The Spurs’ home winning streak nearly ended Friday, when Knicks guard Jose Calderon missed a potential game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer in San Antonio. The narrow defeat is the only loss in the last five games for New York (19-20), which has already surpassed last season’s win total and sits only 1.5 games behind Orlando for eighth place in the Eastern Conference. The Knicks’ starting frontcourt has flourished in those five games, with forward Carmelo Anthony averaging 20.6 points, 9.4 rebounds and 5.4 assists, forward Kristaps Porzingis contributing 17.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks and center Robin Lopez chipping in 13.8 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.6 blocks. Sunday’s home victory over Milwaukee tipped off a stretch in which the Knicks play 12 of 17 at Madison Square Garden leading into the All-Star break.
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New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis and Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns today were named the NBA Eastern and Western Conference Rookies of the Month, respectively, for games played in December.
This is the second consecutive NBA Rookie of the Month award for Porzingis, who ranked second among East rookies in scoring (12.6 ppg) and rebounding (6.4 rpg) and first among all rookies in blocked shots (2.20 bpg). Porzingis posted four point-rebound double-doubles and blocked three or more shots in six games. He also shot 36.6 percent (15-of-41) from three-point range for the month. During a 91-84 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Dec. 23, Porzingis made 4-of-5 from three-point range en route to 23 points and added 13 rebounds and four assists.
Towns, who also earns his second straight NBA Rookie of the Month award, led all first-year players in scoring (18.6 ppg) and rebounding (9.5 rpg) and ranked second in blocks (1.56 bpg). He recorded eight point-rebound double-doubles in December and produced eight games with at least 20 points. Towns shot 55.3 percent from the field for the month and made at least half his shots in 14 of 16 games. During a 123-122 overtime win against the Los Angeles Lakers on Dec. 9, Towns posted 26 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks.
Other nominees for the NBA Eastern and Western Conference Rookies of the Month were Charlotte’s Frank Kaminsky, Denver’s Nikola Jokic, the Los Angeles Lakers’ D’Angelo Russell, Miami’s Justise Winslow and Philadelphia’s Jahlil Okafor.
The Knicks (14-16) are getting 7.4 points, 5.4 rebounds in 23.5 minutes per game from defensive-minded center Robin Lopez. So far, he hasn’t delivered the impact Knicks brass hoped he would. Here’s the New York Post with insight:
The riddle of RoLo continues.
It’s little secret why the Knicks have lost two in a row during an 11-game stretch against winning teams. In both losses, to the Magic and Cavaliers, shooting guard Arron Afflalo was lousy (8 of 25). Carmelo Anthony missed Wednesday’s contest in Cleveland, and reserve power forward Kyle O’Quinn was out both defeats with a sprained ankle, showing how valuable he has become to Derek Fisher.
But one of the more under-the-radar issues is the season’s biggest enigma, starting center Robin Lopez, their most expensive free-agent signing at four years and $54 million. Nobody is more confused than Fisher in his attempt to place Lopez in a role that can positively affect the outcome.
Fisher benched Lopez in Cleveland for the game’s final 13:14. On Monday against the Magic, Fisher stuck with Lopez on Orlando center Nikola Vucevic and got burned for it. So Lopez never saw the Quicken Loans Arena court in the fourth quarter despite the absence of Anthony and O’Quinn.
Here’s the Los Angeles Daily News reporting on Lakers forward Metta World Peace and his long-time interest in coaching:
“It started when I first started playing basketball, I went to five star basketball camp back in 1999. It was fun. I coached Danny Green. He was one of my players. I remember him being the best on the team and I remember him sometimes not shooting. I would tell him to shoot. I was like, ‘Shoot the ball. Shoot the ball.’ It was fun. He remembers it too. That was when I was 19 or 20. I was young.
