You can’t tell how close a basketball game was by the final score. It can be a razor-tight game and the final score might say you lost by 9 points. Or it could be a blowout — and the final score says you lost by 9 points.
This one was not close. Not a blowout — but it wasn’t close. The Knicks did make a run — down 18 at the half they surged to within 6 near the end of the 3rd quarter. But New Orleans pushed them back and by middle of the 4th were up by 19.
New Orleans was up by 19 with 1:09 left in the game — literally in the last minute (or 1:08) the Knicks scored the last 10 points of the game to make it close.
1. Pelicans Had Energy in Home Opener
It was the home opener for New Orleans — the Knicks were playing the second of a back-to-back, having beaten Atlanta in Atlanta the night before.
NY had shot giddy numbers from 3 in each of its first 2 games and so were due for a let down in that department as well.
New Orleans meanwhile, played with energy and freshness. They didn’t shoot that much better from 3 (9-33 for 27 percent) but killed the Knicks from 2.
Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram were the main culprits — destroying NY inside.
Zion got in shape this summer — and he looks like a killing machine now. He is the old Zion — and he can go to the basket with fluidity, grace, quickness, and power — an awesome combination. Zion had 24 points on 12-17 shooting. He did not take a 3.
TOO STRONG. pic.twitter.com/P8Du9mgzCC
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) October 28, 2023
Ingram had 27 points on 11-17 shooting (1-3 from 3). He was quick and fast and tall — and was hitting some nifty shots from the corner (although on the one below it looked like he pushed off for an offensive foul first).
What a SHOT by Brandon Ingram 🤯 pic.twitter.com/PTegTmkVV6
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) October 29, 2023
CJ McCollum also hurt the Knicks with 12 pts on 4-11 shooting (2-7 from 3) and a +18.
2. Pelican Interior Defense Thwarted NY
The Pelicans also had big Jonas Valanciunas inside. He and the Pelicans bunched the lane for most of the night — intent on not letting Jalen Brunson get in for his floaters. And the 3-pointers were just not falling for NY.
- Brunson shot 4-14 and 1-5 from 3 for 14 points.
- Julius Randle shot 4-15 and 0-5 from 3 for 10 points.
- RJ Barrett was the one “Knick with the Knack” on drives to the bucket — 7-16 shooting for 18 points, but even he was 1-6 from 3.
that's a pretty finish 🔄 pic.twitter.com/5N0U8IEqef
— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) October 29, 2023
- Quentin Grimes — 2-9 overall and 1-6 from 3.
- Immanuel Quickley — 4-9 overall for 10 points but 0-3 from 3.
You get the picture.
3. Mitch Beasted Inside
Besides RJ’s good overall play the hero of the night for NY was Mitchell Robinson, who beasted relentlessly inside. Mitch finished with 10 (ten) offensive rebounds — 15 rebounds overall — with 2 blocks and 8 points on 4-8 shooting.
It was pointed out by the broadcast crew that Mitchell Robinson is from New Orleans so had a lot of family and friends in attendance. Still Mitch plays like that every night.
clean up on aisle 2️⃣3️⃣ pic.twitter.com/V2krxKNFpo
— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) October 28, 2023
4. Knicks Made 3rd Quarter Run with Defense
Even with all the poor shooting the Knicks made a run in the 3rd — the 2nd team taking over the game with defense that led to fast break buckets. Dante DiVincenzo was part of that run — playing a stifling defense — along with Quickley, Isiah Hartenstein, Josh Hart, and Barrett. NY pulled to within 6 points — 74-68 with 10 seconds left in the 3rd.
But then the game slipped away in the 4th as NY could not sustain their rhythm or hit shots.