The NBA G League is in the back nine of the 2018-19 season. The Westchester Knicks had a tough back-to-back against the Canton Charge and Long Island Nets. With a small margin of wins separating the teams fighting for a postseason berth, wins are becoming more crucial in the final stretch of the season.
After two huge victories, Westchester improved to 22-16 and hold the No. 4 spot in the Eastern Conference. Not only did the team’s defense step up, but several players stepped up in an opportune way. Just as Isaiah Hicks and Kadeem Allen (two-way contract) and John Jenkins (two 10-day contracts) are in the NBA, a few Westchester Knicks are playing great basketball and potentially putting themselves in position to earn a call-up.
What did the two-hame homestand show?
Westchester dominates second half vs Canton
The Westchester Knicks trailed the Canton Charge by one possession at halftime. The Charge scored seven points through the first three minutes of the third quarter, which prompted Westchester head coach Mike Miller to call a timeout. The Knicks controlled the second half from that point forward.
Westchester outscored Canton 30-15 in the remainder of the third quarter and gave up 19 points in the fourth quarter to secure 112-96 victory. The Knicks’ second half was powered by the team’s defense.
“I thought our defense triggered everything during that second half,” Miller said. “I thought that was really the difference. We’d get two stops (then) three stops that let us to being able to get out and open the floor up. I thought Canton did a good job changing up the looks and trying to be disruptive with us. Maybe we didn’t counter those things very well, but the defense really opened it up there. We got some baskets in transition and created some different things.”
Devon Baulkman shines in extended playing time and posts career numbers vs Canton
Prior to Friday’s game, Devon Baulkman played 32-plus minutes once. With Allen and Jenkins in the NBA, playing time opened for the third-year guard. Baulkman played 32 minutes against Canton and continued to make big defensive plays and showcased his hustle on the court that made a difference for Westchester. He showed to be aggressive on the offensive end where he posted career-highs of 24 points on nine made shots and converting on four triples.
Billy Garrett’s strong play catapults him to G League Player of the Week honors
Billy Garrett continued his strong play against Canton and came up clutch in many moments against Long Island. Not only did he post his first career double-double, but his 39 points, 12 assists and 14 field goals made were career highs, along with tying a career-high with three steals.
Garrett was getting to his spots and was highly efficient with his shot. He hit some clutch shots, including three free throws at the end of the first overtime to force a second overtime. After the free throws, Garrett closed out the quarter with a solid defensive possession on Jordan McLaughlin.
Following the game, Westchester head coach Mike Miller discussed Garrett’s composure on the court and how he consistently wants to improve every day.
“I think he came to us with a good basketball IQ, which obviously he’s got a great work ethic,” Miller said. “He has a very good feel for the game and since he’s been here, every day he’s trying to get better. He watches film every day. He wants to see the things that he needs to do better. He recognizes if he’s not doing something well. He wants to do it well. I think it’s allowed him to keep moving and things kind of fell into place. It was his kind of game. He got shots that are his shots and he played very well.”
The second-year guard earned G League Player of the Week honors following his performances against Canton and Long Island. He became the third Westchester Knick behind DaJuan Summers and Trey Burke to earn that honor.
Zak Irvin continues stretch of impressive performances and records back-to-back double-doubles
Zak Irvin’s defensive and offensive versatility has been valuable during his time in Westchester and he has continued to be an effective player for. He has been draining jumpers and scores well in transition off turnovers. He drained a huge shot against against Long Island when he hit a pull up jumper from the foul line to force overtime. In the two games, Irvin averaged 20.5 points, 12.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.0 steals while shooting 58.8 percent from the field.
With Allen, Jenkins and Hicks with the New York Knicks, opportunities have risen and players continue to seize their extended playing time. Baulkman excelled in the starting rotation, while continuing to bring a strong defensive presence and energy to the team.
Jameel Warney continues to dominate in the post, while drawing double teams and opening things up for the team. He drained a couple threes against Long Island and is showing his presence on the defensive end. Paul Watson showcased his presence on the defensive end, while being efficient with his shot in the two games.
Even with the changes to the roster, the Westchester Knicks continue to keep the ball rolling as the team holds grip of the No. 4 seed.