new york knicks
(Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)

The New York Knicks dispatch the Detroit Pistons with ease as they enter the All-Star break on a massive hot streak.

Danny Small

The New York Knicks are entering the All-Star break with a winning record for the first time since 2013. That also happens to be the last time the franchise made the playoffs

The Pistons had no answers for Julius Randle or RJ Barrett. The pair combined for 48 points, 20 rebounds, and 12 assists. When Barrett shows up, the Knicks have a dynamic one-two punch offensively.

The Knicks have won four of their last five and eight of their last 11. Here are three highlights and three observations from New York’s 114-104 win over Detroit on Thursday night.

Highlight 1: RJ Barrett Dishing

Highlight 2: Frank Ntilikina Swishing

Highlight 3: Julius Randle Block

Observation 1: Professional Win

This was the playoff-team type win. The Knicks asserted themselves early and rebuffed every single Pistons push from then on out. The Knicks do not win this game with as much ease and maturity in past years.

And add in the fact that the Knicks were blown out by the San Antonio Spurs two nights ago and this win is beginning to look more and more impressive.

The Knicks are playing playoff basketball as they enter the All-Star break. Knicks fans will finally have meaningful games to watch in March, April, and May.

Observation 2: RJ Barrett Percolating

RJ Barrett is experiencing all the ups and downs of a typical 20-year-old in the NBA, but right now, he’s on top of his game. Over his last four games, Barrett is averaging 20.3 points on 57/57/72 shooting splits.

He’s not taking a high volume of three-point attempts, but he’s making the ones he’s taking. Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau spoke to reporters about the work Barrett has been putting into his shooting and the way it helps open up the game for himself and others.

“His preparation is giving him a lot of confidence,” Thibodeau explained to reporters on the postgame Zoom call. “[Shooting] is something that we want him to continue to do, and he’s always had the downhill ability, puts a lot of pressure on the rim. He’s making good rim reads but I think the way shooting the ball now has really opened up a lot of things for us.”

Observation 3: Frank Ntilikina Making A Push

The crowded Knicks backcourt is getting a little more crowded. Frank Ntilikina is making a strong case to keep his spot in the rotation when the team returns from the All-Star break. The Frenchman is taking full advantage of his opportunity after Elfrid Payton missed some time due to injury and Derrick Rose was held out due to health and safety protocols.

Ntilikina is up to 13-for-21 from beyond the arc after nailing all three of his attempts on Thursday. The fourth-year guard scored 22 points on 11 shots in his last two games.

If Ntilikina can continue to space the floor with the three, he does more than enough on defense to warrant a consistent spot in the rotation.

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