I always wanted to learn the game because I was never athletic. I picked the triangle offense quick in Chicago. I picked it up pretty well under Bill Cartwright. Then in Indiana, I was picking up everything quickly. I was young. But with all the defensive coverages I faced, was picking up everything. I was also giving input, not verbally but by example. Coach Carlisle said something one day I might be able to be a coach. I was 24 when he said that. I was confident when he said that. I have continued to coach. I have a little league team called ‘Triple Threat.’ I train people. Triple Threat was a team that my foundation funded. It was a team that we funded. I would coach them sometimes.” …
“I want to coach one day. I definitely have interest in coaching. But I want people to know I’m staying in tip top shape. Just because I want to coach doesn’t mean I’m retiring. If something opens up, I might apply for the job. It doesn’t mean I’m not staying in tip top shape. I’m not a player where I want to coach because I’m done playing basketball. I love playing basketball. I’m preparing for both.”
New York Knicks rookie power forward Kristaps Porzingis is averaging 13.8 points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game this season, and is improving regularly. He has the attention of the league, and certainly players right nearby on the Nets. Here’s the New York Post reporting:
While Kristaps Porzingis was busy throwing shade at Brooklyn — saying the Knicks had the better fans — the Nets were throwing bouquets at him. And with the rivals set to face off Friday in the Garden, Nets point guard Jarrett Jack tapped the 20-year-old big man as the favorite to win NBA Rookie of the Year.
“Clearly, I think he’s the clear case for Rookie of the Year right now. I would believe so, with all the naysayers in the beginning, and then him coming out and just playing hard,’’ Jack said. “Sure, he has some skills to go with it, but from what I’ve seen, he puts himself in position to get tip-dunks. I’ve seen him in situations where he’s gotten steals on the break, making plays.” …
“I’ve been watching him. He’s very, very good,’’ said power forward Thaddeus Young, who will start matched up vs. Porzingis.
New York Knicks President Phil Jackson announced this afternoon that the team has recalled forward Cleanthony Early from the Westchester Knicks of the NBA Development League.
Early, 6-8, 210-pounds, averaged 17.5 points and 11.0 rebounds over 36.5 minutes in two games with Westchester and is expected to be in uniform tonight when the New York Knicks face the Philadelphia 76ers.
Now this is a huge story that may shake up the entire sports world. It will certainly create drama out in the streets. Here’s the New York Post reporting:
Leading up to Friday’s Nets vs. Knicks face-off, two of the competing athletes are having a real catfight.
The Knicks’ new 7-foot center, Robin Lopez, has harsh words about his twin brother, Brook, who plays for the crosstown competition.
More specifically, he’s trash-talking his sibling’s pet.
“Brook’s cat is very two-faced,” Robin tells The Post. “Everybody loves Brook’s cat. To everybody’s face, he’s such a nice cat. And it may sound like I’m joking, but I am dead serious. He acts like a lazy, sweet cat when everybody is looking. But when their heads turn, he’ll try to chase after [my cat] Edward. The second I lay eyes on him, he’ll act like, ‘I’m a cherub. I’m innocent.’ I’m not buying it.”
In fact, the brothers don’t live together because of their felines: Brook’s kitty Poupin — French for “chubby” — and Robin’s majestically monikered Prince Edward Zephyr.
DaJuan Summers of the Westchester Knicks today was named NBA Development League Performer of the Week for games played Thursday, Nov.12, through Sunday, Nov. 22.
Summers (6-8, 240, Georgetown) averaged 25.3 points on 54.4 shooting (31-for-57), 10.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 2.0 steals to lead Westchester to a 4-0 start to the season. On Nov. 14, he tallied 30 points on 13-of-24 shooting, to go along with 11 rebounds and two assists in an 83-79 victory over the Erie BayHawks. He posted another double-double with 18 points, 11 rebounds and four steals, in a 107-94 win over the Sioux Falls Skyforce on Nov. 20.
Summers was originally selected by the Detroit Pistons with the 35th overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. He appeared in four games for the New York Knicks during the 2015 preseason. This year marks his second stint in the NBA D-League. During the 2012-13 season he played for the Maine Red Claws and was selected to the 2013 NBA D-League All-Star Game.
