Tank or Poor Coaching? — March 9, 2019: Sacramento 102 NY 94

This was an inexplicable loss — one that had you feeling Coach David Fizdale is a bad coach, or he was trying to lose on purpose even though the Knicks have a 1.5 game lead on worst record and this was one the Knicks could afford to win — against Sacramento at The Garden on a Saturday afternoon.

NY Didn’t Play their Best Team at the End

The Knicks had the lead with 5 minutes left, and were playing well. Then, inexplicably, Fizdale lifted most of the players playing well — Mitchell Robinson, Allonzo Trier, Luke Kornet, and Emmanuel Mudiay, who were playing well with John Jenkins — a team that had just erased a 12-pt deficit to take the lead — for an entirely new team (with Jenkins) for the final 3-4 minutes. That team — DeAndre Jordan, Lance Thomas, Damyean Dotson, Dennis Smith Jr., and Jenkins — came in cold and Sacramento blew past them. On two key plays Sacramento went right at Deandre Jordan in the lane — Harrison Barnes scored in the lane and on the next time down, De’Aaron Fox drove the lane for 3-pt play — plays that would not have happened with Mitchell Robinson out there. Deandre Jordan at 30 is not the inside defensive shot-blocking force he was 2 years ago. He still blocks shots but can be challenged.

After the game, Fizdale was asked about lifting Mitchell Robinson for the final 3 minutes. He said he sat Robinson because “he was done. He was barely getting up & down the court. Instead of letting him not be focused & play & make mental mistakes, I figured get a fresh body in there & having the luxury of DJ we didn’t think it would be that big of a shift.”

One could imagine the Knicks could have simply called a timeout and let Robinson rest for a minute, then continue playing. He is only 20 yrs old.

But it was another loss and the Knicks maintain their 1.5 lead on last place with 16 to go.

Battle of Point Guards

In this game, De’Aaron Fox dominated. He had 30 pts on 11-17 shooting, 5 rebounds, 8 assists and carried Sacramento at the end, pushing the tempo, scoring and finding teammates. Dennis Smith Jr wasn’t as good — he had 17 pts on 7-19 shooting, 5 rebounds and 5 assists. Mudiay had 9 pts on 4-8 shooting, 3 assists.

Trier and Robinson

Allonzo Trier was 0-5 from 3, but otherwise played well (10 pts on 3-10 in 24 minutes). At one point he made a terrific cross-court pass to Kornet on opposite baseline. Trier was inexplicably pulled for the final 4 minutes while Damyean Dotson played the shooting guard (2-12, 0-4 from 3, 5 pts in 33 minutes).

Mitchell Robinson was a beast as usual — 8 pts (on 2-4, 4-4 free throws — great news there as he continues to look great on the free throw line), 9 rebounds, 3 blocks in 22 minutes. His rebounding has improved by light years in the last 2 months — whereas he used to not pull down rebounds in traffic, now he does. His free throw shooting also is improved by light years in two months, as is his ability to stay out of foul trouble! (He did foul out twice in the last 5 games but in one of those games, 2 of the fouls were on purpose to stop the clock.)

Other Knicks

Kevin Knox made one terrific Euro step drive to the basket which left you feeling he can be Really good if he increases his motor a tad and gets better at finishing at the rim, percentage wise. He has that pretty, accurate 3-pt jumpshot, shoots immediately off the pass, and is either shooting 3’s or driving to the hoop — a game made for the current NBA.

Jenkins it should be mentioned, shot lights out in the 4th — at one point hitting 3 straight 3’s.

Lance Thomas played ok (10 pts, 7 rebounds — not sure why he continues to start and get a lot of minutes), Henry Ellenson got some minutes, and Noah Vonleh sat out with a hip injury. Mario Hezonja and Frank Ntilikina continued to be injured.

For Sacramento

For Sacramento Buddy Hield had a not-great shooting game (7-22, 4-13 from 3), Willie Cauley-Stein was tough inside (12 rebounds, 7 pts). The Knicks mostly kept Nemanja Bjelica (5-13, 13 pts) and Bogdan Bogdanovic (2-9, 9 pts) from doing damage with their outside shooting. This game was all about De’Aaron Fox and the Knicks not putting their best team on the court the final 3 minutes.

Dolan Tells Fan to Get Lost

After the game, this surfaced on Twitter which — all we can say is, Who are the Girls??

The Boxscore:

http://www.espn.com/nba/boxscore?gameId=401071659

 

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