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Warriors 122, Knicks 95: “Phoenix won tonight”

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This was David fighting Goliath barehanded, blindfolded and dumbfounded.

NBA: New York Knicks at Golden State Warriors Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

If you didn’t see tonight’s Knicks/Warriors game, it went exactly like you knew it would.

There’ve been a number of games this season the Knicks could’ve/should’ve been blown out, if the opponent hadn’t missed so many good looks. Golden State is not a team to hope will miss. New York lost 122-95, their 10th straight L to the greatest dynasty in modern NBA history.

If you’re a Knick fan, this game was ugly. So let’s inject some beauty into the recap via symmetry. Your first highlight is care of Andre Iguodala, i.e. who I dream Frank Ntilikina becomes.

The Warriors struggled all night with their three-point shooting, with one notable exception we’ll delve into later. The two teams combined to make just 20 of 69 threes. The Knicks actually hit nearly twice as many free throws as the champs. But Golden State took 45 threes versus 24 for New York. And shot 70% on twos. The Knicks? 45%.

The high point of the evening was Tim Hardaway Jr. giving the Knicks the lead near halftime. Spoiler!

It wouldn’t be long before the home team crunched the visitors, or before THJ got crunched between Draymond Green and Noah Vonleh; the 250-pound Vonleh crashed into Tim’s leg and he was in some serious pain. He was taken to the locker room but returned to the action soon enough. Can’t remember any Knick who took the visible beating Hardaway has halfway through this season.

You may already know what third quarters are generally like for the Knicks and the Warriors. For the purpose of a balanced presentation, here is a Luke Kornet sequence that was surprising and spicy.

Here is reality returning from that brief hiatus.

The number one star tonight was Klay Thompson, who went for 43. For me, there may be no free agent I’d be more excited to see sign with the Knicks than him. He’s played 10,000 fewer minutes in his career than Kevin Durant. He’s a plus defender and an elite shooter, two things the Knicks do not possess.

Not pictured: Golden State’s suffocating defense, which held the Knicks below 40% from the field and just 25% behind the arc. New York was down 26 after three. The only drama late was wondering why Steve Kerr had Steph, Klay, Draymond and Iguodala all on the floor in the fourth with the game blown wide open. Is Kerr three, four steps ahead of the rest of us?

Symmetry = another Iguodala throwdown.

Notes:

  • Golden State is soooo good defensively. They routinely left Curry on Vonleh and the Knicks couldn’t capitalize. Not once.
  • Season-high 14 assists for Curry, to go with six rebounds on a night his shot just wasn’t there.
  • Emmanuel Mudiay did not have a season high in assists, nor did he have six rebounds, though his shot was also not falling. He did have like 12 turnovers in the first quarter. The box score said two. Box score be lying.
  • I’m starting to think — just starting, mind you; haven’t made up my mind yet — that the biggest problem with Mario Hezonja’s career to date has been the teams and lineups he played with, and not Hezonja. Most of his damage came in garbage time, including scoring the Knicks’ last eight points. I’m not talking about then. Some of you have called it, too: he’s not lost out there. There’s intelligence, athleticism, and sometimes (more of late) aggression (at least when trying to score). The performances rarely match the potential, but I might not hate it if he likes being a Knick but plays poorly enough to return on a team-friendly deal next year.
  • My favorite non-Knick team ever was the Chris Webber/Jason Williams/Vlade Divac Kings, the most fun passing team I’ve ever seen. The Warriors assumed that spot in my heart years ago. They take a backseat to no one as far as smart passing.
  • Having said that...the Knicks had a TON of steals and deflections in the first quarter. Maybe that’s ‘cuz of the pace Golden State plays at, or ‘cuz they throw so many crosscourt passes. But New York’s work jumping the passing lanes was, if not meaningful, at least briefly evident. That’s about all any of us can ask for from this life.
  • My favorite non-Knick ever used to be Steve Nash. Steph has taken that torch.
  • Your nightly glitch in the Matrix: late in the fourth Hezonja intercepted a pass at midcourt and went in for the breakaway dunk, then like five seconds later the exact same thing happened again.
  • Tonight was the Knicks’ ninth loss by 20+ points this season. Toronto and Denver, tops in each conference, have each lost 12 times all year.
  • If Vonleh learned a skyhook he’d be a $15M per year player, easy. Not this.

This.

  • Vonleh got a steal at halfcourt and had Kevin Knox wiiiide open as the trailer on the break but tried to force it himself and committed the offensive foul. I was so pissed I nearly broke a clipboard. This is one of the only Knick games all year that feels like a big game. It was pleasant, for a moment, however brief, to be reminded of the emotions that come with the Knicks playing a big game.
  • Different NBA crowds give off different vibes. Watching on television, you usually only get to see the filthy rich in every city sitting courtside, but there are still some crowds that stand out. Atlanta has one of my favorite vibes. Utah fans always strike me as being both better people and worse than we’ll ever know. Golden State’s courtside fans look like the last nights of Sodom and Gomorrah.
  • At one point Mudiay got fouled on a blatant travel. He smiled and said “I traveled” before missing his first free throw. I feel like when guys get fouled and it’s clear to everyone that the refs blew the call, they almost always miss the first free throw. Ball don’t lie.
  • I think this speaks more to the era than the player, but it is certainly a fact.
  • MSG aired a graphic saying over the past 14 days the Knicks have played in three different time zones and traveled 4,618 miles. After back-to-back recaps of games in Portland and Oakland I feel like all those numbers happened in the past 24 hours.
  • Allonzo Trier tried his bag of tricks on Iguodala and it failed like 30,000 honey bees being slaughtered by 30 Japanese giant hornets. I’ve shown this video here before, but watching something outnumbered 1,000 to 1 come out on top is the energy you wanna bring to the draft lottery in May.
  • Mudiay slipped and fell on one play, leaving Quinn Cook open from three. Cook, a 45% shooter from deep, bricked badly. Maybe teams should try this more? Either with bad shooters or good shooters you can’t deny with conventional defense. It might have helped distract Klay tonight, more than any Knick did.
  • If NBA players were as shameless with referees as soccer players.
  • If baseball players were as fun as NBA players.
  • If Andrew Wiggins were as disappointing off the court as he is on.
  • This is the play that clip’s about.
  • Q: Why do you people put up with night after night of this dreck?

A:

Quoth marcus7: “Phoenix won tonight.” The Suns beat the Kings, putting the Knicks in a three-way tie for the second-fewest wins in the league along with Chicago (because God forbid the Knicks ever have something good happen ahead of the Bulls ever in my life). Next game is Friday against Indiana, the Knicks’ first home game since Christmas Day. Looking forward to recaps that don’t end at 3:00 a.m. Sleep, beautiful people.