The New York Knicks knocked out 130-118 San Antonio Spurs on Sunday night to end a run of 18 home defeats. In itself, it's a pretty shocking development, but it's all the more serious when you know that the Knicks are in tank mode in the race for Zion Williamson, fortunately not too hurt. How is New York trying to stall the project's number one choice?
Well, for starters, Dennis Smith Jr. and Kevin Knox, two of the Knicks' most excited young projects, teamed up to score on their own Sunday basket:
The young players of the Knicks – and there are many – seem to have fully adhered to the tank as a result of shocking trade that sent Kristaps Porzingis to the Mavericks the week before the trading deadline. They go to every game and see only what they can do to make the logical shooting selections cursed. This basketball joy was exposed Sunday as the kids managed to lead the troubled Spurs (who lost six of their last seven) to the depths of Penn Station.
Dennis Smith Jr., considered by some as a touch to the Porzingis trade and by others as an essential part of the The imaginary future of Kevin Durantian of the Knicks, adopted the title of Guy after losing this role in Dallas after the arrival of Steps back from Luka Doncic. In nine games in New York, DSJ is shooting three more times per game than it was as Maverick, and its utilization rate is also on the rise. We can not ignore that he shot 27.6% deep, but as the Knicks are not trying to win too many games, why not let him chuck to see what he has?
On Sunday, Smith had his most creative game since arriving in New York, finishing with 13 assists, with 19 points and six assists. He also clocked up the NBA a week ago with Mitchell Robinson, who remains the most fun player in the Knicks' core:
Robinson was a low threat against the Spurs, especially on the defensive side, where he finished with five blocks – he has already become one of the league's best pure shot blockers. On the other side, he picked up six offensive boards (out of a total of 14) and escaped five of the seven shots, including the aforementioned transition slam. While the rest of the young Knicks players seem to have a major weakness in their game, Robinson has always been impressive in this rookie year. In the lead up to the break, Robinson averaged 11.5 points on a ridiculous 72.5% shot (plus 8.5 rebounds and three blocks) over the Knicks' last six games before the All-Canada break. Star, and Sunday was pretty much the same thing.
The real star of San Antonio domination, however, was the 44th pick of 2017, Damyean Dotson, who scored 27 points on 8 shots out of 13 shots behind the arc; He only made one shot from the three-point line throughout the match, but that did not matter.
Dotson was not a particularly prolific shooter as he approached this season, but with the Knicks in tank mode, he had more of a green light. He was helped last night by a lazy Spurs defensive effort, as Gregg Popovich grumpily complained of the post-match, describing the defense of his team as "pathetic" and joking (?) about slitting their throats as penance.
But it seems more and more that the Knicks might have some future plays for their claiming contender. It does not make it any less shocking to win against a real live basketball team, but it helps at least to explain why all the stars have come together to give New York its first MSG victory since December 1, a victory in overtime on the East. Milwaukee Bucks.
A match will not hurt Porlezis' trade for Knicks fans, and some would have preferred the same performance but with a big L at the end. Just ask Spike Lee, who replied, "We're trying to make the tank" when Samuel L. Jackson moved away from his Oscar presentation for BlacKkKlansman director with an updated score:
Spike had the good idea, but for one night, worshipers in the garden had more to celebrate than a slight increase in lottery odds.