Cooking a live lobster is really pretty simple. You pick your preferred lobster from the pile in the supermarket tank, bring that bad boy home and toss it in a pot of boiling water. Before long — the duration depends on how many pounds your particular lobster weighs — you’ve got a delicious seafood dinner. The lobster doesn’t even know it’s dying until it’s dead.
It was a slow burn at Madison Square Garden Wednesday night, but the outcome was never really in question. The Knicks played the Lakers even through two quarters, but Los Angeles was on cruise control throughout. And like a human being cooking a lobster alive, the Knicks didn’t even realize they had no chance until it was mercifully over.
LeBron James tweeted before the game that playing in MSG is the thing he loves most about being in New York City, and he certainly ticked off all the necessary boxes. James hit six of his first seven shots, nailed a couple threes, had a monster dunk and finished with 21 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 5 steals. As Mike Breen put it, LeBron put forth an “effective, business-like performance.” Bron Bron received some weak MVP chants once the game was out of reach, and missed both free throws while those cheers were taking place.
Ultimately, it turns out that LeBron James and Anthony Davis are a better duo than Julius Randle and Marcus Morris. Lebron and AD combined for 49 points compared to 36 from Randle and Morris, and the return of Dennis Smith Jr. didn’t help matters at all.
The eight-point loss drops the Knicks to 12-33, or as David Fizdale might put it, only seven and a half games out of the 8th seed in the East. The Knicks are now 8-15 since Mike Miller took the reins, but 2-8 in their last 10.
Don’t kid yourself, you knew this was going to be a loss. At least it wasn’t a 10:30 p.m. start, and the Knicks put forth a fine effort. They could have lost by 30, you know.
> Unsurprisingly, the more experienced Knicks got greater leeway to screw up than their younger teammates. Elfrid Payton, Reggie Bullock, Morris and Randle combined for 14 of 17 total team turnovers. All but Bullock played at least 30 minutes (he played 21 and had 5 points on 2-6 shooting).
> The youngsters, meanwhile, continued their tradition of barely playing at all. Mitchell Robinson was the only under 25-year-old to see the court for at least 20 minutes. Kevin Knox played 11 minutes, Frank Ntilkina played 12, and Dennis Smith Jr. got four minutes of action. It was four minutes too many.
> Although he hadn’t played since before Christmas due to an oblique strain, DSJ looked the same as he’s looked all season. Which is to say that he didn’t look great. When he entered the game with about two minutes to go in the third, the Knicks were down 69-65. A little over a minute into the fourth, the Knicks were down 13. He’ll get more chances. Hopefully his health is in order and he can start showing some improvement.
> Frank Ntilikina shot 0-8 from the field, but as usual played aggressively on both ends of the floor and was a +9 on the night. Man, if only he had shot 8-8. That would have been something. Frank tried to posterize Dwight Howard. One of these days he’s going to finish one of these slams and bring enlightenment to us all.
Frank has more almost-poster dunks than any player in history pic.twitter.com/9lf4Ugnt3r— Posting and Toasting (@ptknicksblog) January 23, 2020
> Payton posted 8 points, 6 rebounds, 9 assists, 1 steal and 2 blocks in 32 minutes. He also had 5 turnovers. In honor of the return of Curb Your Enthusiasm, Payton is pretty, pretty good. It would be nice if he gave a few of his minutes to Frank, though. Even on nights that Frank is shooting 0-8.
> Damyean Dotson is gosh darn solid. He finished with 17 points (6-14 from the field, 5-11 from deep) in 27 minutes. At one point he splashed a step back jumper in LeBron’s face. He’d be a wonderful complementary piece on a good Knicks team.
> This was AD’s second game back since he missed five straight after hurting his butt against the Knicks on Jan. 7. He totaled 28 points (7-14 from the field, 13-13 on free throws), 5 boards, 5 assists, 1 steal and 2 blocks, and wouldn’t stop smiling all game. Maybe he enjoyed performing well in MSG so much that he’ll sign with the Knicks this summer!
> The Knicks actually won the rebounding battle, 47-43, despite Mitchell Robinson being the only player on the team with at least 10 boards. Unfortunately, it’s the team that ends the game with the most points that gets the win. Easy mixup.
> Mitch murdered a Rajon Rondo layup attempt for his only block of the night.
Olha o barulho do TAPÃO que o Mitchell Robinson da no toco em cima do Rondo!— Coast to Coast Brasil (@BrasilCoast) January 23, 2020
Rondo querendo se criar pra um dos melhores bloqueadores da liga pic.twitter.com/AjQ78uK6NQ
> Allonzo Trier didn’t get any run. Trier’s playing time has been super duper inconsistent. He’s only played in four of the team’s last 11 games, and despite this recent report that he’s keeping his head up and just trying to help the team however he can, one has to imagine that Trier is unhappy with how this season has gone. Maybe the Knicks are going to trade him for Malik Monk.
> It’s a lot more fun when R.J. Barrett isn’t injured.
> When is Kenny Wooten going to get a chance to play?
All in all, the Lakers played like they were the top seed in the Western Conference playing one of the worst teams in the entire NBA. They never needed to truly put the pedal to the metal, and had little issue taking care of the Knicks.
Heart Like John Starks put it ever so simply: “We look like a bunch of kids playing against adults right now.”
The Knicks have a quick turnaround, as the defending champion Toronto Raptors come to town for a Friday night faceoff. Friday night basketball in the Mecca? You know what that means.