Photo Credit: AP Photo/Alastair Grant
The New York Knicks continue to find new ways to lose
The New York Knicks traveled to London, England to take on the Washington Wizards. Losers of their last five games, the Knicks were hoping that playing on English soil would help bring some luck to their game. On the other hand, the Wizards were hoping to keep the good vibes flowing. Lately, the Wizards have been picking up steam. Winners of five of their last eight games, the Wizards have shown a glimpse of life since John Wall went down with a season-ending injury.
Recently, the Knicks tanking game has been on point. Since December, Gotham’s finest have lost 17 of their last 20 games. New York’s version of “The Process” is alive and well, and the Knicks continued down the path to Zion Williamson by losing to the Wizards in the most improbable of ways. David Fizdale prepared his troops wonderfully for the game, but it seems like his troops also snuck the tank onto the flight to London as well.
The Knicks lost the game in London due to goaltending
With 3.3 seconds left on the clock, the Knicks led 100-99. All the Knicks had to do was prevent the Wizards from scoring to win the game. Wizards star Bradley Beal was the only player in the backcourt to start the inbounds play.
Beal ran up the court full speed to receive the pass, then Thomas Bryant set a hard screen on Tim Hardaway Jr. With Hardaway Jr out of the play, Noah Vonleh stepped up to guard Beal while Bryant slipped to the basket. Once Hardaway Jr recovered, he doubled Beal with Vonleh which left Bryant rolling to the rim by himself. Instead of taking the shot, Beal passed the ball to a wide-open Bryant who rose for a game-winning layup. Allonzo Trier came from the weak side to block Bryant’s attempted layup, but the referee called goaltending. The Knicks ended up losing 101-100.
It’s not often a team loses a game on a goaltending call, but the Knicks did the improbable. To add insult to injury, the Knicks held a 19-point lead nearly midway through the second quarter. Not only did the Knicks find a new way to lose, but they also blew a commanding lead. At this point, maybe the Knicks brass can teach Sam Hinkie a thing or two about how to tank more discreetly.
For the first three quarters, the Knicks played exceptional basketball
Through three quarters, the Knicks played great basketball. In the first half, the Knicks were on fire from deep. Luke Kornet led the charge in the first quarter by nailing four 3-pointers, and as a team, the Knicks shot 9-of-18 from long range. At halftime, the Knicks led 63-53, and in the third quarter, the Knicks continued to play inspired ball.
Emmanuel Mudiay led the charge for the Knicks in the third quarter. He scored 10 of the Knicks’ 26 points, and he helped propel the Knicks to a 12-point lead, 89-77, to end the quarter. Throughout the season, one of the main issues for the Knicks have been the inability to play a complete game. That issue reared its ugly head once again in the fourth quarter.
The Knicks were colder than the London breeze in the fourth
To start the fourth, the Knicks were colder than the brisk weather in London. In other words, the players couldn’t throw a ball into an ocean if they were standing on a beach. The Knicks couldn’t buy a basket until Mudiay nailed a floater with 6:48 remaining. By the 4:34 mark, Otto Porter nailed a pull-up jumper to cap off a Wizards 15-2 run to regain the lead, 92-91. Ultimately, the Knicks inability to move the ball and make shots led to their demise.
Knicks’ second unit performed well in London
Mudiay’s performance was lively. He led the Knicks with 25 points, but he also had a team worst +/- of -12. Overall, the starters performed well, but the Knicks’ second unit gave the Wizards fits. Damyean Dotson and Trier performed well off the bench. Both players shot 5-of-8 and provided 13 points with solid defense. Also, despite his bad shooting, Frank Ntilikina made an impact in his limited minutes on the floor. In 17 minutes, he shot 1-of-7, but he played with high energy and solid defense. He had a game-high +/- of +11.
Mitchell Robinson returned from his lengthy injury spell
Another positive for the Knicks was the return of Mitchell Robinson. He missed the last 13 games due to a groin and ankle injury, and he looked healthy in limited time. Once he stepped on the court, it was clear the Knicks missed his activity on defense and the boards. Also, his ability to catch lobs off the pick-and-roll and finishing at the rim will be a welcome addition to a faltering Knicks offense.