The matchup between point guards Frank Ntilikina and Dennis Smith Jr. was on full display Sunday night, and Ntilikina has taken the first win.
Many bashed the Knicks, including LeBron James, for passing on Smith during June's draft. However, that didn't seem to be the case as Ntilikina locked down Smith in the limited time they matched up with each other.
The Frenchman touted Smith's skills to get to the basket, but he was confident his play showed that he could stop him.
"We didn't play one-on-one a lot during this game, but when we did, I think I did a good job containing him,'' Ntilikina told The Post's Marc Berman. "He's very athletic, very good to the rim, explodes above average. So that's what I wanted to contain. I think I did a pretty good job, so I'm happy for it and looking forward to playing him again."
Smith finished the game just 5-for-14 shooting for 11 points and five assists. Ntilikina scored just seven points on 3-of-8 shooting while tallying five assists, seven rebounds, two steals, two blocks as well. The 19-year-old had the better all-around game, and Smith admitted he was impressed by his game, especially on defense.
"I already knew prior to the game he's a really good player, he has a bright future, he understands the game, he's a really good defender,'' Smith said. "We didn't have too many plays of me and him one-on-one, but he's a really good defender. He found his niche early in the league. It ain't nothing but respect for him. I'm super excited for him."
The Knicks drafting Ntilikina may have been the right move after all, especially after Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle said if New York took Smith, they were going to nab Ntilikina instead.
"I like him a lot," Carlisle said. "I love the way he competes. He's young and he is growing quickly. I love the consistency of his competitiveness. Defensively he's reall ahead of the curve for a rookie with his length, intensity and anticipation. I understand why New York drafted him eighth."