Saturday Matinee Disaster. Tim Hardaway Jr Guns Down Knicks. Dallas 121 NY 100

Tim Hardaway Jr went NUTS from 3 in the 3rd quarter, hitting five 3 pointers, and turning a Knick lead into a double-digit deficit. As the Knicks pressed to contain Hardaway, the rest of the Dallas team — playing free and easy — caught fire to bury NY, 121-100. On a Saturday matinee at Madison Square Garden.

Dallas seemed to grab every loose ball and long rebound during their 41-point 3rd quarter, and meanwhile the Knicks kept turning it over on offense — getting called for travels.

“The turnovers and the rebounding is where the disappointment lied,” said coach Tom Thibodeau afterwards. “We have to fix it and we have to fix it fast.”

“We thought they would take 45 to 50 (three pointers),” Thibs continued. “They ended up taking 60. You have to get in, get out, challenge them. But then you also know a by-product of the long shot is the long rebound. I think they had 24 points off offensive rebounds. And when you couple that with the turnovers, it’s hard to overcome that.”

It was a dismal 2nd half on the rainy, chilly December Saturday in NYC — as the Knicks — who led by 14 in the first half and by 7 at intermission — entered the 4th down by 20 and were never able to get close.

Afterwards, Tom Thibodeau’s name was trending on twitter as many Knick fans wanted him fired for the Knicks’ lack of adjustment in the 3rd quarter, in a game the Knicks seemed to be completely controlling in the first half.

NY falls to 10-13; Dallas improves to 11-11.


1. Hardaway Goes on Tear

It all started with 9 minutes left in the 3rd when Tim Hardaway Jr went down in a tussle for the ball with Mitchell Robinson. Hardaway — in the eccentric manner Knick fans are very familiar with — writhed in pain for a few moments on the floor and then got up perfectly fine and ran down the court without so much as a limp.

And then he hit a 3 to slice the Knick lead to 62-59. And then another 3 the next time down. And then another 3 a minute later to give Dallas a lead, 68-65. And then another 3 to give Dallas a 71-68 lead after RJ Barrett had answered to tie it.

And then Luka Doncic started catching fire. And Spencer Dinwiddie. And Reggie Bullock. And by the end of the period, Dallas was up 93-72.

On the Knicks defense, Thibodeau had this to add: “I look at defense probably differently than you guys do. I look at points in the paint — the rim — the rebounding piece is important. For me the metric I go by more than anything is field goal percentage and 3-pt field goal percentage.”

Thibs expounded: “The 1st thing you look at is, ‘Are we doing it hard enough?’, and then the 2nd thing is ‘is the scheme being executed correctly?’ And if the answer is yes to both and they’re scoring, you think about your adjustment. If you don’t do it that way, you’re going to be changing on every possession. You try to identify things that you can become good at.”

Thibs added: “Some nights you can defend a player well — like Doncic is going to put a lot of pressure on you — we knew that going in; he creates good offense; he’s very unselfish — the challenge is to give the appropriate help, get in and get out, challenge the shot, finish your defense, and do it time after time after time after time.”

“We’ve got a lot of work to do, but I also know that there’s a lot of things that we’re doing well defensively.”

2. Barrett Had Good, Efficient Game Before the 3rd

RJ Barrett was having a good, efficient game in the 1st half, but he was guarding Tim Hardaway Jr when he started to hit 3’s in the 3rd. With 5 minutes left in the period, Thiboedu brought in Derrick Rose and Immanuel Quickley who took turns guarding Hardaway. But he hit another 3 en route to Dallas going up by 20 points.

Thibodeau stuck with Quickley in the 4th and never put Barrett back into the game — mostly due to the fact that the game was over midway thru the 4th and the Knicks had a back-to-back the upcoming next night against Cleveland.

Barrett finished with only 20 minutes — 13 points on 4-9 shooting, 1-3 from 3, and 4-5 in free throws.

Quickley had 21 points on 7-11 shooting (2-5 from 3).

3. Randle Was Outplaying Doncic in 1st Half

Julius Randle outplayed Luka Doncic in the first half as he has done in the past. Randle had 24 points on 8-15 shooting (3-8 from 3; 5-5 in free throws).

Obi Toppin played 22 minutes and was 1-5 from the floor (0-2 from 3).

But in the 3rd, after Hardaway put the Knicks on their heels — Doncic started to catch fire too and do the things he does — like penetrate to the basket past screens for easy scores or passes. He finished with 30 points (on 11-21 shooting, 4-9 from 3), 8 rebounds, and 7 assists.

4. Knicks-Dallas Connection

Hardaway finished with 28 points against his former team. Bullock had 10 points in 25 minutes off the bench. Bullock has been starting at forward for much of the year in Dallas so far.

Frank Ntilikina saw some action at the end of the 4th when all the reserves came in. He got an ovation from the Garden crowd and played 6 minutes — 0 points on 0-2 shooting. Ntilikina has been getting mostly DNP’s this year for Dallas.

Jalen Brunson had 13 points against his former Mavs team.

5. Just a Bump in the Road?

As far as the disaster of a game and the Knicks 10-13 record, Thibs did not seem concerned and put things in perspective:

“You’re seeing that more in the league; no lead is safe.  A team comes down hits 3 or 4 three’s and all of a sudden they go on a run, and score 41 points in the 3rd. But you can make up ground too. If you keep playing the game, you don’t beat yourself, you don’t give up the second shot, you can come back too.”

“I want us doing the right things each and every day. Trust what we’re doing. Keep working on it. When we fall short — we’re disappointed — but be more determined the next time, and learn from it and grow. We have a lot of young guys who will get better as we go along. Stay the course, be strong minded, be determined.”

“Every night — just look at the scores — there’s crazy scores every night.”

The Boxscore

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