November 2017
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Knicks’ Home Opener Spoiled By Familiar Weakness Against the Pistons

The Knicks were defeated by the Pistons on Saturday night by a score of 111–107.

 

On paper, when you look at this roster, you wonder where the additional offense will come from. Kristaps Porzingis will carry it all on his shoulders and he’s proven he’s ready for it. But winning can’t be done solely by one player, no matter how great he is. It takes his teammates doing the little things and executing the bigger plan while he goes to work.

Tonight, KP had the upper-hand as he found the smaller forward, Stanley Johnson, guarding him on defensive switches early. Whether this was intentional to preserve Tobias Harris for offense or just the nature of the game, KP made the Pistons pay over and over. While the game started out somewhat sloppy for both teams, KP had no problem getting the shots to fall in the mismatch:

 

 

KP was on fire in the first half, scoring 23 of the team’s 64 points. The Knicks lead at the half, but we’ve seen this before. The Knicks start a game on level 10. Defensively, they’re in sync. They’re sealing off the perimeter. Guys are helping along the baseline and in the paint. They’re forcing turnovers and making shots on the other end. Then they come out in the third and it all falls apart.

Third quarters used to be where Melo would go on runs to keep the Knicks within striking distance. Without that pure scoring weapon, the team is left to rely on their opponents’ mistakes rather than having at least a secondary scorer to replace the deficit.

In the second half, the Knicks had no answer for Anthony Tolliver off the Pistons’ bench. He came in and added nine points, all from long distance. Ish Smith, who has found a place that suits his skill set as a guard who can split defenses, also contributed 10 points and three dimes of his own.


What worked well:
  • Enes Kanter was really good on the offensive boards against the more sizable Andre Drummond. Kanter translated Knicks’ misses into easy buckets in the first half. He finished with a double-double and shot 70 percent for the night.

 

 

  • Doug McDermott was a pleasant surprise for those who may not be sold on his ability to be anything but a shooter. I haven’t seen him much as a pro, so I have very little knowledge about his game. His performance tonight showed the potential he possesses. He was off the bench early in Hornacek’s rotation and for good reason. He was active on defense as a help defender and a shot-blocker (yes, you read that right!)
  • Kyle O’Quinn forever has a fan in me for his bench celebrations alone. In all seriousness though, he’s an unsung hero in the synergy of this team as it rebuilds. He added offense off the bench — scoring 15 points and shooting 3-for-3 from the charity stripe — and you can always count on him for great feeds to his teammates.

What didn’t work well:
  • Tim Hardaway Jr. didn’t show up. It’s that simple. If this team is going to have a realistic chance to even win 20 games, he has to hit the kind of shots he was hitting in Atlanta every night. Or at the very least, get to the cup and draw some fouls.
  • While McDermott had some flashes of potential, I didn’t agree with him playing 28 minutes while Lance Thomas didn’t play at all. Tobias Harris was going at him and Michael Beasley all night, dropping 31 points with just one assist. I think that if Thomas got some burn and spent some time guarding Harris, that would’ve forced him to spread the ball around.
  • Three-point shooting was bad for both teams tonight, but again THJ was MIA, as was Courtney Lee. The three starting guards were a combined 3-for-16 from beyond the arc. Though the Knicks passed the 100 point threshold, the guards did nothing to support KP, who wrapped up the night 3-for-7 himself.

A lot of games will be like this because the Knicks are allergic to consistency. Hornacek is dealing with new players but the game plan hasn’t changed. And realistically when the Knicks are playing teams like Detroit, the execution isn’t sophisticated. These are the losses that Knicks fans have come to live with, but it doesn’t make it any less frustrating to see.


James Woodruff, staff writer

 

 

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James Woodruff

Fan of Knicks/Cuse hoops, Panera sandwiches, Avion Tequila, and a good whiskey. Invested in improving your 40 time.

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