- A game that the Knicks led 34-30 early in the second quarter and were tied at 42 with 2:43 left in the half got away quickly to close the first half and through a tough third quarter. Jeff Hornacek saw a spirited defensive effort early on, but the energy that took to keep pace with the Thunder emptied the tanks too soon. Conditioning is a factor early in the season when you’re a team that is going to have to rely on extra effort against stacked teams like this. Turnovers (26) are another major concern, as are the 37 points given up off those turnovers.
- Kristaps Porzingis had an outstanding season debut with 31 points, 12 rebounds and a block in 38 minutes. Hornacek was most pleased with how KP’s energy level — which often was an issue in his first two seasons — did not fall off later in the game. The work he put in this offseason showed dividends.
- There was some controversy in Hornacek’s rotation decisions. He started center Enes Kanter and opted to go with Kyle O’Quinn as the backup. That left All-Rookie team selection Willy Hernangomez on the bench until garbage time. Hernangomez played just 3:46. Hornacek said that Kanter and O’Quinn “earned the minutes in training camp” and added that Hernangomez was “not far behind.” Conventional thinking is that Hernangomez is presented as one of the core young players the franchise is building with, so he should get the time. But I had a chat with GM Scott Perry last week about this very subject and he said minutes still have to be earned by the young players and they were not going to create any entitlement. An interesting situation to watch as we go forward.
- Another member of the youth movement, rookie Frank Ntilikina, played just 7:32 in his NBA debut and was the third point guard in the rotation. Ntilikina, who saw limited action in the preseason due to a sore knee, did not score but recorded an assist. Hornacek clearly wants to bring the 19-year-old along slowly and get him acclimated to the NBA game, especially the difference in speed. He also said his two airballs were merely the result of being “a little juiced up” and wasn’t concerned.
- Carmelo Anthony had 22 points in 34 minutes and hit the first shot of the season for the Thunder. Melo said what we were all thinking after the game: “That chapter is closed; no more Knicks talk.” Promise?
The Knicks next host the Pistons on Saturday night for the home-opener. Tune in to MSG Network for a special one-hour pregame show, which begins at 7 p.m., and catch the first Knicks Fix segment of the season. You can also stream the game live for free on MSG GO.