Knicks Guard Game
RJ Barrett and Elfrid Payton had big games, leading to the Knicks victory. This was Payton’s first game back, after missing the last four. It didn’t look like Payton missed a beat. After fans clamored for Immanuel Quickley to start, Payton quieted the doubters. In thirty-four minutes, Payton put up 18 points on a fifty percent shooting clip. Payton’s six rebounds were third on the team, in a game where the Knicks dominated the glass. RJ Barrett also put together another impressive showing. Barrett has appeared to change the page the last five. Thursday night was no different. RJ had 21 points and shot 75 percent from the field. In the second half, Barrett has to take another leap to show why he was picked third last year.
The All-Star and Nerlens
The play of the big men was sensational tonight. Julius Randle had another team-leading game, which is what we’ve come to expect from the All-Star. Randle had 25 points, 16 rebounds, and 7 assists. Tonight was a culmination of sorts for Randle. Before the Knicks send off their All-Star, the fans got in their MVP chants and Randle played how he has all season. Alongside Julius Randle all night was Nerlens Noel. Noel and Randle both played 41 minutes and were two of the main forces behind the Knick’s huge rebound differential. Noel since filling in for Mitchell Robinson has done an incredible job. Tonight was one of his best. Noel shot 100 percent from the field scoring 12 points and had 10 boards in his double-double effort.
There was another Frank Ntilikina sighting in the Garden tonight. Ntilikina had 9 points in his 13 minutes and they were all from three. The unexpected shooting from deep is a welcome sight. If Ntilikina can somehow morph into a 3 and D bench player, he can begin to receive real minutes. Reggie Bullock had 12 points and Alec Burks had 9 points. From top to bottom just about everyone contributed. This last game of the first half was a real team effort.
What’s Ahead for the Knicks
Julius Randle will participate on Team Durant on Sunday night, and be in the Skills Competition. After a week off, the Knicks will take on the Milwaukee Bucks.
The second half of this season begins with three games against playoff teams in the first four games. Knicks deserve this break and will look to pick up where they left off in a week.