The Knicks went 3-3 on this six-game west coast road trip.
I figured the Knicks could beat the Lakers if LeBron James were a no-go, which was the case, but Anthony Davis willed the Lakers as Talen Horton-Tucker’s three propelled the purple and gold to a win. The Knicks fought like hell, though. Everyone wearing NEW YORK on their chest knew what was at stake, and all of them hustled for a win. It didn’t come, but it wasn’t because of a lack of effort.
A special shoutout to Frank Ntilikina. He has been buried on the bench and out of the rotation most of the season. But, with Burks and Quickley absent against the Lakers, Ntilikina hustled back, got into passing lanes, made the offense second guess themselves, and made a few threes. He played 23 minutes and saw himself getting playing time down the stretch in the tough loss.
The Knicks picked up their signature win of the season on Sunday against the Los Angeles Clippers. Fans of the “little brother of the city” Clippers will cry out that they were without Serge Ibaka, but they had All-NBA players Kawhi Leonard and Paul George playing in the game. The Knicks, without Alec Burks and Immanuel Quickley, defeated the Clippers despite Randle not having the best game of the season. He did, however, make clutch shots when it mattered.
Look, this team has gone through a lot…
Even though their best players in Julius Randle and EJ Barrett have been healthy, key players behind them have missed time, especially Mitchell Robinson.
Robinson, you may remember, fractured his hand, had surgery, and rehabbed his way back to break a bone in his foot shortly thereafter. He had to go under the blade again and is rehabbing.
But it’s been “next man up” for New York this season. Nerlens Noel has shown he can be a serviceable anchor on defense, and Fort Greene’s very own Taj Gibson has shown he has something left in the tank. They deserve more praise and love than they are getting. I’m not sure the Knicks are in the position they are without them, given this team’s new identity.
The Pistons gifted Rose to New York, and he has been a great sixth man for Thibodeau and New York. He surely is the most talented point guard on the team and should not be coming off the bench, but that is the fact. I love his role as a sixth man if the Knicks can find themselves a competent starting point guard. I don’t think he should be on the ballot for Sixth Man of the Year, but one could certainly understand a case made for Rose. Had Rose been on this team since the start of the season and in this role, I’d be clamoring for him to be Sixth Man of the Year. But again, if this is his role next year on this team (should he decide to re-sign) and he excels, pencil him in right now and write his name next to JR Smith’s.
I think Leon Rose should be a frontrunner for Executive of the Year.
This team brought back nine players from a season in which they won .318 percent of their games. There was certainly some pessimism among fans about the direction of this team, but Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau has coached this team hard, and they responded.
It just goes to show David Fizdale can never show his face again on the island of Manhattan and its surrounding areas.
At the end of the day, the Knicks fans, who have waited for seven years for a playoff berth, will have to wait just a little bit longer.
Featured Image: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Photo