Westchester Knicks Wire: A String Of Close Games

After going 4-1 in their first five games, the Westchester Knicks are one game above .500 after 10 outings. How has New York’s NBA D-League affiliate fared?

After starting the season with a 4-1 record, the Westchester Knicks were looking to build momentum as they were on the doorsteps of a long road trip. Before the Knicks embarked on their road trip, the team had to take care of business on their home court.

Three straight games—two at home and one one the road—were decided by one possession. The Knicks picked up two hard-fought wins in that span.

In one of those games, the Santa Cruz Warriors led after three-quarters of play. Phil Pressey and Elgin Cook pushed the team’s offense throughout the game, as the two players totaled 60 points.

Both teams traded baskets as the game started to wind down. In the final minute of the game, Westchester trailed Santa Cruz. Within the span of 15 seconds, Damien Inglis tried to win the game for the Knicks. After a missed 3-point shot by Inglis, he grabbed the rebound—his ninth of the game—and put up a lay-up with 34 seconds left on the clock.

That eventually became the game-winning shot after a huge defensive stop by Keith Wright.

Coming out of the matinee game, it was clear that the Westchester Knicks don’t have someone who can protect the rim. The Warriors exploited that in their meeting and scored more than half of their points (58) in the paint.

While Inglis stated that the Knicks, “Need [a] big 5”, they waived Anthony Kent before their game against the Oklahoma City Blue, the Oklahoma City Thunder’s affiliate.

It didn’t get any better when Westchester squared off against the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the Houston Rockets’ affiliate. Like the Warriors, the Vipers took advantage of the Knicks not having an interior presence. Many players for Rio Grande had good looks under the basket and were able to take advantage of their opportunities.

The Vipers scored 58.7 percent (74) of their points in the paint.

Chinanu Onuaku had many good opportunities under the basket and was able to work the boards, as well. The former Louisville Cardinals big man totaled 16 points and 13 rebounds against Westchester.

Through 10 games, the Knicks are No. 15 in rebounds per game (43.5) and last in blocks per game (2.8).

This was brought up in the first Westchester Wire and, unless the Knicks acquire a big in the available player pool, it looks like this may be an issue the team deals with for the foreseeable future.

While it looks like the Knicks will struggle along the interior for the time being, the team’s bench has been a bright spot.

Jordon Crawford continues to spark the second unit. His size can be a disadvantage at times, but he tries to capitalize on his small frame by using his speed and agility.

Along with his ability to get to the rim, Crawford is starting to develop his shooting game. He’s playing almost the same amount of minutes as last season—19.8 minutes in 2015-16 and 20.8 minutes in 2016-17—but his production has increased significantly.

With no go-to scorer on the team, Westchester needed a collective group of players to step up and contribute in that area. Crawford was one of those players that has been able to bring a scoring presence to the team.

While he’s not much of a facilitator—only averaging 2.4 assists in 57 games—Crawford has improved his shooting since last season. Out of players who have played at least six games, the Bowling Green product is No. 2 in the NBA D-League in 3-point percentage (57.9), which is only behind Cat Barber.

While Anthony Brown has a higher percentage (65.0) than both, he only played in three games with the Erie BayHawks after receiving a call-up with the New Orleans Pelicans.

The main thing in front of the Westchester Knicks is the team struggles on the road. The Knicks had an advantage by playing four straight games at home and won all four. Their two victories on the road were determined by a combined seven points—a five-point against the Greensboro Swarm and a 2-point win over the Erie BayHawks.

The Knicks’ defense managed to close out the BayHawks by stiffening their defense and forcing Ramon Galloway to take a tough 3-point shot as the shot clock expired.

In their three losses on the road, the Knicks have lost by double digits in every game. Along with that, Westchester trailed Rio Grande by 28 points at one point after leading the Vipers by 16 in the second quarter. This is an issue the dubKnicks will need to overcome soon, as the Knicks still have five road games this month.

After going on a six-game winning streak, the Westchester Knicks have lost three in a row. Two of those three losses have been by double digits on the road. The Knicks have a tough challenge in front of them.

The Knicks have had more success playing at home, but five of their next seven games will be on the road.