First off, THE NEW YORK KNICKS WON A BASKETBALL GAME… HALLELUJAH!
Last night the New York Knicks secured their first win of the 2019-20 season on the shoulders of Bobby Portis Jr.. The Knicks started off their season 0-3 even though they had late leads in the first two games (San Antonio and Brooklyn) along with having a lead against the Boston Celtics at the half before being blown out in their third loss of the season. The Knicks relied heavily on Bobby Portis Jr. who led them in scoring with 28 points on a really impressive 10-14 from the field and 4-4 from three! He also added 11 rebounds, 2 blocked shots, and led the Knicks with a ridiculous +31 scoring differential while he was on the floor. Knicks rookie RJ Barrett continued to impress adding 19 points, 5 assists, and a whopping 15 rebounds! Barrett and Randle’s passing and scoring down the stretch were crucial in helping Portis Jr. lead this team to victory. Randle finished with 13 points, 14 rebounds, 5 assists, along with a disappointing 8 turnovers. Kevin Knox, Wayne Ellington, and Frank Ntilikina all played important roles in this win off of the bench. Knox has continued to impress with his confidence and basketball IQ in his sophomore campaign. He is taking better shots and consistently shooting the ball at a high percentage, making himself a very reliable scorer off of the bench. Knox finished the game with 14 points on 4-9 shooting. Wayne Ellington is known for his shooting prowess and although he didn’t shoot the ball as well as he usually does (3-8 for 8 points), he was a force on the defensive end of the floor and ended the game with a +21 plus-minus. If you just looked at the box score and didn’t watch this game, it is easy to question Frank’s play as his finishing statline was 0 points (0-6 from the field), 2 rebounds, 2 assists, and 3 turnovers in 22 minutes of action. However, David Fizdale said Ntilikina’s minutes were “fantastic” and complimented him on setting the tone defensively. Ntilikina is 6’6” and has an insane 7’1” wingspan making him a problem for opposing guards. His shots will start falling the more comfortable he gets due to playing more and getting consistent minutes. Even on a miserable shooting night, Frank was a positive on the floor and helped turn this game around for the Knicks.
Why The Knicks Won
The difference in this contest was not the Knicks weathering the storm when they went down by double digits, it wasn’t because they shot a high percentage from the floor, and it wasn’t because they caused a ton of turnovers. The Knicks won this game because they crushed Chicago on the boards, out rebounding them 74-44 and due to the fact that the Knicks hit the big shots down the stretch, ending the game on a 15-0 run. New York moved the ball well down the stretch and the eruption off of the bench from Bobby Portis Jr. was huge, as the Knicks finally had a scorer they could count on to hit the big shots in crunchtime. In the previous close contests against the Spurs and Nets, the Knicks looked hesitant and unsure of who to look toward to get the big baskets at the end of the game, after they mounted massive comebacks. Their flow on offense and confidence took and major hit, resulting in the Knicks picking up losses in those games. It was awesome to see Portis Jr. step up off of the bench and hit two three pointers in the last two minutes to give the Knicks one last push to clinch this game.
Despite the Knicks shooting 38-91 (41.8%) from the field, 9-29 (31%) from 3, and 20-32 (62.5%) from the line, they still scored 105 points and won the game. You can’t help but think what could happen if the Knicks get hot as a team and shoot above the league averages in those categories across the board. The Knicks were also plagued per usual by turnovers (17). If they can collectively shoot at a higher clip and cut down on turnovers, this team can be dangerous. It appears Elfrid Payton (hamstring) and Dennis Smith Jr. (personal) will both be out Wednesday night against the Orlando Magic. Fizdale will have an interesting decision to make with the point guard rotations. He could start RJ or Frank at point and then dependent on that, elect Frank, Trier, or Allen if he’s healthy (likely not the case) to come off the bench for the Knicks. Fizdale could also consider having multiple shooting guards such as Ellington and Dotson share the point guard duties at times, although this is very unlikely. My best guess would be RJ starts the game at point guard with either Trier or Ellington sliding into the starting five alongside him. This scenario would probably have Frank collect all of the minutes off of the bench at point guard. Also, Damyean Dotson would possibly get a chance if the Knicks play “small-ball” or if Trier or Ellington shoot poorly. The Knicks will have a very winnable game against the lackluster Orlando Magic as New York will look to build off of their first win and start a winning streak.