New York Knicks: James Harden’s historic night results in bitter loss

The New York Knicks battled with a James Harden-dominated Houston Rockets squad for four quarters.

As always, the New York Knicks started well but continued poorly in the second half. This time, against the Houston Rockets, featuring a 13-point lead in the first half to the James Harden-led team. They capitalized when the Beard was out, but for most of the game, when he was in, the Knicks had no answer.

Houston once had a double-digit lead in the third quarter, but as their shooting disappeared, the Knicks rose up with an impressive fourth quarter, led by Damyean Dotson. Noah Vonleh also showed up with a solid night.

However, the Rockets pulled away in the final minutes as Harden broke out of a mini-ish slump, reaching 61 points — crossing the 60-point mark on a heartbreaking dunk in the game’s final seconds that secured the Knicks’ loss. It led to a final score of 114-110. (Harden’s total was the NBA-high of 2018-19).

It’s not like the Knicks failed to control the Rockets, who only have Eric Gordon as a reliable scorer next to Harden. But, when this potential two-time MVP just thrashes New York from start to finish, clearly as the best player on the floor that receives foul calls at will, there’s only so much that can be done.

Overall, Harden finished with the aforementioned point total, 15 rebounds, four assists and five steals. No one is stopping this guy from another award-winning season, as he’s obviously put this team on his back without Chris Paul and Clint Capela around.

As for the Knicks, their efforts can’t be forgotten. Not at all. They were led by Allonzo Trier‘s career-high 31 points, 10 rebounds and three assists, reverting to the old player fans recognized before a hamstring injury. He willed the team in the fourth quarter, including a handful of strong drives to the hoop. The breakout happened shortly after a spout with Tim Hardaway Jr.

Speaking of Hardaway, his own 15 points in the first quarter seemed as the first step towards a big night. Unfortunately, he had just six points the rest of the way, shooting just 6-for-16. There’s still no end in sight for his poor shooting games, which have stayed consistent since November and may last through the season at this rate.

  • Enes Kanter picked up his first absence via coach’s decision of the season. While his limited role was apparent just days ago, Luke Kornet‘s ankle injury seemed to change everything, potentially making the Turkish center a starter, again. That, of course, did not happen.
  • Along with Kanter, Trey Burke, Mario Hezonja and Courtney Lee did not play. It’s par for the course with Lee and Burke, but Hezonja has fallen out of the rotation, again, after briefly gaining momentum.
  • Another 0-for-5 night from Frank Ntilikina for zero points in 23 minutes. His defense was solid at times against Harden, but offensive output must happen to supplement it eventually. There’s still no sign of it, except in glimpses.
  • Mitchell Robinson had a cool 12 points in 17 minutes, but grabbed just one rebound and fouled out, marking the sixth time this happened. Sooner than later, he must show signs of controlling his play.
  • David Fizdale was ejected after picking up his second technical of the game. He may have shouted a few expletives at the referees.

The New York Knicks will return to the court on Friday, Jan. 25, at 7:30 p.m. ET, against the Philadelphia 76ers.