The Knicks have played three road games against teams who made the playoffs last year. In each, they’ve fallen way behind. In each, they’ve taken the lead at some point in the fourth. In each, they’ve ended up losing. Tonight twas Orlando topping New York 95-83 in a game that was at times straight outta 1997 — lots of defense and running the game through the bigs.
Wayne Ellington started in place of Elfrid Payton; since all writers should anticipate the audience and I know what gets y’all salivating, I should phrase it as “Ellington started in place of Frank Ntilikina.” None of the guards were the story tonight, though. The Knicks’ best distributor was the same guy it’s been all season: Julius Randle. Early on he found Mitchell Robinson a few times for dunks.
Frank Ntilikina checked in and his second possession yielded his first points of the season, a three-pointer later ruled a long two by some Grinch.
The other night I mistakenly referred to Kemba Walker as a Harlemite. Kemba played at Rice, but he’s from the Bronx. No mistaking the Magic’s Mo Bama is from Harlem. No mistaking a man with a 7’10” wingspan is unstoppable when he gets the ball on the move in the paint.
Meanwhile, the Knicks hit their first two threes, then had one Randle hit changed to a two, then missed their next eight. They were not hitting from deep for much of the evening. What was hitting: the growing simpatico between Ntilikina and Taj Gibson.
Something about watching Frank play basketball is just beautiful pic.twitter.com/GoPbIx26MK— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) October 30, 2019
As the opening quarter ended, Ntilikina doing things we didn’t know he could do.
RJ Barrett struggled shooting, but Randle wasn’t the only Knick finding M-Rob for throwdowns.
More Mitch with the spin move at the end of the half.
New York was up two entering the third. Then...
The Magic, led by Jonathan Isaac, scored early and often right after the break, using an 11-0 run to take the lead. The Knicks clawed back into the contest, thanks in part to Randle’s continuous charity.
Great creation by Randle leads to an RJ 3 pic.twitter.com/20TR9LzhIw— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) October 31, 2019
Barrett earned a “zest and finesse” from Clyde Frazier. Not RJ’s A-game, but he had his moments.
After falling behind by as many as 13, the comeback began.
Every day I pray Isaac ends up a Knick someday.
Randle and Kevin Knox keyed a late run to pull the Knicks close as the third wound down.
More Randle plus a Bobby Portis three capped a 13-0 run and tied it up as the fourth got going. Another Portis bomb gave New York the lead.
Bobby knocks down the triple off of the Frank dime! pic.twitter.com/ZK1bSvsHO4— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) October 31, 2019
Still, much of the night the Knick offense was like what I imagine watching the 76ers is like: a bunch of dudes 6’8” and taller swinging it around the perimeter. Nikola Vučević is bigger than most of the Knicks and his play down the stretch was a big part of the Magic pulling it out, whether blocking Robinson on one end or swishing and dishing on the other.
The Knicks were sooo close to forcing a critical turnover late, but this ain’t horseshoes and it ain’t hand grenades.
After that, Knox blocked Vučević after the big had drawn Portis to the rim, but Gordon got ahead of Randle to the ball and laid it in. The Knicks scored just three points over the last 8+ minutes. Not gonna win many games that way.
A winnable game, but ultimately a disappointing loss. A tough night for our boys. Hope for the future?
He’s got some fight in ‘em.
EMBIID VS. TOWNS RING THE DAMN BELL pic.twitter.com/Y7glrNEA8x— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) October 31, 2019
So did the Knicks, for what that’s worth. Shwin’s got your recap. Happy Halloween tomorrow! If you suspect your child has been given edibles, please mail them to Posting & Toasting. We’re ready to believe you.