New York Drops Dallas, 93–77

After a silly first half, the Knicks blow by the Dirk-less Mavs

Photo: via @nyknicks

The New York Knickerbockers and the Dallas Mavericks played a professional basketball game tonight at Madison Square Garden, or so I’m told.

What started out as what appeared to be a 10-year-old’s AAU practice ended up in blowout style. Early on, the Knicks couldn’t get anything going, and they finished a frustrating first half shooting 39 percent and 28 percent from deep, as they were stuffed at the rim five times, while turning the ball over a whopping 10 times.

There appeared to be no offensive game plan, or at least the strategy wasn’t properly executed. There was a flurry of poor, contested shots, as well as a number of wide-open layups that no one was able to convert.

It should also be noted that with Dirk Nowitzki ruled out right before tip-off, Dallas was only entering this game with one real offensive option; Harrison Barnes. I promise, you read that correctly.

Barnes had a great first half, but cooled-off as the game wore on. He still finished with 20 points and four rebounds, but he was rendered useless for much of the second half.

The turning point came at the start of the second half, not because of some magical shift of momentum but a sort of statement by Coach Jeff Hornacek, who started a smaller lineup, thus benching Joakim Noah. Hornacek started the third quarter with a lineup of Rose-Holiday-Lee-Melo-KP. The spacing was tremendous, however the catalyst was Justin Holiday.

Holiday finished with 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting but where he really helped in the third quarter was on the defensive end, including a highlight play where he stuffed a jumper, ran out on the break and finished in transition, showing the two-way style of play Justin can contribute to the team this season.

via @joefranco95

Coupled with Holiday’s brilliance was Kristaps and Carmelo getting hot at the same time, thus sparking a massive third quarter run. It should be noted that this was no coincidence; one thing I’ve whined about extensively was seeing the small-ball lineups more often. Hornacek tinkered with the lineup at the perfect time, allowing bully-ball ‘Melo to take advantage of a small Dallas team, which in turn created the spacing Kristaps needs to score more effectively.

This game got out of hand towards the end of the third quarter, and while the box score shows this game as a blowout, it never quite felt that way. Nonetheless, the Knicks fought back to grind out a win against a team they absolutely should have beaten, and they got the job done.

A few notes:

  • Kristaps finished with a double-double: 24 points and 11 rebounds.
  • Carmelo rebounded after a woeful first half, finishing with 24 points as well, 7 rebounds and 3 assists.
  • Willy Hernangómez seems to have claimed Kyle O’Quinn’s spot as the first big man off of the bench.
  • Look for Hornacek to go back to that small lineup we saw tonight. Some variation of Rose-Holiday-Lee-Carmelo-Kristaps should be the go-to, secondary lineup going forward. Not only does this lineup provide optimal spacing, but it allows for two plus-rated perimeter defends in Holiday and Lee to play together, while allowing ‘Melo and KP to slide into their most effective positions.
  • The Dallas Mavericks alternate jerseys are a disgrace to jerseys everywhere.
  • Finally, our son Kristaps decided to send Dirk an in-game salute:

Next up: The Pistons come to the Garden on Wednesday for game two of their season series with the Knicks.

Check back in with us this week for Episode 4 of The Knicks Wall Podcast!

Kyle Maggio, senior writer

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