Last season, in late December, after a Christmas Day loss to the Philadelphia 76ers inside MSG, the New York Knicks took a flight destination Dallas, TX, trying to break out of a three-game losing skid.
With four seconds left and the Mavs down three, all the Cuban Boys needed to send the game to overtime and eventually beat the Knicks was a freebie, a rebound, and a two-point jump shot all three actions performed by the same man, one that missed yesterday’s game: Luka Doncic is his name.
There’s just no way. Headed to OT pic.twitter.com/o7CivRlTvV— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) December 28, 2022
With about fifty seconds left and the Knicks down one, all the Thibs Dudes needed to be in position to complete a 20+ point comeback was rebound. Tim Hardaway Jr. (not a member of the Knicks anymore, just in case) grabbed it, Dwight Powell bagged another following a missed shot, and THJ once more pulled down a board leading up to Josh Green’s game-ending dagger.
Final score: New York Knicks 124, Dallas Mavericks 128. Another loss in Texan territory, just like a little over a year ago, and the first one in the OG era. This time, mind you, without Luka on the court but with a very particular pair of individuals making more than up for that absence.
Kyrie dumped 44, Timmy dropped 32, they combined for 76, and easily topped Doncic’s 60-point effort against the Knicks in Dec. 2022.
Quoth xhu35: “Maybe the earth really is flat?”
Last year’s win was as much of a miracle for the Mavs as winning this game would have been for the Knicks had they been able to pull off the feat.
The comments section here at P&T and multiple other places on the Internet and its social networks last season was wild as hell with folks calling for Thibs’ head, blaming the loss on not using Cam Reddish, Evan Fournier, and Svi Mykhailiuk, saying Thibodeau was holding the Knicks back, that the team had no direction, so on and so forth.
Things, of course, took a turn for the good after that game (and another loss, to the Spurs), with the Knicks winning seven of their next eight games from Dec. 31 through Jan. 15. Then, almost a month after that, Josh Hart arrived in NYC and the Knicks forgot how to lose games, racking up nine consecutive wins.
This time out, things are not quite the same and the vibes are nearly immaculate following the OG trade. The Knicks were entering this game convinced they were going to get an easy dub against a squad missing their honcho and their best big man.
Typical trap game, not to mention the fact that our boys were going against Official Knickslasher Kyrie. Sheesh...
Kyrie Irving had 44 pts (15-26 FG) & 10 assists to lift a Mavs team without Luka Doncic to a win over New York. Knicks’ 5-game winning streak ends. Irving improves to 17-2 in his past 19 games against NYK. https://t.co/w0mS4K7yPW— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) January 12, 2024
Kyrie got the win—literally—and is now 20-9 against the Knicks career-wise while boasting a ridiculous 17-2 in his last 19 games against New York. He said he doesn’t give a damn about no personal feud against the Knicks anymore and since he left Brooklyn and the intra-city rivalry, but that seemingly doesn’t mean he ain’t hunting for personal-best marks such as his 44 points, the most he’s ever scored for the Mavs in a bit less than a year with them.
Anyway, this game was a real struggle for the ones playing in white and on the road on Thursday.
The Knicks lost the first quarter 44-26. Read that again. According to Team Rankings, the Knicks are the joint-sixth-best team in limiting first-quarter points allowing just 27.1 on average. The Warriors dumped 55 points on the Blazers last April and set an all-time record. New York was 11 points from matching it—for the bad.
Kudos go to all Knickerbockers, however, because they came back twice in the same game, somehow, some way. New York got at six-point distance of Dallas with 4:32 left in the third frame, then didn’t find a way to buy a bucket from the field until the fourth, but even then still made another 19-point comeback falling just one short of tying the game with just a little over a minute left.
On the day we discussed Mitchell Robinson’s potential return later this season and in time for the playoffs, the Knicks failed at precisely what Mitch does best: grabbing boards like a madman. Just one rebound on three chances would have sufficed—no dice.
The overall performance wasn’t great but the second-half effort was commendable, albeit frustrating at the end. The Knicks shot 49.4% from the field to Dallas’ 50 percent. New York scored 33.3% of their three-ball shots to Dallas’ 41.5% accuracy on the day, and that’s probably the thing separating both teams on Thursday.
Sometimes someone goes off the charts. Yesterday, that man wasn’t Kyrie (who to an extent was, obviously) but Tim Hardaway Jr.
Timmy matched his season-high in points with 32, bagged 10-of-20 field-goal attempts, and found the net on six treys, just one shy of matching his season-high mark of seven (he did it twice in November). He grabbed six rebounds (two of them crucial) and dished out four dimes to go with a couple of steals. Some things, you just can’t predict.
Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson returned home (the former was born in Dallas, the latter was drafted by the Mavs and was playing against his former club for the first time), scored 32 and 30 points respectively, and did all they could but not enough. But it’s not that one can ask them for much more after the NYK last-quarter run, honestly.
Isaiah Hartenstein let Robinson know the paint is finely guarded by pulling down 15 boards to go with eight points—two buckets and four freebies.
OG Anunoby had a very OG Anunoby game: team-high +14 on the plus/minus column but only 10 points scored in a bad day on the shooting front, going 4-of-10 from the field and 1-of-6 from three.
The bench returned to the Thibsian four-man unit with all pine-riders getting between nine (Deuce) and 23 (Hart) minutes of run. They contributed a combined 25-point, 12-rebound, six-assist line. They matched Dallas’ similar four-man bench (21-13-7).
No matter: the bench needs a boost, whatever shape or form that comes its way, either by adding a free agent or getting someone via trade. Our own Sam Stein will have more on this later; I hope Leon Rose and Coach Thibs read his piece.
Mavs win transition game 25-6. What else do you see on the stat sheet? pic.twitter.com/iEMCRD9I6c— New York Basketball (@NBA_NewYork) January 12, 2024
“I love where I’m at,” Brunson said of being a Knick. I love it too, JB, I love it too.
Another trap game on tap, Saturday in Memphis against the no-Ja Grizzlies. Tip-off at 8pm. Don’t miss it, new winning streak brewing.