The New York Knicks visited Blake Griffin and the Detroit Pistons in an Eastern Conference stinker, that finished in a 115-108 blowout win for the Pistons. You read that right, this game was a blowout for Detroit despite the seven point final result.
For the first time in my lifetime, I look forward to the New York Knicks Head Coach press conference because David Fizdale is not shy about being blunt with the fans and media, who of course are ready to pounce with every misstep. He put it perfectly last night, stating that the Knicks played well for about 17 points… and that was pretty much it.
The New York Knicks looked as awful as they have all season and the box score does not tell the full story of the game. The game was tied at 17-17, when Trier and Knox check into the game, as the first wave off the bench, to try and hold the Pistons who were rallying back in the 1st quarter, but to no avail. The Pistons stormed out of the first quarter with momentum from a 17-4 run and never looked back. Although the 1st quarter ended at 24-19, the Knicks were shooting a putrid 26% from the field. But of course it did not stop there, the Knicks ended the game shooting under 40%… yikes.
The most frustrating aspect of this game was not only that Andre Drummond had 2 fouls and was on the bench in foul trouble mid-way through the 1st quarter, the All-Star center was a non-factor, besides on the boards, for most of the game. Still, that was not enough for the Knicks to capitalize, as they were never close in this game (outside of the 1st quarter) until their signature almost comeback comeback in the 4th quarter. The signature almost comeback comeback is what I like to call that 8 minute stretch in the 4th quarter where the Knicks communicate on defense, make high basketball IQ decisions, and make their baskets… and just as you feel that momentum on the Knicks side stemming from overcoming a typical 3rd quarter deficit… three or four bad plays cost the Knicks the game and you’re going back to looking at NBA Lottery odds and looking forward to March Madness. Poetically, the Duke matchup vs. Indiana tipped off just as this dud of an NBA game came to a close, where the basketball gods once again send that glimmer of hope into the eyes of every Knicks fan across the world in the image of Zion, Barrett, and Reddish.
Allonzo Trier with 24 points and Trey Burke getting to the free throw line at key points were sparks off the bench for the New York Knicks offensively. If you love free-throws, this was the game for you, as there were 77 free throws attempted by both teams combined. Hard to watch.
Yes… I buried the lead… because the most important thing everyone learned after last game is Damyean Dotson needs minutes. The second round pick from Houston showed that he’s a professional and belongs in the NBA, as Dot came off the bench and put up 17 points on 3 for 3 from three point land and shot 6 for 8 from the field, in a slow game where the Knicks ended shooting under 40%… I know I said that already. But… 39.6% is unacceptable and that is with a 4th quarter rally to cushion that percentage.
We also learned that Mitchell Robinson is still a raw basketball player going for pump fakes and fouling out in the 3rd quarter after playing just 16 minutes, but there is also some positives with the young rookie showing his presence in the paint with four 1st quarter rebounds. Two starters Vonleh, who continues to show his versatility on the court, and Hezonja, also fouled out of this game. The Knicks must communicate better on defense and use their feet get to defender’s spot before they do.
Preview verses Philly
Although the odds are stacked against the Knicks (literally, they’re twelve point underdogs and if you put $100 on them to win, can net you +755), New York has no excuse not to make this game competitive. The 76ers have won 10 out of their last 11 home games, however, they are ranked 26th in defensive rating since Jimmy Butler joined the team. The Knicks must keep pace with the 76ers who love to run-and-gun down the court, whereas the Knicks are near the bottom of the league in the analytical pace statistic.
Knicks have won only one out of their four back-back matchups this season; lost by 2 to Celtics (home) , Lost by 1 to the Bulls in OT (home), Blown out by Magic (home), however the Knicks beat the Boston Celtics by 4 on road. For the most part, the Knicks are competitive on the second half of their back-to-backs, and that is certainly an accomplishment for the youngest team in the NBA– with credit going to Coach Fizdale.
The 76ers are 5-2 with Butler, including games that came down to the wire with the Nets, Suns, Pelicans, and Jazz, and losses coming against the Cavaliers and Magic. I expect the Knicks to revel in their underdog role and keep the game competitive against the 76ers. I would not be surprised if the Knicks pull out a gritty win against the I-95 rivals, which does not bode well for the TankCity Knicks fans. To them I say, do not worry, historically the Knicks stop playing NBA basketball after the Christmas game.