The New York Knicks are the comeback kids once again. After falling behind early to the Jazz, they staged a furious second-half surge.
Brace yourselves — the New York Knicks might actually be pretty good this year. They entered Wednesday with two wins over playoff teams and added a third following a ferocious comeback against the Utah Jazz.
Tom Thibodeau is putting his imprint on this overlooked roster and there are plenty of happy Knicks fans out there right now. New York’s 112-100 win over Utah puts them at 5-3 on the season.
1st Quarter: Too Much Rudy Gobert
The Knicks had trouble containing Rudy Gobert in the first quarter. Mitchell Robinson went toe-to-toe with the Frenchman for the first half of the quarter, but Gobert began heating up as the game went on. He finished the frame with six points, five boards, and three blocks.
Nerlens Noel’s absence is going to be felt most on defense. Without Noel, Julius Randle is thrust into playing center for the second unit. He doesn’t offer the rim protection that Robinson or Noel can bring. Gobert took advantage of that early on, but the Knicks would recover.
2nd Quarter: Boy, That Escalated Quickly
The Knicks allowed Gobert and the Jazz to gain some momentum towards the end of the first quarter. The start of the second period wasn’t much different. Utah opened up an 18-point lead with 7:46 to play in the second. It was at that point that the Knicks knew they would be fighting an uphill battle.
3rd Quarter: Don’t Call It A Comeback
Randle and Elfrid Payton helped lead the charge in the third quarter. The orange and blue outscored the Jazz 34-19 and took a three-point lead into the fourth. Randle and Payton combined to score 22 points in the third on 8-for-13 shooting.
Randle struggled to shoot the ball early but turned in a fantastic performance all the same. He tallied 25 points, 16 rebounds, and seven assists. Payton handled his business as well, racking up 22 points and eight assists.
And to think, a little over two weeks ago there were some Knicks fans who wanted these guys shipped out of town on the next Greyhound bus.
4th Quarter: Austin Rivers Clutch Mode
Randle and Payton got things moving in the right direction in the third quarter, but Austin Rivers took the Knicks home. He scored 14 points in a row during crunch-time and almost singlehandedly put the Jazz to sleep. Thibodeau told reporters after the game that Rivers has “never lacked confidence.”
New Yorkers are learning that very early on during Rivers’ tenure with the Knicks.
It’s A Winning Streak!
That’s three in a row for the Knickerbockers and five of their last six. This is also the first time the Knicks have been two games over .500 since Dec. 22, 2017. There’s a new feeling in Madison Square Garden despite the fact that the fans are not there to revel in the moment.
Thibodeau has this team playing better than anyone expected and now it’s onto the next one. New York will welcome the Oklahoma City Thunder to MSG on Friday night.