In this very winnable game, the Knicks came out wearing their new “statement” jerseys. However, the statement they made was flat and severely lacked energy. Sacramento opened up a 20 point lead by halftime and the Knicks were unable to go on a run in the 3rd to cut the deficit enough to give themselves a chance at winning this game. This was a game filled with an inexcusable lack of effort, tremendously poor defense, and poor shooting for the Knicks. They allowed Sacramento to shoot 48.2% from the floor and 38.5% from three. The Kings drilled 15 three pointers, almost doubling the Knicks 8. They were led by their three top guns De’Aaron Fox (24 points), Buddy Hield (22 points), and Harrison Barnes (19 points). The Kings starting lineup which was rounded out by big men Nemanja Bjelica and Richaun Holmes combined for 89 points shooting 32 of 59 (54.2%) from the field. The Knicks starters didn’t play half as good as that. Marcus Morris and RJ Barrett tried the best they could to keep the Knicks in this game scoring 28 and 22 points respectively. Morris even scored 16 of the Knicks first 38 points! Mitchell Robinson (10 points and 5 rebounds) and Allonzo Trier (11 points and 4 assists) gave solid minutes off of the bench. Kevin Knox unfortunately had a poor night off the bench finishing with only 2 points and not making a single field goal in four attempts. Julius Randle and Bobby Portis Jr. both had a very disappointing night, both turning in their worst performance in a Knicks uniform. Randle finished the night with 7 rebounds and only 8 points on an abysmal 4-13 shooting. Portis Jr. had an equally poor game only scoring 2 points, shooting 1 for 6 from the floor, although he added 6 rebounds. Keep in mind, Coach Fizdale elected to start Portis Jr. over Mitchell Robinson in the hopes of Portis Jr.’s shooting “prowess” opening up the floor to get their “best” player in Julius Randle going early. It is clear that this lineup change proved to be a massive misfire. Bobby has looked much more comfortable coming off the bench and changing the lineup to behoove Randle only added to the pressure he’s been dealing with to be the Knicks top guy. Randle has been playing very tight and hasn’t looked like himself this season thus far. This makes sense due to his new massive contract coming with massive expectations, playing in the biggest basketball city in the World, and consistently drawing double and triple teams for the first time in his career. Randle has made a killing in his young career on the pick and roll. I would imagine if Fizdale wants to get Randle more in rhythm and back to his old self, resulting in him calling more pick and rolls to get Julius going.
Why The Knicks Lost
Going into this game, the Knicks led the league in offensive rebounds and were worst in the league in free throw shooting. The Kings ended up grabbing one more offensive rebound then the Knicks (10 to 9) along with New York’s struggles from the line continuing (20-31, 64.5%). The Knicks are not a great shooting team and everyone knows it. If they are going to win games, it starts on the defensive end. This was their worst game of the season on defense leading to dunks and a barrage of open threes for Sacramento. The entire team looked out of sync all night and the pressure seemed to get to them. The Knicks energy in a game they really could’ve used the win, was flat and unacceptable.
Thankfully 6 of the Knicks next 7 games are against teams that didn’t make the playoffs last year excluding only the Detroit Pistons who they take on tomorrow night at 7:00pm Eastern Time on the road. The Knicks need to get more comfortable playing with each other and I would expect Fizdale to make decisions that play towards his players’ strengths to get them back on track. More pick and rolls from Frank and RJ with Randle, more steady rotations (Mitch back in the starting lineup and Portis Jr. back to the bench), and giving his vets Wayne Ellington and Taj Gibson more run off the bench with Trier, Knox, and Portis Jr.. Wholesale substitutions can help these two units click more on the floor. It will be interesting to see how the Knicks took this punch on Sunday evening. Will they sit down? Or will they fight? Everyone would agree, New York grit coupled with a bunch of “dogs” should result in them throwing a punch back.