Defense was nowhere to be found in a thrilling, up-and-down game between crosstown rivals.
The New York Knicks laced up their squeakiest sneakers on Tuesday night for their first organized basketball game. In their first preseason match, the Knicks fell to the Nets, 115–107, defense was absent from either clubs, and the new Knicks introduced themselves with mixed results.
Kristaps Porzingis, New York’s emerging star, was ready to prove his worth tonight. Finishing the night with 15 points on 14 attempts in 22 minutes, KP was out to make it known that he wants to lead this team.
Tim Hardaway, Jr., re-introduced himself to the Knicks faithful, knocking down a flurry of three-pointers on Tuesday night–five in total to complement a solid night on offense; 17 points, seven boards, and a pair of assists.
The Knicks faced a double-digit disparity early in the fourth quarter, and Jeff Hornacek called in his known roster in exchange for the unknowns: Xavier Rathan-Mayes, Jamel Artis, and Damyean Dotson played down the stretch, cutting into Brooklyn’s lead. At the 2:09 mark, with the deficit down to five points, the Nets hit a deep dagger triple, ending virtually any chance for a comeback. Classic fake Knicks comeback.
Here are some highlights from the Knicks’ preseason loss:
Frank’s first impression
New York’s 2017 first round pick entered the Garden floor to surprisingly loud cheers–and nice touch from Knicks fans (we’ve seen hostility to ‘Bocker neophytes in the past).
Immediately, Ntilikina looked to pass to his teammates. An early turnover led to an easy Nets fast break bucket, but Frank continued to find his teammates, maybe to a fault, as he overlooked shooting for himself.
Frank’s first points came off a quick pass to Kanter, a screen from Enes, and a pass back for ThreeLikina to bury one from the right corner/wing.
Crucially, Ntilikina looked like he belonged in this league, despite his hesitancy and nerves for his first NBA games. Frank finished with five points, three assists, and two turnovers.
KP was ready to be New York’s top dog on Tuesday, shooting the Knicks’ first three field-goal attempts, and making his first basket on his fourth try.
Porzingis mainly hovered around the paint, demonstrating a variety of moves with his back to the basket and with a quick 7-foot-3 crossover to clear space against smaller defenders like Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.
On defense, Kristaps once again flexed his rim protection skills. The Unicorn blocked two shots and altered plenty more; the Knicks will need his inside intimidation if they are going to have any semblance of a defense.
Oh yeah, and there was this little number:
AND1 🦄 pic.twitter.com/6e2PiXwG19
— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) October 4, 2017
Finding a rhythm with the starting unit
Tonight featured head coach Jeff Hornacek’s first permutation of a starting lineup: Ramon Sessions, Tim Hardaway, Jr., Doug McDermott, Kristaps Porzingis, and Kyle O’Quinn.
Hornacek had previously hinted that the coaching staff will evaluate the players and decide who to start on October 19, the first regular season game, with a few starting lineup variations during the preseason. Rotations were extremely staggered; it looked very much like the coaching staff wanted to see how certain players performed with each other.
Mixed reviews for Kanter, McDermott
Kanter looked impossibly shook from the inside, a place he normally feasts on offense, early in the game. Enes missed an layup and it got in his head–Kanter couldn’t buy a made bucket from close-range, perplexingly. Then, Kanter feasted from close-range and tallied up trips to the free-throw line. It was a weird night for the Turkish Delight, he led the bench with 17 points and 10 free-throw attempts.
Doug McDermott, the catch-and-shoot maestro, mostly stayed in his lane, meshing into the offense, running behind screens and look to spot up from long-range. A simple nine points for the Creighton alum.
- As expected, there was little to no defense found tonight. The Nets scored 59 points at the half and 34 points alone in the third period.
- Dougie McBuckets dunked.
- The Nets starters, for the most part, outplayed the Knicks counterparts. It was a sloppy game as the Orange and Blue get to know each other in training camp and learn how to communicate on the court.
The Knicks play their second preseason game in D.C. on Friday against John Wall and Wizards. Until then, we’ll be rolling our Season Preview on the ‘Bockers.
— Reid Goldsmith, managing editor