Pistons 111, Knicks 107 – Where do the Knicks go from here?
The odds on a top draft pick going to New York at the end of the season just increased after what can only be described as a ‘routine’ loss for the Knicks Saturday night.
Leading by as many as 21 points in the first half, the visiting Pistons were sluggish and
noticeably off their game after coming off a loss to the Wizards the night before. However, a 13-point half time lead quickly became 1 point following a characteristic Knicks collapse in the 3rd quarter, and it wasn’t long before Detroit had the lead in the 4th quarter.
$71m man Tim Hardaway Jr. had a night to forget in front of the Knicks faithful, as he only hit 1 of his first 12 attempts from the field, including 0 of 6 from 3pt range. Blame can fairly be placed on his shoulders, as KP’s 33 points (including 23 in the first half) should’ve been more than enough to see the Knicks to their first win of the season, providing his teammates could produce even a semblance of scoring and defense.
For the team’s second scoring option, Hardaway’s night would’ve looked even worse if it wasn’t for the impressive performances from both Enes Kanter and Kyle O’Quinn, who combined for 32 points and 17 rebounds in around 24 minutes on the floor each. I would argue that apart from Kanter and KOQ, none of the Knicks supporting players had games to remember.
Courtney Lee had a dismal 4 points 2 rebounds and 1 assist in 28 minutes of action, and
whilst Ramon Sessions had a passable statline of 10 points 7 rebounds and 5 assists, it was painfully obvious why the injuries concerning Ntilikina should worry Knicks fans even more.
Fan favourite Baker has looked a little off the pace at the start of the season, perhaps due to his limited action in preseason, but he is seemingly unwilling to go to the rim or shoot open shots, which really aids the other team in getting set in their defense, and allows them to collapse far more on KP and worry less about being punished from 3pt range.
More positive for the Knicks was their defense in the 1 st half which was night and day from the Swiss cheese played for most of last season, as well as the Thunder game earlier this week. Yet far too often was the pick and roll too easy for Detroit in the second half – Tobias Harris was given an easy ride to the hoop and also left open on the 3pt line multiple times which allowed him to reach 31 points for the game.
Ultimately the play of the young players on the roster should concern fans the most. On this front, as fill-in color commentator Wally Szczerbiak mentioned last night, the 4 and 5 spots seem to be in good hands with the play of both KP and Kanter, the latter really making a statement with his presence last night. Nonetheless, for all intents and purposes Willy Hernangomez may as well be on Brooklyn this year given his total of 3 minutes over the first 2 games of the season. Hornacek states he was outplayed in training camp, but it will be interesting to see how long Knicks fans put up with his absence given the chant of ‘We want Willy’ that rung out in MSG last night.
No minutes for the impressive-in- preseason rookie Damyean Dotson either, although most accept that his time will come as the season progresses. The aforementioned injury to Frank Ntilikina was not serious, and a sprained ankle rarely keeps players out for many games. All the same it would be wise for Hornacek to play the Frenchman sooner rather than later, as there are only so many times you can see the name Ramon Sessions in an NBA starting lineup, before consulting the Ouija board on how to deal with Steve Mills for bringing him to New York in the first place.
The question remains as to where the Knicks see themselves competing for wins this year. Detroit were made to seem like a G-League team in the opening half of the game, and if KP’s statements on wanting to be an all-star in his 3rd season fell on deaf ears before the season, critics were made to eat their words last night. Yet, for all the effort and execution on show, Knicks fans’ PTSD was unleashed after the abysmal 3rd quarter and the sight of a player being paid tens of millions to chuck (and brick) 3pt shots. If the team can’t win a game like last night, then it is going to be a very long road of suffering and torment until the end of the season.
Fans of Luka Doncic rejoice, the Knicks cometh.