In a continued surprise, these Knicks dominate third quarters like Friday night in Dallas, where the bench led an offensive explosion to cruise past the Mavericks and score their first victory on the road.

Coming in to the game dropping seven of their past eight games, the New York Knicks pulled away in the third quarter to pick up an inspiring 118-106 victory over the Dallas Mavericks (2-7) on Friday night. Headlined by 23 points from Allonzo Trier, an encouraging performance from Emmanuel Mudiay and Mitchell Robinson’s first career double-double, the Knicks demonstrated their athletic prowess in a comfortable win.

While Noah Vonleh came back to Earth, the remaining members of the Knicks’ young core each had inspiring moments tonight. New York’s offense was humming in egalitarian fashion all night, as seven players scored in double figures and the team racked up 26 assists on the night.

Defensively, the Knicks (3-6) held up well against Rick Carlisle’s motion-based offense, frequently disrupting the passing lane on post entries and passes off drives. Frank Ntilikina, Emmanuel Mudiay and Mitchell Robinson each swiped three steals, helping to stymy some of Dallas’ sets.

New York took control of the game in the third quarter, outscoring the Mavs 33-18 in the period after trailing Dallas 59-56 at halftime. The dominant quarter came on the heels of a first half which featured some poor rebounding from the Knicks. Immediately addressing this issue, Robinson had a nice tip-in on New York’s first possession of the half. Despite his poor game overall, Vonleh also recorded a put-back slam later in the quarter.

The defining moment of the quarter—and the game—came in the middle of the quarter, when Mitch threw down a physics-defying slam off a lob from Lance Thomas.

After ending the period up 12, the Knicks kept their lead at a minimum of nine points in the fourth quarter to close the game out.

There were several players who stood out tonight, with both good and bad performances.


Mitch stock up, Kanter stock down

Robinson flashed his athleticism and upside on both ends of the court tonight in what was his most complete performance of the season. The rookie dazzled with 13 points, 10 rebounds (five offensive), three steals, and a block—demonstrating improvement in his rebounding and rim protection.

There were still a few plays where Mitch could show some improvement, further signifying his tantalizing two-way upside. If Robinson can start turning tipped rebounds into boards which he snatches over defenders, he could be a walking double-double moving forward.

Kanter, on the other hand, is still having a tough time adjusting to his new role as the backup center. He looked disengaged at times, leaving capable three-point shooters wide open from deep defensively and failing to do much when posting up offensively. All the Mavs’ bigs—with the exception of DeAndre Jordan—can step behind the three-point line, making Kanter’s inability to close out unaffordable.

While Kanter’s poor defense is a known commodity, his struggles to rebound and post up are concerning developments. During his tenure in OKC, Enes frequently punished backup bigs as the Thunder’s sixth man. Tonight, Kanter recorded zero boards in the first half and has continued to look out of place as a bench player.

Trier’s fourth quarter explosion

Iso Zo is starting to return to the remarkably efficient form which we saw throughout the preseason, now shooting 19-for-24 in his past three games. He poured in a career-high 23 points on only 10 shots tonight and continued to get to the free-throw line with ease, shooting 6-of-7 from the charity stripe this evening. His performance was capped by a vociferous dunk in the fourth quarter.

Trier’s energy off the bench has been a stabilizing force for a Knicks starting lineup which can struggle with consistency on the offensive end.

Mudiay’s solid game

The fourth-year point guard flashed some of the potential that earned him a top-10 selection in 2015, as he was engaged on both ends of the court. While he only tallied six points and four assists, Mudiay read Dallas’ passing lanes particularly well, recording three steals.

Mudiay’s six points came in impressive fashion, hitting a couple tough mid-range pull-ups. He was well in control with the ball, as he shot 60 percent from the field and committed only one turnover.

Mudiay subbed in and shared the back court with Trey Burke in the first half, and the duo struggled defensively, allowing J.J. Barea and Luka Doncic to penetrate with ease. A solid halftime adjustment from David Fizdale featured Mudiay being the lone point guard when he played in the second half—and the difference showed.

While he still showed some shaky on-ball defense Mudiay had an encouraging performance tonight. A notably inconsistent player, Mudiay’s performance in subsequent games will be something to monitor.

Notes

  • Despite an underwhelming shooting performance, Frank dished out seven assists tonight and was the main facilitator at points when the remainder of the starting lineup was reluctant to drive to the basket. This bodes well for the French Prince’s capability as a lineup’s lone playmaker.
  • Mario Hezonja may have kept the Knicks in the game offensively, shooting 5-for-6 and racking up 11 points in the first half. The more spark plugs off the bench, the merrier.
  • Despite Ntilikina’s poor shooting night, his star-crossed draftmate—picked one after New York—Dennis Smith Jr. recorded 23 points on Friday. Noticeably, Smith Jr. didn’t tally a single assist, though, and fumbled the rock on six occasions.

 

The Knicks will next take the floor Sunday on the road against a Wizards team, which is totally fine. Seriously, everything is going swimmingly over there.