The Knicks opened their first preseason game with a win over the Wizards in D.C., with RJ Barrett showing out and Marcus Morris ejected.
The Knicks ended their night in D.C with a five-point win, and for the first time in what seems like an eternity, played basketball that didn’t make viewers sick to their stomachs.
New York started out the game right where they left off last year: with a Mitchell Robinson block. Watching Robinson assert his defensive dominance, Julius Randle bully his way into the paint for a layup, and Taj Gibson and Marcus Morris fight for boards and attack the rim gave given credence to Morris’ “bully-ball” statement during media day.
The Knicks and Wizards battled for most of the game, with the Knicks taking an early lead in the first quarter. Following a fantastic offensive display by Marcus Morris, the Knicks found themselves up double digits at halftime.
As the game went on, the Wizards fought their way back, only to be suppressed by rookie R.J. Barrett. Barrett, who showed prowess in all areas of his offensive game tonight, halted a 12-3 run by the Wizards and led to a run of their own. After a close knit fourth quarter, the Knicks finished the game with strong defense, beating Washington 104-99.
The teams biggest pick-ups, Morris and Randle, both helped lead the offense today, and received a considerable amount of offensive support from Barrett and Taj Gibson, who wound back the clock for 16 points on 56% shooting from the field.
It will be interesting to see how our newest additions build an identity for the ‘Bockers. Having a well-rounded, tough Knicks team with veterans and promising young players will be a juggling act to watch as the season persists.
R.J. Barrett Big Second Half
Barrett struggled early today, starting out his first 14 minutes with only three points. But following halftime, he came out a different player. His first attack came as a twisting layup, halting a Wizards run that was biting into the Knicks 15-point halftime lead. The next possession, Barrett led a fast break, scoring an and-one (that would be subsequently waived off following a coaches challenge). Continuing his dominance, Barrett finished the third quarter with 15 points.
What impressed the most from the Duke rookie was his playmaking ability. During one play, he managed to drive deep into the paint and throw a pass into the corner for a Taj Gibson three. Seeing him make these types of reads as a rookie is a promising sign for the Knicks.
"Who wouldn't?!?"— Knicks Videos (@sny_knicks) October 8, 2019
Sign RJ Barrett up for 39 mintues played every night 😆 pic.twitter.com/t6pFO3CeXi
Barrett ended the game with 17 points, seven rebounds, and three assists, leaving fans hungry for more. Playing 39 minutes today, Barrett had this to say: “However long Coach wants me to play… I’m cool. It was fun for me”
Frank Ntilikina’s first possession of this preseason seemed like it was a play ran for him. Following a back screen for sophomore forward Kevin Knox, Ntilikina ran off a screen into a step-in jumper, knocking it down in stride. The confidence Frank exuded this game was a welcome sight. Although his shot percentage wasn’t pretty, the fact he continued to shoot the ball is a step-forward for him.
One key example of Frank’s growing bravado was late in the third quarter, where after missing two straight triples, he knocked one down a possession later. Having him be confident in himself is something Coach Fizdale has harped on, and it’s nice to see Ntilikina start taking those strides! Hopefully as he gets his legs under him, those shots start to fall and he takes that next step forward.
Marcus Morris Ejected
The Knicks began their preseason the same way they did last year: with a Morris brother ejection. 20 seconds into the third quarter, Morris swung an elbow at Justin Anderson, a bothersome defender. After Anderson backed away, Morris bopped the ball on his head, resulting in an offensive foul and a brief scuffle between Morris and Anderson. Morris was then ejected for a flagrant two foul due to the elbow-swing. He successfully established himself as someone who will not be bullied or messed with, and helped give the league a taste of this Knicks team.
Life comes at ya pretty fast pic.twitter.com/NmNrwXb30J— Jess (@JRein44) October 8, 2019
When Morris did play, however, he was an offensive beast. After only playing for one half, he finished the game with 17 points and seven rebounds, with a +5. His three ball looks a lot smoother; expect a big year from him there.
Knicks Close Out Win late in fourth
Following a huge third-quarter run to stop the Wizards’ hopes of a comeback, the Knicks found themselves struggling in the fourth quarter. Julius Randle fought hard, diving for loose balls and running back and forth on defense. Hard enough that immediately following that possession, Randle ran straight to the bench and called it a night. With Knox and Ntilikina stepping up late in the fourth quarter, the Knicks halted a Wizards team insistent on making me watch all the way to the end of the game.
Clip Of the Night
lmao Mook is ready at a drop of a hat pic.twitter.com/VC2glIFy6B— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) October 8, 2019
Seeing Mook get like this is probably the best thing we will see from the Knicks this entire preseason. It will be even better once Bobby Portis comes back. Having him and Morris is going to give fans a Knicks team that is truly reminiscent of the ’90s Knicks attitude.
Heres hoping for more ejections and some Garden Jargon!