Despite an impressive preseason, the New York Knicks lost their first game of the season. RJ Barrett, Alec Burks, and Julius Randle all played impressive games. The Knicks had a great opening half and led after 24 minutes, however, they were a completely different team throughout the remainder of the game. The Pacers finished the game with a 107-121 win. Here’s how each half went, and the key takeaways.
The First Half
The Knickerbockers began the game well, as they kept up with Indiana and held the lead for a good portion of the time. RJ Barrett was firing on all cylinders and almost every shot of his went in. His three-point game vastly improved since last season, and he was the anchor for New York. Julius Randle had an uncharacteristically great performance because of his ball movement. He ended the game with nine assists, the majority coming in the first half. Additionally, he was creating good shots for himself and remained low on turnovers. However, he got into foul trouble which deeply affected the game. If Randle continues playing at this level, he’ll be a key player for the New York Knicks this season.
Alec Burks also played an impressive game in his first official game in the blue and orange. He finished the game with 22 points and four assists off the bench. He showed how crafty he can be, and had a great first half. Additionally, Quickley continued to prove he belongs on this squad, as he was able to properly mesh his squad and get everyone involved. However, he was brought out early, with a hip injury that would keep him off the floor for the remainder of the game.
The Second Half
The Knicks entered the second half with a narrow lead over the Pacers. However, things all went wrong and the Knicks proved they’re still a work in progress. Mitchell Robinson and Nerlens Noel were both sentenced to the bench early in the second half due to foul trouble. Tom Thibodeau was forced to play small ball, which was the main downfall for the Knicks. Pacers forward Domantas Sabonis was able to feast on the Knicks’ small lineup and was able to put up 32 points and 13 assists. Nobody was able to contain the Lithuanian in the paint, and the Pacers took advantage.
As the gap in the score worsened for New York, their shot selection became terrible. They struggled to put up good shots, and they went through dry spells throughout the half. They were clearly frustrated and had no answers for the Pacers’ outstanding offense. The game ended with Indiana claiming a big win over the opposition.
RJ Barrett can lead the Knicks
Barrett looks like a force to be reckoned with this season. He’s getting to the rim with ease and has improved his jumper and three-point shot tremendously. Thibodeau needs to give him the keys to the team and let him do what he needs to do to win this season. If Barrett isn’t able to create wins, at the least he’ll pick up experience and develop well.
Quickley Is The Only Guard That Can Bring The Knicks Together
When Immanuel Quickley is on the floor the Knicks seem like a completely different team. He creates good shot opportunities for all his teammates and keeps the intensity up for everyone. Elfrid Payton has proved to be turnover prone and isn’t enough to bring success to his team. Quickley has already established himself as a fan-favorite in New York and exudes confidence despite only being a rookie. When he came out injured, the Knicks seemed like a different team without him. It’s already clear that Thibodeau needs the Kentucky Wildcat on the floor to create success for the team.
The New York Knicks host the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday in what will be their home opener. Fans will hope Quickley only suffered a minor injury and will be back by then, and hopefully as a starter. If the Knicks can keep the level they were at in the first half throughout the whole game on Saturday, they’ll put up a great fight at The Garden.