hitting his first three (and his second, and his third) as a Knick. 20 points, 7 assists, zero turnovers, and he led the team in minutes. -22 plus/minus, though. The early aggression was nice. The struggles to finish at the rim? Not so much.
  • You know the old line about how Dean Martin spilled more alcohol than Frank Sinatra drank? Tim Hardaway Jr. misses more Hail Mary finger rolls than the rest of the league dreams of taking. Quiet night for Tim on a night you hoped he’d make some noise.
  • Travis Best was a point guard on the Pacers back in the 1990’s who carved out an 11-year career, earning nearly $20 million dollars. I mention this because Trey Burke looks like he has at least as much business being in the NBA as Best did. I’m starting to hope Burke’s face is one of those faces you get to spend like four or five years watching. The wife even remarked, “I like Burke. He looks cute and he’s not [Jarrett] Jack.” She’s not wrong.
  • Ntilikina was looking for shots early, looking to push. Just one assist, but it was a doozy. Plus he played the third-most minutes (28) of any Knick. Thank you, Jeff Hornacek.
  • The Knicks are far enough away from title contention that it may be silly to evaluate future roster moves on the “will this help them win it all?” spectrum. You have to walk before you can run and you gotta run a while before you’re sniffing meaningful games in late May and June. On the other hand, Enes Kanter only played 17 minutes tonight, because he can’t be on the floor on defense against the Warriors. It kinda doesn’t matter, since this isn’t the level the Knicks are punching at. But if the entire league is trending toward small ball...I don’t know. What do you think? Does it make sense in 2018 to pick personnel based on an imagined 2023 that may never arrive? I’m thinking about the Utah Jazz this year. Maybe they “should” be tanking. But there, fans must get such joy out of the run they’re on. Today’s gotta mean something, too, doesn’t it?
  • There was one wonderful sequence where Golden State was pushing up the floor in the second half and Klay Thompson and Draymond Green combined on a double give-and-go that ended with an open corner three for Klay. It felt exactly like when I was a freshman in college and I’d lose at chess to a dude named Rob Schiavi. He was a real friendly guy, but whenever he made a move that swung the game definitively in his direction he had this habit of making the move, pausing for a few moments after, then busting out the air guitar. It was exquisite and excruciating. That probably sums up most opposing fans’ sensations watching their team lose to this historical juggernaut.
  • Haven’t even mentioned Kevin Durant. He finished a game-high +27. There. I mentioned him.
  • Spent last week visiting family who don’t have wifi or MSG, so this was my first glimpse of newest Knick Troy Williams. First impression: he’s a thousand years old.
  • In a past life, Nick Young had to have been an apex-level humanitarian, like, Jesus or Oskar Schindler or Mother Theresa. ‘Cuz from all the Golden State I’ve seen this year, Nick Young can literally spend his entire day high on edibles, take a cab to the arena, spend 14 minutes a night in the corner waiting to shoot open threes, then spend his night high on edibles, then do it over and over again. Unbelievable.
  • MSG’s P.A. announcer, Mike Walczewski, nearly ripped his vocal cords in two introducing Tracy Morgan as part of some promotional synergy thing where celebrities introduce the Knick starters. I feel we’re generally drawn to bad news as a species, so I want to point out how comfortable enough people must be in this society for normality to be presented as people being yelled at by someone to get excited about someone else reading off information their eyes will give them in a few seconds anyway.

Quoth NeedforShved: “Can’t hate it.” You really can’t. The Knicks without Kristaps Porzingis were a sacrificial lamb tonight. At least they thrashed around a bit before they were bound and placed on the altar. Next game is late Friday at the Clippers, the first of a four-game road swing. Get your hate on then.