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Despite loss, Frank Ntilikina says Knicks 'can build something great here'

From ESPN - November 14, 2017

NEW YORK -- Courtney Lee and other New York Knicks veterans learned long ago that rookie Frank Ntilikina isnt easy to intimidate.

Franks a competitor, Lee said late Monday night. In practice, hes going at everybody.

The rest of the basketball world learned the same about Ntilikina on Monday night when he shoved LeBron James a few times late in the first quarter of the Knicks' game versus the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Ntilikina insisted afterward that he wouldve pushed any player that was preventing him from inbounding the ball, as James was.

But other Knicks knew that James recent comments about the club passing over Dennis Smith Jr. got under Ntilikinas skin. So, yes, Ntilikina was likely sending a message when he shoved the four-time MVP.

For somebody to go in the media and say something about him -- or say it wasnt about him -- I mean, he took it personal. And thats what all competitors do, Lee said. So, he was fired up and ready to play.

Ntilikinas decision to push James ignited his teammates -- and the Madison Square Garden crowd -- in what turned out to be a disappointing 104-101 Knicks loss.

Enes Kanter, who had his own public back-and-forth with James, came to Ntilikinas defense quickly, going face-to-face with the three-time NBA champ.

The play resulted in a double technical and may have revealed something important about this young Knicks team: They play for each other and arent easily intimidated.

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