The New York Knicks did their best to keep up with the Rockets but came up short. Here’s five takeaways from their blowout loss.
The New York Knicks got a little dose of reality on Wednesday night from a familiar face. It was former head coach Mike D’Antoni who loves beating down his old team. His Houston Rockets took down the Knicks, 119-97.
D’Antoni’s offense isn’t for the faint of heart. The seven seconds or less scheme he perfected in Phoenix has finally taken off for a second time with the Houston Rockets. The Knicks are one of many teams that have struggled to figure it out.
They were lit up by the Rockets for 115-plus points last season in both matchups; MVP runner-up James Harden had one of the best performances in NBA history with 53 points, 17 assists, and 16 rebounds.
But this Knicks team was supposed to be different. They were on a three-game winning streak. Two of those games were against playoff teams, Cleveland (on the road) and Denver.
This team played inspired defense. They held Cleveland to 95 and the high-scoring Nets to 86. Most impressive, though, was the play of Kristaps Porzingis. The unicorn dropped 30 points five times in the first six games.
None of that mattered against the Rockets. They have the Knicks number, and D’Antoni wants to beat the brains out of his old team. Can’t blame him for that. It wasn’t all bad, though.
New York learned a lot from their loss. The young guys got some burn, and it’s always good to see some flaws exposed early in the season. Here’s five takeaways from Wednesday’s loss.
1. Frank’s Ready For The Challenge
Frank Ntilikina‘s numbers don’t jump off the page. After the Houston game, he’s averaging 4.2 points on a mediocre slash line of .300/.250/.000. But what’s stood out the most is his defense and passing.
He had his best game in Wednesday’s loss. The former No. 8 pick showed off the skills we thought we’d see in his rookie. According to NBA.com, he had seven deflections to go along with his eight assists and five steals.
The biggest moments of the game for him came when he was matched up with Harden. While the beard scored 31 points, he needed 23 shots to do it. It wasn’t the smoothest of Harden’s career. The rookie made things difficult for the vet.
Frank proved he’s ready for the challenge of starting when he took on James Harden one-on-one.
2. Dotson Should Be In The Rotation
Damyean Dotson had the best game of his young NBA career. He made four of five shots for nine points in 17 minutes. The second round pick added to his reputation as a rebounder, grabbing three rebounds.
Dotson projects as a three-and-D player but is yet to make a long ball in the Association. Although he’s only had four attempts. Wednesday night proved that the 23-year-old needs more shots than that.
He needs to be in the rotation. Lance Thomas played 14 minutes against the Rockets. Michael Beasley played five. Five more than he should have. Those are minutes that should be going to the rookie. Eventually, that will happen.
3. Not Quite There Yet
The Knicks beat a struggling Cavs team and a Nuggets team that is still getting used to playing together. But when they went up against the well-oiled machine known as the Houston Rockets they were pummelled.
New York played an excellent first quarter. They were up 27-24 after one. Then it all fell apart. Houston blew the doors open, dropping 36 in the second quarter and 40 in the third.
The Knicks played a tough game and stuck around longer than they would’ve last season. They just don’t have the horses to keep up with the Houston Rockets. That’s not something we expected from them.
4. KP Is Handling The No. 1 Role
Porzingis is settling into his new role comfortably. By the crazy standards he’s set for himself so far this season Porzingis had a bad game against the Rockets when he put up only 19 points on 18 shots.
That’s not to say he didn’t look like a No. 1 guy last night because he did. Porzingis had the highest usage percentage (35.1 percent) by a mile and made an incredible 7 of his 11 contested shots.
Even after an uninspiring shooting performance on Wednesday, Porzingis is still on pace for an All-Star season. He’s averaging nearly 27.9 points and 7.9 rebounds while shooting it at nearly 47 percent from the field. The dude’s a beast.
5. Enes Kanter Has His Limits
Enes Kanter has been phenomenal for the Knicks. He’s the team’s leading rebounder and third-leading scorer. He’s also made 64.6 percent of his shots. That doesn’t make him perfect.
Against the Rockets, Kanter’s defensive issues showed up. Despite making all six of his shots and posting 12 points, the 25-year-old played just 18 minutes. It’s not surprising.
Kanter only managed to stay on the court for 45 minutes in Oklahoma City’s five-game playoff series with the Rockets last year. His inability to cover Houston’s pick-and-roll inspired the famous “can’t play Kanter” line from Billy Donovan.