Other top performers considered include Austin’s Bryce Cotton, Bakersfield’s C.J. Wilcox, Delaware’s Sean Kilpatrick, Erie’s Melvin Ejim, Fort Wayne’s Rakeem Christmas, Idaho’s Brandon Fields, Iowa’s Cartier Martin, Los Angeles’ Manny Harris, Maine’s Jordan Mickey, Raptors 905’s Scott Suggs, Rio Grande Valley’s Raphiael Putney, Santa Cruz’s Elliot Williams and Sioux Falls’ Gregg Whittington.
Here’s the New York Post reporting on the most intriguing Knicks rookie in a very long time:
If it feels like Kristaps Porzingis is a breath of fresh air … well, it’s because he is that and so much more than that: He is a gust of fresh air, a gale of fresh air, a 198-mph wind blast of fresh air. He is 20 years old and having the time of his life, and 12 games into his professional career, he has Madison Square Garden chanting his name.
You want fresher air than this, you’ll have to move to Wyoming.
If it feels like this almost never happens to the Knicks, and for the Knicks … well, it’s because it almost never does. The last 15 years may feel like an endless treadmill of bad trades and bad players and bad drafts and bad decisions but in truth, with rare exception, that’s been Garden policy far longer than the Dolan Era, extending all the way back to the Eisenhower Administration.
You can make an argument, and a good one, that Porzingis is one of only 10 truly impactful rookies the Knicks have had going back to Willis Reed’s magnificent debut in 1964-65, and of all the absurd negative numbers the Knicks have assembled over the years, that might be the coup de grace.
Wednesday night in Charlotte, the Hornets edged the Knicks, 95-93. Knicks shooting guard Arron Afflako, coming off injury, made his debut and in 28 minutes shot 6-of-13 for 12 points and six rebounds. For more, here’s the New York Post:
Lost amid the commotion over the final frantic 30 seconds and Kristaps Porzingis’ near-miracle buzzer-non-beater was Arron Afflalo’s first game as a Knick.
Putting aside the heartbreaking defeat, it went very well. Afflalo, a key free-agent signing for two years and $16 million, had more bounce than rust, hitting three of his first four shots as the Knicks seized control in the first quarter. Afflalo also hit a big 16-footer with 1:27 left to tie the score, but admitted to fatigue after his big start.
“I haven’t played since training camp,’’ said Afflalo, whose last action was Oct. 21 in the preseason finale in Boston. “Mentally, you feel you can take on the world until you get out there and you’re short on oxygen. It was good for a first game, getting tired battling with those guys in a close game. But I expect myself to be much better Friday.’’ …
With Afflalo, the Knicks seem like a different club. Even point guard Jose Calderon looked a lot smoother playing alongside the 30-year-old vet. Calderon had a nice night, shooting 6-of-9 from the field for 13 points. The Calderon-Afflalo pairing makes sense.
Arron Afflalo is one of the key new Knicks. If the team is going to play respectable basketball this season, he’s likely going to be one of the big reasons why. But a bad hamstring will delay that possibility. Here’s the New York Post reporting:
Knicks guard Arron Afflalo insisted he is doing, and would continue to do, everything to get back on the court for the Knicks as soon as possible. He even said he had hoped to be ready for opening night despite his ailing left hamstring.
But that would only work if opening night were in two weeks. The Knicks open Wednesday in Milwaukee.
“I want to say I guess I just have to give it another two weeks or so but it’s hard to judge,” Afflalo said after sitting out the open practice the Knicks staged Sunday at Columbia University. “I’m just going to go based on how I feel and with what the medical staff tells me.”
Afflalo was injured in the final preseason game, Thursday in Boston. He left the game in the third quarter — after coach Derek Fisher debated even using him in the second half — with what was called a tight left hamstring.
