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Knicks 94, Nets 82: “Good game”

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Give the 7-seed an A+ offseason and whaddya got? The 7-seed.

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NBA: New York Knicks at Brooklyn Nets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

A picture’s worth 1000 words. Don’t have time for that many? Simply peep the pic of Nets’ coach Kenny Atkinson up above. That’s the face of a man whose team hit just eight two-point buckets in last night’s 94-82 loss to the Knicks, a record-low since the NBA adopted the three-pointer 40 years ago. The face of a man whose team shot 27% from the field, the lowest of any Knick opponent since 2012. The face of a man whose offseason darlings added Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, yet who’ll play all year without the former, who’ve lost two-thirds of their games with the latter and who, after finishing last season two games above .500, are now...two games above .500.

Marcus Morris and Taj Gibson returned to the starting lineup and the Knicks, fresh off a couple of blowouts and a brutal fake-comeback-née-blown-lead, looked like the coherent pros we remember from the primordial Mike Miller days, especially on the defensive end. Brooklyn was scoreless for nearly the final seven minutes of the first quarter, during which time New York rattled off a 17-3 run to take command. The Knicks gave up only 15 first-quarter points, their low for any quarter this year. They were a hive mind on defense, flashing and shimmering as one organism, rotating beautifully and jumping passing lanes with freaky prescience.

The Nets briefly re-took the lead in the second quarter when the Knicks missed a dozen straight shots. But then Marcus Morris hit a three-pointer. Then RJ Barrett hit a three-pointer. Then Elfrid Payton hit the side of the backboard shooting a corner three, but whatever. The Knicks could afford the profligacy; the Nets were shooting like a whole team of Paytons. Julius Randle hit a pair of threes in the last minute of the half, reaching intermission with 20 points and four three-pointers.

Early in the third, Randle’s career-high fifth three-pointer put the Knicks up double-digits. He and Morris once again played well together, something that’s happened more in 10 games under Mike Miller than it did in 22 under David Fizdale. A Morris three-point play ballooned the lead to 20; Marshalls Melo had 11 in the third and hit eight of his last 10 shots after missing his first six. The Knicks didn’t lead wire-to-wire; it only felt that way. Brooklyn missed all manner of makeable looks, but New York’s defense was the game’s first star. A rarer Sirius there never was.

Notes:

  • The last time the Knicks won giving up so few points, Willy Hernangomez played 31 minutes late in a 2017 win over the Pacers.
  • 33 for Randle, a game after scoring 35 against Washington. Back-to-back 30+ nights may not be Bernard King posting consecutive half-dollars, but in the post-Porziņģis era it’s rare enough to warrant praise. Plus it’s a good excuse to drop some Bernard King 101 on y’all.
  • Mitchell Robinson was in control tonight, looking like the game had slowed down for him.

A double-double in 28 minutes, and just two fouls. The Knicks started the season 0-7 in games Mitch committed two or fewer fouls; they’ve won the last two times that’s happened. Baby steps for Neo and the Matrix.

  • Meanwhile, the Occident’s greatest achievement, Jarrett Allen: four points, six rebounds and zero field goals.
  • Frank Ntilikina has been looking to score within his first one or two possessions of a game for a while now. It’s mechanical, but it gets the job done. If you’ve ever let your lover convert you to whatever it takes to get them off, you recognize robo-Frank as the purest form of love.
  • Clyde re: Spencer Dinwiddie: “James Harden is the only more devastating penetrator in the NBA.” A tough-shooting night for the Bitcoin Mamba, but he did torch Frank into five fouls in 14 minutes, getting to the line more times (17) than the Knicks (15).
  • Seeing the Nets at home against the Knicks, the Rockets, and the Lakers (though I think that came in a dream), I gotta hand it to their court layout. That subway font is something the Knicks shoulda done years ago, and opposing jerseys absolutely pop against that graytop. Dunno why they added the rainbow-colored circle around the midcourt logo and along the baselines, but even that little bit goes a looong way.
  • There was a time when Patrick Ewing/Rony Seikaly matchups were fun to watch. Maybe not so much for fans of Seikaly, but aesthetically they were just fun. Mitchell Robinson vs. DeAndre Jordan is like that, in the same way Brendan Fraser is like Harrison Ford as far as action movie stars go, meaning the absolute barest smattering of a parallel.
  • Garrett Temple looks like evil Kermit Danny Green. Take my word for it.
  • From a certain distance, Barclays’ P.A. announcer Olivier Sedra sounds like Paul Reuben’s Trimaxion in Flight of the Navigator.
  • Imagine Damyean Dotson as a 60-year-old. Surprisingly easy, isn’t it?
  • Clyde Frazier sounds a bit different than he did before the team’s trip out west. Thicker. Drunker, metaphorically.
  • You know how in The Little Mermaid Ursula gets thisclose to winning her contract gamble with Ariel? Whenever I see Bernard King, Larry Johnson or Latrell Sprewell paraded out as James Dolan’s OAKAAKUYOAK meat-shields, I must imagine Ursula happy.
  • After a clip of Justin Tuck talking about adopting an alter-ego when playing for the Giants, Kenny Albert asked Clyde: “Did you have an alter-ego on the court?” You knew Frazier would say no; he did. The pleasant surprise was how incredulous he sounded. Clyde can’t hide having played in a time when players were mostly accessible human beings and not Ray Lewis/Kevin Garnett caricatures of delusional self-importance.

Quoth Jonathan “Stingy” Schulman: “Good game.” His actual quote was “Good game good game good game good game good game good game.” Type the same phrase six times in a row and your fingers fall into a rhythm. The Knicks will look to keep tonight’s performance in rhythm Saturday in Washington. 1000 words on the dot, friends.