Magnifying Glasses & Microscopes — March 20, 2019: Utah 137 NY 116

Blow out. Not quite but pretty close. Another solid, thunderous loss. At least the Knicks aren’t winning games at this point to screw up their lottery position — that would really suck. But for a second straight game the Knicks didn’t look like a team that could play any kind of NBA defense against a good team and that conjures up worries again if they have the right coach.

It shouldn’t prevent top free agents from signing here, and Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are still fully expected to join the team this summer. But Coach David Fizdale must certainly be under the magnifying glass by GM Scott Perry and Knicks management right now. Next year it will be a microscope.

The Math

Put it this way — the Knicks will finish with about 15 (or less) wins this year. Next year, if they bring in Durant and Irving, added to this young core, with a top pick in this June’s draft — the Knicks will be expected to win 45 games and advance to the second round of the playoffs. Anything less would be a disappointment. If the Knicks are 12-18 at end of December, Fizdale may be on the firing block.

Remember Durant will be 31 next year, with a 3-year window. Irving will be 27, and for an ultra quick point guard — will also be looking at a 3-yr window.

So the Knicks will need to jump from 15 wins to 45 wins in a year. Everyone says the Knicks are tanking the second half this year — so it’s not a true 15-win team. But still others are now saying the Knicks don’t have enough talent so you can’t judge Fizdale properly. Knicks certainly seem to have a lot of young talent — it may be “too young” at this point.

This year the magnifying glass; next year the Microscope.

The Picture

This picture of Mario Hezonja surfaced on Twitter after the game. It was the picture of the night:

The Highlights

It’s a Hard Knicks Life suggested this was Highlight #1 of the game:

The Game

Utah pummeled the Knicks from the 3-pt arc. They hit their 3’s; the Knicks didn’t hit their 3’s. The Knicks didn’t do a good job of being in Utah’s face, defensively.

Near the end of the 2nd quarter, this was the story:

  • Utah 11-23 from 3 for 33 pts
  • Knicks 5-15 from 3 for 15 pts
  • Utah 66 Knicks 40

The Knicks were without Allonzo Trier and Kadeem Allen so they didn’t have as much firepower as usual. They would’ve helped. But it wouldn’t have mattered — Knicks were down by 30 for most of this game.

The Bright Spots

The bright spots were the play of the following guys:

  • Kevin Knox 10-17, 27 pts, 8 rebounds, 3 assists — looked Terrific. Driving to the basket, being aggressive.

  • Mitchell Robinson 6-10, 14 pts, 12 rebounds, 3 blocks — another fine game. Broke a bunch of Knicks records on the evening — most consecutive games with a blocked shot (29, besting Patrick Ewing), and most blocked shots by a rookie (besting Kristaps Porzingis). It was also Robinson’s 20th straight game with 2 or more blocks.

The Other Knicks

Henry Ellenson played well (3-6 for 7 pts, a +12), and Luke Kornet, Lance Thomas, and John Jenkins logged minutes. Frank Ntilikina, Dennis Smith Jr and Noah Vonleh continued to be injured, as was Trier and Kadeem Allen.

The Jazz

Joe Ingles in particular, killed the Knicks. At one point he was 5-6 from 3, and finished 6-9 from 3 — 18 pts.

Donovan Mitchell 30 points on 12-20. Looks like Knicks should have picked him in that draft (it was either him or Ntilikina said some sources afterwards). Rudy Gobert 18 pts on 7-7 inside. (DeAndre Jordan, the Knicks big body guarding him, had only 6 pts on 3-4 in 18 min, 3 fouls). Ricky Rubio 12 pts on 10-10 from free throw line. Jae Crowder 15 pts, Derrick Favors 10 pts, Kyle Korver 9 points on 3-9 from 3. Utah played their whole bench in the blowout, and whoever came in — Raul Neto, Royce O’Neale, Ekpe Udoh, Grayson Allen — hit their shots.

After the game, Stefan Bondy of the NY Daily News reported that Donovan Mitchell had this to say about Frank Ntilikina: “When he gets a chance, he’ll figure it out. He’s a great defender. He was one of the hardest guys I had to go against last year. He came in in the second half and shut me down when we played here.”

The Boxscore:

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