Wear You Out — Feb 26, 2020: Charlotte 107 NY 101

These games wear you out. And we’re not even playing in them. Another tough loss for the Knicks — they were “this close” again. Allonzo Trier — who electrified the Knicks in the 4th quarter to lead their charge and was 6-8 from the floor — put up a 3 from the left baseline with 1 min 17 seconds left and Knicks down by 3, and missed. Elfrid Payton then stole the ball but lost it himself on a drive in the lane as Terry Rozier (of all people) deflected his dribble — Mitchell Robinson almost had it — but it went the other way where Rozier made a nifty baseline reverse layup for a 5-pt lead with 28 seconds left and ballgame. To make it worse, Payton lost the ball out of bounds on the right side on the ensuing play to ice it.

Trier and Payton Trending

After that it was score/foul/free throws/score/foul etc the final 20 seconds but the Knicks were too many points away. Payton was immediately trending on twitter, as was Trier.

Trier finished 6-8 (1-2 from 3, 2-2 free throws) for 15 points and a +7. Payton had 6 pts (3-6 shooting), 9 assists, but 5 turnovers including those 2 late. Payton played pretty well early but was not on his game late; maybe his ankle is still not 100 percent; maybe he wasn’t as aggressive/confident playing next to Trier who was so aggressive/confident; hard to say.

The Reason for the Loss

Said coach Mike Miller in the post game: the Knicks lost “because they had 25+ minutes of inconsistent play in this game, which left them zero margin for error in the last 5 minutes.”

Miller Finally Aludes to Why Trier Doesn’t Play.. His Size

As hoped, Allonzo Trier got an earlier than usual call into this game after his good showing in the last 5 minutes of the previous game. He came in with 4:30 left in the 3rd quarter. His play was electric — it was the old Allonzo Trier, as we saw in the last game, causing many on Twitter to ask why the heck he hasn’t been playing more this year, and urging that he should take all of Reggie Bullock‘s minutes. As we’ve mentioned — it doesn’t seem to be because of his passing — Trier has become pass first since Jan/Feb last year when he went through a learning process; and he seems intent on D — it seems to be because Trier is 6’4″ in today’s stocking feet NBA and slender, making him small for an off guard in the NBA.

Miller alluded to this in the post game — when asked why Trier all of a sudden got playing time in the heat of the game. Miller said Trier hasn’t been playing because the Knicks have a deep team at the guard, and they believe in all their guys — but Trier played in this one because they ‘needed offense & play making, and Charlotte has some smaller guards that allowed Knicks to go deeper on their bench‘.

Portis Put Jumpshot Where Mouth Is

Bobby Portis and Mitchell Robinson were the other stars in the 4th quarter for the Knicks. Portis put his jumpshot where his mouth is — after saying two weeks ago that the Knicks would not really miss Marcus Morris, as Portis himself “averaged 13 (points) and 14 (points) the last two years. We have scorers who can score the ball but we want to share the basketball and be [a] team. Last four games we didn’t care who was the leading scorer.” Portis balled — hitting jumpers from all over to help bring the Knicks back. Portis had 17 points on 8-11 shooting (1-2 from 3) in 23 minutes.

After the game, Portis was feeling his oats and tweeted this 20 minutes after the game ended:

Mitch Robinson = Beast

Mitchell Robinson was grabbing rebounds on offense and defense and slamming home the ball; blocking shots, and playing like a beast. He finished with 12 pts on 5-7 shooting, 16 rebounds, and 3 blocks in 30 minutes.

Charlotte’s “Well Placed” 3’s Hurt

But it was also Charlotte’s “well placed” 3-pt shooting that hurt the Knicks. NY came out with tremendous energy to start the 3rd quarter and immediately cut into a Charlotte 10-pt lead; but 3 straight Charlotte 3’s pushed them back. At the end of 3, the Knicks were still down by 10. Charlotte was 10-30 from 3 not a great percentage; the Knicks were 4-15 — a worse percentage — so there in lies part of the tale.

A lot of the damage was by Rozier — who was 7-15 (4-7 from 3, 8-8 from the free throw line) for 26 points. The irony is that the Knicks wanted to sign Rozier this summer as a free agent, and Rozier wanted to play for the Knicks — but Charlotte came in at the last minute and offered Rozier 3 guaranteed years and the Knicks are only doing 1- and 2-year contracts to give them cap flexibility. So then the Knicks turned to Bullock.

Devonte’ Graham, Charlotte’s 6’1 point guard, also hurt the Knicks with 7-18 shooting (although 2-9 from 3) for 21 pts. Bismark Biyombo had a good game (5-6 for 12 pts, 4 blocks) but Trier fouled him out of the game with about 4 minutes left. Former Knick Willy Hernangomez hurt them as well; making some splendid drives to the basket, and also some terrific passes inside — he had 7 pts (on 3-3), 4 assists in 19 minutes.

Other Knicks

For the Knicks, RJ Barrett had a tough game — he was 0 for his first 6. He continued to be aggressive and drive to the basket, but finished 2-11 for 5 pts and a -13 in 21 minutes. He did not play the 4th quarter — Trier got his minutes.

And Julius Randle did not play the 4th either, as Miller stayed with the hot Portis. Randle played well, especially in the 3rd quarter where he came out with tremendous energy on both ends of the court. At one point Knick analyst Walt Frazier echoed “Randle playing like a man possessed now, on both ends of the court”, and later “Randle omnipresent now.” He finished with 7-14 (1-1 from 3) for 18 pts, 9 rebounds in 25 minutes.

Kevin Knox played so-so for 23 minutes; he made some mistakes in the 3rd and found a seat. And Moe Harkness played ok for 25 minutes, playing decent defense.

Dennis Smith Jr played backup point and got 21 minutes, and played fairly well — 4-12 shooting for 9 pts and 3 assists and a tremendous slam early in the game.

And Bullock got 10 minutes. But it was Allonzo Trier getting the minutes from 4:30 left in the 3rd through the rest of the game (he played 16 minutes; never left the court after he came in).

With 24 games left, the Knicks are 17-41. They are coming close to winning so many games, yet continue to “just miss”. And they’re missing Marcus Morris who is gone with the trade.

The Boxscore



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