This game was way more exciting than it needed to be. The Knicks squandered a 23 point in an 8 minute span to start the 3rd, but tightened up their defense and made their free throws down the stretch to come away with the win.
This was really a two man race and we can’t give it to Kristaps every night. O’Quinn played an emotional and aggressive brand of basketball that Knicks fans have come to love and it worked in every facet of the game. He crashed the boards (15 rebs), got to the free-throw line (9/10), blocked shots (5), and generally energized the team in his 21 minutes. In the last 3 minutes O’Quinn pulled down some big rebounds and got a timely block that prevented the Nuggets from finishing their comeback.
The Knicks defense seemed pretty indifferent to guarding people at the three-point line tonight. The result: a lot of open three point attempts for the Nuggets. Denver shot just 41.2% from the field but 43.9% from distance on 41 attempts. Three-point defense was a problem for the Knicks last year so Knicks fans have to hope this was an aberration rather than a return to their prior struggles.
-Damyean Dotson saw 6 early minutes in the first half and managed to pull down 5 rebounds.
-Willy Hernangomez entered the game as Jeff Hornacek looked to send a message to Enes Kanter for failing to get back on defense but ultimately Willy saw only 3 minutes.
-The Knicks shot 13/32 (40.6%) from 3, counteracting the Nuggets hot shooting night.
-Porzingis set a new career high with 38 points.
-Ramon Sessions had his 3rd straight DNP-CD, while Jarrett Jack tallied 6 points and 10 assists (9 in the first half). With Joakim Noah coming back from suspension in 6 games, it was believed Jack would be the player cut to make room, but after the last 3 games it would be hard to cut him.
The Knicks stay at the Garden to play James Harden and the Rockets on Wednesday night. The Rockets have been without perennial all-NBA point guard Chris Paul since their season opener but have managed to start the season 5-3. The Knicks will need to figure out there 3-point defense to run with the Rockets, who lead the league with more than 43 3 point attempts per game.