No Playoffs for Westchester Knicks in Third Season at County Center

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Westchester Knicks workhorse Keith Wright (right) tips-off against Long Island Nets center Egidijus Mockevicius, during Irish Night, at the Westchester County Center, on Thurs., March 16. Wright scored 15 points and grabbed 14 rebounds in the Knicks win over the Nets, while achieving his seventh double/double of the season. Albert Coqueran Photo

When the Westchester Knicks (18-26) lost to the Maine Red Claws on March 12, while the Canton Charge beat the Rio Grande Valley Vipers on the same date, the local Knicks were mathematically eliminated from the NBA Developmental League Playoffs this season.

Last season newly hired Head Coach Mike Miller led the local Knicks to the NBA D-League Playoffs for the first time with a 28-22 record in the second season of the young franchise. Nonetheless, local fans will not be entertained this D-League postseason at the Westchester County Center.

Similar to the Westchester Knicks inaugural season under former Head Coach Kevin Whitted, while going 1-25 on the road; it was the road-games blues again this season that paved the way to Playoff elimination.

The Westchester Knicks, the D-League affiliate of the N.Y. Knicks, started this season off on a positive run, while sustaining a six-game winning streak and recording a 6-1 record. But they did not win a road game after they beat the Fort Wayne Mad Ants in Fort Wayne on Dec. 30, until they beat the Erie BayHawks, 116-104, Sunday, March 19, in Pennsylvania.

The local Knicks did win a 2017 D-League Showcase Game, in Ontario, on Jan. 20, against the BayHawks but that game was considered a home game on their record. The local Knicks road record overall this season is 7-16 and since Dec. 30, their road record is a dismal 2-12, including losing all five games of their recent road trip from March 3-14. “We have gone through some tough stretches like the five-game losing streak on our road trip last week. But four of those games were played in one week against all playoff teams,” commented Miller.

On Thursday, March 16, the Westchester Knicks came home to a breath of fresh winning-air, when the beat their Metropolitan area and Atlantic Division rivals the Long Island Nets, 123-111, on “Irish Night” at the Westchester County Center.

The Long Island Nets, the NBA affiliate of the Brooklyn Nets are one of the five new entries into the NBA D-League this year. The Brooklyn Nets are presently featuring White Plains High School graduate Sean Kilpatrick on their NBA roster.

The local Knicks had previously lost twice to Long Island this year on the road but beat them handily by 12 points at home on March 16. The Long Island Nets (15-31) did not make the Playoffs either this year but look for this rivalry dubbed the “Battle of the Burbs” to heat-up in the coming years.

Since coming to the Westchester Knicks in January, guard John Jenkins has been a scoring machine for the local Knicks. Jenkins is an experienced NBA player, who was selected the 23rd overall by the Atlanta Braves in the First Round of the 2012 NBA Draft. Jenkins has also played for the Dallas Mavericks and Phoenix Suns.

Jenkins scored 28 points on 10-for-17 shooting, while dropping 7-of-7 from the foul line against the Nets in the local Knicks first win in six games. He also tied the All-Time Single-Game Scoring Record for the Westchester Knicks this season, by netting 40 points in their loss to the Nets on March 14. Doron Lamb also achieved the mark on March 12, 2015.

Jenkins is a great replacement for prolific guard Chasson Randle, who was called up by the NBA Philadelphia 76ers, on January 10 and then signed by the N.Y. Knicks on February 27. Jenkins is averaging 20 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.2 assist per game this season in 14 games for the local Knicks.

But we will see Jenkins in a Westchester Knicks uniform next season. Randle is expecting a child in two months and if the NBA does not call him up, a big payday in Europe might be just what the Randle family needs at this time. “Since I have been here, I have embraced the journey, my teammates have been outstanding and the coaching staff is hands-on,” commented Randle. “Obviously, my goal is the NBA, but I have a little girl on the way so from now on it is not about me it is about my family,” revealed Randle.

As good as the local Knicks looked at times this season, two five-game losing streaks and a 7-16 road record sealed their fate this year. With six games remaining in the regular season as of Tuesday, March 21, it is all about just winning games and developing the team.

“We have to close this season out right, it means a lot to everybody,” said Miller. “Not a lot of people are going to remember what happened in November and December but what happens down the stretch and how well you improved over the course of the year that is what people notice,” said Miller.

The Westchester Knicks will play their final three regular season games at the Westchester County Center, including against the Canton Charge, on Tuesday, March 28, and the Greensboro Swarm, on Thursday, March 30, both games at 7 p.m. The local Knicks will close out their third season at the Westchester County Center, while attempting to even their four-game series against the Long Island Nets, on April 1, at 1 p.m.

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