The Knicks dropped a narrow one at home to the Houston Rockets Wednesday night. Afterward, several Knicks fans, already all aboard the Zion Williamson tank, tweeted their gratitude for some extremely butt point-of-attack defense that let Eric Gordon waltz into a game-winning three-pointer. Here’s the play:
It’s common for NBA defenses to switch screens in late-clock and late-game situations, especially when the offensive players involved in the action are as deadly from outside as Eric Gordon and James Harden, who in this case was doing the screening. Allonzo Trier started the play guarding Gordon, but appeared to slide onto Harden as Gordon dribbled to the top of the key. A switch would’ve had Tim Hardaway Jr. dropping off of Harden to guard Gordon and prevent, well, exactly what wound up happening. That switch was never completed, whether due to a communication failure or a misunderstanding or by design. The result was as open a three-pointer as Gordon could ever hope for out of that situation, and another Knicks loss.
Because Trier started the play on Gordon, and because he appeared to dip under the screen while guarding one of the NBA’s deadliest outside shooters, fans latched onto him as the agent of their oddly fortunate misfortune.
I would not normally be drawing your attention to the random semi-ironic grumbling of disillusioned Knicks fans, except that one of them added Trier himself to the thread, presumably to avoid the dreaded subtweet. But Trier, God bless him, is not the kind of guy who’s going to let the record go uncorrected!
I respect this! Trier says the Knicks had a switch on, which is why he was caught out of position when Hardaway stayed glued to Harden. Assuming that’s the case, Trier did well to fight his way back into the play and at least get a hand up to contest Gordon’s shot. Hardaway, meanwhile, never so much as flinched in Gordon’s direction, even when Gordon picked up his dribble, squared up his shoulders, ordered and ate dinner, took a bath, changed into his jammies, and finally, finally began his shooting motion. If the switch was indeed on, I’d say Trier earned the right to defend himself. If not, probably he’s going to have to answer to his teammate for throwing him under the bus.
Trier had 31 points against the Rockets, and dropped in a gorgeous go-ahead driving layup just seconds before Gordon’s game-winner. The Knicks have now lost seven straight. The frustration is real!