The New York Knicks were without point guard Frank Ntilikina against the Los Angeles Lakers. Kevin Knox explained how sorely he was missed.
Tuesday, July 10 will be a date that New York Knicks fans remember as the Summer League coming out party for Kevin Knox. After two strong showings, Knox overcame a dreadful first quarter to put together a special performance.
For as brilliant as Knox was, the Knicks still managed to lose the game by 17 points—a truth that reflects the value of one Frank Ntilikina, who missed the outing with a groin injury.
Knox scored 29 points, converting nine of his final 16 shots after his 0-for-6 start. It was an invigorating performance, but his second and third quarter heroics were unable to prevent the Lakers from dominating the fourth quarter, thus securing a 109-92 victory.
According to Marc Berman of The New York Post, Knox acknowledged that Ntilikina was missed for two critical reasons: Leadership and defense.
"“It was a little bit different — Frank could’ve helped us in the fourth quarter, somebody who can have led us and picked up defensively,’’ Knox said. “He’s really good defensively. Somebody who’s been in these situations, he could’ve helped us in the fourth.’’"
Ntilikina continues to have an overwhelming number of critics, but leadership and defense are two traits that every franchise in every sport will forever covet.
Knox did an outstanding job of leading the Knicks back from a 25-point deficit. By the end of the third quarter, New York had tied the game at 78-78, due in large part to the fact that Knox scored 16 points during that frame alone.
Unfortunately, the Knicks were outscored by a margin of 31-14 during the fourth quarter—a clear sign that the orange and blue needed defense and leadership.
Ntilikina has provided both traits in Las Vegas, and with the 19-year-old sidelined, New York looked lost in crunch time.
Allowing 109 points in a Summer League game is tough to stomach, especially when it was a guard, Josh Hart, who led Los Angeles with 27 points. Ntilikina could’ve conceivably slowed him down while simultaneously providing a more ideal pace for New York’s offense as a facilitator.
Throw in the fact that Ntilikina produced 17 points and six assists his last time out, and it’s fair to ponder if the result would’ve been different had he played.
As New York Knicks fans question Frank Ntilikina, the words of their new favorite player should offer a reminder of how valuable his contributions truly are.