Charlotte’s Kaminsky shines in KP’s absence, and New York continues abysmal play away from MSG, this time losing to the Hornets, 109–91.
Tonight’s poor effort against the Charlotte Hornets drops the Knicks road record to 2-9, which is tied for second worst in the NBA, behind guess who? The Hornets. The Knicks were awful from three-point range, only hitting 16.7 percent of their shots behind the arc and were severely outworked on the glass by Dwight Howard and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, among others.
Uninspired basketball and terrible execution plagued the Knicks this evening in a game they should have won. Despite the absence of Porzingis and the fact that the road has been cruel to New York this season, one would expect the Knicks to squeeze one out against a pretty bad, underachieving Hornets team (without head coach Steve Clifford, who is on medical leave). The desire and passion just wasn’t present this evening, and tonight’s effort looked very similar to the Knicks teams we’ve seen in recent memory before this year’s rejuvenated squad. This is definitely a “burn the tape” type game for Coach Hornacek and his players. What went wrong?
Bad team defense
It is no secret that the Knicks aren’t the most adept team on the defensive end of the floor, but they have managed to play defense well enough to keep them on the north side of .500.
However, in my estimation, tonight was one of the worst performances of the season in that department, especially considering the lack of firepower the Hornets possess. To the Knicks’ credit, they did a good job keeping a usually dynamic scorer in Kemba Walker at bay as he only scored nine points, well below his season average of 21.9 per game.
Despite locking down Kemba, the Knicks did the most Knicks-esque thing ever and allowed role players such as Frank Kaminsky and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to have great offensive outputs. Kidd-Gilchrist, who is largely inept offensively, looked comfortable from the floor while Kaminsky lead the charge with 24 points on 10-of-13 shooting. Overall, the Hornets had a plethora of uncontested looks and were toying with the Knicks’ defense at times during Monday’s contest. If New York wants to be taken seriously in terms of a potential playoff push, then they can’t afford to throw up defensive duds like this one against inferior teams.
In a game where not much went right for the Knicks, Michael Beasley had another excellent game in which he lead the offensive charge with Kristaps sidelined with an injury. Beasley has proven to be a relatively reliable offensive option and possesses tremendous talent and versatility. What has impressed me the most during these last few games is Beasley’s ability to finish in the paint. He looks incredibly comfortable in his recently expanded role, despite the fact that he sometimes makes questionable decisions on the court. Many people forget that the 28-year-old was the second-overall pick in 2008 and was primed to be a star in this league. Character issues and a spotty off-the-court past have resulted in Beasley being a journeyman, but clearly the talent is still present. Before the season I made a bold prediction that Beas would lead the Knicks in scoring. Even though that is not going to happen, there is much to like about his offensive arsenal and his ability to step in and be the man when KP is injured or on the bench.
More like Michale Beasthree amirite????
— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) December 19, 2017
Aside from the aforementioned Beasley, everyone else on the Knicks was subpar at best this evening. Clearly, KP masks a lot of the deficiencies of the roster with his star power and his ability to make others around him better. Nobody can deny the value KP brings to the table, but him not being here is no excuse for another bad road loss. One can only imagine where the Knicks would be even if they were an average road team. Thanks to their incredible home record, New York still sits at 16-14, which is still better than anyone could’ve predicted. Losses like this still sting, regardless of expectations going into the season.
It doesn’t get any easier for the Knicks because this Thursday they take on the Eastern Conference leading Boston Celtics at home on national television.