Frank Ntilikina was the star of the show for the Knicks. He was the first Knick and youngest player in the NBA ever to record 4 three pointers, 4 steals, and 3 blocks in one game (statistic from Tommy Beer via Basketball Reference). He also added 6 rebounds, 4 assists, and scored 14 points. Marcus Morris Sr. was the Knicks go to guy on offense all evening scoring a team high 29 points. Julius Randle (21 points and 8 rebounds) and Taj Gibson (12 points with only 1 miss from the field and 8 rebounds) also gave the Knicks really good minutes. RJ Barrett had his worst game as a Knick on offense (3 points) and defense (check stats below), but he did continue to hustle and play team basketball, grabbing 8 rebounds and dishing out 4 assists. This was a fluke for Barrett and noone should be overly concerned. Off of the bench Bobby Portis scored 14 points and grabbed an impressive 12 rebounds in 24 minutes of action. Knox didn’t get many touches or minutes (15) only scoring 6 points. Coach Fizdale elected to play Allonzo Trier and Damyean Dotson instead of Wayne Ellington who has struggled lately. Although neither were spectacular, both played solid basketball and offered a plus-minus of +4 for Trier and +7 for Dotson. The Mavericks relied heavily on their stars Luka Doncic (38 points, 14 rebounds, and 10 assists) and Kristaps Porzingis (28 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 blocks) to win them this game. The other Mavericks players combined to score 36 points on 13-42 (31%) shooting from the floor.
Why The Knicks Won
The Knicks won this game due to their hot three point shooting (14-28), great 2nd half defense (holding Dallas to 45 points), and not letting Doncic and Porzingis take over the game in the 4th. Doncic shot 3-6 and Porzingis shot 2-6, while fouling out, in the 4th quarter. Ex-Knick Tim Hardaway Jr. shot 3-5 in the 4th quarter, but was 2-10 before that.
Important Statistics (with analysis)
- On field goals contested at the rim, Knicks defenders excluding Frank Ntilikina contested 12 shots and the Mavericks made 11 of them. Frank contested 7 shots at the rim and the Mavericks only made 3 of them! This tells us that switching on everything certainly works for the Knicks because Frank is fantastic at defending around the rim and was statistically the Knicks best rim protector in this game. Also, this is a major strength for Frank in transition where he contests and stops a lot of 2 on 1s and fast breaks.
- Mavericks shot 5-18 (27.8%) when Ntilikina was covering them.
- On uncontested field goals, Julius Randle shot 3-10 and Bobby Portis shot 2-8. However, Randle shot 5-7 from inside the paint. Portis had a bad shooting night all around only shooting 2-6 inside the paint. This tells us Randle and Portis should not settle for jumpers, even if they are open.
- Frank Ntilikina shot 5-9 on uncontested field goals. The Mavericks elected to sag off Frank, daring him to shoot. Clearly that was a bad idea as he knocked down open jumpers all night, not being scared to step up and shoot the three, going 4-5 from deep.
- The Knicks shot 18-31 (58.1%) from the foul line, clearly still being a major issue for this team.
- New York was 14-28 from three in this game. The hot shooting helped the Knicks score all night and it opened up room for Randle and Portis to score down low.
- The Mavericks were outrebounded by the Knicks 47 to 56, leading to the Knicks scoring 12 points on 2nd chances, while holding the Mavericks to just 3.
- Frank was 0-3 shooting from inside the paint. This is a very small sample size, but as teams start to respect Frank’s jumper more and more, he will need to attack the rim and finish in the paint.
- Ntilikina owned the hustle stats leading the Knicks with 7 of their 13 deflections and tying Bobby Portis in contested shots with 14. He also was the only Knick to draw a charge.
- The Knicks recovered 14 loose balls, significantly more than the Mavericks 6. Julius Randle led the Knicks with 6 of them.
- Taj Gibson’s hard screening can’t be overlooked as he led the Knicks in screen assists (3) and screen assist points (7).
- RJ Barrett had a tough night shooting 1-9 from the floor and 1-6 from the line (missing two free throws with a chance to ice the game with 33 seconds left). Meanwhile on defense, opponents shot 10-12 for 28 points (6-7 from three) while he was guarding them. Barrett needs to close out on shooters better in the future, but this game can be chalked up as an outlier for Barrett who has been exceptional so far this season.
The Knicks offense for the first time all season had good flow and led to very makeable shots. Frank Ntilikina seems to have clearly stepped up and solidified himself as the Knicks starting point guard for the foreseeable future. The Knicks will look forward to having their top shot blocker Mitchell Robinson back soon, along with their guards Elfrid Payton and Dennis Smith Jr. It will be interesting to see the rotations when everyone is back healthy, but Fizdale will need to decide if Gibson, Trier, Ellington, Dotson, Payton, and Smith Jr. deserve to get consistent minutes or if it will be a revolving door. The Knicks will play their next game at home against the Cleveland Cavaliers (3-5) Sunday night at 7:30pm Eastern Time.