Do you know what is significant about the sentence below?
“Dennis, Nell, Edna, Leon, Nedra, Anita, Rolf, Nora, Alice, Carol, Leo, Jane, Reed, Dena, Dale, Basil, Rae, Penny, Lana, Dave, Denny, Lena, Ida, Bernadette, Ben Ray, Lila, Nina, Jo, Ira, Mara, Sara, Mario, Jan, Ina, Lily, Arne, Bette, Dan, Reba, Diane, Lynn, Ed, Eva, Dana, Lynne, Pearl, Isabel, Ada, Ned, Dee, Rena, Joel, Lora, Cecil, Aaron, Flora, Tina, Arden, Noel and Ellen sinned. “
Flip it over with your eyes. Let your mind focus on it. Any ideas? Give up? It is a palindrome. The same forward and backward. So what’s the biggest connection between that and the Knicks’ 119-93 loss in San Antonio last night? There are none. If something, that it was the theme of the game, it was just a stinking defeat. It didn’t feel significant in any broader sense. The Knicks lost a road game against the Spurs. He knew that was possible. I could have lived without the reminder, but hey.
Here’s another palindrome: “Are we not drawn forward, are we few, drawn into a new age?” With Elfrid Payton (hamstring) and Derrick Rose (Covid protocol) out of the game, Frank Ntilikina had his first start in over a year. This season of tasty stories he would have earned a Michelin star if he had delivered Ntilikina starring in a New York win; a new era, indeed. And while Frank shot well, he and RJ Barrett were the only Knicks to hit more than half of their shots. The elevator pitch of this loss: The Knicks couldn’t shoot; the Spurs hit 18 of 42 from deep.
Tom’s Terrific Thibodites looked flat and nervous at first, needing almost eight minutes to register an assist. Near the end of the first, with New York down 10, we saw the Julius Randle / Obi Toppin / Kevin Knox frontcourt, too weird to live, too weird to die. That lineup outscored the Spurs 9-1 thanks to opposing corner triples from Obi and Knox. Toppin’s trey sparked a 7-0 run that put the Knicks in front.
An 8-0 run in the second had the same effect: regaining the lead, but not for long. After missing their first six 3-pointers, the ‘Bockers drilled a good six of nine, but they also kept spinning the ball. San Antonio led by one at the end of the half and that seemed to be the margin at the midpoint, except the umpires went back 0.7 seconds correctly on the clock and Patty Wills made the Knicks call correctly.
What a move for the Spurs to end the 1st half. They have 0.7 seconds to shoot and Patty Mills hits a 3 corner to hit the buzzer and the Spurs lead 51-47 at the half. The Knicks had 5 defenders protecting 4 Spurs and still lose Mills. pic.twitter.com/QSdvUqm2ro
– Mike Vorkunov (@MikeVorkunov) March 3, 2021
A Spurs 9-0 run that crossed the halves was all the breathing space the hosts would need. The Knicks, without Payton and Rose, limited offensively, while San Antonio’s Trey Lyles looked like the future of Kevin Knox.
Win a battle, lose the war: Ntilikina hit all three of her 3-point attempts in the third, with each one set up by Randle. But it was the Spurs’ perimeter play as a team, specifically their 7 of 14 shots beyond the arc in the third, that turned this into a blowout and impressive rebound for San Antonio, who lost a wild overtime game to Brooklyn. 24 hours before. Hopefully, the Knicks, with 48 hours until their next game, can bounce back, too.
- Last night’s 6-of-16 shots aside, Randle increasingly reminds me of Patrick Ewing in one specific respect: his ability to consistently get the shots he wants, over and over, while constantly making them.
- I used to play against a guy who just couldn’t lay a layup. It was always too strong and it failed. It took a while, but we finally let him take them away. It was contradictory, but his weakness was too obvious to ignore. I’m starting to think that when a Knick drives to the rim and draws the other team’s center, rather than instinctively passing the ball to Nerlens Scissorhands, who is destined to get rid of it, they should take the shot. No matter how risky it is, there’s at least a chance that Noel will pick up the rebound and hit it, while passing the ball to him is … maybe not.
- 26 for IQ. If some season Quickley fired 100% from the free throw line after 60 games … do you think people would go crazy? Track it like a hitting streak or a home run chase?
- I feel like every time RJ tries to crush someone, they stop him. Maybe the occasional finger movement is cool?
- Obi with a couple of dunks in the fourth quarter:
- Half of the next list of names are Spurs who played last night. The other half are footballers. Do you think you can tell the difference? Give it a shot!
Luka Šamanić. Luka modric. Eubanks drew. Max Kilman. Keita Bates-Diop. Callum Hudson-Odoi.
- An obviously frustrated Randle pushed Eubanks off the ground and placed him in a seated Allan Houston.
- Trey Lyles, P&T KTP alumnus, with four triples and 18 points, team leader.
- From 1999 to 2017, the Spurs won more than 50 games each year. That’s 18 in a row. The Knicks have 13 seasons with 50 wins in their entire history.
- Samanić sports an absolutely stunning tattoo on his left arm.
- Jakob Poeltl posted two blocks, but his defensive presence was enveloping. Did you know that Poeltl’s numbers put it on the level of Rudy Gobert and Joel Embiid as a rim protector? You can hear that tidbit and more on the Jacobin sports show. This week our guest was Dan Devine, who covers the NBA for The Ringer. Spoiler: Dan may have grown up a Knicks fan and we can spend a few minutes talking about this year’s team.
Quoth Ewing Finger Roll of Doom: “Knicks of the third quarter of the vintage”. This year’s Knicks have mostly avoided the worst traits of recent teams. We started talking about palindromes, so let’s close with that too: New York opened the first half of the season with back-to-back losses. They hope to avoid finishing the same way they started when they host Detroit tomorrow. It’s the last game before the All-Star break. Will the Knicks return in the second half of the season as a winning team? Find out on Thursday.