Photo Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
New Season, new Knicks, who’s this?
The reign of the Fiz begun with a bang as the New York Knicks clawed their way to an overtime victory over the Washington Wizards, 124-121, to start off their preseason on a positive note.
Already, it’s evident that coach David Fizdale has his fingerprints on the Knicks’ style of play. Throughout the game, the Knicks used their high intensity on defense to create turnovers and get out on the fast break. At times it seemed like the Knicks were trying out for roles in the next Fast and Furious with the speed at which they were playing.
Coming into the season, Steve Mills and Scott Perry laid out a blueprint to build a young and athletic team capable of competing on both ends of the floor. After tonight’s game, it’s clear that Mills and Perry are on the right track to resurrect the Knicks franchise, which has been in the doldrums for years.
In the first half, the Knicks played solid basketball, but mental lapses on offense led to a five-point deficit at halftime, 62-57.
Last season, the Knicks were notorious for coming out sluggish in the third quarter, but tonight, that wasn’t the case, and the Knicks jumped out on a 14-0 run to take a 71-62 lead. Their defense played a vital role in getting themselves back into the game, and Frank Ntilikina and Kevin Knox hit back-to-back threes to cap off the run.
Knox was one of the definite bright spots for the Knicks. The number nine pick in this year’s draft finished with a double-double (13 points and 10 rebounds) in his first game as a Knick.
Late in the fourth, the Knicks held a three-point lead, 108-105, after Tyrus Walker made one of his two free throws, but Jordan McRae made a jumper and knocked in one of two free throws to force the game into overtime.
In overtime, it was the Damyean Dotson show. The Houston product scored 12 of his 14 points in the extra period to lead the Knicks to victory.
There were many positives to take from this game.
- The Knicks played with more defensive intensity in this game than they did throughout half the season last year. It was surprising not hearing the legendary Walt “Clyde” Frazier mentioning the Knicks playing matador defensive more than ten times in one game.
- Also, it’s possible Fizdale may have found his defensive unit to help close deficits in the regular season. Going into the third, Fizdale put out a starting lineup of Ntilikina, Knox, Mario Hezonja, Emmanuel Mudiay, and Mitchell Robinson. Together, they played suffocating defense, and the Wizards couldn’t buy a bucket. That lineup took all of the Wizards’ money and left Bradley Beal and crew broke.
- Last, but not least, Alonzo Trier may be a problem for opposing teams. The undrafted rookie finished with 13 points, and at times, he seemed unguardable. He has a two-way contract with the Knicks, so it’s possible he may start the season in the G-League, but if he keeps up his play, there is no doubt he’ll make the roster.
Overall, based on the first game, the Knicks are going to go through some growing pains, but they’ll be an exciting team to watch this season.
Watch out Knicks fans! There may be some light at the end of the tunnel. For once.