It’s not common for the Knicks to go 4-0 in anything these days, but when it comes to facing the Nets, they now know what being undefeated feels like.
Picking up an 111-95 victory over Brooklyn on Tuesday night, New York completed the season-sweep over its local rival. It was a short but sweet return home for the Knicks, who will now venture out to Boston and Milwaukee the rest of the week following a burdensome west coast road trip. Given the team’s most recent ups and downs, even the smallest bit of home cooking surely proved to benefit this group.
Donning an alternative uniform that was customized to honor the Big Apple’s firemen, the Knicks had extra motivation to play with pride and represent the city well. Luckily for their local heroes, New York did not disappoint.
Tallying his third consecutive 20 point effort, Enes Kanter hit the hardwood with his usual fire and desire and threw in plenty of increased physicality on a night like this. Taking advantage of a somewhat depleted Nets’ frontline, Kanter grabbed a game-high 20 rebounds, especially exhibiting a healthy bit of fight on the offensive glass. The big man kept opportunities alive for the Knicks to continue pouring in the points. What’s more, Kanter quickly came to realize that while he dominated the paint, Kristaps Porzingis was there to benefit from some increased space out along the perimeter. Kanter led the way for the Knicks with an impressive 5 assists as Porzingis connected on six daggers from deep en route to scoring 28 points himself. New York had a terrific flow to their offense, converting on thirteen long balls and shooting 50% from downtown in the contest.
Of course, the flow of the offense was never a problem for New York as they ventured out west this past week. Still, there’s no doubt they appreciated being able to cash in on such prowess and actually see it result in a victory for a change. The fact remains that they need to get defensive stops and play with the same intensity through 48 minutes, not allowing their effort to waver as crunch time nears. But alas, such pressure wasn’t on against a weaker team like the Nets. The Knicks still have plenty of growth opportunities, but they can appreciate securing this victory in the meantime.
The home team had good energy from the get go in this one and their high chemistry and ball movement allowed them to jump out to a commanding early lead. Still, their point guard play is an ongoing cause of concern. Jarret Jack seems to be taken back by uneven minutes following the acquisition of Trey Burke. He played just 19 minutes and hasn’t appeared as confident as of late. Frank Ntilikina received 26 minutes and logged 8 points and 5 assists, but appears to benefit more playing off the ball. He has improved in taking what the defense gives him and hoisting up the three-point shots when the situation he calls for it. He needs to be more aggressive in penetrating through the lane and making things happen. Playing Ntilikina alongside Trey Burke has some benefits, but the two leaves much to be desired when playing together in the backcourt.
In any event, the Knicks still have plenty to work on, but this victory was a welcomed one.