Will the real Elfred Payton stand up please?
One night after the Knicks had delivered their worst starting point as the Knicks in a catastrophe without goals, on Sunday afternoon they defeated the mighty Bucks in an astonishing 130-110 attack that gave Tom Thibodo his first win as the Knicks coach.
It was not a dream. Payton, whose slow start to the season was a buzz on social media due to his sitting, actually collected 26 points, making all three of his shots and hitting 12 of 16.
Payton also provided three assists. His late three-pointers in the third game essentially salted the match. Payton’s biggest weakness is his misery from behind the arc, hitting just 21 per cent of last season’s depth.
Payton Nick wasn’t the only one looking like a new guy as “The Greek Freak” got a pile of humble pie in the garden. Even reserve point guard Frank Ntelikina on Sunday was knocked off the bench to dig all of his three-point shots.
RJ Barrett also put the clunkfest on Saturday behind him with 17 points. Julius Randall continued his impressive play (27 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists) and was uncomfortable defending pax star Giannis Antiteconmo, who knocked out early in the fourth quarter at the surrender mark.
Too bad the park was mostly desolate as this could drop as one of the highlights of the season as the Knicks moved to 1-2 after double-digit losses to Indiana and Philadelphia where they collapsed in the second half.
Instead, the Knicks improved only Sunday in the second half, increasing by 28 points early in the fourth half after taking a 61-45 lead in the first half.
Antitokounmo was “reserved” with 25 points, 13 rebounds and five assists as the Knicks broke their four-game losing streak against Milwaukee.
The Knicks will not play in the park again in 2020 as they begin a four-game road trip that begins Tuesday in Cleveland and continues to Tampa for a New Year’s Eve battle against the Raptors before ending the trip in Indiana and Atlanta.
The Knicks scored 11-0 late in the first half which was capped by 3-pointers Alec Burks. Randall then buried an unbalanced index in the final second as the Knicks took a 16-point lead at the break.
It was throwback performances from both Payton and Barrett, who were terrible in their opening match against the Sixers. Borx was knocked off the bench, dropping 18 – 15 points in the first half.
Trapped Payton was goalless on Saturday night, going 0-6 and losing all of his three-pointers while getting only one pass.
Sunday, Payton, hit two early years, then emptied a rare triple-pointer. By the first half, he had amassed 11 points and three assists.
The point guard was a disastrous play against the Sixers but it prepared spectacularly against Milwaukee. With Dennis Smith Jr. knocked out with a quadruple bruise, Ntilikina inherited the role of a reserve point guard and gave a powerful 18 minutes off the bench when he fired from the rear – 4 of 4 from a 3-point streak.
The Barrett disaster was larger than the Payton disaster on Saturday at 2 of 15 breaksfest. He remained aggressive and worked his way up to his points on Sunday.
Antetokounmpo scored in first possession, receiving a rebound pass from Khris Middletown and sending it. But Nicks was mostly in control of the “Greek Freak,” preventing him from destroying the ledge.
Bucks was also an awesome 8 out of 38 from the 3-point streak. The Nicks rocked a terrible 3-point shooting performance on Saturday to dig in 15 of 26 against Milwaukee.
“The most important thing is the way it attacks the paint,” Thibodeau previously said of the Bucks star. “You cannot guard it individually – we have to guard it with our team. So it will require a lot of effort and multiple efforts.”
The effort was there this time for four quarters.