New York Knicks: Frank Ntilikina shines bright despite woeful night

(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The New York Knicks made defensive errors throughout Sunday’s game against the Charlotte Hornets, but Frank Ntilikina returned with another standout performance.

A night where the New York Knicks fought back too late, resulted in a loss to the Brooklyn Nets. They had a 24-hour turnaround, however, with a game against the Charlotte Hornets. Tired legs showed, as they let the Kemba Walker-led backcourt torch from behind the arc.

Four long quarters of play, none of which the Knicks led, created a 119-107 loss, marking their fifth consecutive defeat to drop them to 8-20.

There’s always some type of positive takeaway, though. Once again, it was the revitalized play of Frank Ntilikina.

The 20-year-old heard his name called for the first time in three games on Saturday. His seven points were fine, but what he did Sunday took it to another level.

In maybe the best stretch of Ntilikina’s career, he knocked down 18 points in 11 second-half minutes. He played nine minutes in the first half, but went scoreless.

This torrid run saw Ntilikina shoot 4-for-4 from behind the arc and 7-for-11 total. He stayed aggressive, looking for his shot at all parts of the floor. No rebounds and one assist, but he already showed ability in these parts of his game.

Taking a me-first mindset on offense was always a needed development for Ntlikina. He needed it to survive in the NBA, especially an outside shot. So far, so good, for one night, so will he continue this past just one breakout night?

The only expectation to temper, is Ntilikina returning to the starting lineup. This bench run can continue to renew his confidence, but if Emmanuel Mudiay drops the ball at point guard down the line, maybe Fizdale tries another run for the No. 8 pick of the 2017 NBA Draft later this season.

  • Kevin Knox‘s night can’t be forgotten, either. He matched a season-high with 26 points and notched 15 rebounds. This was his second flash of brilliance, and, if not for Ntilikina, his performance would have headlined this game.
  • Another Knox note: he played ahead of Mario Hezonja, who played just four minutes, to open the second half. Given this long losing streak, it’s worth speculating if these two will switch spots in the starting lineup and bench.
  • David Fizdale was ejected after picking up two technical fouls in the fourth quarter. He seemed upset with the officiating, beginning when Ntilikina picked up an offensive foul.
  • Noah Vonleh had a double-double, but an unusual one: 10 assists and 10 rebounds. He had three points and seven total this weekend.
  • Tim Hardaway Jr.’s shooting struggles have taken greater precedence of late, but he shot 7-for-13 for 21 points and five assists.
  • Allonzo Trier did not play due to a hamstring injury.
  • Given Ntilikina fouling out, Ron Baker received a rare stretch of on-court time, playing nine minutes and scoring five points.

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The New York Knicks have two days off, before returning on Wednesday, Dec. 12, to face the Cleveland Cavaliers. It’s an opportunity to reevaluate everything on this losing streak, so will Fizdale shake things up?