Knicks win 133-129, RJ Barrett strikes again

The New York Knicks played their second overtime game of the season tonight, defeating the Memphis Grizzlies by a score of 133-129.

What went right:

The resilience and bench play of this team were finally noticed. Both aspects were lacking lately and tonight they came out. The point guards showed out tonight. Derrick Rose, Immanuel Quickley, and Elfrid Payton shouldered the load tonight. Between the three point guards they had 49 of the Knicks points, and Quickley and Payton contributed from deep. I also owe RJ Barrett an apology, I’ve been critical of him all season. This past month he’s turned the page and then some. Barrett’s sensational play has kept the Knicks in a lot of games lately and is showing the killer instinct we desire. This performance was capped off by a clutch three in overtime. Barrett had 20 points and five boards while shooting above fifty percent.  Julius Randle had his fourth triple-double in fourteen games tonight. 15 points, 10 rebounds, and 11 assists were Randle’s final stat line. Beyond the stats, the Knicks showed a level of grit usually shown by teams like the Grizzlies. The Knicks didn’t lead for three full quarters and kept fighting to win this game. With big games coming up against playoff teams, they’ll need to show this level of resilience nightly.

What went wrong:

Like many games this season, New York had a limited paint presence and was torched by a center. Tonight’s culprit was, Jonas Valanciunas. The Memphis center had, 20 points and 13 assists.  Ja Morant also had his way against the Knicks. The player picked one spot before Barrett had four threes, 23 points 6 assists, and 4 boards. The Knicks never put their foot into the ground defensively until late in the game. In the past few games the Knicks haven’t played defensively the way Thibs would like, and it’s hurting their playoff chances. After a shaky first half, the Knicks regrouped and hang tough the final half to get into overtime. Memphis should have won this game. Tonight was similar to the game the Knicks lost to the Timberwolves last week. For the Knicks to contend, they’ll need to start stronger. During this cold stretch, all games have had slow starts, and the Knicks can find their footing.

What’s Next:

The Knicks face a struggling Toronto Raptors team on Sunday, in a pivotal Eastern Conference matchup. New York needs to string together a few wins to get back comfortably in the playoff hunt. Also, pay Alec Burks this offseason. Burks has kept the Knicks in many games and is a good piece to have going forward.

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