Kristaps Porzingis’ clutch buckets pushes the Knicks over the Pelicans to put New York back in the win column after a four-game losing streak.
Through two and a half quarters, the Knicks looked to be cruising to a comfortable win in New Orleans, on their way to halting their four-game losing streak and earning a rare road victory. They got the job done in the end, but ultimately needed a missed wide-open Anthony Davis three-point attempt to escape, 105–103, and return to .500, despite the extended presence (13 minutes) of Joakim Noah, who is not good at basketball anymore.
If a Joakim Noah falls in the forest and doesn’t make an impact, do the Knicks still lose 72 million?
— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) December 31, 2017
The Knicks owned the first half, sparked by Kristaps Porzingis (15 points), the hot hand of Michael Beasley (11 points in the second quarter alone) and the smooth play of Frank Ntilkina (six points, four assists in the second), and entered halftime up 56-45. The bench has been a recent strong suit for the Knicks, and they outscored New Orleans’s reserves 30-8 in the opening two frames.
The Knicks also benefited from their responsibility with the ball early on, turning it over just three times in the first half (and just seven total). It also helped that New Orleans missed 13 of their 15 three-ball attempts. In fact, both teams combined to shoot just 11-of-45 from deep, continuing the Knicks season-long woes from beyond the arc.
The Pelicans—on their second-leg of a back-to-back—woke up in the third period, buoyed by foul trouble from KP. The Knicks quickly extended their lead to 16, but the Pelicans chipped away, and closed the gap entirely while Porzingis sat down after picking up his fourth personal. Anthony Davis (31 points, nine rebounds) and DeMarcus Cousins (29 points, 19 rebounds) dominated Kyle O’Quinn, Noah, and Enes Kanter all evening.
After the Knicks went the opening four minutes of the fourth without a field-goal—a stretch defined by poor ball-movement, shot selection (looking at you, Beas) and body language—the Pelicans took a seven-point lead, and it looked as though the Knicks were on their way to yet another deflating road defeat.
In a pleasant surprise, though, the Knicks hung tight and showed some grit, led by a strong last few minutes from KP and Jarrett Jack, who combined to score the team’s final 12 points. After going down 91-99, Porzingis (30 points, 11-for-22 from the field) nailed his last four buckets, including his only 3 of the game and a monster slam over AD and Boogie—therefore avenging Ron Baker.
Damn Anthony Davis just delivered Ron Baker the rare triple L — dunked on his ass, AND1, sent Baker to locker room bleeding pic.twitter.com/BuOdUjds75
— Kristaps Wobzingis (@World_Wide_Wob) December 31, 2017
Jack knocked down a pair of free throws with 9.1 seconds remaining before Davis serendipitously missed the potential buzzer-beater. The Knicks’ recent troubles have been defined by late miscues, so this game felt crucial, especially after jumping out to a double-digit lead.
As KP said after the game, the Knicks “needed this more than oxygen.” Well, after hanging on for the win, the Knicks should be able to breathe a little easier.