The train came off the tracks. And smashed into a brick building. And its cars fell on their side, releasing a chemical spill. And everyone started pointing fingers of blame — at the conductor, the engineer, the guy who owned the railroad.
But mostly David Fizdale, the coach of the Knicks.
All the feel-good vibes of the fantastic Friday night win over Kristaps Porzingis the game before in Dallas were gone. Everything was different, again.
It was the 3rd time the Knicks had been blown out in their last 4 games, their record falling to 2-8. This time against mediocre (3-5 coming in) Cleveland, whom many on Knicks Twitter felt was easy prey. Cleveland led by 30 in the 3rd. Won easy. Yet another Sunday night at Madison Square Garden in NY ruined by these horrid Knicks. And as soon as the game ended, instead of a post-game interview with the press by David Fizdale, Knicks team President Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry took the podium, apologized for the loss and threw David Fizdale under the bus — or train. The train wreck.
Knicks GM Scott Perry and President Steve Mills address reporters after Knicks embarrassing loss to Cleveland… extremely rare to see this pic.twitter.com/uZI3xsd9PA
— Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer) November 11, 2019
The Finger of BLAME
On Twitter, Knick fans and media fired back — pointing the finger of blame at Steve Mills, the orchestrator of this wreck — and so many wrecks before it. He hired marketing nightmare Anuka Brown Sanders. He hired Isiah Thomas. He left the Knicks to fail at a company with Magic Johnson, then came back to undercut Phil Jackson when he was GM. He resigned Tim Hardaway Jr to a massive contract after Phil Jackson had traded him away, at the same exact time he was supposed to be interviewing to hire a GM, causing highly regarded GM choice David Griffin to literally stop in his tracks and take a plane back to Cleveland. He traded away Porzingis for little in return while Griffin was getting max value for Anthony Davis. He was the main head of the two-headed Knicks GM situation (Scott Perry is supposed to be the GM) that some fans argue came away without the stars in last summer’s free agency (although I would argue there is a plan in place and they are executing that plan).
In any case, the Knicks lost. And Fizdale is under the microscope. And on the hot seat. And under an ultimatum — WIN over the next 10 games, or else.
The controversy and finger pointing spilled out onto Knicks fans and media on Twitter, where a free-for-all ensued, with Frank Isola saying this and Marc Berman saying that and former Knicks assistant coach Clarence Gaines and NY Daily News reporter Stefan Bondy squaring up.
When have you heard me talk – I didn’t realize tweeting was talking – I suggest you stop following me if I’m a fraud. I have a lot of respect for the positive & balanced way @NYKFilmSchool covers the @nyknicks – if I decide to talk @JCMacriNBA will get the interview. Good day! https://t.co/Bnlx1p2uHx
— Clarence Gaines (@ClarenceGaines2) November 11, 2019
ESPN reported that Steve Mills has been angling to fire Fizdale for some time.
The game was like any other usual Knick blowout. The other team had a super quick guard that was impossible to stop. Frank Ntilikina couldn’t stop him, nor could anyone else on the Knicks. In this game that guard was Collin Sexton, whom the Knicks ‘just missed’ drafting in the 2018 draft (he went #8; the Knicks supposedly wanted him, but picked #9, where they selected Kevin Knox).
Sexton penetrated at will at lightning speed to shred the Knicks’ defense and open up the Cleveland offense. Darius Garland, another quick guard who the Knicks were thinking about drafting in last June’s draft, where he was selected with Cleveland’s #5 overall pick, also hurt the Knicks (12 pts, 6 assists). Cleveland also was tough inside, with the likes of Kevin Love, Larry Nance Jr, and Tristan Thompson banging the boards and scoring.
The Knicks actually out-rebounded Cleveland on the evening, 52-45, with Julius Randle getting 16 rebounds, Bobby Portis getting 11 rebounds, Marcus Morris getting 6, and Taj Gibson (5 rebounds), Kevin Knox (3), and RJ Barrett (1) chipping in — the Knicks have an excellent rebounding team.
But the Knicks did not look ready for prime time in this game. They got run off the court by a quicker, seemingly more talented or more together Cleveland team.
Cleveland jumped out to a 12-point lead in the 1st quarter, ran it up to an 18-pt lead at the half, ran it to a 30-pt lead midway thru the 3rd before the Knicks made a run with Allonzo Trier and Damyean Dotson on the court to pull to within 13 early in the 4th.
Zo nice with it 🤭 pic.twitter.com/ncU1wVQAWj
— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) November 11, 2019
But that was it — Cleveland quickly pushed it back to a 24-point lead and coasted.
Julius Randle, specifically, looked like a Runaway Train in this game — trying his best but often dribbling out of control and out of bounds. Visions of him doing this stuck with me through the night, leaving me to ponder why the Knicks are running their offense through him, let alone using him as a point forward at times.
Knicks Thoughts had an interesting thought: “It’s very crazy cause if you watch when dude come up the court he’s literally begging for the ball and plus he looks lost on offense when he doesn’t have the rock and he’s in everyone’s way 80% of the time.”
RJ Barrett had a better game than he’s had the last few — scoring 9 points on 4-11 shooting. He missed both of 2 free throws he took.
— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) November 11, 2019
“Iggy” Ignas Brazdeikis got into the game during garbage time and hit a layup.
Stefan Bondy of the NY Daily News was the first to report on Twitter that James Dolan, Steve Mills, and Scott Perry left their seats together while the Knicks were getting blown out in the 3rd, and did not return — an ominous sign.