Photo Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
Knicks started off strong against the Pelicans
After suffering three straight blowout defeats, the New York Knicks seemed to get back on track against the New Orleans Pelicans at Smoothie King Center. In New York’s previous two games, a common factor which contributed to the blowout losses were poor starts to the first quarter. With the lack of offensive firepower the Knicks have, the players can ill-afford to fall behind by 15+ points early. Against the Pelicans, the Knicks came out the starting block blazing like Usain Bolt.
It’s unclear what David Fizdale told his players or how he ran the practice leading to the game, but one thing is clear, whatever Fizdale did, it worked wonders. Well, it’s either that or the players made sure to eat their Wheaties before they stepped on the court. The Knicks started the game beating the Pelicans at their own game. Emmanuel Mudiay got the start at point guard, and he pushed the pace at will.
Overall, the Knicks were spectacular on both ends of the court. On offense, the Knicks played fast and launched three-pointers like as if they’re the Golden State Warriors. On defense, the Knicks were swarming and contested every shot. Unlike their previous two games, there was no case of “hand down, man down” as Mark Jackson would say.
With their energized play, the Knicks jumped out to a 16-point lead in the first and eventually increased their lead to 19 in the second quarter. Unfortunately, in typical Knicks fashion, New York faltered when the game mattered the most.
Knicks falter in the fourth quarter, as usual
Throughout three quarters, the Knicks were able to stave off multiple Pelicans comebacks. For a moment, it seemed like the Knicks would pull out a victory, but as fans know, when it comes to the Knicks, no lead is ever safe. Nearly halfway through the fourth quarter, Tim Hardaway Jr. slammed the ball in the lane to give the Knicks a 114-103 lead. Afterward, the Pelicans went on a 9-0 run to cut the Knicks lead to two.
Despite almost blowing the lead, the Knicks continued to battle. Mitchell Robinson‘s putback off of Damyean Dotson‘s miss and Trey Burke‘s jumper restored the Knicks lead to six. After Burke’s basket, there was 4:12 left in the game. At this moment, Knicks fans hopes and dreams of capturing a win were still intact. Then those hopes and dreams crashed and burned within the next two minutes.
Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday ignited the Pelicans come back
Anthony Davis started the onslaught with an alley-oop dunk from an assist from Jrue Holiday. This play ignited the Pelicans to go on an 8-1 run to take the lead. Julius Randle nailed two free throws to give the Pelicans a 120-119 advantage with 2:33 remaining. Randle’s free throws signaled the end of the Knicks. What transpired afterward was another Holiday to Davis hook up for an alley-oop slam to push the Pelicans lead to three.
Hardaway Jr. made two free throws after Holiday and Davis’ electrifying play, but that did little to stop the Pelicans momentum. On the next possession, Davis got fouled and went to the free throw line. Davis ended up missing both free throws, but nobody boxed out Randle, who tipped the ball into the basket. That play broke the Knicks back, and to add more insult to injury, Holiday later sealed the game nailing a huge three to give the Pelicans a six-point lead with 35.2 seconds remaining.
Pelicans and Knicks team stats
Davis had a monster game. His 43 points and 17 rebounds led the Pelicans to a close 129-124 victory over the Knicks. Holiday was Davis’ right-hand man. He dropped 24 points and dished out 10 assists. Nikola Mirotic and Randle both had double-doubles. Mirotic finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds, and Randle finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds.
Hardaway Jr. led the Knicks with a quiet 30 points and 8 rebounds performance. Burke finally woke out of his slumber and looked like the Burke of old. He contributed with 24 points on 10-of-13 shooting. Mudiay scored a season-high 19 points. Kevin Knox and Allonzo Trier finished with 11 points each.
Knicks show promise against the Pelicans
Even though the Knicks suffered their fourth straight loss, their performance against the Pelicans was encouraging. The Knicks started strong unlike their previous two games, and the players carried that same energy throughout the game. As usual, the issue with the Knicks is closing out games. At the moment, the players are taking their lumps, but in the long-run, those lumps will benefit the young Knicks.
Also, on the bright side, those lumps will lead the Knicks farther on the road to Zion.