Knicks go Wire-to-Wire; Snap 6 Game Losing Streak in Boston

The New York Knicks snap their six game losing streak on the back end of a back-to-back, on the road in Boston, as they held the lead from wire-to-wire against their Eastern Conference foes, 117-109.

There is no doubt that from a Knicks fan’s perspective, every game in the 2018 season is an emotional rollercoaster. It begins with checking your sources just a couple of hours on game-day to investigate what the Knicks first year head coach, David Fizdale, has cooked up for the starting lineup. It’s clear that the youngest team in the NBA is trying to figure out…simply put…how to play in the NBA on the fly. Meanwhile, the Knicks first year coach is also growing and learning, as Coach Fiz is on an endeavor to determine who can consistently handle their defensive assignments, create good pace on the offense, and of course, keep the game competitive.

The Knicks rolled out a new but familiar lineup against the Boston Celtics, on the front end of their back-back at home against the Portland Blazers; Emmanuel Mudiay, Mario Hezonja, Tim Hardaway Jr., Noah Vonleh, and Enes Kanter. The game was extremely competitive and went down to the wire verses the Blazers, coming on the shoulders of big games from Hardaway, Kanter, Vonleh, Burke, and unfortunately some key missed free throws down the stretch. This time around, the Knicks had the lead from wire-to-wire and escaped with a win. Although the game looked aesthetically different (and more pleasing) than the Blazers game, it was actually quite similar. Thankfully, the key missed free throws down the stretch didn’t cost the Knicks this time around. Now that’s what I call progress.

Preview

Today’s game against Boston started at about 7:30pm Eastern Time, shortly after the conclusion of the thrilling NCAA Maui Invitational Finals featuring Duke and Gonzaga, where the NCAA is doing their part in keeping the Knicks fanbase active and interested in basketball, during this rebuilding 2018-2019 NBA season.

This is the same Boston Celtics team that the Knicks played earlier in the season, falling just short 103-101 in overtime, where rookie Kevin Knox hurt his ankle. In late October, the Knicks were led by Hardaway’s 24 points, Kanter and Vonleh double-doubles, and Burke adding 11 points. Unfortunately last game verse the Celtics, Burke was unable to capitalize on game ending free throws, from a late game blunder on a 3-point foul by Jason Tatum.

Matchup: Game 19

This time around, the Knicks went on the road to Boston, following a back-to-back, and were led by Trey Burke’s 29 points and 11 assists, double-doubles by Vonleh and Kanter, Tim Hardaway Jr’s 21 points, Mitchell Robinson’s 6 blocks and interior defense, as well as the efficient rookie performances from Knox and Iso-Zo. Those 6 blocks by Robinson are not an aberration, as the 2nd round pick who took a year off from organized basketball,  now has 4 blocks per 36 minutes and sits at 6th in the NBA in blocks, averaging 2 per game, according to NBA.com. Trey Burke became the first Knicks player with 25 points and 10 assists off the bench since Knicks fanbase favorite John Starks did so in March of 1992 against the Chicago Bulls, according to ESPN Stats & Info. Not too shabby for the undrafted guard from Arizona…

The end result does not tell the full story of this game, as has been the story for a majority of New York’s games this season. With a sizable lead for most of the game that ballooned up to 26, and was maintained from wire-to-wire, this game came down to crunch time. This time Trey Burke redeemed himself and was able to knock down a dagger 3 pointer to put the nail in the coffin against their Atlantic Division rivals.

“Thank God the clock ran out” – Coach Fizdale

Could not have said it better myself Coach. Every minute that passed by in the second half was another opportunity for the veterans on Boston to take control of the game and send the youngest team in the NBA reeling into thanksgiving with a 7 game losing streak. Both teams needed this game badly for their morale. Let’s not forget this is not NBA2K or pawns on a chess board, these are real human’s with sometimes fragile emotions and egos that are constantly fluctuating, due to chemistry and consistency.

Tank City, Tank-Tank City…

Say what you will about this 2018 tankathon New York Knicks team, but the majority of the time, the effort is noticeable. That could be attributed to the countless off-the-court efforts Coach Fiz is implementing in the team with motivational speakers and tweaking lineups, but the players also deserve a share of the credit. The lineup changes can’t be helping. But Coach was quick to compliment the team’s effort and maturity during the 2nd half of this ballgame, and most importantly noted that the young Knicks didn’t ty and make up the deficit with one play.

As the New York Knicks organization and their fans enjoy some family time today and watch some football with their day off from basketball, everyone can can smile because the State of the Tank is proceeding better than expected. The focus must remain narrow towards the goal, to be one of the three bottom teams in the NBA. The new NBA Draft lottery rules give the teams with the three worst regular season records, the same odds  in getting the grand prize of Zion Williamson, or the great Duke consolation prizes in R.J. Barrett and Cameron Reddish, Bol Bol from Oregon, Nassir Little from North Carolina, Quentin Grimes from Kansas, and Keldon Johnson from Kentucky (Thanks Adam Silver, just don’t forget to freeze the envelope).