The Knicks are enjoying preseason and probably don’t want it to end. But it will. And then the regular season will begin. And reality will set in. But for now, things are good. Here’s the New York Post reporting:
Optimism is building out of the Knicks’ 4-1 preseason because Phil Jackson’s team doesn’t look to be as dependent on the rookie production of Kristaps Porzingis as expected. Maybe the Knicks, who went 17-65 last season, will find themselves in a race for the eighth seed in late March and early April.
The Knicks look deep in the frontcourt, and have had excellent preseasons from forwards Kyle O’Quinn, Derrick Williams, last season’s rookie bust Cleanthony Early and, of course, a supremely healthy and defensive-minded Carmelo Anthony.
Nevertheless, Fisher wants Porzingis to be the starting power forward opening night, even if he was shaky Saturday at Charlotte. Rusty from sitting out a week with a quad strain, the 7-foot-3 Latvian shot poorly (3-for-11) from the floor, got blocked by Cody Zeller on a dunk attempt and was pushed around by Hornets post man Al Jefferson, who backed Porzingis in easily for a couple of hoops in the second quarter. Patrick Ewing told The Post that Porzingis’ weight shouldn’t be that big an issue, but it looked like one Saturday.
Preseason is just a warmup for the regular season, so it doesn’t mean anything. But winning is still nice and stuff. And it sets a positive tone, which might help. Maybe. Or not. Anyway, here’s the New York Post reporting:
In topping the Celtics 101-95 at the Garden in their final home preseason game, the Knicks improved to 4-0 and coach Derek Fisher is hopeful that has meaning.
With expectations of the Knicks being mediocre at best, the club looks to be deeper and more efficient than anticipated.
“It depends on what kind of story you want to write,’’ Fisher said. “You can say it means something and these guys are doing great. Or it’s preseason and doesn’t mean anything. For me personally, I’m in the middle. I think the preseason is preparation for the season. That’s what the ‘pre’ stands for. And you have to prepare to win.
“Guys are doing that. That doesn’t always translate when we open up in Milwaukee (Oct. 28). But in getting the idea there’s a certain way to play the game that leads to winning, that’s good to put in guys’ minds. Hopefully it does carry over.’’
Here’s ESPN New York reporting on the Knicks’ prize rookie, who is racking up all sorts of injuries before his first regular season game gets played:
New York Knicks rookie Kristaps Porzingis missed Monday’s game due to a strained left upper quad.
It’s the third non-contact injury for Porzingis in the past four months. Coach Derek Fisher said the Knicks’ training staff might consider changes to the rookie’s workout regimen to try to prevent future injury. “There’s definitely something that we need to try and figure out [to] make sure to try and help him limit the injuries and the setbacks,” Fisher said. “It’s for him, it’s for us, it’s for our medical team. We’ll figure it out.”
The Knicks are optimistic Porzingis will play in their next preseason game Friday.
Here’s the New York Post reporting on Knicks star forward Carmelo Anthony taking a positive-minded trip to a place kids should be sure to avoid:
Carmelo Anthony’s preparation for training camp was a little different this year. Instead of taking some time for himself, he got ready for the grind ahead by going to jail.
No, he didn’t get into trouble. The Knicks star forward spent his free time visiting Rikers Island and meeting with a group of inmates with the sole intention to motivate the troubled young men.
“It was a lot of encouragement,” Anthony said, speaking about the visit for the first time following Sunday’s practice at the MSG Training Center. “A lot of the kids that’s in there, they still have a chance to come home in the next couple of years, and they’re still dealing with a court case or trial, so there’s some upside to that. They still have a life ahead of them.”
Health is the most important thing for all of us. You. Me. And professional basketball players, too. Here’s ESPN New York reporting on the Knicks and star forward Carmelo Anthony:
After undergoing knee surgery in late February, Carmelo Anthony didn’t shoot a basketball for nearly five months.
He seems to be making up for lost time over the past few days.
Anthony has made 18 of his first 25 shots of the preseason, including 10 of 15 on Friday night against the Washington Wizards.
