A really bad ref call cost the Knicks badly in this game — with 1:56 left in the game Marcus Morris hit a 3 and was fouled to make the score 88-82 Charlotte with Morris going to the line for a possible 4-pt play. The Knicks were beginning their charge.
The refs reviewed the play and ruled that Morris had spread his legs — his right leg going out enough to be called an offensive foul.
It was a ridiculous call. He had not thrown his leg forward at all — he essentially spread his legs a bit and made the jumper. But the refs took the possible 4-pt play away.
The Knicks continued their charge to close to within 3 points in the final minute, but couldn’t even it up.
“Head Scratching” Calls
It was a curious overturn ruling, and there were some other head scratching calls in this game late in the 1st half when Charlotte was getting a number of touch calls — including a Willy Hernangomez foul in the lane just before the half where he was clearly not fouled at all. The touch calls allowed Charlotte to get back in the game — the Knicks had stifled them in the 1st quarter and led by 13 at one point.
It made you think of the recent interview with former Gambino mobster Michael Franzese on VladTV, where he said “some people point to games that they could swear there had to be something done, and you know in some cases they might be right — you know it was a little bit obvious. Look it happens; and it will continue to happen. Not as much on the pro level because these guys are making so much money. But you know you have to look out for referees.” He explains fully here:
Not to say the referees were fixing this game for their individual benefit; the NBA has been known for all kinds of game fixing to increase attendance and viewership for years, and even before David Stern’s alleged complex fixing, was known for “home cooking” for years back into the 1970’s and before.
Charlotte had lost 9 in a row; tickets to their home games go for as low as $6. Charlotte is 2nd last in the league in home attendance, only filling 80 % of their seats even with the cheap tickets.
Controversy #2 — Smith Jr Over Ntilikina
The other controversial part of this game is that Dennis Smith Jr was the first point guard off the bench behind Elfrid Payton — not Frank Ntilikina. In fact Ntilikina was getting a DNP until the final 3 minutes of the game — and as soon as Frank came in, he hit a 3 and then played some good defense. You can imagine how Ntilikina hive was reacting on Knicks Twitter.
The hometown kid getting fancy and Frank loved it pic.twitter.com/QsUHwTmJvD
— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) January 29, 2020
Dennis Smith Jr looked EXPLOSIVE at times — on one play he took off like Superman to the rim — actually faster than I’ve ever seen Superman in any movie; he EXPLODES to the rim with VELOCITY and HEIGHT. A few minutes later he had a bad turnover — tossing the ball out of bounds. Overall, he played pretty well — shaking the rust off. Post game, coach Mike Miller said he felt Smith played well. He said he rested Ntilikina due to the back-to-back with elite point guard Ja Morant on top for the next game.
Both Teams Played Good D — Resulting in Bad Shooting
The Knicks also lost this game because they couldn’t shoot straight; neither they nor Charlotte were hitting their 3’s — one reason for the low score. Both teams played excellent defense, which was part of that — both Charlotte coach James Borrego and Knicks coach Mike Miller had their teams playing excellent tactical D.
With just under 5 minutes left in the game, the Knicks had only 72 points. NY finished 9-32 from 3 — 4 of those made 3’s came in the final minutes.
Julius Randle continued his recent terrific play, especially in the 1st half and then down the stretch in the 4th; he finished with 24 points on 10-19; Marcus Morris had 23 pts on 9-20 (but 4-13 from 3).
"Improvising, mesmerizing is Randle" pic.twitter.com/9vcJIPnusg
— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) January 29, 2020
Mitchell Robinson played great D — 10 rebounds and 5 blocks in 26 minutes — but Charlotte defended the alley oops to him well — until late in the game Robinson had only taken 1 shot (was 1-1 with a slam); he finished with 2 shots (2-2 for 4 pts). 7-footer Cody Zeller was part of that equation, and former Knick Willy Hernangomez was a pain in the paint — getting free for layups inside — he had 12 pts and 10 rebounds in 19 minutes, and hit a 3.
Elfrid Payton played well (10 pts on 5-11, 8 rebounds, 8 assists).
RJ Barrett remains out with the bad ankle sprain. Reggie Bullock started in his stead and did not shoot well (2-7, 1-4 from 3 for 6 pts). One a set of successive plays just before the half, Bullock turned ball over, got beat by Malik Monk the other way, then missed a wide-open 3. Randle then made a nice drive to the basket to give NY 3-pt lead at half.
Low Key Revenge Game for Rozier
Terry Rozier — who the Knicks were looking at signing in the summer but did not because they didn’t want to go 3 guaranteed years on a contract — hurt the Knicks — 30 pts on 9-17 shooting (4-8 from 3), 10 rebounds and good defense.