Carmelo Anthony and his new team handed the Knicks their first loss of the season, downing New York by a score of 105–84.
The Knicks were defeated by the Thunder on Thursday night in their season debut. Despite a spirited first-half effort, the Knicks ended up slowly falling apart down the stretch, succumbing to a fruitless bout with turnovers and a Thunder offense that began to percolate as time went on. Oklahoma City should be one of the best teams in the league this year, so a loss was the expected result, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have moral victories! That’s the theme of this year. Your 2017–18 Knicks: Moral Victories Abound, Real Victories Nowhere to be Found.
A few thoughts:
- BREAKING NEWS: The Knicks will be bad. Carry on.
- Willy Hernangómez did not see the court during the first 45 minutes of the game. Despicable. The coaching staff should be ashamed of themselves. I’m not a Kyle O’Quinn hater or anything, but there’s no reason why he should be getting minutes ahead of the Spaniard. Hornacek did this to Willy last season, leaving him chained to the bench before unleashing him during the latter portion. We know what he can bring to the table. There’s no reason for him to not play. Get it fixed, Jeff.
- Defensively, the Knicks could have been much worse. A horrible stretch to end the half notwithstanding, they were passable during the first portion of the game. Tim Hardaway Jr. was engaged, Courtney Lee was his usual self, and Kristaps Porzingis was effective. Speaking of KP…
- Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis matched up early on, as expected, with KP coming out on top with a big block on his ‘Melo’s first attempt:
Sorry Me7o, it's his team now. pic.twitter.com/hxGGDBpphz
— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) October 20, 2017
- We need to talk about the brightest spot in this affair. Kristaps Porzingis had a divine first half. He put up 19 points and 9 rebounds, scoring in a variety of ways and doing his unicorn thing. He ended with an impressive 31 and 12 game. Since it’s my job, I’m going to be picky here for a second. KP needs to realize when he has the advantage in the post. When the Knicks run a pick-and-roll and leave Porzingis with a clear mismatch, he needs to assert his dominance down there. The guards need to make a concerted effort to give him the ball and let him go to work. That’s the number one thing I’m looking at is his ability to recognize the double team once he gets in the post and passing out to the corners. When it comes to big men, I want to see them feed the corners. The corner three is perhaps the most efficient shot in the NBA in 2017, so being able to provide your shooters with clean shots is essential. Porzingis had an absolutely beautiful feed to Doug McDermott in the fourth, so we know what he can do. He just has to show he can do it on a consistent basis.
- Enes Kanter is a menace on the boards. We’ll complain all season about his escapades on the defensive end, but he works so hard to rebound. He was also called for three travels. Take the good with the bad.
- Back to the defensive scheme, it looks like Hornacek is going to have his big men be aggressive in pursuing ball handlers. Both Porzingis and Kanter jumped out at lead guards when they were put into a pick-and-roll, leaving their man with a clear lane to the hoop. Bad teams that worry about their rim protection will enact this type of philosophy to alleviate the number of attacks to the rim, and pressure ball handlers into bad decisions. We’ll see if the Knicks continue to use this scheme moving forward.
- Seeing Carmelo to the three-to-the-dome in another uniform made me incredibly sad. Anybody else feel that?
- Michael Beasley got injured doing the only thing he knows how to do: get buckets. He came down from a jumper and rolled his ankle on Russell Westbrook’s with about three minutes left in the first quarter. It didn’t look awful initially, so hopefully Beasley will be alright soon.
- I appreciate the TNT crew so much. There’s nothing quite like hearing curse words on live mics. Thank you, TNT, for making my Thursday night that much more enjoyable.
- The Knicks turned the ball over 10 times in the first quarter, with many of them looking like they were caused by pure misunderstandings. Their lack of explosive guard play may cause this issue all season. As I mentioned before with Porzingis, their big men need to do a better job at passing out of the post to hook up the perimeter players with good looks.
- Lance Thomas had a rough game. He was a -21 (somehow) in the first half. Is there a chance Thomas just had one good year shooting the three ball and will never reach those heights again? I think so.
- Ron Baker cannot shoot the basketball. Just wanted to make that clear.
- Frank Ntilikina was limited to just eight minutes in this one. He threw up two airballs on two separate isolation opportunities during the first half, plus a bad turnover in a pick-and-roll with Kanter. Frankie, buddy, find better spots! Despite his tough beginnings on offense, his effort on the defensive end is undeniably obvious.
- I’m optimistic on Tim Hardaway Jr. this season, but Hornacek only played him 11 minutes in the first half. I have an inkling that there will be a lot of complaints about the rotation tonight, and they’ll be warranted. Let’s give it some time to see how the coaching staff sorts this out.
- Did I mention that seeing Carmelo Anthony in another uniform made me sad? Just want to hammer that home. I’m happy for him, but in an “I hope he’s not TOO happy” kind of way. In all seriousness, he deserves the best, and if it doesn’t make you jovial to see him without all of that weight on his shoulders, you did not appreciate this man enough.
The Knicks will be back in action against the Pistons on Saturday in their home debut at 8 P.M. No matter how bad the Knicks are, the Garden will always be there for them, so expect a lively crowd. It may be a long season, folks, as we expected. Stay tuned.
— Matt Spendley, associate editor