Maurice Ndour! Knicks Stay Flawless in Overtime Win


81. 93. 84. 27. Final

After the Knicks started off their Summer League campaign with two victories, onlookers tuned in today to see if they could stretch that total to three. In similar fashion to their opening showdown with the Spurs, the game went down to the wire, with the Knicks just managing to pull it out at the very end.

Kristaps Porzingis was impressive right off the bat, sinking a long range jumper in the opening minutes of the game to give New York an early lead. His fellow big man and top 5 draft pick Jahlil Okafor had his fingerprints all over the first half though, pounding the Knicks down low with his strength and immensely developed post game. For most of the first quarter, it was Langston Galloway leading the way for the Knicks with his upbeat style of play, however the Sixers managed to hold New York at an arm’s length.

Jul 14, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis (46) shoots over the defense of Philadelphia 76ers guard Scottie Wilbekin (18) during an NBA Summer League game at Thomas and Mack Center. The Knicks won the game in overtime, 84-81. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

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Role players such and Thanasis Antetokounmpo and Alex Kirk continued to contribute vital energy for the Knicks off the bench, helping them stay in a game the Sixers were largely controlling. Okafor continued his post domination through the second quarter, while Charles Jackson also punished the New York defense down low.

Sitting on the bench for most of the quarter, Porzingis came in and added a much needed push, clamping down on Okafor and nailing a silky pull-up jumper. The Latvian displayed impressive overall range against the Sixers, filling onlookers with hope that he may be more ready to contribute in the NBA than most expected. The Knicks regrouped and stormed back at the end of the half, with a Maurice Ndour put-back cutting the lead to 4 going into the break.

Former Florida Guard Scottie Wilbekin got the Sixers up and running at the start of the second half, draining his 3rd three pointer of the game soon after the restart. He would finish the day 6 of 8 from behind the arc, with 26 points overall.

Jul 14, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Scottie Wilbekin (18) celebrates after a scoring play in an NBA Summer League game against the Knicks at Thomas and Mack Center. The Knicks won the game in overtime, 84-81. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Stifling defense from Jahlil Okafor made it increasingly hard for the Knicks’ guards to find Porzingis in the paint, however he did manage to connect on another midrange jumper when found in the high post. While much of his offensive skill-set seems to revolve around shooting and post play, he was also able to display an adept passing touch in the 3rd quarter as well. After receiving the ball in the post, he spotted the backdoor cut of Cleanthony Early and cleverly fired the ball in to the onrushing guard for an easy two points.

The Sixers’ downfall came at the start of the 4th, when talisman Jahlil Okafor began to fade. With Philadelphia’s first round pick struggling, the Knicks came back to bridge the gap, lead largely by undrafted rookie Maurice Ndour. The Senegalese forward was an absolute revelation, combining his energy, shooting range and powerful rim attacking to level the score at 74. His impact culminated at the end of the 4th, when he blocked Okafor, collected the ball and swished a step back jumper with unexpected style. Ndour has had a dream Summer League to date, and a spot on the training camp roster seems firmly in his grasp.

Jul 14, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; New York Knicks forrward Maurice Ndour (55) shoots during an NBA Summer League game against the 76ers at Thomas and Mack Center. The Knicks won the game in overtime, 84-81. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Jerian Grant, who started the day off quietly, finally began to heat up in the final quarter. He drained a 3 pointer, finished an off-balance acrobatic layup and displayed ice cold nerves on the free throw line.

Meanwhile, Kristaps Porzingis started to show why the Knicks drafted him with the fourth overall pick. This time however, he did so on the defensive side of the court. After using his length to stuff an attempted Okafor layup, he managed to hold his ground, drawing an offensive foul when the Duke man collected the ball and drove in for a second opportunity. He then hit two clutch free throws, handing the Knicks a three point lead and seemingly icing the game.

The Sixers weren’t done yet though. After an ill advised foul by Porzingis on Wilbekin behind the three point line, Philadelphia tied up the contest at 79. Jerian Grant had the opportunity to win it in the waning seconds, however his long range heave flew well over the basket to send the game into overtime.

The Knicks recovered well, grabbing firm control of the game in the overtime period. Their scoring commenced after an impressive play by Porzingis, in which he collected the ball in transition and fed Ndour with a pinpoint bounce pass for an unchallenged layup. The Latvian then blocked Okafor for the third time, before Grant delivered a deliciously accurate alley oop for Cleanthony Early to slam home.

Wilbekin had the chance to tie it up at the very end with an off balance 3 pointer, however the shot fell just short. The game ended 84-81 in the Knicks’ favor, furthering their Summer League win streak to 3 games.

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The Knicks were impressive again, with key contributions from much of their talented squad. Porzingis (9 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists) again displayed his NBA readiness, holding his own against one of the best offensive talents in this past draft class and showing glimpses of his skill on the other end of the floor. Jerian Grant also managed to register another impressive performance, tallying 12 points, 4 assists and 4 rebounds. The two are continuously filling the Knicks fan base with hope for the future, which is somewhat of an unfamiliar feeling for the Madison Square Garden faithful.

The two first rounders will always be the centerpieces of this squad, however tonight was all about a lesser known commodity: Maurice Ndour. The former Ohio Bobcat displayed energy, tenacity and skill on both offense and defense, opening up a possible route to the NBA in the process. The Knicks may be hard pressed to open a permanent roster space for Ndour, yet his Summer League contributions mean at least one NBA team will likely do so.

The Knicks will get the day off tomorrow, with their next Summer League game on Thursday evening.