new york knicks
Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

The Knicks waste a monster first quarter as they fall to the Hornets

It looked like the New York Knicks were ready to run the Charlotte Hornets out of their own building in the first quarter. Kemba Walker exploded for 17 first-quarter points in his old stomping grounds while the defense held Charlotte to 18 points.

But the Hornets embarked on a steady comeback beginning of the second quarter. They cut the lead to nine at the half and jumped out to a lead early in the third quarter.

Once again, the Knicks needed the bench to scratch and claw their way back into the game. Immanuel Quickley and Alec Burks were the catalysts off the bench.

Tom Thibodeau has a problem: The Knicks starters have been a mess over the last week or so. It starts with Julius Randle and RJ Barrett, but it’s not limited to those two. Evan Fournier can’t buy a bucket right now and outside of a strong first half, Kemba Walker looks like a shell of his former self.

Now, this begs the question, should Thibs make a change to the starting lineup? His track record and recent comments would indicate some reluctance to do that. His rigid 10-man rotations haven’t changed much since game one (aside from injuries).

“You know we basically have a 10-man rotation. As we get some rhythms, we will start mixing and matching more,” Thibodeau said after Wednesday’s loss to the Bucks. “The second unit has been together longer. They have chemistry and we have to make sure everything is tied together. There has to be connectivity between both groups and with each other when they are on the floor.”

Will another lackluster effort from the starters be enough to force Thibs into a change? It’s not time to panic and flip the roster upside down, but it might benefit the team to give the starting lineup a different look.

Inserting Alec Burks or Immanuel Quickley into the starting lineup for Evan Fournier would be a subtle way to mix it up.

Obi Toppin won’t be taking Julius Randle’s spot in the starting lineup, but he definitely deserves more minutes by any means necessary. The Knicks lack energy at times and Toppin brings that in bunches.

There are a few ways Thibs could shake things up. The one thing we know for sure is that something needs to change.