Poor execution down the stretch doomed David Fizdale’s Knicks as emerging star point guard De’Aaron Fox led his Sacramento Kings in a matinee win at the Garden.
Do not let the score fool you—this game was ugly. The Sacramento Kings (33-32) were begging the New York Knicks (13-53) to take this game, but the Knicks could not capitalize.
It’s always a pleasant sight when the Knicks start the game taking the fight to the opposition. Time zone difference was the Knicks’ weapon of choice. The Kings looked like a team playing at 9 a.m.—they scored three points in the first four minutes of the game before De’Aaron Fox hit back-to-back three-pointers.
Dennis Smith Jr. led the fight against their groggy opponent, jumping out to a 27-12 lead. Smith Jr. continues to be the best guard on the roster, and the only one who can manage to keep up the pace and make shots. Momentum swung back to the Kings once the second unit came in, ripping off a 10-0 run to shrink the lead to four. An Allonzo Trier three kept the Kings at bay to finish out the quarter, with the lead at seven, 30-23.
Sloppy was the best word to describe the opening minutes of the second. The match reverted to a pick up game at 24 Hour Fitness, featuring a lot of errant passes and missed shots. 12 total points were scored in the first six minutes of the quarter. Inefficiency aside, the Kings kept chipping away, eventually cracking the Knicks to grab their first lead of the game late in the first half.
The third quarter would be huge for Fizdale’s guys. Would they keep this game close or crater in the third, as has been their custom? The answer in short was, yes. Buddy Hield led the way with four three-pointers as the Kings started to separate, heading to into the fourth with a 80-68 lead.
Thankfully the fourth provided some entertainment. John Jenkins kicked off the final frame with a three, killing the 12-0 Kings run to end the third quarter. Jenkins added two more threes, raising the question: why the fuck was he on the bench the whole game?
The Knicks clawed their way back and kept the score tight. Mitchell Robinson and Luke Kornet looked great together. The success of the two bigs was cut short by Fizdale, who opted for DeAndre Jordan and Lance Thomas down the stretch. I wish I was kidding.
The Knicks should have stole this game. They did not—which I guess is good for the tank. Here’s a quick rundown of today’s matinee.
Dennis and De’Aaron
After their first meeting in Sacramento, Dennis Smith Jr. said he was faster than speed demon De’Aaron Fox. Whether Smith was talking out of his ass or not, he brought the fight to his draft classmate from the jump. It was a self-generated 8-0 run by DSJ that helped extend the Knick lead to double digits.
Smith kept coming at the Kings, but in the second quarter, kept on missing. He scored didn’t score in the quarter, finishing with 11 points on 36.4 percent shooting. Conversely, Fox finished with 13 points for the half, on an efficient 50 percent shooting.
The second half was symbolic of the juxtaposition between the two. Smith kept on coming, finishing with 18 points. Fox flexed his superiority to close the game, scoring 12 points in last six minutes to finish with 30 points on 64.7 percent shooting.
Smith may think he’s the better player, but right now he should be taking a few lessons from his frenemy.
Stuck in the Mud
Mudiay hate at this point feels redundant, but you can’t say it isn’t justified. The Knicks lost control of their early lead once Mudiay subbed in for DSJ. Mudiay isn’t awful—but he isn’t great either. He had a decent first half: six points on 3-for-4 shooting but had as many assists as you and me.
It is laugh out loud funny the front office is ready to punt on Frank Ntilikina, yet preach patience with Mudiay.
Everything Mudiay has shown has screamed shooting guard, as rival scouts have said, but Fizdale seems intent on molding Mud into a point guard. The results continue to speak for themselves.
There is a first time for everything. Today was the first time Noah Vonleh missed a game as a Knick, due to a hip contusion. He had been the iron man of the roster, appearing in all 65 games before today.
Mitchell Robinson Appreciation
Today Mitchell Robinson blocked another shot, his 23rd straight game. Mitch finished the game with two more blocks to go along with eight points (perfect 4-for-4 from the line!) and nine rebounds.
Robinson continues to be the only consistent defender on the team, and if his recent endorsement deals are any indicator, he is slowly becoming the team’s new star.
TKW Clip of the Night
- DSJ to Mitch
DENNIS TO MITCH pic.twitter.com/PdB3PmQICd— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) March 9, 2019
If nothing else has gone right this year, at least we have DSJ and Mitchell.
- Damyean Dotson might have a case of Ronnie Bass syndrome. He can hit from 30 feet, but not from three. Dot had a few ugly layup attempts in the first half, reminding us his future is best served as a Danny Green-type.
- Kevin Knox once again struggled to find his shot. He shot 3-for-12 from the field and could really use some time on the bench to regroup.
- There is really no game plan for New York right now. Fizdale can talk a big game all he wants, but to this point on the season there is still no identity with this team. They don’t grit and grind, they don’t race the pace. They just play.
Knicks have a quick turnaround, catching a flight to Minnesota for a game with Karl-Anthony Towns and the Timberwolves.