Studs and Duds: Knicks get blown out by the Pelicans at home

New York Knicks guard Josh Hart (3) is fouled as he shoots by New Orleans Pelicans forward Larry Nance Jr. (22) during the fourth quarter at Madison Square Garden
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

A sense of urgency is imminent as the health of the New York Knicks is becoming detrimental to the successes built this season. New York hosted the New Orleans Pelicans without all but one of their starters. Donte DiVincenzo led the way with 23 points, but ultimately, the Pelicans outmanned and outgunned New York in Madison Square Garden. The Knicks lost this matchup with a final score of 115–92.

Studs: Bogdanovic volume scoring

New York only had seven full-time available players for this outing against New Orleans. A ‘next man up’ approach has been the motto all season, and Bojan Bogdanovic was up for the challenge. Win or lose, these are the games where players can get more shots than they usually would, thus gaining their confidence more within the healthy offense.

Against the Pelicans, Bogdanovic scored 20 points while shooting 40% from downtown. With a healthy rotation with Bojan off the bench, the Knicks’ best days are on the horizon with patience and perseverance. Donte DiVincenzo was asked in the postgame about Bogdanovic’s confidence and stated, “I don’t think anybody’s worried about Bogey.”

Since returning from calf soreness, Bogey has averaged 15.7 points per game. A volume scorer to the level of Bojan Bogdanovic is New York’s fifth option when healthy. The best is yet to come. 

Studs: Josh Hart and Donte DiVincenzo do the scoring

Lacking significant depth, Hart and DiVincenzo combined for 38 points, 14 rebounds, and seven assists. The ‘best teammate award’ on the New York Knicks may be more in the air than league MVP.

Josh Hart and Donte DiVincenzo have been the most serviceable, diligent, and team-first players New York could’ve hoped for. Both have been integral in the makings of a new culture on the Knicks and two of the biggest luxuries in the association.

The lack of ego and presence of humility is evident in how hard the Knicks’ rotation plays for one another. Both players performed well above their paydays while combining for 36 points per game over the last week alone. Assuming the team will be whole again, an Eastern Conference Finals appearance is the goal. It’s become so evident even Stephen A Smith believes so.

Duds: Lack of execution 

When healthy, the Knicks are one of the most formidable teams in the NBA, ranking top five in both offensive and defensive ratings while boasting one of the best net ratings in the association. In the last ten games, New York is ranked 30th in defensive rating, seventh in offensive rating, and seventh in net rating.

Even shorthanded, New York has found a way to sustain offense, but in doing so, the defensive identity of New York has been compromised. This minimal effort on defense has the Knicks mediocre at best and lost the traction gained following the OG Anunoby trade.

Only sitting a game and a half ahead of the fifth seed, five of New York’s next six games are against teams above .500. With only 23 games left this regular season, the door is closing, and New York’s healthy rotation will have ten games at best to regain momentum ahead of the NBA playoffs. 

Duds: Injuries are overwhelming the Knicks

With only seven full-time players active in the most recent matchup, have New York’s health concerns become the story of this season? Julius Randle is progressing well, but surgery is not out of the question

Mitchell Robinson is moving well and out of his cast. OG Anunoby’s expected in 2-3 weeks. Jalen Brunson has a minor injury, taking proper precautions, and Isaiah Hartenstein’s nagging left Achilles has had him miss six games this season. With only 23 games left to play, New York’s efforts this season are becoming an afterthought to the cascade of injuries plaguing the team.

Regardless, Josh Hart seems to be functioning under the guise that whoever is available, the Knicks will always compete. No excuses.

Takeaways from the Knicks loss to the Pelicans 

The bottom line for New York’s success is health. The capabilities of the Knicks have been on display when healthy, but now even more ammunition in Bogdanovic and Burks, an even newer updated Knicks squad exists that fans have yet to see. In the home stretch of the season now, maintaining a top-four seed should be a priority.

Looking ahead is a showdown with Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors are on a road winning streak and look to extend their efforts in Madison Square Garden. Coach Thibodeau has expressed that Isaiah Hartenstein should be a go for that matchup.

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