Knicks SLAM Trail Blazers — Jan 1, 2020: NY 117 Portland 93

It doesn’t get better than this. The Knicks SLAMMED Portland on a New Year’s game at Madison Square Garden with a game-long stifling defense, a whirlwind passing offense, a human-highlight alley-oop slam-dunk fest by Mitchell Robinson, and Frank Ntilikina‘s best overall game as a pro — capped by a Raise-the-Rafters SLAM by Ntilikina in the 4th — AND Carmelo Anthony had a great game, using his familiar repertoire of moves for an offensively efficient 11-17 and a season-high 26 points.

“I think (our good defense) started with our point guards. I think Elfrid Payton and Frank (Ntilikina) did an outstanding job early; and that’s a tough assignment”, said coach Mike Miller afterwards.

Lillard Held to 11 Points

That tough assignment was superstar point guard Damian Lillard, who spiralled the Knicks out of the gym 20 days ago in Portland, hitting 3’s from everywhere, and shooting guard CJ McCollum. At the half, Lillard was 1-10 for 2 points; McCollum had 13 pts. Lillard finally started hitting some shots in the 2nd half but by that time the Knicks had a 20-point lead. Lillard finished 5-20 (1-8 from 3) for 11 points; McCollum was 6-16 (3-7 from 3) for 17 pts.

Robinson’s Alley-Oop Slam Dunk Fireworks Show

Meanwhile Mitchell Robinson was putting on his human-highlight alley-oop slam dunk fest in the first half — setting off conversation as to whether he was setting a record for alley oop slams. Many of them were fed by Frank Ntilikina. Robinson finished 11-11 from the floor (tieing a Knick record for most shots taken without a miss), and we’d have to go back and count them but it seemed like about 7 or 8 alley oop slams (it was actually 4 alley oop slams, and 2 other slams off passes for 6 dunks of the 11 made shots; the rest were tip ins or layups inside).

Knicks Tag-Team Bigs

Meanwhile Julius Randle was doing the rest of the Knicks scoring, playing his mid-range-in-the-lane game. The two were too hard to contain. At some point late in the 1st half, Hassan Whiteside woke up, and started to play boisterously on offense and defense, but he couldn’t stop Robinson’s slams — Whiteside was trying to contain Randle in the paint. This two-man-in-the-paint attack was the clear handiwork of coach Mike Miller.

And then there was Bobby Portis (6-11, 3-4 from 3 for 17 points) for Portland to contend with inside. The only one not hitting his shots in the 1st half was Marcus Morris, but he finally caught fire in the 2nd half, finishing with 7-19 (2-7 from 3) for 18 pts. Reggie Bullock played his first game of the season, after the long recuperation from spinal fusion surgery, and started hitting 3’s and the rout was on. Coach Miller said Bullock’s debut was impressive; he gave the Knicks the Defense and 3-ball they were expecting from him. Miller noted Bullock immediately fought through a screen and got up and under his man to defend.

Frank Ntilikina and Elfrid Payton combined for 18 assists. Ntilikina was everywhere in his 23 minutes; aggressive on offense, passing, defending.

Executing “The Plan”

The Knicks have now won 3 in a row in convincing style. They are executing “The Plan“. This is a team with good, young talent that has the right coach now in Mike Miller, tactically putting the team in position to excel on offense and defense. If they continue to play like this, while at the same time building their team confidence, a .500 second-half may be child’s play — this could be a team that rifs off numerous winning streaks and plays better than .500 ball in the 2nd half. Such is the NBA, where good teams that have it figured out, just win and win and win — unlike baseball where there are so many variables. The Knicks next game is against Phoenix on Friday — the start of a 4-game West Coast swing that has them playing both Los Angeles teams.

Clyde Dogging Melo

Despite Carmelo Anthony‘s splendid performance, with Madison Square Garden giving throaty applause every time he hit a shot — Knicks’ MSG analyst Walt Frazier dogged him all evening, pointing out several times that Melo had 0 assists in the game, and that he felt Melo should have/could have been a 20-pt, 10-rebound, 5-assist guy during his career. He also pointed out late in the 4th that although Melo was having an efficient shooting night, he was coming off an inefficient shooting night the game before, and that is what happens to you when you get old: you become inconsistent.


RJ Barrett had a nice drive late in the 4th but the ball rolled out so he finished 3-12 (1-4 from 3) for 7 points, but played fairly well.

Kevin Knox played well again on Defense — aggressive, deflecting balls, and almost coming up with some steals. He had 5 points (2-6, 1-4 from 3), 7 rebounds, and a +14.

The Mitchell Robinson alley-oop Slam Dunk fest brought up conversation as to 1) if he was setting an alley-oop slam record, b) who the greatest Knicks alley oop slam dunkers were — Robinson is now clearly the best one ever. The list we came up with:

  1. Mitchell Robinson
  2. Eddy Curry
  3. Patrick Ewing
  4. Marcus Camby

The Boxscore


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