Knicks Lose with Barely Enough Players to Suit Up. Dallas 122 NY 108

Josh Hart with a triple double vs Dallas. Photo courtesy NY Knicks.

It was a night for Charlie Brown Jr.and Jacob Toppin to shine.

On an evening when the Knicks started the game with only 8 players in uniform due to injuries and the just-made Bojan Bogdanovic trade, NY hung in but did not have enough firepower to match Dallas, losing 122-108 on a Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.

The Knicks were down to only 7 players in the 2nd half as Isaiah Hartenstein re-tweaked his achillies and never played after halftime. Had another player gotten injured and a couple of players had fouled out it would have been interesting.

Still the Knicks played hard-nosed, frenetic defense and refused to go away, and were led on offense by Donte DiVincenzo who threw down another masterpiece — 36 pts on 13-27 shooting (7-12 from 3). NY pulled to within 8 with 3:27 left on yet another Donte DiVincenzo 3. But Luka Doncic kept hitting 3’s and Tim Hardaway Jr took opportunity to show MSG what they traded away as he had a hot night from the field.

“It’s cool,” said Donte DiVincenzo afterwards about his 2nd straight 30+ point night (and 3rd in 5 games). “We lost tonight, so it doesn’t mean anything to me. It’s cool to put the ball in the hoop, but what’s better is when we have everybody back and that ball is moving around and everybody ends up with 15 to 20.”

In the afternoon before the game the Knicks announced the trade acquiring Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks from the Pistons for Quentin Grimes, Malachi Flynn, Evan Fournier, Ryan Arcidiacono and two 2nd-round picks. So none of those players were available. NY also announced OG Anunoby had undergone surgery to remove a bone spur in his elbow, and will be out 3 weeks.

Jalen Brunson remains day-to-day with the sprained ankle; Julius Randle is out with the bruised shoulder; Mitchell Robinson is out with the broken ankle; and Jericho Sims is out, day-to-day.

NY drops to 33-19; Dallas improves to 29-23.

1. Charlie Brown’s Night to Shine, and Jacob Toppin Too

And so it was with so many Knicks out due to injury or just gone (and not available yet) due to the trade that the Knick starting lineup was Isaiah Hartenstein, Precious Achiuwa, Josh Hart, Donte DiVincenzo, and Miles McBride — which is still a pretty good team, and then Charlie Brown Jr. Jacob Toppin, and Taj Gibson as the 3 — and only 3 — bench players.

And before you knew it, Charlie Brown Jr. was guarding Luka Doncic for extended minutes. And he did a decent job!

Charlie Brown played 22 minutes, and on offense went 1-5 (1-3 from 3) for 3 points.

Jacob Toppin, who is in the Slam Dunk Contest this year despite never having scored a point in the NBA — finally scored a point in the NBA — a slam dunk off an offensive rebound in the 2nd half. Toppin only played 4 minutes in the 1st half but finished with 12 minutes and those 2 points, with 2 rebounds. Jacob hopes to follow in his brother Obi Toppin‘s footsteps in the dunk contest. Obi won the Slam Dunk contest in 2022. Their father Obadiah, knicknamed “Dunker’s Delight”, is a famed street-ball player known for his slam dunks. The elder Obi played professionally in the USBL of the 1990’s and the new ABA that formed in the 2000’s.

And Taj Gibson hung in — like someone who was just woken out of bed after retiring from a long arduous NBA career and told to get back in action. It’s a good thing he kept in shape with the 6am runs across the Brooklyn Bridge and back over the Manhattan Bridge into Brooklyn.

2. Hartenstein Re-Tweaks Hamstring

The most significant event in the game may have been Isaiah Hartenstein re-tweaking his achilles in the first half. Hartenstein stayed in the game until the half, then did not return. He will probably be out a while now.

Hartenstein has become one of the best 2-way centers in the NBA, and is a bulwark for the Knicks. They need him to be healthy for the playoffs.

Hartenstein finished with 15 minutes and was 4-5 from the floor for 10 pts with 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals.

3. DiVincenzo, Hart, McBride, & Achiuwa Hold Court

Donte DiVincenzo continued his All Star play — a perpetual motion machine on defense and offense, taking it to the rim for drives, passing, and hitting unconscious 3’s.

Miles McBride started at point and looked like a starter — orchestrating, penetrating for scores, and dishing. His 3-ball was off at first — he missed his first 6 attempts — but then hit 2 of his last 4 from 3.  Since he was their only available point guard, he played almost the entire game — 45 minutes — with 21 pts on 9-22 shooting (2-10 from 3), with 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals. McBride had the Dunk of the Game in the 4th quarter (see below).

McBride also did a tremendous job on defense, keeping Kyrie Irving in check all night. Kyrie was held to a pedestrian 16 points on 7-17 shooting.

Josh Hart was everywhere on Defense — grabbing loose ball rebounds and also took up the scoring slack, turning in his second career triple-double, the first one coming last week. He had 22 pts on 8-22 shooting (3-8 from 3), with 10 rebounds, and 12 assists in 39 minutes.

And Precious Achiuwa: what a godsend he has been at the power forward position. When Hartenstein went down, Achiuwa became the only Knick big besides Taj in the 2nd half. Achiuwa with another great game — 13 points on 6-9 shooting — 16 rebounds, and a block. He snakes in for offensive rebounds and putbacks at the most important times.

4. Knicks Refuse to Quit with Tenacious D

NY entered the 4th quarter down by 16 points, at 87-71. All they needed was to hit 9 straight 3’s, we tweeted at the time — as had been done to them in the 4th quarter the game before by Memphis.

The Knicks started off doing just that — back-to-back 3’s by McBride and DiVincenzo — then McBride with a deuce and DiVincenzo with a drive and a 3 and NY was down 12 (as on the other end Doncic kept scoring).

Then Deuce McBride stole the ball and went full court for the Dunk of the game — and 1 — and NY was down 101-90 with 6:43 left.

A Game of 3’s

  • But Josh Green hit a 3-and-1 from the corner, fouled by McBride as he was falling out of bounds, for a 4-pt play down the other end to seemingly subdue Knick momentum.
  • The Knicks don’t quit though: Josh Hart hit a 3 to pull NY right back to within 12.
  • Doncic countered with a 3, but Josh Hart hit Another 3 and NY was again down 12 but then Doncic hit Another 3 and NY was down 15 again with 5:18 left.
  • Jacob Toppin grabbed an offensive rebound for a slam — his first bucket in the NBA — and then DiVincenzo was fouled taking a 3 and made all free throws and NY was right back in it — down 10 with 4:35 left.
  • A DiVincenzo drive off a Hart pass with 3:27 left pulled NY to within 8.

5. Dallas Pulls Away at End

But Dallas countered with a 10-2 run to take the game — highlighted by a Hardaway drive and then a 3, and a Luka 3 for the ballgame.

The Boxscore


Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.