There comes a time in every lost Knicks season when a blowout because most interesting than a close game. It is a moment when every fan must ask him or herself: Would I rather watch Jeff Hornacek toss out the same mediocre vets for 35 minutes, only to lose by a possession or two, or a 30-point blowout in which some younger players might get some burn? I dunno about y’all, but I’m already there.
Friday night’s 92-90 loss to the Bucks was a close, back-and-forth affair, with neither team leading by more than 8 points the entire game. Milwaukee won on a tough layup from Giannis Antetokounmpo with 1.9 seconds left. Sounds interesting, right?
It was not interesting. It was some of the most butt-ugly basketball I’ve seen in some time. Tim Hardaway Jr. shot 1-14 from the field and missed a pair of free throws in the final minute. Kristaps Porzingis wasn’t much better, shooting 6-15. The Knicks stayed in this game only due to a stupendous 57-36 advantage on the boards. The late-game execution—mostly on offense—was a joke.
You who did execute the offense pretty well during the game? Frank Ntilikina. The Knicks’ rookie put together a solid line of 9 points and 5 assists despite a paltry 17 minutes of playing time. Frank showed some impressive decision-making out of the pick-and-roll, which the Knicks usually hate to run, but can be very effective!
Alas, Frank was yanked with 7:00 remaining in favor of Jarrett Jack. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here’s a handy meme summary of the Knicks’ point guard situation.
— Let’s talk about the final defensive possession, shall we? Enes Kanter played it about as well as he could have, forcing Giannis to hit a circus layup...which he did. Great work from the big Turk, regardless of the results. Still, he should not have been out there, and he and Kristaps should not have switched so easily. Was that switch planned beforehand? It went so smoothly that it certainly seem planned. Whatever the case, it was terrible strategy. You can substitute offense for defense, Jeff Hornacek. My word, you are a terrible coach.
— Tim Hardaway’s shot has been broken for three games now. His late-game yips at the free-throw line were inexcusable. BUT! Timmy did pull down 7 rebounds, drop 4 dimes and grab 3 steals, while finishing a team-high plus-8. Those kinds of contributions are so far removed from the Timmy of his first Knicks stint that it practically boggles the imagination. Tim isn’t the problem with this team. Still, if you wanna hit a basket every now and again, Tim, that would be cool.
— Conversely, Enes Kanter can’t seem to miss over his last three games. Friday marked his third consecutive game with at least 17 points and 17 rebounds, the first Knick to accomplish that statistical landmark since Bob McAdoo. He also had a double-double in the first half for the third straight game.
As P&T’er felinequickness noted, it’s growing tougher to stay off the pro-tank bandwagon at this point. The Knicks play again Super Bowl Sunday afternoon.