Commence the wagging of tongues. A preseason game was played in Manhattan tonight, but before it even began, we received a salacious clip that will generate more chatter than what transpired on the court.
Make what you will of the pregame embrace. James Dolan, Leon Rose, and Gersson Rosas gave Karl-Anthony Towns some affection before the game. This follows reports that the Knicks are monitoring the Towns situation in Minnesota and that Tom Thibodeau and KAT have buried the hatchet.
We may now have enough tinder to start a real conspiracy fire:
Knicks president Leon Rose, with owner James Dolan & SVP Gersson Rosas, calls over Karl—Anthony Towns pregame pic.twitter.com/qba8xUGy7o— New York Basketball (@NBA_NewYork) October 14, 2023
Things started on a positive note for New York, with RJ Barrett bossing his way through the first quarter. He finished the first frame with 15 points on 4-of-6 shooting, grabbed a rebound, one steal, and went 7-of-8 from the charity stripe. He finished the game with a team-high 23 points. Take heart: RJ has sunk 18 of his 21 free throw attempts this preseason.
On this play, RJ Barrett goes straight at KAT, scores high off the glass, and gets the and-one:
Quentin Grimes gives us flashes of greatness, but is still too hesitant to shoot. He attempted only five shots in 22 minutes tonight. Four points won’t cut it once the season starts, and Donte DiVincenzo could give him a run for the starter’s spot. (More on DDV later.)
On a brighter note: here the reserve center, Isaiah Hartenstein goes to the top of the arc and hits a cutting RJ Barrett for one of the easiest scores of the preseason.
Fun action from the Knicks. Barrett as a screener for Quickley. Advance to Hartenstein, nice cut by Barrett for a layup. pic.twitter.com/Gz8isbrGb6— Steve Jones Jr. (@stevejones20) October 15, 2023
And then there’s this absolute laser by Hartenstein.
Hartenstein does a lot for us but one thing that stands out is his passing ability.— KnicksNation (@KnicksNation) October 15, 2023
For a big man it's impressive. pic.twitter.com/3UgyqqtLVB
And what a luxury it is to have a back-up center who’s big, strong, can shoot, or just take it to the hole when necessary:
The Knicks won the first frame 30-28. Despite leading by as much as nine, New York let go of the rope and let Anthony Edwards score seven unanswered points over the final two minutes before intermission. His heroics gave his team the halftime lead, 57-54.
In the first half, NY outshot MN 45% to 43%. The Knicks had been dismal beyond the arc, however, converting only three of 13 attempts. The T’Wolves heaved up threes every chance they could, canning 10-of-29 over the first 24 minutes.
New York was winning the paint. Thanks to two steals apiece by Quentin Grimes and Donte DiVincenzo, New York edged Minnie in that category 6-2.
Indeed, the second quarter showcased the Donte DiVincenzo defense we’ve heard so much about. He was sort of low-key in his first game minutes. Here, however, he commits a quick-witted theft and flushes it for two on the other end. A little later, he would dish to Fournier for an assisted three-point swish.
Donte Divincenzo making his mark in this game much earlier than his first. The Knicks were in the bottom of the league in stocks last season. This is normal as Thibs prefers a less aggressive scheme. Look for him to trust Divincenzo to gamble intelligently. pic.twitter.com/dnW1dKRymp— The Strickland (@TheStrickland) October 15, 2023
And here DDV steals again for another score. Get out the way, Naz Reid! To be fair, Big Naz led his wolfen counterparts with 22 points tonight, but he offered zero resistance on this play.
The last time Julius Randle faced Minnesota, he scored a career-high 57 points in a loss. He froze up the first half, putting up a goose egg on a few shots. After intermission, he got into a brief groove, sinking back to back 25-footers and assisting on one by RJ Barrett to regain the lead. Wouldn’t last though.
Now some thoughts about Mitchell Robinson. . . . First: a lob!
My God how far he’s come. Here the big cajun plays excellent defense on a drive. Hands up, feet active, no foul. Remember when he struggled with those basic instructions?
Some great defense from Mitch here. Then the hustle down the court was just as impressive.— KnicksNation (@KnicksNation) October 15, 2023
Just wish RJ made that pass pic.twitter.com/xKTyC39gp6
Give this man your DPOY votes. As if to directly challenge the KAT trade rumors—a deal that would surely send Mitch out to the chilly midwest—Sir Blockness made a statement with this one.
In the spirit of fairness, here’s a comparison: KAT logged 17 points, five boards, and three assists, and shot 4-of-8 from deep. He was a -5 in his 27 minutes. Mitch scored eight points and seven rebounds on 4-of-4 from the floor. Indeed, Mitch truly looks ready to have a career year. Yet, it’s a simple taste test. Player A averages eight points and eight rebounds, while Player B nets 23 points, 11 boards, and three assists, and has long range touch. Does Coke beat Pepsi?
The Knicks could sure use an extra 15 points per game from somebody (looking at you Quentin).
Once again, Jalen Brunson played limited minutes (14). He will carry the team late in games, which is a blessing, because without him the offense is pretty predictable.
In the third quarter, New York missed five shots in the paint, shot 5-of-11 from beyond the arc, and attempted not a single mid-range shot. They tied the game by the three-quarter mark, but 13 straight T’Wolves’ points busted open the fourth. Sloppy play and poor shooting sabotaged our heroes tonight. New York surrendered 29 points off turnovers, and 26 fast break points. All that despite beating Minny in steals, 13-6!
It’s still preseason. A sloppy outing like this serves to show the team its faults and direct them toward improvement. Let’s see if they play any better on Tuesday in Boston. Until then, peace.