Frank Ntilikina made his first start of the season last night and the 3rd year Frenchman played... pretty well. Now, let's be clear, I love the kid, mostly because when he got drafted it was the closest I will ever get to hearing my name get called at the NBA Draft by my favorite team. Beyond that he has what this team needs. Defensive prowess.
In his first two years (lets call it was it is) the Knicks sucked. Porzingis was basically the only other defender on the team and that's only because he is 7'3" and blocked shots get you paid and apparently a few dates with Jen Selter (I'm not linking her IG here, pervs). Anyway, Frank's defense has long been touted as his calling card, which is what got him drafted in the first place. I am all for it. The league needs more defense to prevent it from becoming and And1 Mixtape (Yes, I linked a youtube clip of that here... This is a basketball blog after all) and keeping the league legit.
Frank logged 38 minutes, scored 10 points along with 3 rebounds and 2 assists. He looked confident in his shot but still missed some easy ones, including a reverse layup off a steal that trickled out. He also played some great defense on Kemba Walker which is exactly why he got the start in the first place. The points will come as long as the defense stays which is what will keep Frank in the rotation.
Unfortunately, I do not have better news on the final score but as the Defending Champions of moral victories, the Knicks played well and gave themselves a chance down the stretch. There was great ball movement, hard fought rebounding, open looks and timely hoops made. The area that was most lopsided was the Free Throws, where the Knicks saw themselves at the line 21 times with only 14 makes. Conversely, the C's hit 27 of 29 from the stripe which was the reason Jayson Tatum had his opportunity with less that two seconds on the clock to hit the Game Winner over RJ Barrett, who defended it well but the basketball Gods had other things in mind than an overtime game in Boston on a Friday night.
As I've said before. A few bounces in the other direction and the Knicks have a much better record than what is on paper now, but it is still early and as soon as the team finds that gel and cohesiveness, they will be at tough team to beat.