The New York Knicks finally overcame their third-quarter woes Saturday night, and then some. New York out-scored the Charlotte Hornets 42-17 in the third frame, and that was pretty much all she wrote—124-101 was the final.
So many notes:
— Frank Ntilikina scored a career-high 15 points on a tidy 5-8 shooting to go along with 3 rebounds and 3 assists. Honestly, I’m not sure Frank did anything all that differently on Saturday. Outside of Thursday’s loss to Philly, when he took only 1 field-goal attempt in 13 minutes, the kid has been much more aggressive in looking for his shot of late. Those shots just haven’t been falling, particularly his jumper. On Saturday, they fell. His first three even looked a bit flat to me...but it went in. The point is, Frank has been putting in the work recently, and Saturday he was finally rewarded. Now here’s hoping the coach gives him even more chances to shine.
— SIKE! We all know Jeff Hornacek ain’t about to hand Frank the keys to this ragged-ass kingdom. Even in a blowout, the rook finished sixth on the team in minutes-played, with 20 minutes, behind such luminaries as Michael Beasley (22 minutes) and Lance Thomas (21 minutes). Horny seemingly couldn’t wait to hand the ball over to Jarrett Jack, who replace Frank with seven minutes remaining. I actually understand giving Jack some burn—dude’s been a good sport—but why not play him and Frank together with Damyean Dotson at the 3? Nah, can’t have that...otherwise, Frank might have scored 20 points, as P&T’er Airfeet noted.
— One game after being call out for not taking a charge, Emmanuel Mudiay looked like a new man on defense (and on the glass). Mudiay was defending all comers—muscling bigs on switches, shutting down Kemba Walker, boxing out like a fiend. I’d really like to see this version of Mudiay more often.
— Troy Williams scored 13 points on 6-10 shooting, grabbed 4 rebounds, finished off another patented put-back dunk, and finished the game plus-21. This was the same Troy Williams, if you recall, who didn’t see a minute of game action on Thursday.
— Saturday was the best game of the season for Isaiah Hicks, who finished with 12 points, 8 rebounds and 2 assists. He looked pretty feisty on defense, too, which is probably the main thing holding him back in terms of an NBA career.
— Trey Burke continued to be a spark plug off the bench, chipping in 14 points and 5 assists in 19 minutes. The quintet of Burke, Frank, Troy, Hicks and Kyle O’Quinn really helped turn the game in the Knicks’ favorite in the second quarter. I love the energy that group brings, and I honestly think they’d have a decent chance to beat the Knicks’ starting five in a competitive game. I certainly wouldn’t bet against them.
— Willy Hernangomez got a nice ovation from the MSG crowd as he checked into the game in garbage time. Big Willy finished with 9 points and 6 rebounds.
TankBowl 2018 kicks off Monday as the Knick take on Chicago.