Progress — Jan 22, 2019: Lakers 100 NY 92

The Knicks put up a tough fight against the Lakers from start to finish — and could have won this game if two players on the Knicks had better shooting games. Or if RJ Barrett was not still out injured. What a difference from two weeks ago, when the Lakers had a “breezy blowout” of the Knicks in LA — with Anthony Davis hardly even playing in the second half after being injured, and the Laker bigs dominating, blocking all kinds of shots.

Miller Made Adjustments

This time — coach Mike Miller had the Knicks make adjustments. There were no more Laker bigs dominating with blocked shots — instead, Mitchell Robinson was the most active big on the court — blocking shots, grabbing rebounds, and doing a great job inside. Somehow Robinson was only credited with 1 block, but had 12 rebounds; NY outrebounded LA as a team, 47-42. Robinson had 4 pts on 2-3 shooting. Taj Gibson did a yeoman job up front — 6-6 for 12 points and 5 rebounds in 18 minutes.

Marcus Morris was back in the Knicks lineup providing star-quality scoring (20 pts on 7-16, 4-9 from 3) that the Knicks didn’t have last game when he was out. But again the tradeoff was that NY didn’t have Barrett — who was the only Knick to play well against the Lakers two weeks ago.

The Knicks also played a pretty good team offense against a tough Laker defense.

Elfrid Payton (9 assists) played a terrific game at the point — attacking, orchestrating, defending — he even blocked LeBron James‘ shot once. The Knicks played good defense as a team throughout — never letting up. Even when LA tried to pull away in the 4th, as Anthony Davis started hitting his usual unstoppable fadeaway shots — pulling to a 14-pt lead — the Knicks hung tight — and would not go away. NY pulled back to within 6 points in the final minute, with the ball and a chance at pulling to within 3.

Coach Miller the 6th Man

This was a game that you knew the Knicks were going to hang tough in, even when it seemed the Lakers were starting to pull away. The reason is because the Knicks have Mike Miller as their coach. And even in the bad times, you look over at Miller on the sidelines — and he is like a 6th man on the court — observing every mistake; feeling every pain; and is about to tactically correct it. You feel he will make sure the Knicks stay in the game. You have a level of confidence as a fan.

Fickle Finger of Blame

If only two players had shot better. If you must know their names — Julius Randle and Frank Ntilikina had off nights. Ntilikina’s shooting was horrid — 0-8 in 12 minutes. His overall play was good and made up for some of that. But if he hit 3 shots, this is a different game. Ntilikina was so bad offensively, Coach Miller brought in Dennis Smith Jr to try and ignite the second team — and Smith did a good job attacking the rim immediately, but his shots rolled in and out; he looked rusty.

And Julius Randle — tried too hard. He had a bad game all around — his final shooting of 6-16 was helped by two slam dunks in the final minute. He turned the ball over 4 times, and on one spin move at a crucial point late in the game, he spun into a defender and got stripped, which had much of Knicks Twitter demanding he be traded.

I have no problem with Randle — after a horrid start to the season he’s played well — and teamed well with Marcus Morris. He can score inside and outside, his spin moves are often fun to watch (when he makes them; frustrating to watch when he doesn’), passes well for a big (although sometimes turns the ball over), rebounds, and his defense has been pretty good overall.

Last night Randle had the job most of the night of defending Anthony Davis. And he did an ok job. But overall he just seemed to be trying too hard on offense.

Reggie Bullock flew under the radar with a so-so 2-6 (1-5 from 3) 5 pt effort, and Bobby Portis hit some short jumpers in the lane but finished 2-8 for 5 points. The Lakers play a good D with their bigs.


So it was a loss — but it was progress. The defense is becoming a staple. The Knicks are progressing. As Knicks fan @IAm_P45 said on twitter, “It’s a rebuild bro I look for progress.”


Frank Ntilikina attempted a dunk over Dwight Howard in the 1st half that had Knicks Twitter and #FrankHive abuzz. He “almost” got it — but missed. If only he had hit it — he wouldn’t have been 0-8 and the Knicks would’ve been 2 pts closer at the end.

The Boxscore



Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.