Damyean Dotson exploded for 18 points in the first quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves, flashing the streaky shooter’s potential.
Damyean Dotson started off Friday night’s game by tickling the twine from behind the three-point line. The second-year guard scored the first 11 points of the game for the New York Knicks. He finished the first quarter with 18 points on 5-for-7 from beyond the arc.
He even added a pretty four-point play for good measure. The 18 points were the most scored in a quarter by any Knick all season. Madison Square Garden was rocking after Dotson drained that four-point play, but the tight coverage from the Minnesota Timberwolves would start to take a toll on the guard.
Dotson’s first-quarter explosion put the Knicks up 33-29, but the rest of the game wouldn’t go so well. New York eventually fell to Minnesota 115-104.
The sharpshooter was locked up by the Minnesota defense for the final three frames. He finished the night with 20 points on 7-for-16 from the field and 5-for-9 from deep. Minnesota put the clamps on Dotson.
It was obvious that Timberwolves head coach Ryan Saunders would need to make some adjustments to mitigate Dotson’s impact. When asked about what the Timberwolves did to slow down Dotson after the first quarter, head coach David Fizdale noticed a lot of changes to Minnesota’s scheme.
“I think they put more focus on him,” Fizdale told ESNY. “They started topping him on the baseline where they wouldn’t let him come off screens. They really weren’t allowing a lot of separation. They were stunting off of our point guards to get to him. You know so they definitely did some different things. They started switching any kind of pick he came off of so he couldn’t get a clean look. But overall I thought he played a solid basketball game all the way around.”
Once Minnesota made these adjustments, New York’s offense stalled in a big way. They failed to score more than 25 points in any of the final three frames. It was a learning experience for Dotson. He’s not usually the defense’s main focus and it showed.
He played well otherwise and he usually does. He’s a capable rebounder and solid defender. But the Knicks need him knocking down a few threes each game in order for him to live up to his full potential.
But despite only scoring two points in the final three quarters, the Knicks didn’t lose because of Dotson. New York lost because they turned the ball over 20 times while only dishing out 15 assists.
“There was definitely something there because our timing on our passes and some of our turnovers were just wild,” Fizdale told reporters after being asked whether the All-Star break had an effect on the team’s readiness on Friday.
The players saw the turnovers as an issue too. Point guard Emmanuel Mudiay spoke about the team’s carelessness with the ball.
“We were just throwing the ball everywhere,” Mudiay told reporters after the game. “A lot of those possessions came in crunch time.”
Dotson wasn’t a huge culprit with the turnovers. But the team’s carelessness with the ball combined with Dotson’s disappearance allowed for the Timberwolves to pull away and easily dispatch of the Knicks.
Friday’s game serves as a microcosm for Dotson’s season. He has flashes of three-and-D brilliance. But he has a tendency to disappear far too often. For instance, in one of his best games of the year, Dotson tallied 22 points with four three-pointers against the Boston Celtics on Feb. 1.
He followed that performance up with a couple stinkers. He only knocked down three field goals in his next two games. This hot and cold game that Dotson is playing is concerning.
Part of the problem is that the Knicks lack continuity. Injuries, trades, and everything in between have made it difficult for Fizdale to keep a consistent rotation. Dotson’s role is constantly changing and he is still figuring out how to play with his new teammates.
The final 23 games for Dotson should be about developing some consistency. He has the potential to develop into a solid rotational player for the Knicks. But the second-year guard is far from a finished product.
Hopefully, Fizdale keeps Dotson in the starting lineup for the remainder of the year. This will allow the shooting guard to develop chemistry with the rest of the starting unit. Furthermore, it will give Dotson plenty of opportunity to prove himself moving forward.