The New York Knicks completed the second leg of a back-to-back on November 17. Who stepped up during the 112-102 loss to the Washington Wizards?
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Nov 17, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; New York Knicks guard Derrick Rose (25) talks with New York Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek against the Washington Wizards during the first half at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
The New York Knicks entered Thursday’s clash with the Washington Wizards on a two-game winning streak. After suffering back-to-back disappointing losses to division rivals, New York registered victories over the Dallas Mavericks and Detroit Pistons.
Unfortunately, New York’s momentum stalled and the team’s energy was lost with it during a 119-112 loss to the Wizards.
New York was lifeless for most of the game, falling behind by as many as 27 points to the Wizards. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter that the Knicks cut into the lead and made the final score respectable.
It’s hard to beat a team that shoots 15-of-25 from beyond the arc, but the Knicks can make no excuses about this loss.
John Wall dominated with 23 points and 11 assists, but this was about more than just one player. New York’s closeouts were lazy and the overall level of intensity was undeniably disappointing from a team on a winning streak.
Fortunately for Knicks fans who are searching for a silver lining, the following players managed to turn in quality performances.
Oct 8, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks guard Justin Holiday (8) during the first half against the Brooklyn Nets at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
New York Knicks fans are quickly learning to love backup shooting guard Justin Holiday. His energy, defensive tenacity, and 3-point shooting have been reliable skills for the Knicks over the course of the past five games.
With his performance against the Washington Wizards, Holiday continued to solidify his place as a bright spot on an otherwise questionable second unit.
Holiday played 23 valuable minutes for the Knicks, recording marks of eight points, four rebounds, one assist, and one steal. He shot 2-of-3 from the field, 1-of-2 from beyond the arc, and 3-of-4 from the free throw line.
In what was more of a blowout loss than the final score would imply, Holiday managed to produce a +/- of +8 in 23 minutes.
Holiday’s size, length, and athleticism have helped the Knicks on both ends of the floor in 2016-17. He does an excellent job of finding holes in opposing defenses and has been just as helpful with his length defensively.
For what it’s worth, Holiday is averaging 9.0 points, 3.6 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.8 blocks, 0.8 steals, and 1.2 3-point field goals made in 22.4 minutes over the past five games.
Nov 17, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; New York Knicks guard Brandon Jennings (3) dribbles the ball against the Washington Wizards during the first half at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Brandon Jennings entered this game with an average of 6.2 points in 20.6 minutes on a slash line of .328/.281/.739. It wasn’t just a matter of Jennings shooting poorly; he shied away from quality shot attempts throughout the first 11 games.
Though the result wasn’t ideal for the team, it was nothing short of exhilarating to see Jennings embrace his scoring prowess in the fourth quarter of the loss to Washington.
Jennings finished with a season-high 17 points, 10 assists, five rebounds, three offensive boards, and one steal in 24 minutes. He shot 7-of-10 from the field and went 3-of-5 from beyond the arc in his first display of confidence as a scorer with the Knicks.
In a game that the Knicks lost by seven points, Jennings somehow managed to record a +/- of +19 in his 24 minutes of court time.
Jennings doesn’t need to post a nightly double-double, but he must remain confident in his scoring prowess. He’s passed out of layups and open jump shots throughout the 2016-17 season, and it wasn’t until the New York Knicks were down double-digits against Washington that he shot freely.
Jennings’ creativity and value as a facilitator is immense, but the Knicks need more games like this from a scoring perspective.
New York Knicks fans are beginning to call for Mindaugas Kuzminskas to get more playing time. He’s a crafty and motivated player who has the skill set and physical tools to be an offensive game-changer for the Knicks.
Against the Washington Wizards, Kuzminskas was fearless in his approach to shooting and taking advantage of the opportunity to find the court.
Kuzminskas finished with eight points, one rebound, one assist, and one steal in seven high-quality minutes off the bench. He did so on 3-of-5 shooting from the field and let the 3-ball fly for 2-of-3 shooting from beyond the arc.
Kuzminskas still has work to do on the defensive end of the floor, but he’s proven himself to be an effective offensive player.
The Knicks’ second unit is in need of offensive firepower, which could be why Jeff Hornacek gave Kuzminskas this opportunity to shine. The rookie from Lithuania has consistently impressed when he’s taken the court in 2016-17.
Whenever he plays, it seems as though it’s only a matter of time before Kuzminskas earns a more consistent role with the Knicks.
Nov 17, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; New York Knicks guard Derrick Rose (25) dribbles past Washington Wizards guard John Wall (2) during the first half at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Though the effort of virtually every other New York Knicks player can be questioned, Derrick Rose left it all on the court against the Washington Wizards. He played with a fire and a passion on both ends of the floor in what was his best game as a Knick.
If this is a sign of things to come from Rose, then Knicks fans can rest easy knowing that he’s still one of the most dynamic scorers in the NBA.
Rose went off for a season-high 27 points, four assists, two rebounds, and one steal in 39 energetic minutes. He shot 8-of-18 from the field and 8-of-8 from the free throw line, but the truly impressive showing was from beyond the arc.
Rose shot 3-of-5 from 3-point range for his first game with at least three 3-point field goals made since January 22, 2016—a stretch of more than 40 games played.
Rose’s improved jump shooting could be the key to the Knicks’ starting lineup finding its identity offensively. It’d give New York four reasonable threats from midrange and beyond the arc, with Joakim Noah embracing his role as a rim roller.
It’d normally be appropriate to criticize Rose for only having four assists, but he was the only Knicks player creating offense for a vast majority of this game.