Knicks fans booed and chanted explicitly at the top of their lungs towards Kristaps Porzingis starting in warmups/intros and continued all night until after the final buzzer went off. The Garden crowd made it their goal to ruin KP’s first game back in the Garden since being traded last season and it clearly energized the Knicks players. Porzingis finished with a respectable 20 points and 11 rebounds, but he shot 0 for 1 in the 4th quarter and 1-5 from 3 point land on the night. Luka Doncic had a very impressive triple double with 33 points, 11 assists, and 10 rebounds. However, something that could easily be overlooked is Doncic shot 3-12 from three-point and had a horrendous defensive rating of 115.3. He had a very hard time containing Dennis Smith Jr. who had his best game of the season off the bench for the Knicks. Against his old team, Smith Jr. posted 13 points, 8 assists, and 6 rebounds while shooting 5-12 (42%) from the floor. He looked much better in this game than he has all season and gave the Knicks a nice boost off the bench, where the Knicks have lacked scoring/attacking from their guards. Smith Jr. also connected on several lobs with Mitchell Robinson who fouled out in just 22 minutes, yet scored 16 points and grabbed 8 rebounds while leading the Knicks in offensive rating (125). Frank Ntilikina and Taj Gibson both played suffocating defense all night finishing with stellar defensive ratings of 84.6 and 97.1 respectively. Both players were in foul trouble along with Robinson all night leading to them being relegated to the bench most of the game. Ntilikina (18 minutes) finished the game with 5 fouls and Gibson (15 minutes) with 4 fouls. There were a few highly debatable calls, especially one on Frank that was called going after a loose ball alongside Seth Curry. The two leading scorers for the Knicks were Julius Randle (17) and Marcus Morris (20). Randle shot 8-18 from the field, but continued to struggle from downtown going 1-5 and is currently shooting 20.9% from three this season. Randle also picked up 10 rebounds, but committed 6 turnovers while only dishing out 3 assists. Marcus Morris shot 7-19 (37%) from the floor which was a subpar night for him. He did shoot a scorching hot 5-7 from three-point though, none being bigger than the triple he drilled from the top of the key over Maxi Kleber with 13.4 seconds left to give the Knicks the lead. Another Knick worth noting is RJ Barrett who shot poorly (3-10), yet contributed with 7 rebounds and played well defensively (defensive rating of 98.3). Kevin Knox knocked down a couple shots, while posting the worst net rating on the team (-28.9) due to his poor defensive rating of 125.8. Bobby Portis played well offensively scoring 10 points and had a tremendous offensive rating of 122.2. Portis did struggle on defense with a defensive rating of 120.6. Damyean Dotson had a down night shooting the ball (1-5 from three), yet posted the Knicks second highest plus-minus (+10) in just 23 minutes of action.
Why The Knicks Won
The Knicks won this game thanks to their hot shooting from beyond the arc, winning the battle of the boards, and stepping up in crunchtime. The Knicks shot 13-30 (44.7%) from three as a team, much better than the Mavericks who shot 8-36 (22.2%). New York outrebounded Dallas 62 to 48 helping the Knicks hold Dallas to just 23 second chance points. The final quarter displayed a lot of grit and resilience with the Knicks outscoring the Mavericks 19-16 after the game was tied at 87 when the 3rd quarter ended. In the 4th quarter, the Mavericks shot a brutal 7-21 (33.3%) from the floor and the Knicks shot an even worse 7-23 (30.4%). Surprisingly with a night of 43 fouls and 42 free throws between the two teams, in the final quarter the Mavericks only attempted 2 free throws and the Knicks 4. Of the 14 players on both sides to play over 4 minutes in the 4th Quarter, the two worst defensive ratings were Kristaps Porzingis and Luka Doncic both with 100. The two best were Dennis Smith Jr. with an amazing 25 and Damyean Dotson with 50. The Knicks as a team really clamped down during crunch time and locked down the Dallas Mavericks.
This was a massive win for the Knickerbockers that was equally needed for the team and the fan base. David Fizdale certainly has bought himself some more time as the Knicks head coach after this impressive performance from his team, knocking off the Dallas Mavericks for the second time in a week. The Knicks thrived off the energy in the Garden from Knicks fans who desperately wanted to see their heroes defeat Kristaps Porzingis and the Mavericks. New York’s defense and grit won them this game and could certainly be this team’s identity if they can play that way consistently, every game. Consistency has been Steve Mills’ and Scott Perry’s concern with this team. The Knicks will get to show if they can play tough and hard again, against the Charlotte Hornets at home Saturday night in the world’s most famous arena.