Despite racking up a new franchise rookie record for blocks, Mitchell Robinson’s individual performance was overshadowed by another terrible defensive game for the Knicks, who lost to Orlando at home 115-89.
In what was perhaps their worst game of the season, the New York Knicks lost to the Orlando Magic, 115-89.
Every team has a couple of games a season where they just do nothing. They’re a step slow and their shorts are an inch short. Tonight’s game was one of those for these young Knicks. In what will most likely be spun as a learning lesson by head coach David Fizdale, this was the first time this season where the Knicks looked like they had lost the game early on in the match.
Prior to tip-off, Fizdale had harped on the fact that he liked how the first unit defends. Per Ian Begley of ESPN, “Overall I like how we defend with that group. Our defensive efficiency—that’s one of our better groups.” Surely enough, tonight’s game was the worst defensive performance of the season, in part due to how the starting group defended.
In the first quarter, the Knicks offense started out slowly. Screens were soft and shots were off; the Knicks were scoreless through the first five minutes, going 0-for-6 from the field with four turnovers.
Unfortunately for Frank Ntilikina, development has taken a halt and shooting struggles persist. The Frenchman continues to falter all over the court, and it’s affecting his playing time. Having only played six minutes tonight—his fewest this season—Ntilikina went 0-for-3 with zero assists, and never recovered.
The second half started with a change in the starting lineup. Trey Burke was substituted in for Frank Ntilikina, who did not see anymore court time in the final two periods. Throughout the third and fourth quarters, the Knicks lacked any momentum on offense. They were a step slow the entire game and couldn’t pick it up. Had it not been for Enes Kanter, who had a quiet 16 points and 15 rebounds (eight offensive), the Knicks would have been in much more trouble.
The Magic continued to take advantage of the Knicks’ lackadaisical defense, hitting 17-of-42 (40.5 percent) attempts from beyond the arc. As a whole, the Knicks could not defend anyone anywhere on the court. 10 different Magic players scored tonight, and Terrence Ross had a season-high 22 points.
The Knicks’ defensive issues are glaring and, for the time being, the Achilles’ heel for this team. It was a bad game, but there are a few diamonds in the rough, such as Kevin Knox’s 17 points and Mitchell Robinson’s nine blocks.
Slumping Ntilikina Plays Just Six Minutes
Shooting 35 percent from the field this season, the bar for Ntilikina really isn’t that high. Sure, fans expect him to become a great player one day, but one step at a time.
For the last several games, nothing has been going Ntilikina’s way. After a poor first half, Fizdale pulled Frank and never put him back in.
Six minutes is a season low for Ntilikina, but it shouldn’t be a warning sign for fans. “Frank was struggling shooting the ball, so I just wanted to get a look at something else,” Fizdale said in the post-game press conference.
In the short-term, this most likely means that Burke, who had not played in the previous two games, may get some more minutes. Fizdale has said that his rotations will continue to change and evolve as the season progresses, so stay tuned for any updates.
Kevin Knox Wants His Mojo Back
Coming off an ankle sprain, Kevin Knox has been trying to get his mojo back. With steadily increasing minutes, Knox has been aggressive defensively but has had several lapses.
On 11 shots in 26 minutes, Knox scored 17 points and grabbed three rebounds. While most of his minutes were while the Knicks were down, Knox’s scoring ability is imperative for the teams’ success moving forward.
Kevin Knox is feeling it now, shot this very confidently, and drilled it.
Knox up to 15 points on the night, the lone bright spot aside from Mitchell Robinson’s block party. pic.twitter.com/YF552gGHEZ
— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) November 12, 2018
As seen tonight, when Tim Hardaway Jr. is off—which hadn’t happened yet this season—the Knicks need another go-to scorer. Kanter has been useful off the bench, but the starting unit is missing a punch.
Mitchell Robinson Breaks Rookie Record for Blocks
In a very down game for most Knicks, Mitchell Robinson had a career night and broke the franchise rookie record for most blocks in a game, previously held by Kristaps Porzingis.
Mitchell Robinson’s record breaking 8th block of the night: pic.twitter.com/DIqBXSgDHJ
— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) November 12, 2018
With nine blocks in the game, Robinson’s defensive performance in the second half is an extremely encouraging sign. Being down by 20+ points for most of the contest, Robinson didn’t give up one bit. He left all of his energy out on the floor and it’s showing in the box score.
Being able to guard the paint and the perimeter is a unique ability that Mitchell Robinson has already shown. Sure, Robinson is a project and is raw offensively, but getting nine blocks in one game is rare and indisputable. Soon enough, teams and opposing players will be wary entering the paint when Robinson is present.
The Knicks face the Thunder on Wednesday in Oklahoma City.