5 Observations as Knicks Lay Fart in 2nd Half of 1st Game; Indiana 121 NY 107

After a hopeful, 3-1 preseason, the Knicks played playoff-bound Indiana even through 3 quarters until Indiana pulled away in the 4th.

Reasons why:

1. Sabonis & Turner Killed the Knicks

The main reason for the Knicks loss was that Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner absolutely killed the Knicks — offensively and defensively. Sabonis killed the Knicks all night with his offense inside — tricky and polished moves — he is clearly a Star and a big part of why Indiana is one of the better teams in the league. Domantas had 32 points, 13 rebounds, and 5 assists. It is great to see the son of one of the great centers of all time, Arvydas Sabonis, do well in the NBA.

Myles Turner was devastating on the defensive side of the court — he blocked 8 shots. The two of them disabled the Knicks inside game of Mitchell Robinson and Julius Randle.

The turning point in the game came with 1:31 left in the 3rd quarter, and the Knicks trailing 83-82. Obi Toppin did a beautiful spin move in the lane and went up for the seemingly uncontested drive and Knicks lead — but Myles Turner was there — BLOCKING the shot and sending it the other way, where Justin Holiday was fouled and made free throws.

On the next play Alec Burks drove to the basket but Turner BLOCKED that shot, sending it the other way were T.J. McConnell fed Doug McDermott for a dunk and it was Indiana 86-82. Aaron Holiday hit a shot and Reggie Bullock missed a shot and Indiana entered the 4th with an 88-82 lead — asserting a 6-pt lead they would keep throughout the beginning of the 4th quarter.

Myles Turner completely outplayed Mitchell Robinson and Nerlens Noel. Robinson had 3 blocks but did nothing offensively — 3 pts on 1-2 shooting — guarded so well inside by Turner and Sabonis who took away the Knicks inside game.

2. It Wasn’t Payton’s Fault

As soon as we tweeted that Sabonis and Turner were killing the Knicks — we were met with push-back from some fans that it was mostly Elfrid Payton‘s fault. Payton was raped on Knicks Twitter by many Knicks fans.

So much so that I rewatched the game intent on seeing if indeed it was all Elfrid Payton’s fault.

And I have to say — it wasn’t. Payton didn’t have a great game — 5 turnovers — but neither did Immanuel Quickley.

It seemed that Quickley was responsible for the Knicks being on the verge of winning the game and that the Knicks fell apart with Payton in. Payton’s poor performance seemed especially marked by a play in the 4th when McConnell stole the ball from Payton and drove the other way for a layup.

But carefully watching the game a 2nd time showed this:

  1. Payton started the game, and Quickley was at point when the Knicks were playing well in the 2nd quarter. He left with a hip pointer late in the 2nd quarter (Turner inadvertently banged into him). But the Knicks with Payton stayed even with the Pacers throughout the 3rd quarter.
  2. Quickley played 12 minutes and made 1 bucket and had 1 assist. He was also fouled on a 3, and hit all free throws for 5 points. He had a +5, but that was mainly because he was on the court when RJ Barrett and Alec Burks were on fire in the 2nd quarter. And it wasn’t necessarily because Quickley was opening up the offense and leaving them wide open — he was running the same plays Payton was earlier and later.
  3. Quickely had a hard time guarding McConnell, as did Payton and Burks. McConnell is heady and is in perpetual motion, cutting thru screens. Payton for the most part was guarding Indiana starter Malcolm Brogdon. Brogdon is not quick but he is heady, decisive, polished and has good size for a point — he knows what he’s doing out there and is very effective offensively. He’s also excellent defensively.
  4. It was 80-77 Indiana when Payton came out w 4:47 min left in 3rd; Alec Burks came in to play point guard.
  5. Frank Ntilikina started the 4th at point and played pretty well, running the same plays Payton and Quickley were. Ntilikina penetrated twice. He missed both jumpers he took; one was an open 3. He left with 7:20 left in the game and the Knicks down by 11, 101-90.
  6. Payton played point the last 7 minutes. The Knicks were trailing by 11 when he came in — the Knicks were still down by 11 when Brogdon finished the scoring with a 3-pointer with 25 seconds left for the 14-pt Indiana win.
  7. Payton and Ntilikina were leading the Knicks in the 3rd and 4th quarters when Indiana’s guards noticeably tightened their defense — so they had to deal with that, whereas Quickley didn’t.
  8. Payton finished with 7 points on 3-7 shooting, 3 assists and 5 turnovers in 22 minutes. Not a great game — 5 turnovers in 22 minutes an extremely high number. Numbers don’t lie but on the court he didn’t play that badly.

3. Barrett Starred

RJ Barrett starred in this game — at one point he was 7-7 from the floor. He finished with 11-15 (3-3 from 3) for 26 pts, 8 rebounds and 5 assists, only 1 turnover. He outplayed Victor Oladipo (22 pts on 9-14).

4. Randle Held His Own

Late in the game Julius Randle went on a scoring spree to pull the Knicks back from a 17 point deficit to within 11 points. Randle seemed hell bent on taking it to Sabonis, especially on one drive very late in the 4th, when Sabonis picked up his 4th foul. Randle finished 7-15, 17 points, 9 rebounds, 9 assists — another great team game for him. This bodes well for the Knicks’ season.

5. McConnell and McDermott Fuel Indiana

As good as Malcolm Brogdon and Victor Oladipo are as Indiana’s starting guards, Indiana really takes off when reserves McConnell and McDermott come in. Both are perpetual motion machines and very heady. Indiana also has two of the Holiday brothers — Aaron Holiday and Justin Holiday — who play excellent defense and can score. With Sabonis and Turner up front — Indiana has a very good (and well coached) team. T.J. Warren, the 6’8 small forward — did not play well in this game; 5 pts on 2-8 shooting.

The Boxscore



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