The New York Knicks prove they can be fun

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

Following a thrilling come from behind victory over the Chicago Bulls, The New York Knicks have demonstrated they are capable of winning basketball, even if only in small quantities.

When the New York Knicks struck out on big-name free agent targets Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, it was clear the second-tier options the Knicks did acquire were intended to add a competitive edge to a team that lacked veteran leadership. Through the team’s first three games, their offseason additions looked more likely to be eventual trade chips than key cogs in a successful basketball machine. Yet for one night against a Bulls squad brimming with young talent, the Knicks put everything together and played like the team many envisioned entering the season.

Not every game this season is against the rebuilding Chicago Bulls, and even if that were the case the Knicks would likely still find a way to disappoint, yet the brand of basketball the team displayed last night was legitimately exciting. The Garden will always show out for the Knicks, but their most recent performance finally justified the rowdy crowd. The Knicks may not yet have the pieces to be consistent winners this season, but they proved they can be fun, and for a rebuilding club still years away from contention, that may be enough.

So, why was Monday’s regular-season victory, which brought the Knicks to 1-3 on the season, so exciting? Well to answer that question one must start with the man who received the bulk of the praise from the Garden faithful.

Bobby “Bobby Buckets” Portis, as he will officially be known until he is inexplicably dealt for a second-round pick, played like a man on a mission. The hard-nosed big man dropped 28 points on his former squad, including two momentum-swinging triples in the final two minutes. Portis may not be individually capable of filling the unicorn size hole in Knick fans’ hearts, yet for a single night in October, the Arkansas product was more than enough.

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While Portis was undoubtedly the engine that propelled the Knicks offensively, the team’s first victory of the season was a team affair. RJ Barrett continued to state his case for Rookie of the Year with an array of contact finishes, as well as his most impressive rebounding performance to date. Sophomore Kevin Knox has looked night and day in his composure and poise offensively and provided clutch perimeter shooting which ignited the Knicks final scoring run.

The jury is still out on lengthy point guard Frank Ntilikina, but the French Prince made his way on to the floor early last night due to the absence of Dennis Smith Jr. Ntilikina forced his way into extended minutes with an elite defense, despite continuing to appear incapable of making an open jump shot. The former eighth overall pick’s development has always been contingent on improving his offensive repertoire, yet on a night where the Knicks finally found a groove offensively, Ntilikina’s ability to deny larger opponents both on the perimeter and at the rim was enough to make him playable as the score tightened down the stretch.

As for Coach David Fizdale, whose inconsistent rotations and inability to call successful plays following time outs had warmed his seat considerably since the start of the season, last night served as a reminder as to why the team hired the former LeBron James confidant. Fizdale may not be the Xs and Os coach that his former mentor Eric Spoelstra is, but the genuine excitement that Fizdale demonstrated on the sideline during crunch time shows he is the ultimate player’s coach.

Fizdale’s genuine excitement when his players succeed is infectious, and watching him smile on the sidelines was almost as gratifying as watching the final buzzer with a seven-point lead.

Next. Grades, takeaways from the Bobby Portis revenge game. dark

The Knicks will likely conclude this season similarly to their previous seven campaigns, without a postseason appearance. Yet on nights like what has now been declared on Instagram as the Bobby Portis game, where hoops at the Mecca are fun again, the Knicks are worth watching.