We fans came into this season hoping to see our youngsters play heavy minutes. But sometimes the young guns misfire, and a head coach has to call in the wily vets — and Mitchell Robinson — to get things done. That’s what Tom Thibodeau did on Wednesday night, and it paid off handsomely in a thrilling 112-100 win over the Utah Jazz. RJ Barrett struggled throughout, and Immanuel Quickley only played a few first-half minutes, but the rest of the Knicks — rolling a 7-man rotation, mind you — got the job done.
The Jazz looked likely to thoroughly outclass our beloved ‘Bockers in the opening half, but a late surge by the Knicks kept the deficit at 12. That Jazz lead wouldn’t last the third quarter, as Julius Randle, who struggled earlier in the evening, came out with that fire and desire, as Clyde would say.
Mitch block leads to Randle fastbreak and Knicks are still very much in this game somehow pic.twitter.com/Vzf3hP4hKK— The Strickland (@TheStrickland) January 7, 2021
Randle dropped 14 of his game-high 30 points in the period as the Knicks rallied. He finished with 16 rebounds and 7 assists...in other words, a typical night for Randle these days. What a special player he’s becoming.
But every good team needs a closer. The Jazz have All-Star Donovan Mitchell, and the Knicks have...Austin Rivers.
Rivers scored 14 points in a row, including four triples, in a mind-blowing display for late-game shot-making.
11 STRAIGHT POINTS FROM RIVERS !!! pic.twitter.com/m95JDswYH2— The Strickland (@TheStrickland) January 7, 2021
14 STRAIGHT POINTS BY RIVERS pic.twitter.com/q5dc1mLUo0— The Strickland (@TheStrickland) January 7, 2021
the bench when Rivers hit the stepback three >>> pic.twitter.com/vrLqlrklx1— Kenny Ducey (@KennyDucey) January 7, 2021
If there had been fans at MSG, they would have stormed the court and carried Rivers off on their shoulders.
Let’s not forget the contributions of Mitchell Robinson. The big boy from Louisiana played an astounding 41 minutes against the menacing Rudy Gobert, with backup Nerlens Noel out with an injury, and he delivered 9 points, 13 boards, 3 steals, 3 blocks and some truly special defense.
Check out this effort from Mitch in the last minutes of a game in which he played 40+ minutes. The spectacular recovery to block Mitchell's layup followed by the sprint out to contest the Ingles three. Hard to say he impacted the shot but love the motor to get out there. https://t.co/uTs6G1Nw4t pic.twitter.com/FqfeO8LyXi— Tom Piccolo (@Tom_Piccolo) January 7, 2021
What a friggin’ game! Alex will have the recap.