Courtney Lee’s Big Fourth Quarter Helps Seal The 110–107 Knicks Win
A balanced scoring effort from New York gives the Knicks a feel-good January win
When you have two teams coming off inconsistent streaks, there’s a lot left up to chance. And even with one team having the slight edge, there’s often a wild card that’s going to be relied upon to swing the pendulum.
Tonight, it was the Knicks’ best off-season acquisition, Courtney Lee.
This season, Lee is one of the league’s top three-point shooters, averaging 43 percent with just three attempts per game. With the Knicks’ Big 3, Lee is often an afterthought in the offense though. Well once again, he exhibited the skill set of being able to take over a game with his scoring and offensive awareness.
The Knicks have started their second halves characteristically with a lot of fumbling. Their good starts have sometimes been negated as things fell off the rails in the late third to early fourth quarter. Fortunately, Courtney Lee was the savior.
He had three straight buckets, including a block and then a great look to the corner for a Brandon Jennings’ three. Lee did it all and stepped up to the challenge, leading the Knicks to a win when its big stars were having a not-so-hot night.
Because Kristaps Porzingis has missed a few games and taken some time to find his groove, in his absence other Knicks have stolen the shine a bit. But for now, he appears to be quite healthy again. KP must have had Jay Z’s “Reminder” in his playlist.
Returning to the starting lineup, KP had the hot start in the first quarter going 4-for-4 from beyond the arc. He also had two first half monster dunks.
In the second half, he fell back on the offensive end. In exchange, he found himself in the familiar foul trouble. It was confusing as to why he was still on the floor with five fouls when Willy Hernangómez could have been playing in the filler minutes.
What worked well:
- Plugging Willy Hernangómez in early. Coach Hornacek decided to give the young guy some minutes in the first half and it paid off for the Knicks to get them a decent lead in the first half. Unfortunately, tonight he didn’t offer anything in the way of offense. He also shared his minutes with Kyle O’Quinn — they played 15 and 16 minutes, respectively. Although O’Quinn clearly had the upside on the scoring end.
- I mentioned Brandon Jennings’s big three in the fourth quarter, but more surprisingly, he had zero turnovers. That’s impressive from a point guard who is prone to turning the ball over out of pure carelessness. Jennings finished with 6-for-11 with 15 points.
What didn’t work well:
- The Knicks didn’t communicate switching on Kemba Walker. Multiple times, KP was left one on one guarding Walker outside of the paint. Additionally, Walker was able to drive past his man to get easy layups. Indicative of problems that have plagued the porous Knicks’ defense all season, there were little to no attempts to seal the paint. Even Marco Belinelli — a guy who is notoriously known as a catch and shoot long distance shooter — was able to get a couple of finishes at the rim.
- ‘Melo. His night was so ugly that the crowd was booing up until he made a clutch shot in the final few seconds. Shooters gon’ shoot but ‘Melo made up for it on the defensive end, once again getting double-figure boards (11) and a block.
- Guarding the three-point. Marvin Williams was 5-for-9 from long distance. Nicolas Batum hit three long ones. At one point in the game, the Hornets were shooting 44 percent from beyond the arc. The Knicks gave up far too many clean looks.
For the Knicks, there’s only way to go but up. Courtney Lee is locked in on his own game. For the Knicks’ sake, hopefully the cool, quiet leadership carries them forward to more wins.
— James Woodruff, site writer