A run-of-the-mill, middle-of-a-lost-season early January loss to Portland in Portland. Knicks hung in there for 3/4 of the game but then Portland pulled away. As Portland’s center Jusuf Nurkic said in the post-game: at the half his team discussed the Knicks being a young team, and they knew they’d make mistakes — so they planned on taking advantage of that and taking it to the Knicks in the second half.
Mario Hezonja and Enes Kanter continued to thrive together and have been — along with Noah Vonleh and Emmanuel Mudiay — the best players on the Knicks the past few games. Hezonja and Kanter seem to be the only two players working together in a natural rhythm with give and gos.
OK MARI💥 pic.twitter.com/BZbZndkrfV
— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) January 8, 2019
Passing and the Video Analytics Coach
During the game, Mike Breen mentioned Knicks coach David Fizdale was looking for the Knicks to increase the number of passes they make to over 300 a game. They currently are averaging 288.9, 18th in the NBA. 300 per game would put them 11th place.
That seems like a statistician’s way to coach a basketball team, versus, say — simply instituting a system of pick and rolls and passing. Maybe Fizdale — who began his career as the Video Analytics Assistant Coach in Miami — just wants players to be mindful to ‘make the extra pass’.
As Walt Frazier put it, the loss ‘was due to simple analytics: Knicks didn’t dish, therefore they didn’t swish; and their defense got hurt because they didn’t get back in time; so they fell behind by a lot then got back to within 9 or 11 vacillating.’
Frazier restated his simple analytics in the post game:
Clyde Frazier’s simple analytics: “When you’re last in dishing, you’re last in swishing” pic.twitter.com/85jV8ZCch8
— Knicks.City (@knickcity) January 8, 2019
On the Court
Damian Lillard seemed to not play with his usual energy. He just did enough to help his team win. Emmanuel Mudiay (17 pts, 7 assists) played well against him. Vonleh (16 pts, 14 rebounds) put on a show in front of his former Portland teamates and home arena — especially in the 4th with two consecutive 3’s and then a reverse cradle slam.
With Hezonja playing so well, Kevin Knox lost some playing time. He was 0-5 before finally hitting a rainbow 3 for his first bucket of the night with 4:40 left in the game. Knox did play the final 6 minutes and ended up with 8 points.
For Portland, Jake Layman looked good — very athletic; Meyers Leonard looked good too — a bull inside; CJ McCollum played his usual good game (much better than Hardaway Jr); and Evan Turner, Zach Collins, and Seth Curry (back playing again after missing all of last year) also played well.