The Knicks had just eight players to play against the Mavericks, losing in a hard-fought game.
The New York Knicks (33-19) lost to the Dallas Mavericks (29-23) with their All-Star players and numerous other members of the supporting cast missing. Halfway into the game with only seven active players due to the injuries and trade for Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks still going through, the Knicks’ efforts to keep themselves in the win column fell short. The final score: 122-108.
Kyrie Irving opened up the first quarter with a jumper and after a miss by Josh Hart, Luka Doncic added more points for the Mavs with a three-pointer. It took almost two minutes for the Knicks to finally get their first basket, a floater from Donte DiVincenzo. With eight minutes and a half left, the Knicks were showing some solid ball movement. Their defense was locked down as well as their transition offense.
Halfway into the first quarter, Hart was playing quite awkwardly, unable to get into a rhythm. Dallas’ Josh Green took advantage of this and went ahead and flew high with an emphatic dunk on the go-ahead run down the court. Isaiah Hartenstein and Precious Achiuwa also showed out with great passes between each other, their playmaking proving to be on point within this quarter.
With three minutes left, the Knicks were chasing their rebounds but were not able to score second-chance points. It was also at this minute when Luka threw an impressive left-handed behind-the-back pass while being double-teamed into the wide-open key for Dwight Powell to score a basket.
By the end of the first quarter, the Mavs were up by 28-22 over the Knicks with Miles McBride keeping the Knicks afloat from eight points of his own.
In the second quarter, the Big Ragu drilled a 17-foot shot and was fouled in the act by Irving, though he missed his free-throw opportunity. With 10 minutes and a half left, the Mavs were already leading by double digits over the Knicks. Tim Hardaway Jr. was also starting to heat up from three, accumulating three threes of his own by the start of the second quarter.
It was also this quarter where Charlie Brown Jr. got his first points from beyond the arc, assisted by Hart. In turn, Luka knocked down a shot, which was fouled by Charlie and scored on the and-one. After that, Coach Thibodeau won a successful challenge where Charlie was assumed to have his second foul (an alleged illegal contact against Hardaway), but was overturned in the end.
Halfway into the quarter, Luka was adding more points and assists to his name. He put up 12 points, eight assists, and six rebounds by the end of the first half. He also set up Kyrie with a beautiful dime, Kyrie having nine points and two assists. Precious Achiuwa was also getting active defensively, blocking Kyrie’s shot. He had nine rebounds by the end of the half while DiVincenzo made it rain from beyond the arc, placing four threes on the board.
By the end of the first half, two Knicks had double-digit points (DiVincenzo with 16 points and Hartenstein with 10 points). Dallas led 59-48 over the Knicks at halftime.
In the second half, Taj Gibson entered the game for Hartenstein as he was sidelined due to a sore left Achilles. At this point of the game, only seven Knicks players were active. However, Hart started to take more command and sizzle here, contributing ten points, three rebounds, and two assists in this quarter. He was looking more confident in his shot-making abilities and even broke loose on fast-break finishing. He was also calling for most of the plays here.
However, the Knicks were still struggling considerably on offense, not being able to bring down points as they typically would when they would have Brunson or Randle out there. Nonetheless, Achiuwa took matters into his own hands and added four more rebounds in the third. In addition, Hardaway drew a fourth three-pointer. With two minutes left in the third, Dallas led with as many as 20 points over the Knicks.
DiVincenzo also managed to add another three this quarter with seven points, two assists, and two rebounds. Luka was also remarkable in terms of tricking the Knicks with quick stops, smart pivots, and shot-fakes, allowing 12 points to fall from him, three steals, and one assist within the third quarter. By the end of the third quarter, Dallas was leading 87-71 over the Knicks.
In the final quarter, the Knicks tried to keep fighting their way in. DiVincenzo continued to stay hot from three, knocking down two more threes thanks to his quick release, bringing his total up to seven. Despite being down by over 10 points here in the fourth, Hart continued to hustle for the ball. On the other hand, Luka kept exerting his athleticism and agility for additional second-chance points. He also built onto his points with stunning step-back threes. Moreover, Achiuwa put down a three this quarter, making it a double-double night for him.
Halfway into the fourth quarter, six-foot-two McBride brought down the heat with an emphatic slam against six-foot-ten Maxi Kleber. He also managed to finish a three-point opportunity on the and-one. With five minutes and a half remaining, Luka and Hart were firing back and forth on threes. Despite the Knicks trailing, Jacob Toppin entered the game and grabbed his first official NBA points with a slam dunk (ironically, as he will be entering this year’s All-Star dunk contest).
With four and a half to go in regulation, New York managed to cut Dallas’ lead to eight points. However, the Knicks’ offense died down after this, and Dallas lit up from three to increase their lead, concluding with a dominant victory.
DiVincenzo led the Knicks with 36 points and seven made threes. Hart posted a triple-double: 23 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds. McBride notched 18 points, six rebounds, and five assists, Achiuwa contributed 13 points and 14 rebounds and Hartenstein had 10 points, four rebounds, and two assists before being sidelined.
On the other side, Doncic posted a towering 39 points, 11 assists, 8 rebounds and seven made threes. Hardaway Jr. scored 19 points and five made threes. Derrick Jones Jr. had 18 points, five rebounds, and three assists and Irving finished with 16 points, six assists and five rebounds.
Next up, the Knicks will be facing the Indiana Pacers on Saturday at 7:30 pm E.T. at MSG.