Despite leading at halftime against the class of the NBA, the Knicks struggled in the second half and chalked up another loss.
With Kristaps Porzingis missing as a rim protector, you had to expect that this specific road game with be a daunting matchup for the Knicks. Michael Beasley took his spot starting at the four. And with the Walking Bucket, this had to be a game where the Knicks committed to the “out-shoot ’em” game plan early.
The Knicks flourished in the mid-range early per usual by creating space and being quicker getting shots off against a starting five that features some of the best man-to-man defenders at their respective positions. Courtney Lee, who had stepped up impressively as a scoring option, got off to a hot start in the first half, shooting 6-for-7 and leading the team into the half with 13 points. He finished with 20 points overall.
Courtney fakes Klay out his weakass Anta’s
— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) January 24, 2018
The common thread that has been missing in these road games recently is being aggressive in drawing contact. The squad got to the charity stripe 11 times in the first half with Beasley, who is a 73 percent shooter this season, hitting all five of his attempts.
Golden State is a team that will let their opponents exhaust energy establishing an early lead offensively. While the Knicks were able to put points on the board off Warriors’ turnovers in the beginning of the game, they struggled versus the second unit. The Warriors got within two after an 8-0 run going into the locker room. Once Golden State starts firing on all cylinders, you know an L is on its way.
Despite the Splash Brothers missing a handful of wide-open threes, a slow night and a convincing lead can evaporate in the blink of an eye. The way both guards can move without the ball and can lose their man is one of the primary reasons that they’ll go down as one of the best backcourt tandems of all time.
What worked well:
- Normally when matched against an elite guard, you figure that it’ll be a long night for Jarrett Jack. Better men have gotten cooked by Wardell Stephen Curry II. But offensively, Jack wasn’t a complete disaster. The game opened with him drawing a foul and he finished the night with 13 points and six dimes. Also notable—he hit 100 percent from long distance, canning all three of his attempts.
- Defensively, Lee did a fair job on Klay Thompson. He was forced to go inside often. Although he was a team-high +25, he was held to nine points.
- The squad was able to keep up overall offensively: shooting 43-of-83, compared to the Dubs’ 46-of-83.
What didn’t work well:
Willy had a nice first quarter, but it’s plays like this one that have kept him on the bench this season pic.twitter.com/BR7iaBG5tP
— Knicks Film School (@KnickFilmSchool) January 24, 2018
- Willy Hernangómez was not good. That’s putting it mildly. Playing in 16 minutes, it was a bit surprising that he didn’t consistently put his footwork to use considering how often his teammates fed him the ball.
- Given that Kevin Durant appeared to be on the unselfish path tonight (he was ejected after notching 14 assists and 14 points), it didn’t make sense as to why Jeff Hornacek didn’t switch Lee on Stephen Curry more. You want to see Frank Ntilikina get the experience against elite guards, but you also want to help him correct the little mistakes he makes in rotations.
- The Knicks also had no response for the Warriors’ second unit. David West, a mid-range assassin, helped to keep the Warriors on the Knicks’ heels in the first half by chipping in 12 points off the bench. The Warriors emptied the bench, outscoring the Knicks 42-31.
- Aside from Curry’s shooting, the Dubs took advantage of the Knicks’ possible lethargy by pushing the rock in the second half. They found guys open under the rim as well as out in transition.
One thing that defies logic is why the third quarter is such a problem for the Knicks. It doesn’t matter who the opponent is, the guys come out of the locker room lacking focus and tenacity. In many cases, they simply look lost or slow on defense and can’t connect offensively. Tim Hardaway Jr. only had two attempts beyond the arc in the second half. Hornacek didn’t even bother to let the faster Trey Burke see the floor until the last minute. Kristaps Porzingis’ ability as a catch-and-shoot threat out there was missed, as was the way he can affect the shots of opposing big men down low.
This wasn’t a bad loss. However, it could have been way worse had the Dubs hit all those open long balls. Next up, the Knicks take on the Nuggets, who also sport a high-volume shooting backcourt.