It’s 2019 and the Knicks clearly resolved not to fall behind by 40 in the first half anymore. Success! Tonight they were in the game till the very end, falling to the Denver Nuggets 115-108. Denver welcomed back Gary Harris and the recently resurrected Paul Millsap. They also welcomed back Emmanuel Mudiay, who played his first game in the Mile High City as a non-Nugget. More impactful than who came back was he who never left: Nikola Jokic, who looks like asthma incarnate but whose game takes your breath away.
Jokic had six assists in the first quarter.
Such a smart passer. If the NBA were a room, Jokic is the rug that really ties it together, man.
How do you do the things that you do, Nikola Jokić? pic.twitter.com/fI0NAUrmqJ— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) January 2, 2019
Meanwhile, Kevin Knox had 13 in the opening frame, including three three-point plays.
The Knicks, across the board, were sharing the ball, pushing the pace, and looking legit. Moms everywhere approved.
That’s one of the best quarters I’ve seen the #Knicks play!— Tracy Kornet (@WSMVTracyKornet) January 2, 2019
Many Knicks accorded themselves well. One of them — you might wanna sit for this — was Enes Kanter. It turns out not everything is his fault.
The Knicks have been trapping the PnR all night, so this is an example of a play that looks like it’s yet another two points vs Kanter, but someone has to help on the roll when you show hard pic.twitter.com/e9yOzku51Z— Knicks Film School (@KnickFilmSchool) January 2, 2019
In fact, sometimes Kanter did a right proper job.
Watch how Frank and THJ switch to counter the initial action, and then Kanter does a nice job coming to help low when Jokic falls down, ends in turnover pic.twitter.com/troB29XEsj— Knicks Film School (@KnickFilmSchool) January 2, 2019
Sometimes his D helped the Knicks get off to the races.
Kanter holds his own inside and then Trier with the AGGRESSIVE move in transition pic.twitter.com/1Qm8hOb36P— Knicks Film School (@KnickFilmSchool) January 2, 2019
By “his D” I meant defense, ya perv.
One lovely sequence featured Frank Ntilikina dishing to Damyean Dotson dishing back to Ntilikina.
If you were a Knick fan in May 1990, that play may have looked familiar.
It wasn’t all hunky and dory for Frank.
!!!!!! SHUT IT DOWN !!!!!!— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) January 2, 2019
JAMAL JUST DID THIS pic.twitter.com/aNPWLKQEhz
But the good stuff kept on keeping on. This dish from Frank to Kanter capped a 17-4 run and put the Knicks up eight.
Malik Beasley kept hurting the Knicks. Every time I heard his name I thought I’d heard “Malik Sealy” and got happy and sad. In the final few minutes of the first half New York missed a million not-bad looks, letting Denver finish on a 9-0 run.
Ended the half on a high-note.— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) January 2, 2019
See below. pic.twitter.com/2D9FHrwqMZ
Twas a back-and-forth affair throughout. As Jokic giveth, Jokic taketh away: every time Tim Hardaway Jr. saw the big Serb as the last line of defense, his eyes grew big as Belgrade.
At one point in the third the game was all tied up 69-69. Nice. Nice.
Mudiay looked pretty good in his Denver homecoming.
Hopefully he did enough to get the bad taste of his time there out of the mouth of the Nugget faithful.
If eating chips could summarize the Mudiay experience for Nuggets fans pic.twitter.com/c5vBXwwCTB— Knicks Film School (@KnickFilmSchool) January 2, 2019
It was Millsap who keyed Denver pulling ahead for good late.
Frank was good all night. Comfortable. Confident. Quietly effective.
Frank making the most of his 4th quarter burn pic.twitter.com/ZSchxvk3CV— Knicks Film School (@KnickFilmSchool) January 2, 2019
Mudiay briefly went into takeover mode when no other Knick was up for doing much.
Mudiay with the fake turn and go to keep the Knicks in this game pic.twitter.com/u4DDFyzliR— Knicks Film School (@KnickFilmSchool) January 2, 2019
But in the end...dagger.
A loss, but def a better one. Recap a-comin’.