Photo Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports
The “Knicks Tank” continues to roll on
Going into the All-Star break, the New York Knicks were on a high. Last Thursday, against the Atlanta Hawks, the Knicks were finally able to snap their franchise-worst 18-game losing streak. After the win, there was reluctant hope from the fanbase that the Knicks may have parked the tank for good. Then came All-Star weekend.
Dennis Smith Jr. tried to put on a show for the crowd in the Slam Dunk contest, in his native North Carolina. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to pull out the victory, but there was also no tanking to his performance. Despite still being unlucky as a franchise, there were slight signs that a turnaround was on the horizon for the orange and blue. Then came last night’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Minnesota didn’t have Karl Anthony Towns due to concussion protocol. On his way to the airport in Minnesota, he got into a car accident and had to sit out the first NBA game of his young career. Without Towns, the Timberwolves still managed to help the “Knicks Tank” return to prime form with a 115-104 win at Madison Square Garden. With that loss, the Knicks have now lost 18 straight home games.
The highlight of the game for the Knicks
The losses at home may be flowing like the Hudson River, but the Knicks still have moments and performances that leave hope for the future. One of the shining moments for New York last night was the emphatic dunk by Smith Jr. in the first quarter.
Down by 3, 15-12, DeAndre Jordan sent Andrew Wiggins shot back to the sender. As usual, the postal service is unreliable at times. Kevin Knox grabbed the rebound, and the ball was pushed to Smith Jr. The lane opened up like the Red Sea, and with no regards to life, he attacked the lane, rose up, and slammed it home one-handed. That dunk got the Knicks bench and the crowd out of their seats.
NO ONE IS SAFE ‼ pic.twitter.com/EJlRZlUf6s— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) February 23, 2019
Smith Jr. ended the night with 7 points, 7 assists.
Damyean Dotson and Allonzo Trier showed out
While Smith Jr. will most likely make SportsCenter with his highlight dunk, the Knicks also had solid performances from several players. Damyean Dotson and Allonzo Trier both finished with 20 points. Eighteen of Dotson’s 20 points came in the first quarter when he was hotter than a summer night in Miami. Unlike Dotson, Trier’s points were more spread out, and he needed a good game to boost his confidence. Jordan took advantage of a Towns-less Timberwolves team and dominated the glass.
DeAndre Jordan had a solid performance
In the end, Jordan finished with 19 rebounds, which is a team-high this season. Also, he scored 16 points to notch the 300th double-double of his career, and for good measure, he added two blocks to his stat line. Despite losing, it wouldn’t have been frowned upon if Jordan decided to flex his muscles after the performance he put in.
Emmanuel Mudiay returns from injury
Emmanuel Mudiay returned from injury and had a solid performance. He finished with 16 points to go with 6 rebounds. He didn’t shoot well from the field (6-16), which is understandable since he’s recovering from a shoulder injury, but his play helped spark a mild Knicks comeback in the fourth quarter. Kevin Knox also had a solid game; he contributed with 18 points. Also, he was solid on the glass, grabbing 7 rebounds.
The Timberwolves began to pull away in the second quarter
New York started the game strongly. Then Timberwolves began to pull away in the second quarter — thanks to Anthony Tolliver. After Trier cut Minnesota’s lead to two, 43-41, with 8:10 remaining, Tolliver went to work. He nailed a three to push the Timberwolves advantage to five. Afterward, Josh Okogie slammed it
Timberwolves shut the Knicks comeback down in the fourth
Eventually, Minnesota grew the lead to 19 in the fourth quarter. New York tried to mount a comeback and cut the lead to eight, but Jeff Teague and Taj Gibson made sure to shut the Knicks noise quickly.
After Mudiay cut the Timberwolves lead to eight, Teague nailed a floater with 3:47 remaining to increase Minnesota’s lead to ten. Mudiay missed his shot attempt on the next possession, then Teague found Gibson for the alley-oop slam to seal the win.
Derrick Rose led all Timberwolves scorers with 20 points. Gibson and Teague both finished with double-doubles. Gibson scored 19 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, and Teague had 11 dimes to go with 12 points. Wiggins, Tolliver, and Dario Saric contributed with 17, 16, and 13 points respectively.
Updated Zion Williamson standings
The “Knicks Tank” was parked temporarily. Now, it’s back to its best! Currently, the Knicks are second in the Zion Williamson standings with an 11-48 record — only bested by the Phoenix Suns (11-49). The next game for the Knicks, on this long journey to Zion, is the San Antonio Spurs at MSG on Sunday night.