Another double-double from both Kanter and Knox plus a spark from Hardaway Jr. provided the energy needed to withstand Davis and the Pelicans in the Knicks’ third consecutive preseason win.
Maybe Tim Hardaway Jr. just needed a jolt of energy from playing at the World’s Most Famous Arena.
In the New York Knicks’ first preseason game at Madison Square Garden this year, he and the rest of the Knickerbockers put on a show in front of the home crowd.
Hardaway racked up a game-high 21 points, leading the Knicks in their 106–100 victory over the visiting New Orleans Pelicans. With the victory, the Knicks remain undefeated, and the Pelicans stay winless.
While most of the preseason hype up until this point was focused on rookies like Mitchell Robinson and Allonzo Trier, Friday night’s game was one for the veterans. Hardaway was the leading man on Friday night. After a quiet first two games to begin the preseason slate, Hardaway was far from shy against the Pelicans. The 6-foot-6 shooting guard was aggressive and tenacious when he took the floor. He was finishing inside, knocking down shots from deep, getting to the free-throw line and pulling up off the dribble in the midrange. It might not have been the most efficient performance for Hardaway—just 6-of-19 on the floor—but it was refreshing to see him take charge and believe in his shot.
— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) October 6, 2018
He racked up 19 of his 21 points in the first half alone. Hardaway also added five rebounds and five assists to his high-scoring night.
However, he wasn’t the only veteran to flourish. Enes Kanter enjoyed another monstrous double-double, wreaking havoc on the boards and in pick-and-roll situations. The big man finished with 20 points and 15 rebounds, as well as five assists. Lance Thomas was also solid on the floor, providing tough defense but also timely baskets. He contributed 13 points, four rebounds, and a pair of blocks to the winning effort. Midway through the third quarter, both Kanter and Thomas played a big role during a crucial 14-2 run for the Knicks—a spurt that lasted nearly five minutes and one that gave the Knicks a 80-68 lead with 4:29 left. Once the Knicks gained that separation, they hardly looked back.
Noah Vonleh also contributed strong second-half play, finishing with 10 points and 11 rebounds off the bench. It was a promising step forward for the 6-foot-9 big man, as he grows more accustomed to playing for the Knicks.
For the Pelicans, they would fight back in the fourth quarter, capitalizing on the Knicks going deep into the bench in order to finish the game and leaving Kevin Knox as the only starter left at that point. Despite a late-game stand by New Orleans, New York was able to hold off the Pels for the win. The Pelicans would trim the lead down to as low as four, until Knox buried a shot to give the Knicks a 103–97 lead, with 2:58 remaining.
New Orleans received big double-double contributions from Anthony Davis and Nikola Mirotic in the frontcourt. Davis had his first share of extended preseason minutes and had 15 points and 13 rebounds, while Mirotic added 19 points and 12 rebounds.
The Knicks improve to 3-0 and will return to action on Monday night for a preseason rematch with the Washington Wizards. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. EST.
Other takeaways from the game:
Fizdale Changes up the Starting Lineup
For the first time this week, head coach David Fizdale switched up his starting five. He went with Emmanuel Mudiay over Trey Burke to begin the game, alongside his usual four that included Hardaway, Knox, Thomas, and Kanter.
Mudiay, who struggled in the previous two preseason games, had his flashes of highlights on Friday, dishing out some nice assists and having a few defensive standout plays—but ultimately continued his underwhelming play.
He logged 22 minutes, scoring two points off of 1-for-7 shooting but tallied six assists and two turnovers, too. The move was cited as an experimental test to see how Mudiay would respond in a different environment.
On starting Emmanuel Mudiay, David Fizdale says Trey Burke has been playing great but he wants to see if the different lineup will help Mudiay. Fizdale said he thinks Mudiay may be pressing a bit, trying to do everything right. He talked to Mudiay about playing relaxed and free.
— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) October 5, 2018
First time MSG jitters?
Allonzo Trier entered the game and continued to provide some sweet highlights in isolation, including a very nice and-1.
— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) October 6, 2018
However, this was a quieter game for the undrafted rookie. In 15 minutes of action, he finished the game with seven points off of 2-for-7 shooting. As for Knox, he had an up-and-down game. Some exciting moments, but for the most part he struggled to take care of the ball and get his shots to fall. He played the most minutes out of all his teammates (34 minutes), scoring 12 points (6-of-19 overall), collecting 10 rebounds, and giving away five turnovers.
Courtney Lee still sidelined
Lee was inactive in Friday night’s game, as he still deals with his neck injury.