5 Takeaways As Knicks Lose Preseason Game 2 of 2020-21

Knicks preseason game 2 wasn’t as fun as Knicks preseason game 1. Same preseason opponent — Detroit. Same preseason place — Detroit. Different result — a loss.

Good Takeaways

1. RJ Barrett played Great; looks like he is going to be a star. Barrett was 10-17 for a game-high 25 points. Barrett was in control, efficient, and led the Knicks all night.

2. The Knicks are clearly a better team when Elfrid Payton is on the court as their point guard.

Those were two things we saw in Game 2. As we saw in Game 1 and all of last year. A 3rd good takeaway:

3. Alec Burks shot lights out — it looks like the Knicks finally have a 3-pt sharpshooter they can depend on, after all these years of looking for one.

A Negative Takeaway

As for negative takeaways:

4. Dennis Smith Jr for the second game in a row (there’s only been 2) did not get it done at backup point guard.

In this game, Detroit raced out to a 1st quarter lead and made it a big lead in the 2nd quarter; up by as much as 18 points. Much of their lead was built with Dennis Smith Jr on the court for the Knicks at the point.

Detroit was trapping Smith at the top of the key, and he wasn’t able to blow past the trap, or pass well out of it. The Knicks became a jump-shooting team with him on the court.

The Knicks hung in — due largely to big 3’s by Alec Burks — and when Julius Randle hit a 3 off a broken play to end the half, the Knicks were thankfully only 10 points down.

Knicks Play Terrific in 3rd Quarter

When Elfrid Payton back in to start the 3rd quarter — the Knicks went into over drive. With Payton’s defense and penetrating offense, and the shooting of Alec Burks and scoring of Barrett, they erased the 10-pt deficit and took the lead by the end of the quarter.

But in the 4th, it was Dennis Smith Jr and the second team back in — and the Knicks slim lead quickly dissipated. Again Detroit trapped Smith at the top of the key, smothering him and the Knicks offense; they became a jump shooting team.

Pre-Season Game Decisions

It being a pre-season game, coach Thibodeau did not bring in Payton for the last 6 minutes, but instead had Immanuel Quickley on the floor. Reggie Bullock was on the floor for the Knicks at the end instead of Alec Burks as well — clearly a preseason decision.

Turning Point

RJ Barrett blew a breakaway layup with 4:30 left that would have made it a 2-pt Detroit lead; instead Detroit still had a 4-pt lead at 88-84. On the ensuing play on the other end, the Knicks played great D but Detroit got an offensive rebound when the ball serendipitously came to Sekou Doumbouya in the lane and he hit a jumper and got fouled for a 3-pt play and 7-pt Detroit lead and the ballgame. Doumbouya played great and had 23 points off the bench and a game-high +15.

The Centers

In a reversal of the first pre-season game, Mitchell Robinson took more shots than Nerlens Noel. Both played well: Noel had 3 pts (1-4 shooting), 10 rebounds in 21 minutes. Mitchell Robinson had 8 pts (4-6 shooting — most of them slams), and 5 rebounds in 19 minutes but committed several silly fouls, and got into foul trouble (5 fouls). Noel got the only Knick blocked shot of the game. The two had combined for 4 blocks and 4 steals in the 1st game so clearly part of Detroit’s game plan was to keep them in mind and don’t shoot in their vicinity.

The High-Draft-Pick Rookies

Obi Toppin had a terrible shooting game — 1-9 (1-6 from 3) for 4 pts. His 3’s looked like they were going in, but didn’t. He has a nice shot with good rotation.  Detroit rookie Killian Hayes was terrible again — 2-11 (1-6 from 3) for 6 pts, although he had a +5. Hayes jacked up a number of poor-selection shots.

Free Throw Golf

The 5th takeaway from this game:

5. Wally Szczerbiak (who was 86% lifetime free throw shooter) offered this great free throw advice, when talking about the excellent free-throw percentage of Quickley: Wally said he became a great free throw shooter thru playing “Free Throw Golf”. The rules: a nothing-but-net swish is a birdie. A make that hits rim is a par. A miss is an under par. Take 9 shots per course. 

Another interesting thing learned from this preseason game.

The Boxscore


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