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Suns 116, Knicks 95: “$3 umbrella in a monsoon”

Just when I thought I was in, they pull me back out.

New York Knicks v Phoenix Suns Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The story in numbers

The New York Knicks lost to the Phoenix Suns 116-95.

The Suns took 16 more shots than the Knicks, which happens when you outrebound your opponent 60-39, including 22-10 on the offensive glass.

The Knicks finished with 20 assists to just 10 turnovers, which is normally just swell as far as that ratio goes — only not when your opponent has 35 dimes and only a baker’s dozen turnovers. Which happens when four of their starters make most of their shots. Four of New York’s missed most of theirs.

Devin Booker is one person. He has 10 fingers. The Knick starters have 50. Yet Booker made as many 3s as they did in half as many tries.

The story in words

It’s not about this game or this road trip, or their 8-9 record. It’s about the lack of any sense of vision or direction after years of mediocrity that promised so much more. Look back on all the promises of the past three years: Zion, KD and Kyrie, Kemba and Evan, Donovan, oodles of draft picks — ours and others’ — and pristine cap space.

Instead we got RJ, Julius and Marcus Morris (who begat IQ), Brunson and Grimes, an assortment of other teams’ first-round picks that are all pretty protected and accumulating contractual commitments. Two years ago Randle was the only Knick making more than $8.5 million; this year’s team has six. The franchise made its top order of business last offseason acquiring Brunson, trading their lottery pick for cap space and pro’ly tampering. They got their man. A fifth of the way into this season, where’s it all led to? What have we learned?

The Knicks have won one game where they were the clear underdog, in Utah. They don’t anyone an apology for that: the best any team can do in any game is win. The worst team they’ve lost to is Oklahoma City, expected to stink except for the fact that Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is playing like an MVP in leading the Thunder to the plebeian pleasures of 7-9. It’s been an utterly predictable season so far. So why do I feel so unsettled, so like something’s gotta give?

Remember the Knicks closing out the 2020-21 season on a 16-4 rip? That stretch covered about 10% of Thibodeau’s total games in New York. Over the other 90%, their record translates to a 38-44 team. Their best 20-game stretch last year was 12-8 to close out the season. That’s a 49-win pace. That’s the best they’ve been since ‘21. They’re not good enough to do anything in the playoffs, they’re not bad enough to land a high draft pick, and they’re not really doing anything to show momentum in either direction.

The story in images


plus this

is not what a playoff team looks like. But 8-9 isn’t the look you want either when this dude’s the dream, if only the pipe variety.

Quoth at large regarding the Knick defense: “ . . . like having a $3 umbrella in a monsoon.” Story of the season so far. The Knicks keep fighting teams armed with bows and arrows, only to counter with the first blunt object within reach. Next game is tonight at Oklahoma City. It’s a no-lose for the Knicks: if they win, they win; if they lose, the Thunder will be 8-9 and the Knicks’ worst loss of the season will be a bit more respectable.