Whats Next:

New Orleans Pelicans and Anthony Davis come visit the World’s Most Famous Arena on Friday for the second game against the Pelicans. The two team’s faced off in New Orleans on the 16th, where the Knicks fell short by 5 points, giving up an 11 point 4th quarter lead and forfeiting 47 points and 17 rebounds to the Brow.

 

Penn State Football: Don’t Rule Out James Franklin To USC Just Yet

James Franklin is in an interesting position right now as the head coach of the Penn State football team. On one hand, his role in bringing Penn State back to national relevance has brought him many fans in Happy Valley, who have defended the coach even after major collapses against Ohio State in back to back years, and even for the team’s underperformance this year with a roster that should have been good enough to compete for the playoffs.

But ask different sections of the fanbase what they think and you might get a different answer. While one comments section might defend Franklin vehemently, another one might call for Franklin to be replaced to help the Nittany Lions reach their true ceiling. While third in the Big Ten with three conference losses at this point in the season may have been a good result in past years, it’s particularly disappointing for a team that many, including ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit, thought would be in the race for both the Big Ten and the College Football Playoff.

But Franklin may have a chance to leave the controversy behind and head out west for a new job, one that would place him in an easier division and conference than the very difficult Big Ten East. The difficulty of that division may be the reason why Franklin doesn’t have a playoff appearance yet at Penn State, and the PAC-12 South is much more winnable. The interested team, of course, may be USC. Located in Los Angeles, they also are in a better position to recruit from California, one of the most important states to draw talent from for blue blood programs.

That’s not to say that it would be an immediate improvement. USC hasn’t met expectations during recent years, but they hit a new low this season by falling apart completely. Unless they can upset #3 Notre Dame in their closing game, they won’t even make it to a bowl game. Still, even though it will hurt Penn State fans to hear this, USC is considered by more people to be a larger program and it’s certainly a tempting offer for anyone, especially a coach coming off what will inevitably be a disappointing season.

Franklin, though, claims that he isn’t going anywhere. “Obviously [I] have all the plans in the world to be here, and be here for a long time. So I just wanted to address that because it became something that I did not want it to be or intend to be. I wanted to put that statement out there, and then obviously I would love to talk about Maryland and our practice today,” he said on Wednesday.

But realistically, what head coach would admit that they’re looking at other jobs, before their regular season ends and their team plays in a bowl game? Such a thing would be a morale killer, and it just doesn’t happen. And while Franklin isn’t in danger of being fired right now, it’s hard to deny that USC would be a step up and that few coaches who would be offered the job now will have the chance to make a move to Southern Cal later in their careers.

The fact of the matter is that USC would be a decent fit for Franklin and that it’s a very tempting job for almost any coach. Will a move definitely be made? No. But is it out of the realm of possibility yet just because Franklin has made a public statement favoring Penn State? Not at all.

It’s not the first time that a similar situation has happened, after all. Just take a look at the words of former Vanderbilt player Adam Butler, from back in 2014.

“He repeatedly told us, ‘I’m not leaving, no matter what. You guys don’t have to worry,’ he even took it as far as breaking down in tears like he always does. He was saying ‘I’m not leaving,’ and then right after the ball game, I mean no warning, no nothing, he just disappeared. He came back and said, ‘I’m sorry, I’m leaving’ and cried again.”

How Has The Trade Of Damon Harrison Affected The New York Giants?

When the New York Giants decided to trade away star defensive tackle, Damon “Snacks” Harrison for a measly fifth-round pick, the fan base went up in flames. Harrison was one of the most liked players on the team, equally by teammates and the fan-base.

The Giants’ signature run-stopper was moved to the Detroit Lions, who have enjoyed his presence thus far. Big Blue on the other hand has saw their run defense struggle mightily.

How has the New York Giants’ defense performed since Harrison’s departure?

Defensive coordinator James Bettcher’s defense allowed roughly 110 rushing yards per-game with Harrison on the field. Without, they’re averaging 152 yards per-game. That’s an additional 42-yards per-game, which can carry multiple touchdowns with it.

The Giants have allowed four rushing touchdowns in the last three games; before they had six the first seven games of the season. By looking at the math, we can conclude that Harrison, in fact, decreased the amount of rushing scores by one on a gamely basis.

To put this into perspective, his influence came by 47 less rushing yards per-game and a rushing touchdown. Now, can someone please explain why he was worth just a fifth-round pick?

One might say that he didn’t fit the mold of a 3-4 defense, which would be correct, given his lack of a pass-rush. Bettcher prefers his interior lineman to be able to put pressure on the quarterback, and ultimately that was a primary factor in the trading of Harrison. Was it the right move? Maybe, but we can see how the defense has performed since his departure.

One could make the argument that his contract ties up the Giants financially. He has an out of his contract at the end of the season, which the Giants were likely going to exercise if they couldn’t find a trade partner. My question is, why not keep him on a $7 million cap-hit? He’s an influential player in the locker roomer and clearly influences the run-defense significantly. In 2019, he would require $9.25 million in compensation at 31 years-old.

I can see the argument on both sides, but I would expect the Giants to allocate resources to bolstering the defensive line and linebacker corps next offseason. Only time will tell to justify the trading of the dominant run-stopper.