The New York Knicks were thoroughly out-classed by Klay Thompson and the Warriors on on Tuesday night in the Bay.
Was this game ever in doubt? The high point of the night for Knicks fans came three hours earlier when Knick hopeful Zion Williamson spazzed on Wake Forest for 30 points, 10 boards, five assists, and four steals. As for the players on the team right now? It was a night to forget.
The Warriors had control of this game from the opening tip. After a five-minute warm up, the defending champs put on a passing clinic. They finished with 10 assists in the first quarter compared to just three for the Knicks. Kevin Knox was a bright spot, taking the fight to his favorite player, Kevin Durant.
As has been the case most of the season, the Knicks refused to be put away in a whimper. They hung around in the second quarter, briefly taking the lead, thanks to their energy on defense. There were active hands in the passing lanes and contention on every shot attempt. Success was short lived as the Warriors stopped playing with their prey. They finished the half with a 13-0 flurry.
The momentum of that flurry carried over to the third quarter that can be best summarized as an ass whooping. The Warriors started hitting the shots they were missing in the first half, and the result was a 33-19 quarter. Durant and Klay Thompson led the scoring, and the Warriors clamped down on defense.
By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, you could tell this game had been officially decided. The Knicks looked like their turbo bar had run dry. The Warriors kept their foot on the gas for the opening minutes before settling into cruise control to a 122-95 laughing stock of a blowout.
Idols Become Rivals
It’s not every day you get to play against your childhood hero. Kevin Knox finally got to experience what that feels like after missing Kevin Durant in New York. Knox may have not gotten to face LeBron James on this West Coast swing, but a matchup against Durant probably meant a little more.
Knox was not coy about his admiration for Durant. The rookie said he has watched a lot of Durant and tries to model his game after KD. If Knox did have butterflies, he did a great job hiding it. He got his shots off, totaling eight first half points, including this beaut against Durant.
History will remember this as the play that brought KD to the Garden pic.twitter.com/MjxVHl03HH— The Halfcourt Press (@THalfCourtPress) January 9, 2019
Defensively, he contested Durant, who was off in the first half, containing him to just 11 points. Durant and the Warriors erased the Knicks in the second half, with Durant ripping off a 13-point third quarter compared to a doughnut for the rook.
For Knox this was a childhood dream; for fans (and Knicks brass) it was a pitch. Prior to the game, Durant said Knox had a bright future; the question is, will Durant be part of it?
Mario Hezonja’s hot streak has not gone unnoticed. David Fizdale turned to Super Mario early in the action, a sign that he has re-entered the rotation after a nice streak of performances. The next step is Mario finding his ideal scenario, or to put it more bluntly, play with some defensive-minded help.
Fizdale opted to have him out there with Allonzo Trier, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Enes Kanter, three guys who need the ball in their hands, too. Hezonja struggled guarding on the perimeter, racking up three fouls in a six-minute stretch.
Garbage time was good to Mario as he was one of the few Knicks emptying the barrel down the stretch. His hot streak could not come at a better time with the trade deadline 30 days away. Two weeks ago, I’d be floored if someone traded for Mario. Now you can at least envision a team taking a chance on lightning in a bottle. Hezonja would finish the contest with a team-high 19 points on on 12 shots.
Regressing to the Mean?
Emmanuel Mudiay was not bad by any means, but there is a troubling trend starting to resurface—finishing at the rim. He was on pace for a career-high shooting at the rim, something that has held him back throughout his young career. Over his last 15 games, he has regressed, shooting 46.3 percent inside of five feet.
Tonight it felt like Mudiay was well aware of this trend. He got penetration with relative ease, yet instead of looking to finish, he looked for a teammate. Sharing is great, especially in a point guard, but this felt more like he was passing not to shoot.
The Knicks finally get to head home after a 14-day west coast trip to face the Pacers on Friday night. The bad news is they went 1-5; the good news is they remain near the top of the lottery standings, with more losses on the horizon.