Miss Miss Miss Miss Miss Miss — Toronto 100 NY 83

The Knicks were up by 6 points midway thru the 3rd quarter — and then proceeded to miss miss miss miss miss miss miss the rest of the game. Toronto started hitting 3’s late in the 3rd and continued hitting them in the 4th en route to the easy win. What looked like it might be a Knick win turned into a hard-to-watch, ugly loss on New Year’s eve.  Toronto’s Pascal Siakam was suspended by the team for this game for leaving the bench and walking to the lockerroom after fouling out the the game before, so Knicks fans were optimistic this would be a win. It wasn’t.

Some reasons why and observations:

1. BAD Outside Shooting

Reggie Bullock and RJ Barrett combined to go 0-17 from 3. ESPN issued a tweet saying it was a record, “They are the 1st pair of teammates in NBA history to each go 0-8 or worse from 3-point range in a game.”

At one point in the 3rd quarter, after Reggie Bullock missed another jumper — we tweeted “Bullock miss miss miss miss miss”. @TheyCallMeTak corrected us, “miss. You missed a miss.” And he was right — Bullock was 0-6 at that point.

Toronto’s strategy is to shoot as many 3’s as possible. On a typical night, they shoot many more 3’s than 2’s and this game was no different. Final stats:

  • Toronto 17-52 from 3 (34-83 overall)
  • Knicks 3-36 from 3 (32-88 overall)
  • Toronto 100 Knicks 83

Alex Len came off the bench and hit 3 3’s in the 3rd to start Toronto rolling; Kyle Lowry finished 4-9 from 3 (20 pts), and Fred VanVleet was also 4-9 from 3 (25 pts).

After the game, coach Tom Thibodeau said he wanted the Knicks to keep shooting 3’s even though they were missing them. The ball movement throughout the night for the Knicks remained good — the Knicks just couldn’t knock down the jumpers in the foreign arena.

2. Odd Arena

You could tell it might be a rough night on the shooters when the game came on tv — the Knicks were playing Toronto in the Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida — Toronto’s temporary home during Coronavirus. The arena is normally home to the University of South Florida’s Division 1 basketball team. The place looked cavernous — and as the game started — both teams were missing most of their shots. The rims looked hard; the background wide open.

The Knicks couldn’t even get a slam dunk to go down in the first 7 minutes of the game: they hit 2 field goals in the first 7 minutes. Toronto led 17-6 with 5 minutes left in the 1st quarter. The second team came in — Austin Rivers, Kevin Knox, Nerlens Noel — and by end of the quarter the Knicks had pulled to within 19-18.

3. Rivers Looked Good In Initial Appearance

Austin Rivers looked good in his first appearance as a Knick. He penetrated, orchestrated, passed, and hit his jumper. He jumps out as a legitimate NBA point guard.

Blues guitarist and Knicks fan Robert Randolph saw it, saying on Twitter, “Austin Rivers!! Knicks have 3 good pint guards now! Quickley, Elfrid, Rivers!!!”

4. Payton Played Great

Elfrid Payton re-entered the game with 5 minutes left in the half, and the Knicks down 35-31, and played great ball — penetrating, passing, scoring — feeding Mitchell Robinson for slams — keeping his dribble alive at all times, even when in traffic in the lane, as Walt Frazier and Mike Breen pointed out.

Payton led the Knicks to a 42-40 lead before the half before Toronto tied it 42-42.

Payton continued his excellent play in the 3rd, at one point making consecutive beautiful drives to basket. The Knicks had a 54-48 lead with 6:45 left in the 3rd and the Knicks were looking good.

Then Aron Baynes went out with an injury, and Alex Len was forced into the game. Len hit three 3’s late in the 3rd to start Toronto rolling.

Payton finished with 7-12 (0-2 from 3) for 14 pts, 3 rebounds, 4 assists and a steal in only 23 minutes — he didn’t play in the 4th. Rivers played the 4th — leaving with 3:24 left and the game essentially over, Toronto holding a 92-75 lead. Jared Harper and Theo Pinson were put into the game instead of Payton for the stretch — since it was garbage time, not a stretch.

5. Randle Playing Like Ewing

Julius Randle continued to play well — although 0-4 from 3 — he finished 5-12 for 16 pts, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists. He is scoring inside like Patrick Ewing used to; the same relentlessness.

6. Knox Played Well Again

Kevin Knox played well again as first man off the bench. He is attacking defensively, is slashing to the rim for drives or slams, and is hitting the 3 — although only 2-8 from 3 in this game. Knox finished 5-14 for 16 points, 6 rebounds in 32 minutes. Some on Knicks twitter were calling him to replace Reggie Bullock in the starting rotation after the game.

7. Knicks Missing Players

Late in the game, Julius Randle went down after a Toronto player accidentally submarined him going after a loose ball. Randle clutched his leg and calf, and limped off the court. After the game there was good news; he said his leg just cramped; no injury to his calf.

The Knicks could have used sharp shooter Alec Burks in this game — he remains out, as are Immanuel Quickley, Frank Ntilikina, Dennis Smith Jr, and Obi Toppin.

The Boxscore


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