Just two days ago, they looked dominant against the same team—tonight, they looked disorganized on both ends.
The ‘live and die by the three’ cliché was in full-effect between the games. In the first meeting, the Knicks made a franchise-record 24 three pointers. Tonight, the Knicks made a respectable amount in 13, but on 48 attempts.
The Knicks leading the league in made three-pointers had perhaps been masking some of their underlying issues in their two wins—while their ineptitude from behind the arc failed them tonight, it was not the only area that doomed them.
The slogan should not be the end-all-be-all. It is not a bad thing to shoot a lot of threes, especially in today’s NBA, even though you will inevitably have bad shooting games, especially after shooting exceptionally well—but it is important your team is more than chucking up threes and hoping it makes up for your other deficiencies.
The Magic themselves only shot 12-43 from distance.
The Knicks also shot only 24-52 on two pointers as well, and they could never find their footing on defense either, allowing 110 points to a Magic team with dismal offensive talent, including 36 in the fourth quarter.
In the first half, the erratic New York product Cole Anthony was the one who controlled the game in the Garden, putting up 21 points and making five threes.
He finished the game with 29 points, 8 assists, and a staggering 16 rebounds at just 6’2”.
Also erupting for the Magic was famed Knick killer, Terrence Ross, who scored 30 points against the Knicks last season.
After the Knicks had managed to narrowly squeeze out wins in each quarter, entering the fourth up 80-74, Ross and the Magic controlled the final period.
Ross scored all 22 of his points and the Magic won the quarter by 12.
Outside of the continued heroics of Derrick Rose, who made back-to-back threes in a 23-point performance near the end, the Knicks struggled. The offense stagnated, mostly flowing through an overwhelmed Julius Randle who shot just 2-7 in the period and picked up a flagrant foul.
Randle slightly resembled his infamous 19-20 self, with a Kobe tribute shooting split of just 8-24, though he did save face by making 12 of his 14 free throws en route to 30 points, 16 rebounds, 3 assists, two steals, and a surprising four blocks.
The only other Knick to contribute on the defensive end much was Mitchell Robinson, the one line of defense and truly other bright spot besides Rose, shining with three blocks, two steals, an assist, ten points, ten rebounds (four offensive), and numerous sky-defying dunks.
The dunks were a more-than welcome sight from a Robinson who’s conditioning has been a slight concern with his injuries, including another lower-body injury scare tonight after colliding with Suggs.
He thankfully went on to play thirty three minutes and played effectively, albeit in a loss. He went on Twitter after the game to let the fans know he was alright.
I’m all good no worries….. just gotta do better— Mitchell Robinson (@23savage____) October 25, 2021
The bench did little outside of Rose, but the true issue was the starting lineup.
Evan Fournier had his first bad game, and Kemba Walker and RJ Barrett could not really play cohesive basketball. Walker scored an efficient ten points, but was a team-worst -14 at the helm. Barrett continued to struggle from distance, making just one of seven shots from distance now, at 4-19 from deep in the early season. Barrett dished out five assists, but made just five of seventeen field goal attempts in a twelve point performance.
The NBA is not easy.
Even against a young, inexperienced, and quite frankly, bad Magic team, it’s never easy to win two straight games against the same squad. As P&T’er charluca noted, you can’t take any NBA team lightly. The Knicks are good, but they aren’t that good.
While it’s never a good thing to lose, this game will more likely motivate the Knicks to build upon their weaknesses rather than ignore them.