Red-Hot Knicks Face Rockets at MSG
1. The Garden fans received quite a treat the night before Halloween as the home team racked up its third straight victory by topping Denver 116-100. The Knicks had no issues finding motivation on a back-to-back and fresh off an improbable win in Cleveland on Sunday. In the first quarter, New York scored 35 points, built a 10-point advantage and led by as much as 22 points in the first half. The Knicks also showed some resiliency when Denver mounted a massive comeback in the third quarter on a 25-6 run to tie the game. Crucial buckets down the stretch helped New York stave off the road team and the Knicks secured their second win of the season at MSG.
2. The Knicks are suddenly the second hottest team in the NBA. With three straight victories, New York is now 3-3 on the season and beginning to find its stride on both sides of the floor. After some struggles on the defensive end to start the year, the Knicks have held their last three opponents to just 93.6 points per game and 40 percent shooting from the field. Offensively, New York has been equally as impressive with an average offensive rating of 116 over its last three outings. To put that number in perspective, the defending champs own a 118.6 offensive rating this season.
3. Kristaps Porzingis is off to a spectacular start to the 2017-18 campaign. On Monday night, Porzingis electrified the home crowd with a career-best 38-point performance. In 34 minutes, the 7-3 rising star connected on 53.8 percent of his attempts from the floor and 4-of-7 behind the arc to go along with seven rebounds and three blocked shots. Porzingis is the first player in franchise history to score 30-plus points in five of his first 6 games of the season. According to Basketball Reference, Porzingis is the first player, aged 22 or younger to accomplish that scoring feat since 1979.
4. Although early in the season and subject to change, head coach Jeff Hornacek may have found the winning formula when examining the rotation. Enes Kanter (averaging 14.2 points, 10.5 rebounds) works consistently and fits nicely next to Porzingis in the frontcourt. Kyle O’Quinn is displaying a ferocious approach to the defensive side of the floor following a game where he registered 12 rebounds and five blocks in 21 minutes off the bench. In the backcourt, Jarrett Jack is averaging eight assists per game since joining the starting lineup on October 27. Courtney Lee is providing stability at the shooting guard spot and rookie Frank Ntilikina is finding success with the second unit. Hornacek is also utilizing volume scorers, Doug McDermott and Michael Beasley with the second group to provide an added offensive punch.
5. The Rockets jumped out to a 5-1 record this season despite missing All-Star point guard Chris Paul in the lineup. However, Houston has dropped its past two games to the Grizzlies and Sixers on Monday night. Former Knicks head coach, Mike D’Antoni played eight guys on Monday and his team only shot 39.8 percent in the defeat. Philadelphia had massive success in the paint where it outscored the Rockets 54-34. With James Harden leading the charge, Houston remains a dangerous offensive team (first in 3-pointers attempted and made) even with the recent issues this past week.