Y’all. Welcome to the 2015-2016 NBA season, where the New York Knickerbockers pounce playoff teams in real, meaningful games by 25 points. If you missed last night’s 122 – 97 trouncing by the new New York Knicks, then you missed a lot. We have an official team. An actual squad that plays cohesive basketball, and are kind of menacing on both ends of the court.
To start, the Knicks fell behind early. But then coach Derek Fisher inserted my two favorite bench guys, Derrick Williams and Kyle O’Quinn, and suddenly everything in Knicksland changed. Wait. Do we have nicknames for this duo yet? We need nicknames for them. Teams are going to dread seeing these guys get off the bench and wait at the check-in table. Trust me. They block shots, grab rebounds, force turnovers, tip balls, and play the type of aggressive Knicks basketball that’s been missing since, dare I say the ’90s (but on a much milder scale that wouldn’t have registered in the ’90s but given how soft the league has gotten is hailed as greatness). Tyson Chandler brought a lot of that to the team, but he’s one guy. Now we have two doing it. Also, another major difference between Chandler and Williams/O’Quinn is that Williams, who many deemed a 2011 NBA draft bust, plays both ends of the floor. Whereas Chandler had zero offensive game, Williams, last night’s leading scorer, knocked down eight buckets for 24 points, grabbed 7 rebounds, and blocked 1 shot. It was glorious. In fact, the whole second unit put in work. Before they entered the game, the Knicks were down 6-11 and just not hitting shots. After the substitutions, the Knicks closed out the 1st quarter on top 27-23 and never lost the lead. Fisher stuck with the reserves to start the 2nd quarter and the lead continued to swell and they eventually pulled away after going on a 15-0 run, and boom (!) the rest is history.
As for rookie sensation Kristaps Porzingis? Well, he was jittery early on and missed the majority of his shots in the first half. But after the half, he settled into his game and played a lot better. Without question, he needs to bulk up so he can finish better, but I was encouraged by his ability to get calls. KP finished with 16 points. He went 9-12 from the line, and 1-2 from the three. Not bad at all for the rookie’s big pro debut.
And Langston Galloway, holy cow! Whenever the Bucks looked like they were set to make a run, Galloway’s fire power from beyond the arc would crush their hopes and dreams. It was beautiful and astonishing. He finished with 16 points, 3 assists, and 4 rebounds.
I didn’t forget about Melo. It’s just that he was not as much of a factor last night. His shot was off. He went 4-16, and finished with 11 points in 25 minutes. Despite Melo not having the best of games, there’s no doubt that his presence on the floor will create opportunities for other guys because of him being double-teamed. So even when he’s out there and not playing well, it’s not all bad. Also, he showed up in other areas of the box score — 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 1 block.
Overall, it was a very impressive and dominate showing by the Knicks. I mean, the Knicks scored 122 points. 122!!! Eight players scored in double figures. EIGHT! The bench put up 73 points! There were some games last season when scoring 73 points was a reach. They also pushed the ball and played at a faster pace that suggests that maybe… just maybe they’ll be able to compete with some of the teams out West, and maybe…just maybe they’ll be better than a seven or eight seed team.
I’m totally aware that it was the first Knicks game of the season. I’m totally aware that O.J. Mayo (injured hamstring) nor Giannias Antetokounmpo (serving suspension) played during last night’s contest. I’m wholeheartedly aware that the Knicks beat LeBron James’s Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 2 last season and then went on to lose 66 games. Someone who’s followed the Knicks as long as I have is extremely aware of all these things, but if you want to be a buzzkill and diminish the Knicks win by relaying the unnecessary, well then, you live a miserable life and I feel sorry for you. I’m going to enjoy the Knicks spoiling the Bucks home opener for all that it’s worth, eagerly anticipate tonight’s Knicks home opener against the Atlanta Hawks, and pray for a 2-0 start.
photo via AP/Darren Hauck