Photo: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Mitchell Robinson shined in New York win
In the battle for New York supremacy, the New York Knicks served up a 115-96 beatdown of the Brooklyn Nets at Madison Square Garden. New York snapped a five-game losing streak and got revenge for an early-season loss suffered against Brooklyn on the road. Tonight’s win by the Knicks was a total team effort led by Tim Hardaway Jr. with 25 points and 8 assists. Hardaway Jr. may have been getting the buckets, but the star of the show was Mitchell Robinson.
After the blowout loss to the Golden State Warriors, Rasheed Wallace participated in the Knicks practice to help the big men. Wallace focused on Robinson and taught him the importance of communication on defense. Against the Nets, Robinson showed his ability to soak up information quickly. He was all over the court guarding big men or guards, and his rotations were on point. If Robinson continues to absorb information at this rate, don’t be surprised if he starts yelling “ball don’t lie” whenever opponents miss free throws.
Robinson was perfect shooting the ball. He hit all five of his shots and finished with 11 points and 3 rebounds. Enes Kanter had a monster game off the bench. He scored 15 points, and he dominated the glass grabbing 15 rebounds. Frank Ntilikina continues to be aggressive on offense and finished with 16 points. Overall, New York had seven players scoring in double-digits.
For Brooklyn, Spencer Dinwiddie and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson led the team scoring 17 points and 16 points respectively. D’Angelo Russell added 13 points. Caris LeVert couldn’t buy a basket if his life depended on it. He could only muster 4 points on 2-of-11 shooting.
Caris LeVert couldn’t breathe on offense
In their previous game, the Knicks made LeVert look like the second coming of Michael Jordan. LeVert got any shot he wanted, and he nailed the game-winning shot to put the Knicks away. Tonight, as a team, the Knicks made sure LeVert couldn’t breathe on offense. Every screen LeVert ran off of there was a Knicks defender in his face. If LeVert tried to drive to the basket, the Knicks defense collapsed on him. Throughout the game, the Knicks stuck to LeVert like bees on honey.
New York overcame Brooklyn’s fast start in the first half
Speaking of honey, Brooklyn started the game off sweet. Thanks to two threes by Russell and a three by Joe Harris, Brooklyn jumped out to an 11-3 lead. Brooklyn enjoyed an early run of success, but tonight, New York came with the pain. New York shifted the momentum back in their favor with a 9-2 run to end the first quarter and tie the game at 26. In the second quarter, both teams exchanged baskets until Hardaway Jr. woke up from his offensive slumber.
With 3:09 left, Hollis-Jefferson sank a midrange jumper to bring Brooklyn within two. After that basket, it was game over for the team whose home is across the Brooklyn Bridge. Hardaway Jr. snapped and reeled off seven straight points to push New York’s lead to eight. Brooklyn tried to end Hardaway Jr.’s run, but Hardaway Jr.’s presence was felt again when he drew a charge on Hollis-Jefferson to keep New York’s momentum flowing. New York ended the half on a 10-2 run, and the players carried the same energy to the second half.
Knicks dominated the Nets in the second half
New York raced out the gates like Secretariat and treated Brooklyn like a junior varsity team in the second half. The play that ignited New York’s demolition of Brooklyn was Robinson’s one-man fast break. Robinson read the passing lane and stole LeVert’s pass which was intended for Jarrett Allen. Using his long strides, Robinson quickly flew down the court, lifted off, and rocked the rim with a one-handed slam. That play sent the Garden crowd into a frenzy. Brooklyn tried to stop the bleeding with a timeout afterward but to no avail.
As the quarter wore on, New York continued to bury their neighbors. New York went on several runs, and a 3-point play by Damyean Dotson capped off a 23-6 run to give New York a 25-point lead. Brooklyn showed some fight late by cutting the Knicks lead to eleven, but that’s as close as Brooklyn would get.
Youth continues to blossom in New York
There are many positives from this game New York can focus on, but the positive which stood out the most is the development of the young players. Both Robinson and Ntilikina continue to show their worth on the court. Robinson has shown that he has a good IQ on defense. Also, he has shown the ability to know when to cut to the rim off screens for easy baskets. Ntilikina is slowly proving his doubters wrong with his newfound confidence and aggressiveness on offense.
Hopefully, New York can continue to carry this momentum into the next game against the Indiana Pacers at home.