With the preseason ending, the New York Knicks can take away a few things from their loss to the Brooklyn Nets, but now the real work starts.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK — The New York Knicks finish up the preseason at 3-2, coming off of two straight losses and a preseason split with their crosstown rival, Brooklyn Nets. Despite a fourth-quarter comeback spurred on by a flurry of Luke Kornet threes, the Knicks fell at home to the score of 113-107.
But the final score was hardly the story of the night. As much as David Fizdale pumped up the 3-0 start to the preseason, there shouldn’t be much concern for the two losses this week.
One huge positive tonight was the performance of Frank Ntilikina. He was noticeably aggressive, attacking early. The second-year player put up nine points, five assists, and four rebounds in just under 30 minutes on the court.
But he’s the type of player who makes more of an impact than his stat line would show. He was disruptive on defense. He saw a lot of time on guards, but he did see some action against bigs. Figuring out exactly what Ntilikina is and what he can become will be a recurring storyline this season.
While Frank was a definite positive to take away from this game, the Knicks were outscored from behind the arc by 18 points. The Nets finished the night 15-for-37 from behind the arc while the Knicks finished 9-for-21.
The Nets built an early lead on a flurry of open looks from deep. D’Angelo Russell might be the best player on either team — Kristaps Porzingis notwithstanding — and he was excellent at finding teammates with skip passes out of the pick and roll. Through the first three quarters, the Nets were 14-for-29 from deep while the Knicks were 4-for-12
While the Knicks had the better percentage at the final buzzer, their line was padded by Kornet late. The Vanderbilt product was 3-for-4 from deep. But the Knicks lack of attempts from three wasn’t the problem according to Fizdale. He isn’t sure those are the best shots for his guys right now. After the game, Fizdale said:
“The way we are shooting I don’t think that is a great shot for us. Everybody can’t be Golden State. You need the personnel to do it. Right now, we got to get to where we understand our offense and our spacing, understand how to move without the basketball, understand the execution and timing of our offense. As we get shots out of our offense and guys start to learn where the shots are coming, I think the percentages will go up and the attempts will go up.”
The Nets are committed to shooting the three. That’s been a hallmark of Kenny Atkinson’s system. It’s clear from Fizdale’s comments that an increase in three-point shooting is something that could happen down the line, but he’s not ready to force feed it to his guys until they are a bit more comfortable in the offense.
The Knicks open the season on Wednesday against the Atlanta Hawks, but they turn around two days later to take on the Nets in Brooklyn. Coach Fizdale isn’t overly concerned with how they played against the Nets in the preseason and he’s not worrying too much about next week’s matchup against the Nets yet.
I asked Coach Fizdale how much he could take away from the preseason games against the Nets (they play for real next week). He’s staying focused on working out their own stuff rather than worrying about other teams yet #Knicks pic.twitter.com/xfZmE0gBhc
— Danny Small (@dwsmall8) October 13, 2018
It seems like most everyone is ready to turn the page and start the real thing. While the Knicks ready for Atlanta at home, it’s safe to say the fans are dying for the real thing. The Garden crowd was working itself into a frenzy during a late comeback when Kornet was called for a foul on Russell as he drove to the basket.
The chants of “DE-FENSE” from the crowd and the animated reaction from Fizdale on the sideline would make one think this was a playoff game rather than a preseason. There’s an energy around this team despite the expectations. Madison Square Garden will rock on Wednesday.
This was (questionably) called a foul on Kornet but this crowd is juiced up #Knicks pic.twitter.com/oCOqJ1pO8E
— Danny Small (@dwsmall8) October 13, 2018
Kevin Knox struggled to get anything going and found himself in foul trouble early. But it sounds like Fizdale is going to run with him in the starting lineup despite some preseason hiccups. Knox said, “Me and Fiz have the same mentality. This is all learning for me. As he (David Fizdale) says all the time I am going to get my butt kicked a lot. I am going to have a lot of mistakes. It is part of being a rookie. You are going to have a lot of ups and downs. So, it just shows how much confidence he has in me.”
Tim Hardaway Jr. left the game early with a wrist injury and x-rays on it came back negative. When asked if there was any doubt that he might miss opening night he said, “No. I am playing no matter what.”
No word on the point guard conundrum yet. Ron Baker got the start, but he doesn’t appear to be in contention. Emmanuel Mudiay didn’t enter the game until the 8:17 mark in the fourth quarter. This would indicate that the starting job would go to either Trey Burke or Ntilikina.