A few days ago, the New York Knicks got clobbered at home by the Cleveland Cavaliers, which prompted Steve Mills and Scott Perry to come out and about the state of the team. They were 2-8, looked lifeless and their bizarre roster construction wasn’t helping. It wasn’t convincing, but Mills and Perry tried to sell a message of hope.
How did the Knicks respond in their first game since that fateful night? Oh just by getting blown out by a Chicago Bulls team that is nearly as much of a mess, and getting outscored by a rookie in the fourth quarter in the process. Coby White, the No. 7 pick in this summer’s draft, matched his draft slot with seven 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, pouring in 23 points in the frame. The Knicks, as a team, managed just 17. Led by White’s effort, the Bulls outscored the Knicks 35-17 in the fourth to cruise to a 120-102 win.
The Knicks getting crushed again is obviously a story, but it’s a depressing one that we’ve heard time and again over the past few years. So instead let’s focus on something fun: White’s career night. The rookie has had a bit of an up-and-down start to his career, with a few good games matched by plenty of poor ones. Tuesday night was definitely one of the good ones.
A minute into the fourth quarter, White took a look-ahead pass from Kris Dunn and stepped into a 3 that he drained. The very next possession, he took a feed from Ryan Arcidiacono and knocked down another one. “Why stop there?” he thought, and the next time down the court he repeated the feat by hitting yet another triple off the dish from Arcidiacono. Three possessions, three 3s. And that was just the start.
White kept on shooting, finishing the fourth quarter with 23 points of his career-high 27 points. As for the seven triples he hit, they were not only a career-best, but set a Bulls franchise record and NBA rookie record for 3s in a quarter. If that wasn’t enough, the Bulls crowd serenaded him with “COBY!” chants and gave him a standing ovation.
One of those standing and applauding was White’s college coach at North Carolina, Roy Williams, who was in attendance and came down to the court after the win to congratulate him. As for White’s current coach, Jim Boylen, he had plenty of praise as well.
“Coby was terrific,” Boylen said. “The beauty in Coby’s game is he let it come to him, and also we found him. We kept finding him and feeding him. He was just terrific.”
From the record-setting fourth quarter, to the win, to his college coach being in attendance, Tuesday was a perfect night for White. Now, he’ll have his work cut out for him to prove this wasn’t just a one-time performance.