Many Knicks fans were bummed at the lack of action before the trade deadline Thursday afternoon, but took solace in the fact that the good guys were suiting up against the lowly Washington Wizards Thursday night. This was, after all, the same Wizards squad the Knicks shredded on Tuesday. Surely, Thursday night would be more of the same, right?
Not quite. But these Knicks remain a determined bunch. They brushed aside three quarters of miserable basketball and came back to drop the Wiz, 106-102.
The Knicks played their worst half of the season, staking Washington to a 60-45 lead be halftime. RJ Barrett shot 2-12. Julius Randle shot 2-9. The team as a whole shot 1-14 from three. It was butt-ugly basketball, reminiscent of the worst of the David Fizdale Era.
The third quarter wasn’t much better, as the Wiz kept their lead steady throughout much of the period, even pushing the advantage to 17 at one point. What’s worse, Julius Randle seemed to suffer an injury, as he went to the bench at the end of the third quarter and got his quad wrapped.
But something was definitely happening at MSG. RJ started hitting a few shots. But it was his attitude, his determination, that kept the Knicks in the game. By the end of the third they had cut the deficit to 11 thanks to RJ’s dogged putback.
Look at this play. The Knicks had 65 points through three quarters. They were dead in the water. But RJ never quit. He ripped the ball away and kept fighting until he got the bucket.
The Wizards have some talent, but they seem to lack the iron will displayed by the Fightin’ Thibodeaus this season. RJ (24 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals) and Alec Burks (team-high 27 points) kept the pressure on them early in the fourth quarter, and that deficit melted away. This tough RJ layup tied the game.
And then Immanuel Quickley, who played point throughout the fourth quarter in place of an ineffectual Elfrid Payton, put them ahead with a three.
Randle came back into the game despite the injured quad and nailed a couple of baseline jumpers to keep the Wizards at bay.
And the Knicks FINALLY hit enough free throws to salt the game away. What a win!
Recap to come.