The New York Knicks were banged up once again as they sought to sweep a back-to-back with the Washington Wizards.
The NBA trade deadline came and went, but the New York Knicks had bigger fish to fry. Thursday night marked the second of a back-to-back with the Washington Wizards, and New York was primed to sweep.
The odds favored the Knicks, who slaughtered the Wizards 131-113 on Tuesday. Even with Reggie Bullock and Derrick Rose out, beating Washington would prove easier than pulling a rabbit out of a hat. Or sawing Julius Randle in half; or making Elfrid Payton disappear. Is this your card?
Okay, now that I’ve done enough annoying magic jokes, let’s delve into the game action. Mr. Potter, if you will, please?
1st quarter: Don’t get cocky
The New York Knicks played flat basketball in the first, and clearly took their big win over Washington for granted. The team trailed 25-20 after one and shot an abysmal 25.8% from the field. They didn’t sink a single three.
Randle and RJ Barrett shot a combined 4 of 16 in the quarter as well, and New York could find no rhythm on offense. The Wizards, meanwhile, took advantage of the Knicks’ mistakes and clearly adjusted their strategy.
Would the Knicks adjust themselves, or continue playing Quidditch while Washington played basketball?
Halftime report: Bad, bad, bad
Just get me a ticket to Las Vegas, because I would rather sit down in a musky lounge that smells like menthols and bad decisions to watch a hokey illusionist entertain retirees than relive the second quarter of this game.
The New York Knicks set themselves up for failure from the get-go when the Wizards opened the second on an 8-0 run. The defense didn’t improve, nor did the scoring. New York’s shots simply weren’t falling. The defense’s effort was weaker than weak.
Well, at least Immanuel Quickley sunk the Knicks’ sole three-pointer?
3rd quarter: Ugly grit
Washington still led the New York Knicks 78-67 after three, but the good news is New York seemed to be waking up toward the end of the quarter.
Both teams traded baskets for much of the third, and the Knicks rallied just enough to keep things interesting and shrink the margin to 11. Julius Randle finally drilled a three-pointer, and RJ Barrett got a gritty layup at the buzzer.
Could New York overcome such an ugly game to pull off an equally ugly win?
4th quarter: Abracadabra
Maybe it was a slow burn to a great finish, or maybe Tom Thibodeau gave everyone some Felix Felicis between quarters. Either way, the New York Knicks turned in an amazing fourth quarter and outscored the Wizards 39-24.
New York enjoyed runs of 7-0 and 13-1 to pull away and finally look like the superior team. Alec Burks scored 12 points in the fourth, and Quickley’s three which gave the Knicks their first lead shifted momentum for good.
Throw in a 24-point night from RJ Barrett, and this was a hard-earned 106-102 victory, even if it was on the ugly side!
Player of the game: Alec Burks
Burks continued his dark horse bid for Sixth Man of the Year with 27 points, his fourth-straight 20-point game.