The New York Knicks were able to come back off of a disappointing performance vs the Orlando Magic in a home win over Minnesota. Despite holding a 21 point lead in the third quarter, New York struggled late on. Julius Randle led the scoring for the Knicks with 25 points while Karl-Anthony Towns had an impressive display Sunday night with 27 points. The scrappy game at the Mecca ended 103-99. Here are the highlights and takeaways in the nail-biter in New York.
Julius Randle and RJ Barrett continue to impress.
Randle played a terrific game vs the Timberwolves. The power-forward was able to close out and make important plays towards the end as Minnesota came back. Finishing with 25 points, 14 rebounds on 50% FG, the case to make Randle an all-star becomes more convincing after every game, and fans will be shocked if he is left off the list.
RJ Barrett also had a great game down the stretch. His maturity despite being just 20 years old is phenomenal and has been very useful in recent games. With 21 points, four rebounds, and 50% FG, the sophomore continues to play great basketball. Along with his offensive production, Barrett has been great defensively as well. His conservative and consistent defense is much needed on a team that tends to be lackadaisical defensively at times.
Thibodeau continues to give limited minutes to rookies Quickley and Toppin.
Despite going through a stretch of impressive games recently, head coach Tom Thibodeau has diminished his rookies’ minutes as of late. Immanuel Quickley, who has been a spark off the bench this season, and Obi Toppin, the Knickerbockers’ lottery selection, each only received nine minutes selectively tonight. Fans will begin to question if keeping the rookies off the court is the best option to improve the franchise. However, Thibodeau is continuing to create wins, meaning critics will need to quiet down for now.
Nerlens Noel proves to be a good enough replacement for Mitchell Robinson.
When Mitchell Robinson fractured his hand and was sentenced to two months off the court, questions were raised regarding if a trade would be necessary. However, Nerlens Noel has surprised many and has proved he can keep the paint in New York in good hands. The center has been an excellent shot-blocker, and an anchor defensively. Although he offers little on the offensive end, Thibodeau will be satisfied with Noel’s addition to the starting lineup.
The Knicks continue with their home-stretch on Tuesday against the Warriors. The first game in which New Yorkers will be welcome to attend will be crucial for the Knicks in keeping on the right track.