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  • Without Their Star, the Knicks Sputter In D.C., Lose 104–100 in Preseason

Without Their Star, the Knicks Sputter In D.C., Lose 104–100 in Preseason

Porzingis and Ntilikina sit, Beasley and Kanter fill in for New York’s team trying to find its identity.

 

Waiting for the Knicks to post what the starting lineup will be for the night is an exercise in futility. Anytime the Knicks post their starters, there’s going to be a tinge of exasperation. Tonight, the result was playing Tim Hardaway Jr. at the 3 and placing Courtney Lee at the 2. At face value, it would seem like you’d want to swap them, especially with the size mismatch between Hardaway Jr. and Wizards’ Otto Porter Jr. However, that smaller lineup helped with unleashing Lee.

Lee is good for four, maybe five games like this every season. We already knew he was a good three-point shooter. Sadly, his precision was overshadowed by Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis, and the guard whose name rhymes with Errick Ose. In short, Lee’s offense was typically an afterthought.

Now, he’s in a position to contribute effectively with his long ball on nights like this, where Hornacek opted not to play KP at all. Lee had the hot hand in the first half by letting it fly, hitting 3-for-3 from beyond the arc. He finished with 12 points, lifting the Knicks to a 44 percent three-point shooting night.

Having an open mind with the frontcourt is going to be dependent on what the opponent’s lineup looks like. With Markieff Morris out, the 4 spot was Washington’s weakness. Hornacek attacked that with Beasley playing the power forward role, and defensively, it helped in the half court. Playing a team-high 30 minutes, Beasley had two nice picks inside, leading to Knicks’ buckets on the other end. He also was active around the rim since it wasn’t as clogged by big bodies.

 

 


What worked well
  • Joakim Noah didn’t start. But he did play and he looked fine. He checked in the second half, getting a clean block on former Knick Jason Smith out on the arc. It’s enjoyable watching Noah in the paint because you know you’re going to get 110 percent from him. He finished with five boards as a +2 in 12 minutes.
  • Hornacek’s rotations were promising. Clearly the Wizards were having issues putting the ball through the rim early on, but I like that Hornacek tweaked both the start lineup–giving KP some relief–as well getting the young guys off the bench early. Damyean Dotson got 24 minutes in the absence of expected backup Ron Baker. He was able to add some six boards to his stat sheet.
  • Playing a faster pace means forcing turnovers. The Wizards couldn’t take care of the ball and the Knicks made them pay for it. Active hands, active feet, all good signs!

What didn’t work well
  • The Knicks had no answer for Kelly Oubre Jr. This isn’t a shocker. This team, regardless of who’s on the roster, has a bad habit of going away from the game plan that was working. At one point, the Wizards went on like a 12–2 run, where Oubre Jr. accounted for two big three pointers. When you see a player getting the hot hand, his team is going to keep feeding him. Hornacek has to get better at making his own adjustments in-game. Otherwise, the Knicks will consistently be playing behind.
  • No fast break points. It’s the preseason. You don’t want to grind your players too hard. Although, neither team had any fast break buckets. The Wizards stepped up their defense in the second half as they chipped into the Knicks’ lead. This is a young roster that should enjoy running the floor though.
  • Micheal Beasley doesn’t seem to have his shot quite right. At times, it looked flat. Perhaps he should have worked out at Sky gym this summer. Whatever the case, hopefully he finds that stroke in time for the regular season to kick off.

To be honest, the team didn’t look completely awful without KP playing. They scored 100 points and shot decently from three-point land. Notably, they got to the line enough to keep the score close thanks to Jarrett Jack, who got to the charity stripes 10 times by himself. If they can do this without KP, then consider what they will be able to accomplish when Frankie Smokes plays at full speed without KP.


James Woodruff, staff writer

 

 

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James Woodruff

Fan of Knicks/Cuse hoops, Panera sandwiches, Avion Tequila, and a good whiskey. Invested in improving your 40 time.

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