Mitchell Robinson, Anthony Davis
(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

The Knicks held a lead for a vast majority of the game, but they couldn’t hold off Anthony Davis and the Pelicans in the end.

  • New York Knicks 113 (4-11)
  • New Orleans Pelicans (7-7)
  • NBA, Final, Box Score
  • Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, LA

The Knicks burst out to an early lead against the Pelicans on Friday night. For all the scrutiny surrounding David Fizdale’s starting lineup tinkering, he pushed the right buttons tonight.

The Knicks jumped out to a 16-point lead after the first quarter and they maintained that lead until late in the fourth quarter. The Pelicans are a superior team and that’s obvious. Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday engineered the arduous comeback that resulted in a five-point victory.

Davis, Holiday, Julius Randle, and Nikola Mirotic all turned in double-doubles one way or another. Anthony Davis was an absolute beast all night long. Mitchell Robinson was thrown to the wolves in that matchup and he showed some promising moments, but he couldn’t contain Davis.

The All-NBA big man notched a season-high 43 points to go along with 16 rebounds and five assists for good measure. He is one of the best players in the world and there’s no shame in giving up this kind of night. Jrue Holiday played Robin to Davis’ Batman, dropping 22 points while dishing out 10 assists.

Tim Hardaway Jr. led the way for New York, scoring 30 points on 22 shots. He chipped in eight rebounds as well. He’s developing into a legitimate scoring option. He’s probably not a No. 1 option for a team, but he’s showing the ability to carry an offense when necessary.

The unlikely contributors for the Knicks were Emmanuel Mudiay and Trey Burke. The point guards decided to have their best games of the season on the same night. Mudiay scored 19 points on 8-for-12 shooting. But he did more than just score, he hauled in six rebounds and dished out six assists as well. Burke was a spark plug off the bench, scoring 24 points on 10-for-13 shooting.

Fans have lost faith and interest in Burke and Mudiay, but the two answered many of their critics on Friday, albeit in a loss.

If you think that Frank Ntilikina had a bad night, that’s not entirely true. His stat line looks pedestrian, but once again he dazzled with his defense. Ntilikina seamlessly shifted between guarding Jrue Holiday and Julius Randle. He showcased his ridiculous defensive versatility. He’s a 20-year-old who held his own in the post against the 250-pound Randle. The ability to cross-match defensively is vital in today’s game.

Fans can continue to hate on Ntilikina for not being a consistent point guard, but there’s no doubting his defensive ability. He has a bright future in the league no matter what position he’s playing.

But for all the bright spots that fans can glean from this game, it ends in a loss. The Knicks looked far better than they have in recent games, but they couldn’t hold on in the end. New Orleans was the experienced team and they took advantage of the Knicks down the stretch.

New York’s late-game execution leaves something to be desired, but that’s par for the course for a young team like the Knicks. It’s a tough loss, for sure, but it was a step forward from their previous three games, all of which were blowouts.

NY/NJ hoops reporter (NBA/NCAA) & sports betting writer for XL Media. Never had the makings of a varsity athlete.