What’s behind the hot start?
“The most important thing is being healthy,” Anthony said late Friday night. “When you’re healthy, everything kind of falls into place mentally. There’s a lot of clarity for me at this moment where I can just play ball and not worry about [a] tick-tack injury or having surgery or things like that — and I can just help my team.”
Here’s the New York Daily News reporting on a key young Knick who will hopefully emerge as a serious building block for the future:
The Knicks other rookie acquitted himself well in his first preseason action Wednesday, but a much bigger test awaits Jerian Grant Friday night in Washington.
Grant, the 19th overall pick out of Notre Dame, was a composed floor general during his 28 minutes in Wednesday’s victory over the Brazilian team Bauru at the Garden, collecting four assists and eight points while facilitating the game-breaking runs next to Langston Galloway. (There was a very impressive behind-the-back-dribble-to-an-assist play from Grant late in the first quarter).
Coach Derek Fisher was certainly pleased.
“Jerian has a good feel for the game,” the coach said.
Here’s the New York Post reporting that Knicks tickets, at least for one preseason game, were available at face value from the box office for a change:
The 201-game Garden sellout streak dating to 2010 is over. The club announced a crowd of 19,037 — below the sellout number of 19,812 — for Tuesday’s preseason opener against Brazilian team Bauru.
The sellout streak had included preseason, regular-season and playoff games. The Knicks still will promote their regular-season/playoff streak that stands at 97.
The Knicks had an 87 percent season-ticket renewal rate, which was down considerably from last season. But one of the biggest upsets was the Knicks sold out all their regular-season games during their worst season in franchise history at 17-65.
Expectations for the Knicks are… improving.
The New York Knicks should certainly be better this season than last. That’s our bold statement for today. Anyway, here’s the New York Post reporting:
Though he said Monday he held “no expectations at this time’’ for the 2015-16 Knicks, Carmelo Anthony amended the remark two days later, saying the title still is “our big-picture goal.’’ Maybe he’s seen something at West Point.
And Derek Fisher said just because they are the no-name Knicks other than Anthony, it doesn’t mean they are “rebuilding’’ and still expect to win. Fisher said he likes the notion the Knicks are filled with names not befitting the grand marquee.
“Based on the fact we don’t have a certain caliber of player on our roster other than Carmelo, people assume we’re rebuilding,’’ Fisher said after Wednesday’s second day of practices. “Was Atlanta rebuilding last year when they didn’t have quote-unquote [name] player on their roster. We think our group, as we figure it out, will be more competitive than people think. But rebuilding doesn’t mean we’re not trying to win right now.’’
It should be noted Atlanta placed four guys on the All-Star team last February — Al Horford, Paul Millsap, Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver.
Here’s the New York Post with a fun feature on 7-3 Knicks rookie Kristaps Porzingis, who took a stroll around NYC and joked to one young fan that he’ll “be 8-feet by the end of the season.”
“Since I’ve been like 15, I can’t really hide, you know?” Porzingis says. “I always stand out. At one point, you’re just like, ‘I can’t be hiding my whole life. I gotta get used to this.’ Now I’m enjoying it.”
He is wise beyond his 20 years and a 7-foot-3 cutup. As he stares straight ahead and smiles for a photo with a short young man named Adam Eliassof, he startles him by telling him, “I’m gonna be 8-feet by the end of the season.”
Before more stargazers and curiosity seekers can flood the Seventh Avenue entrance to his next basketball home, Porzingis, with his older brother Martin and Knicks staffer Gregg Schwartz and several security men in tow, begins walking through the 33rd Street Plaza, where a man shouts out: “Kristaps, I need you to put on some weight.”
Truth be told, Porzingis already has bulked up, to 240 pounds, likely on his way to 250. He sneers at the stereotypical perception of European players as soft and uses it to fuel the fire that burns within him to be great. He doesn’t intend to let stronger, meaner opponents bully him.