Knicks brass had to speak to reporters after their eighth loss in 10 games on Sunday, with second-year guard Collin Sexton and the Cavs bullying them.
The Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the New York Knicks by a final score of 108-87. Collin Sexton finished with 31 points, three assists, and five made three-pointers for the Cavaliers, while Julius Randle finished with 20 points and 16 rebounds for the Knicks. With the loss, the Knicks move to 2-8 on the season.
After the win against the Dallas Mavericks in Dallas, the thought was that a win against Cleveland could offer some momentum and some positive vibes as they hosted a series of teams that missed the playoffs last year. Instead, this was an ugly one from the start.
New York was a disaster from the first quarter—with six turnovers in the first half, multiple missed looks at the basket and the ongoing free-throw blunders, the Knicks didn’t do themselves any favors early. Frank Ntilikina found both Bobby Portis and Julius Randle for good looks, but they didn’t fall.
On the other end, New York couldn’t do much to stop Cleveland’s offensive attack. If it wasn’t Cedi Osman and Kevin Love getting wide-open looks from three, it was Sexton and Jordan Clarkson attacking the basket at will. Cleveland went up 12 points to end the first quarter and didn’t let up from there.
Surprise! It only got rough from there. The Knicks had just 47 points with 4:22 left in the third quarter. Cleveland, who wasn’t unbelievable in this game, was up 30. It was a tough watch as Cleveland’s guards continued to work New York’s nonexistent defense.
New York gave the fans some hope with a 21-6 run to end the quarter, but that run only sliced Cleveland’s lead to 15. The Cavaliers ended up with a wire-to-wire win, with a double-digit lead throughout the entire second half. It was one of the worst performances of the season and the second straight Sunday blowout of the year. Not great!
Some more notes and thoughts on the Knicks.
- I need to understand David Fizdale’s thoughts on New York’s big man rotation. With Mitchell Robinson out, New York has one good defensive big man in Taj Gibson. Why is Gibson only playing 17 minutes while other big men—Randle, Portis, Morris—are playing upwards of 20+ a night? Bobby Portis went 2-of-11 in 29 minutes. I don’t understand how New York plan to maintain a decent defense with Portis and Randle on the floor together.
- Kevin Knox is in quicksand as a basketball player. He had two nice blocks early in the game, but other than that looked poor defensively. He’s a tall player, but not really athletic enough to defend away from the rim. He’s shooting the right shots, but not hitting any of them. I still believe Knox can be fine with the right defensive personnel around him, but he’s in the right rotation spot for now.
- Dotson and Trier got a ton of early looks in this game. Both netted first-quarter minutes and their overall games were fine. Dotson played a more balanced game, didn’t get too involved in the offense but found a few open looks.
- Trier, on the other hand, did Trier things. Zo finished with 13 points on a perfect 5-of-5 shooting and 3-of-3 free-throw shooting, but his defense remains noticeably poor. He’s someone the Knicks should probably deal during trade season because I don’t see how much better he can get.
- Julius Randle should come off the bench. The stat sheet suggests that Randle played a good game, but he did not. Randle is constantly over dribbles on offense and then looks for his shot as a first and last resort. He’s shooting 19.4% from three, so he’s more of a center at the moment anyway. If he’s not going to defend at all and be the black hole on offense, giving him a ton of minutes off the bench to fill the offensive role makes more sense than starting him. Fizdale probably won’t do that, though.
- Frank Ntilikina finished with four points, six rebounds, six assists, two steals, and two blocks. He had some impressive looks early and played solid defense. Still, this is why the Knicks should largely view him as a guard who can play either position and still view a pure point guard as a priority.
- I’ve pointed out plenty of New York’s blunders this offseason, but Frank’s emergence is why signing another point guard who can’t shoot made zero sense. New York can’t truly play Elfrid Payton, Ntilikina, and Dennis Smith Jr. together at any point and with Payton and Smith returning, there is a feeling that Ntilikina will get demoted. That just shouldn’t happen, but Fizdale is the head coach.
- Back-to-back quiet nights from R.J. Barrett. Unlike the game against Dallas, Barrett didn’t impact the game in other ways. His defense was poor as Sexton continued to get to the basket, he wasn’t creating anything offensively and didn’t do anything on the glass. Only 24 minutes tonight, too.
- This tweet from Stefan Bondy should be kept in mind. If James Dolan, Steve Mills, and Scott Perry didn’t return, that means they discussed something.
We're very deep into the third quarter of a Knicks blowout and three important people have not returned to their seats from halftime: Dolan, Mills, Perry.— Stefan Bondy (@SBondyNYDN) November 11, 2019
- Mills and Perry did speak to the media post-game, however, mentioning a discontent with the level of effort and consistency from the team, although they still believe in Fizdale.
"We're not happy with where we are" pic.twitter.com/3ETgaRwtsu— Knicks Videos (@sny_knicks) November 11, 2019
The Knicks travel to Chicago to face the Bulls on Tuesday. The Bulls current record is 3-7 and the last time these two teams met, Bobby Portis had a big game in lieu of New York picking up its first win of the season.