In their 81st game of the season, a hot start in the first quarter propelled Dennis Smith Jr. and the New York Knicks past the Chicago Bulls.

In the New York Knicks’ final away game of the season, they were without starting point guard Mario Hezonja and had backup Dennis Smith Jr. start in his place.

Although the Knicks (17-64) almost choked up their lead against the Chicago Bulls (22-59) a number of times, the talent gap between the teams allowed the Knicks to come away with their second W in two games, the final score reading 96-86.


Hot Start for Knox and Co.

New York’s starters came out scorching hot. In the first three minutes of action, every player hit a field goal. They were 5-for-6 to start, and it was a welcomed sign.

Kevin Knox began the game shooting 3-of-3 from beyond the arc and scoring 11 points in the opening period. With Knox in the zone from deep and Dennis Smith Jr. going 2-of-2 from three as well, the 39-point opening period was a refreshingly different start than what fans are used to. As the lead wavered late in the fourth quarter, the rookie came in clutch.

Knox’s last-minute three-pointer that made him 4-for-8 from deep and served as a signal for the rallying Bulls to wrap it up.

The Knicks had up to a 20-point lead at one point, but the bench, rife with G League alumni, made sure to piss it away as soon as possible. Still, there were highlights from one of the Knicks who got his start in the G League. …

The Titans

Both Luke Kornet and Mitchell Robinson held down the paint against the Chicago Bulls. The duo combined for a total of 20 points and 30 rebounds in the contest.

Both big men were all over it tonight. Robinson had a creative bucket around former-Knick Robin Lopez that made me think he still may have a couple tricks up his sleeve, and Kornet was bounding and astounding with a career-best six blocks in the emphatic team win. Kornet stuffed the stat sheet with 12 points, 13 rebounds, four rebounds, and the aforementioned six swats.

DSJ Fills In

Smith Jr. filled in for Hezonja starting at point guard and did not disappoint. Still suffering the lingering effects from a back injury, Smith began the game aggressively lighting up the Bulls in their own house. He cooled off around the middle of the game like the rest of the team but finished decently enough.

Smith’s 25 points and five assists aren’t bad stats for a guy still nursing an injury.

With this win against Chicago, the Knicks have eliminated themselves from being the indisputable worst Knicks team in franchise history. In their final back-to-back of the season, the Knicks will play the Detroit Pistons tomorrow night (they’ll be looking to play spoiler to the playoff-hopeful Pistons).

If they can end the season with a winning streak and still among the most likely to nab the no. 1 spot in the draft order, it’d be a nice cap to a losing season without much reprieve.