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Knicks Notch Big Win Over Blazers

NEW YORK CITY, N.Y. – The New York Knicks have been playing much better basketball, and finally look like they have gotten used to playing with each other. As a result, the Knicks had won three of their last four games before Tuesday night’s contest against the Portland Trail Blazers. With a win against Portland, New York would be back at the .500 mark since the second game of the season. It would take and entire team effort, but New York survived 20 lead changes to take a 107-103 win over the Blazers. Here are five of the biggest takeaways from Tuesday night’s win.

5) Getting better defensively 

  • New York did a great job of forcing Portland to turn the ball over 16 times. This was done by the Knicks fighting over hard screens, and providing help defense. The ball pressure has really turned up a notch, and Knick defenders are doing a better job of keeping opponents in front of them.
    • New York as a team recorded eight total steals.
  • The Knicks haven’t done a good job this season of consistently defending the three point line. Tuesday night, New York held Portland to just 27% (6 for 22) from behind the arc.
  • The Knicks are 0-2 when they allow an opponent to shoot over 50%. Against the Blazers, the Knicks defense held Portland to just 44% (38 for 86) from the field.

4) Protect the Garden

  • Heading into Tuesday’s game, the Knicks had done a great job this season of protecting their home court. New York’s home record was 5-2, before their match-up against the Blazers. With a win, New York improved to a 6-2 record at Madison Square Garden.
  • It seemed like on every possession, the Garden was ready to erupt with applause. The Knicks definitely feed off the Garden crowd, and have shown they play their best basketball in New York. This type of atmosphere is what creates a home court advantage, and the Knicks are taking full advantage.
    • The Knicks have not had a winning record at home since the 2012-13 season, where New York posted a 31-10 record at MSG.
      • (2015-16 season: 18-23 record)
      • (2014-15 season: 10-31 record)
      • (2013-14 season: 19-22 record)
  • Prior to Tuesday night, the Knicks had lost four straight games to the Blazers in MSG.
  • The Knicks are 3-0 when they hold teams to under 100 points, which they have only done at home this season. Tuesday night New York failed to hold Portland to under 100 points, but they still were able to get a win.

3) Rose in Bloom

(Photo Credit: Barry Holmes) Derrick Rose has been a key to the Knicks' early success.

(Photo Credit: Barry Holmes) Derrick Rose has been a key to the Knicks’ early success.

  • Derrick Rose is casting all doubts aside with his play since donning the blue and orange. Rose has looked healthy in these first 14 games, and has played in all 14 games.
  • The ex-Bull has still shown the acrobatic ability to finish at the rim, and create shot opportunities for his teammates. Rose is not pressured to score big every night like in Chicago, which has helped with his production here in New York.
    • Rose this season is averaging 15 points, four assists and four rebounds per game this season.
  • Tuesday night, Rose finished with 18 points, five assists, two rebounds and two steals. Rose had a vintage moment, when he hit a step-back jumper to seal a win for New York. The jumper put New York up four points with less than ten seconds left in the game.

2) Bench Play 

  • The Knicks’ bench was talked about as being a weakness, coming into this season. There were questions of if the New York bench lacked firepower to score, and give the Knick starters enough rest. Brandon Jennings is the only household name and the rest of the bench players are “blue collar” guys.
  • Jennings did a great job of getting his teammates involved, and creating quality shot opportunities. The veteran guard finished with 11 assists, four points and two steals.
  • The Knick bench outscored the Blazers, 32-27 on Tuesday night.
    • Mindaugas Kuzminskas (10 points) and Willy Hernangomez (nine points) led the Knick bench scoring. Kuzminskas played important minutes down the stretch, and has shown that the New York spotlight isn’t too bright for him.
  • Four Knick bench players played 19 minutes or more.  Coach Jeff Hornacek has shown he trusts that he will get production from his bench, at any point in the game. This is important in keeping the starters fresh, and maintaining the high confidence level of the bench.

1) PorzingSWISH

(Photo Credit: Barry Holmes) Porzingis working on his three ball before Tuesday night's contest.

(Photo Credit: Barry Holmes) Porzingis working on his three ball before Tuesday night’s contest.

  • Many people knew from last season that Kristaps Porzingis had promising potential. Few thought that at this point in the season, Porzingis would be this good. The talks have even gone as far as to questioning if this is now “Porzingis’ team”.
  • Porzingis for the second time this season scored over 30 points. The second year Knick finished with 31 points and nine rebounds.
  • The youngster out of Latvia has shown us his entire repertoire. Porzingis clearly has worked on his offensive game, and has the confidence to showcase his new moves in-game. The seven footer has been hitting step-backs, fade-away bank shots, floaters, deep three pointers and crossing up defenders.
  • On the season, Porzingis is averaging 21 points per game, seven rebounds and one block per game. If Porzingis can keep up these impressive numbers, he could potentially earn himself an all-star selection.

Barry Holmes is a Senior Writer for PureSportsNY.com. Follow him on Twitter @BHO732

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