Knicks Entering Uncharted Losing Waters — Dec 1, 2019: Boston 113 NY 104

With 6 minutes left, it was a tie game. And then… Boston went on a 9-0 and 15-4 run to crush the Knicks; win easily. Boston intensified their Defense, and the Knicks ball movement stopped. Dennis Smith Jr stopped penetrating. It was turnover after turnover; and on the other end for Boston, basket after basket. The Knicks seemed to keep running the same plays they had all game, and ran them right into the Boston defense. The Knicks lacked inventiveness, and/or an iso player to drive through the defense and get to the line — like Allonzo Trier who remained cemented to the bench; a weapon coach Fizdale refuses to use (like he refused to use Frank Ntilikina as a defensive stopper earlier in the season in a game vs Boston when Kemba Walker was lighting up the Knicks).

Ntilikina was injured early in this game and unavailable down the stretch; but the defense and Walker weren’t really the problem. Marcus Morris was also injured and did not play; he might’ve helped on offense down the stretch. But hard to see him being the difference as the Knicks looked completely discombobulated.

Unchartered Losing Waters

With one quarter of the season gone, the Knicks are 4-16 and on pace for 16 wins — less than last year’s franchise-worst 17 win season. After 20 games last year, the Knicks were 6-14, better than this year, despite the $70-million worth of free agents signed. They keep losing in different ways, but still lose.

The losing stats just keep rattling out. Knicks are 28th in offensive rating, 22nd in defensive rating. As Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic put it, the Knicks have been playing better the last 10 games, but their record is the same (2-8).

More Losing than Ever Before — Is there Hope?

I have been watching the Knicks since 1973, and I’ve never seen losing like this. Not with Ed Sherod as the point guard; not with Ken Bannister the lone healthy big man after the entire front line (Bill Cartwright, Truck Robinson, Bernard King) went down and even Eddie Lee Wilkins got injured for a few games; not on the teams coached by Lenny Wilkens or Herb Williams or Don Chaney.

One big difference though is that this Knicks team has talent — young talent — and excellent cap space. So the future is bright; it is just that the present is uncomfortable. And the Knicks are playing well — for most of the game. It will be interesting if they turn the corner and start winning. Right now it is hard to imagine they will ever win another game.

The Rest of the Game

The Knicks looked good throughout, sans that last 6 minutes. Dennis Smith Jr stood out — he was penetrating, scoring, opening up the defense. His lift looks much better than it has — he seems healthy and quick.

Frank Ntilikina got injured early in the game (upper back strain) so didn’t play much, opening up the playing time for Smith.

Kevin Knox also had a rejuvenation game — with Morris injured, Knox got minutes and was stellar — hitting 3’s and playing like a guy who is very coordinated. He had 11 pts on 4-9 in 22 minutes.

Julius Randle played well and within himself. He had 26 pts on 8-16 (although was 0-5 from 3).

And RJ Barrett played like a Big Dog, making Big Dog plays — he Loves to penetrate to the basket in traffic and make the play. He had 16 pts on 4-13 and 8-13 from the free throw line — there, he hit 7 of his first 8 free throws, then missed 5 in a row, before making one.

Mitchell Robinson played well, but fouled out again. The Knicks still do not feature him enough in the offense. He had 6 pts on 2-2 shooting and 2-2 from the free throw line.

Damyean Dotson also played well, as did Taj Gibson. They all played well. Until the last 6 minutes.

For Boston, Jayson Tatum was terrific from 3 in the first half. The Knicks played better D on his 3 in the second half — until the last 6 minutes. Kemba Walker was kept quiet most of the game — until the last 6 minutes. Jaylen Brown also did damage throughout the game (11-18, 28 points).

Enes Kanter did his usual damage inside; grabbing offensive rebounds for putbacks.

 The Boxscore

https://www.espn.com/nba/boxscore?gameId=401160927

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