November 2017
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Knicks, Porzingis Down Suns, 120-107

Kristaps Porzingis was incredible yet again, and the Knicks beat the Suns to bring their record back even at 4–4.

Following a rough loss to the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night, the Knicks bounced back nicely to down the Phoenix Suns at Madison Square Garden. The main reason for the win was, in a word or two, Kristaps Porzingis. Carrying with the early season trend, Porzingis has continued to prove his status among the elite scorers in the NBA. He put up 37 points on just 22 shots, getting to the free-throw line 13 times and also corralling seven rebounds. With a little help from his friends (Hardaway Jr., Kanter), Porzingis and the Knicks pulled their record back to .500.

A few thoughts:

  • My god, Mr. Porzingis, you are something else. Who can stop this man? In the post, KP figuring out that he can simply stand in the post and shoot over defenders to put in easy hoops is such a delight. The Suns had Marquese Chriss on Porzingis for the first quarter, and he took advantage of the sophomore’s lackluster defense, cutting in space and posting up incessantly. Chriss is raw and an undisciplined defender (he fouled out tonight), the type that Porzingis could easily take advantage of, and he did just that. Watching KP ball out has been nothing short of an all-you-can-eat, buffet-style treat. How about this sequence:

 

 

  • Nice game from Enes Kanter. The Knicks starting center finished with 16 points, 15 boards, and three assists. The three assists in the early stages of the game are what stick out to me the most. We know he can score in the post and rebound the basketball with the best of them, but between him and KP, their assists numbers have been paltry. Finding shooters is incredibly important for big men that are reliant on their post games, so if this is something that can become a habit for Kanter, he could find himself with some easier opportunities on the block.

 

  • Speaking of facilitating, six different Knicks had at least two assists. As Clyde said, sharing means caring!

 

  • Tim Hardaway Jr. has been inconsistent this season, but I’m all aboard the THJ train. I was optimistic on him when the Knicks signed him, acknowledging that he was clearly overpaid but also a legitimately good player. Think about it: tonight felt like a bit of an off game for him, right? He still had 21 points and three assists. His shot selection has been a little iffy, but I’ve been absolutely thrilled with his ability to pass. He’s actually been a decent option as a pick-and-roll ball handler. I’m not hopping off the train no matter what.

 

  • We’re all upset that Willy Hernangómez isn’t playing, but you have to love the energy that Kyle O’Quinn provides off the pine. It’s infectious. KOQ seems like a great guy, and his teammates clearly feed off of his energy.

 

  • Frank Ntilikina is still in the infancy stages of figuring out his offensive game. He’s struggled with turnovers, and he hasn’t found himself in great spots for spot-up opportunities. But holy hell he’s already a lockdown guy on the perimeter. This can’t be understated. I was adamant during the post-draft hysteria that Frankie Smokes would be an above-average defender from day 1, and I’m glad I was right.

 

  • Doug McDermott was a nice spark plug off the bench, setting his season high with 12 points. How about this look from my main main THJ to Dougie McBuckets. Talk it Doug, talk it:

 

 

  • Note to Josh Jackson: you’re a rookie. You can’t get every call. Stop looking at the refs. Just my two cents.

 

  • The Suns were 5 for their first 30 field-goal attempts. The Knicks held them to just 34 percent shooting overall. Good Knicks defense or bad Suns offense? You decide! Most times, it’s a bit of both. The Knicks had trouble containing Devin Booker, like many teams do, as he put up 34 points. Other than Booker, no one on the Suns roster did much of anything. Their second scorer, T.J. Warren, went down early with an injury, which surely didn’t help the Suns’ scoring. No matter. Nothing was stopping Porzingis and the Knicks from flexing their muscles tonight.

 

  • Jarrett Jack isn’t a great basketball player anymore, but he’s been a pesky little addition to the starting unit. At this stage, he’s not a threat from three, and his only shot is that awful mid-range pull up jumper, but the Knicks have enough guys in the starting unit to render that irrelevant. He notched eight assists, and has shown a knack for targeting the guys that need looks.

 

  • Is this the first #55 vs. #55 point guard match up in basketball history? Please, let me know. Our very own Reid Goldsmith brought in up in our Slack channel, and I was intrigued.

 

Overall, an impressive effort for the Knicks against a Phoenix team that was due for a loss. The Knicks will be back in action against the Indiana Pacers on Sunday, another team that has been a little better than the masses predicted. For now, long live Kristaps.

Matt Spendley

Associate Editor at The Knicks Wall. Also Giants, Rangers, Yankees. Once caught a pass from Eli Manning.

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