The Beginning of a New Beginning: Dec 7, 2019: Indiana 104 NY 103

It seemed like the beginning of a new beginning. A breath of fresh air. Even though it was a loss, with Julius Randle missing a free throw with .1 second left that would have sent the game into overtime — it was a fun game to watch. For Knicks new coach Mike Miller “a fun game to coach”, with the Knicks playing with passion on both ends, and Madison Square Garden electric. Miller “made a few adjustments” and they seemed to make the Knicks a more fluid team on offense — he wanted them to “run downhill more” — instead of coming down and running side-to-side plays, just be more fluid and go to the basket.

Payton Stars at the Point

And Elfrid Payton was the point guard the Knicks have been looking for. Making heady plays down the stretch, penetrating, hitting floaters, orchestrating the offense, telling guys where to go, playing tenacious defense. You could only wonder if David Fizdale was watching this game on tv, chagrined that he never had a healthy Payton until it was too late.

Randle a Man Possessed

Julius Randle excelled — on defense especially, and on the boards (12 rebounds), especially the offensive boards. He seemed to thrive in Miller’s flowing “downhill” offense — the other team didn’t have time to set their defense against his top-of-the-key drives. Marcus Morris was also big — 9-17 (4-8 from 3) for 25 points. So too Mitchell Robinson — 3 blocks and 6-9 for 14 points, 7 rebounds in 25 minutes. RJ Barrett also played well (4-11, 12 pts).

The Knicks played with incredible fire and intensity down the stretch — but could not come up with big shots — at one point going 1-12 (while Indiana at the same time was going 0-7 against the Knicks defense) in the closing minutes. On one frenetic, crazy Knick possession with the score 104-100 Indiana and 3:30 left:

  • Morris missed a jumper but Randle got the offensive rebound,
  • Barrett missed a jumper but Randle got the offensive rebound,
  • Randle tried to lay it back up but Turner blocked his shot, Randle got the offensive rebound,
  • Morris missed a jumper, Payton got the offensive rebound, and
  • Randle missed on a drive before Indiana (Domantas Sabonis) finally got the ball back for Indiana.

NY Toe-to-Toe with Indiana Tough Front Line

The Knicks played toe-to-toe with Indiana’s tough front line of T.J. Warren (10-19, 25 pts), Domantas Sabonis (8-11, 19 points, 15 rebounds), and Myles Turner (7 pts, 5 blocks). Turner had 2 blocks on the Knicks final possession — Mitch Robinson rolled to the basket on a driving layup, but Turner blocked it — the Knicks got the offensive rebound, but Turner blocked that, and then Julius Randle got the rebound and was fouled for the final 2 free throws.

The Rest of the Game

Damyean Dotson (4-11, 10 pts) played well but was 2-8 from 3. Kevin Knox (3-6 (2-4 from 3), 8 points) hit some big 3’s but threw the ball away on a lazy pass late in the 4th. Frank Ntilikina played well but his shot wasn’t falling’ he was 1-5 for 2 points in 19 minutes and missed two open 3’s. Dennis Smith Jr was the only Knick to noticeably play poorly. When he came in, in the 1st quarter, the Knicks immediately gave up their lead. When Elfrid Payton came in for him, the Knicks point guard play noticeably got much better. Smith played 12 minutes and was 0-5 for 1 point although his defense was good.

Doug McDermott did damage to the Knicks off the bench (6-11, 4-3 from 3 for 16 points in 20 minutes). Aaron Holiday starts at point guard for Indiana; former Knick Justin Holiday came off the bench for 6 pts in 21 minutes).

Miller Gives Knicks a New Beginning

Not enough can be said about Mike Miller’s first game. He is 55 years old and is a coach’s coach. He was coach of the year in the G League 2 years ago; took Westchester Knicks to the playoffs the last two years. He looked very comfortable in this game. He’s been a head coach for YEARS at many levels; and been successful.

When he was promoted to Knick assistant coach under Fizdale in July 2019 — it was a BIG DEAL — the Knicks backup plan for coach. All NY and national media missed this point. We didn’t.

Now Miller is here and Knick fans get to sit back and see what he can offer.

The Boxscore

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