David Fizdale, Marcus Morris, RJ Barrett
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

Everything that could’ve gone wrong for the New York Knicks did on the road against Detroit in another disappointing loss.

Chip Murphy

You never feel good after a loss. But in a season where the New York Knicks were supposed to improve it’s getting harder and harder to look at things with a glass half full.

It’s still hard not to look at these first eight games and be upset. For the first time, it’s easier to question head coach David Fizdale now that he’s armed with a roster that was supposed to compete.

New York is 29th in point differential, ahead of only the defenseless Warriors, and will enter their Friday showdown with their former star at another low point.

The Knicks weren’t supposed to accept losing this season. Moral victories are for tanking teams but so far they can’t even get one of those.

A loss like this one is especially difficult to take because it was so winnable. Yes, it was on the road but Detroit was missing three key players, and they have all the homecourt advantage of the Brooklyn Nets.

It wasn’t just that they lost, though, it was how the Knicks lost. Once again there was a lack of effort and execution that was impossible to ignore.

Frank Ntilikina‘s lone three with 8:10 remaining in the third quarter cut Detroit’s lead to two. Then it fell apart for New York.

Julius Randle picked up a questionable flagrant one call on a Markieff Morris three, which brought Detroit’s lead up to five, 77-72. The Pistons never looked back.

For the rest of the quarter, it looked like Detroit was playing in a Chris Brickley video that wouldn’t reload. Everything they threw up went in.

The home team shot 65 percent from the field with 10 points apiece from Morris and Andre Drummond.


As has been the case throughout this season, the Knicks didn’t have the best player on the floor. Defending Drummond has always been a problem for New York, but defending contract year Drummond was a catastrophe.

Seriously, if that dude was smart he’d just sign one-year deals for the rest of his career. I can’t remember ever seeing him play that well. Poor Julius Randle and Bobby Portis didn’t stand a chance.

Really could’ve used Mitchell Robinson there. More on him later.

The best player on the floor beasted the Knicks with 27 points and 12 rebounds in another dominant effort en route to a certain max contract this summer.

Good for him that he’s going to get paid. Just don’t let that $100+ million deal come from Steve Mills and Scott Perry and I’m cool. Drummond’s a New York native so expect Stephen A. Smith to be on one this summer about Drummond to the Knicks. That guy he hosts the show with will probably get a couple of words in too.

Truthfully this game was a little fluky. Detroit had their highest-scoring game of the season without Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose, or Reggie Jackson. Tony Snell of all people was a perfect six of six on three-pointers.

You could argue that New York lost it just as much as Detroit won it. But that’s the Knicks fault. Again, this was a very winnable game.

The Knicks got a delightful blast from the past when their dreaded third-quarter woes reappeared without warning.

Fans have well documented new York’s many third-quarter disasters over the year. Attributed to poor coaching, the Knicks have many times come out of the locker room in the second half with the aforementioned lack of effort and execution.

But we haven’t seen that much this season. At least it hasn’t been as glaring as in years passed.

Coming into the Detroit game, they were 21st in third-quarter NetRtg. I know that probably doesn’t sound like much, but New York has finished 27th, 26th, and 24th in that category respectively in the last three seasons. Any progress is good progress.

For whatever good there has been this season, we’ve clearly seen more bad.

I don’t blame anyone for jumping on the tank bandwagon already or for chanting to fire Fiz. I don’t think either one of those moves is a good idea but I support your right to do it.

Because I'm a Nice Guy

I have two positive things two keep you (and me) sane after Wednesday’s blowout in Detroit. More specifically two players: Kevin Knox and Frank Ntilikina.

Good things happen when Kevin Knox plays. He scored 14 points in 27 minutes off the bench. It’s only a matter of time before Fiz has to consider a starting lineup change.

Frank had one of if not his best games as a Knick. He played excellent defense, locking down Luke Kennard and causing six deflections (via NBA Stats).

Not to mention Knicks Twitter was buzzing with his five (count ’em five!) makes in seven attempts with one of them even being a three.

But it was mostly bad for the Knicks. Just like it is with most teams that are 1-7.

Key Stats

The damn free throw line. The Knicks have missed more than ten free throws four times. RJ Barrett has missed more free throws by himself than the entire Toronto Raptors roster combined.

It’s not groundbreaking analysis for me to say that you can’t win if you don’t make your free throws. It’s hard to fault the rookie when he’s done so much else for the team, but at the same time, you’d like to see him be better than 49 percent.

It can’t be good for his confidence at this point.

Julius Randle had 17 points in the first half–even knocking down a couple of threes–before disappearing in the second. He only took four shots in 16 minutes, very unlike him. Once again, his body language wasn’t right.

We Need Mitch

Mitchell Robinson‘s concussion is a pretty big deal. Like a pretty pretty pretty pretty big deal. I apologize if you don’t get that reference. I can’t help myself.

Back to Mitch business.

Robinson is going through concussion protocol, which means, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post, that if the big man shows no symptoms in the next 48 hours, he can play vs. Dallas on Friday.

Cross your fingers because recent history would suggest New York doesn’t stand a chance without him. I don’t want to credit the man either, but let’s be real. Nobody wants to see Julius Randle–or anyone else on the squad for that matter–guarding that Latvian dude.

Dallas is the number two ranked offense in the league (via Cleaning the Glass), and the difference in the defense when Mitch is on the court as opposed to when he’s off is staggering.

Tank Watch

Today’s prospect is Cole Anthony. Duh.

Did you see his debut for North Carolina?

Greg Anthony‘s son set ACC and UNC freshman records with 34 points, and it wasn’t against some scrub team. It was against another ACC opponent, Notre Dame.

I look forward to March Madness when Anthony becomes New York’s next point guard solution.

Here are some highlights of the game to bring a smile to your face.

I'm ESNY's Executive Editor for EliteSportsNY.com. I cover the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets. Email: chip.murphy@elitesportsny.com Chip Murphy covers the NBA for Elite Sports NY. You can find him on Twitter @ChipperMurphy.