The Knicks have now won nine straight games, the longest streak since the fabled 2012-13 team rattled off 13 straight towards the end of the season.
And this one was no fluke, didn’t require overtime, none of that. The Knicks took on a Raptors team that had won four straight (against the Nets last game too, no less) and utterly dismantled them on the MSG floor.
Things started off back and forth, with Julius Randle doing his usual thing where he comes out supernova hot and reminds teams that they’re going to need to throw extra defenders at him all game if they don’t want to get annihilated.
Mr. Midrange is in the house pic.twitter.com/gyNpQSO0S9— The Strickland (@TheStrickland) April 24, 2021
Randle's really earning those M-V-P chants lately— The Strickland (@TheStrickland) April 24, 2021
11 points, 3-4 from deep already pic.twitter.com/jnxwGJhhW9
Randle ended the game with 31 points (his sixth of his last seven games with 30 or more) on 10-17 shooting (5-7 from three) and 10 rebounds for the game. The M-V-P chants at the Garden felt like just a show of respect for a while, but if THIS Knicks team ends up a top-four seed in the East...? Maybe some votes are in order.
Then the bench came in, and as has been the case for basically the whole season, once Elfrid Payton hit the pine and Derrick Rose/Immanuel Quickley got to work, the Knicks started creating some separation for themselves.
Shot clock running out? Just give it to Rose, he'll figure something out pic.twitter.com/5SBrlozrrw— The Strickland (@TheStrickland) April 24, 2021
They really switched a big onto Quickley and thought it would end well for them pic.twitter.com/coWmsriMIh— The Strickland (@TheStrickland) April 24, 2021
Taj Gibson, with all of one fully functioning eyeball, dumped in a workmanlike nine points in 19 minutes, none prettier than this hesi-to-spin move:
Taj spinning and winning!! ️ ️ ️ pic.twitter.com/fW531m8VuY— The Strickland (@TheStrickland) April 24, 2021
The Knicks entered the half up five.
Then the second half rolled around, a certain player with a six on his jersey returned to the lineup, and things started going south, save for RJ Barrett starting to find his rhythm.
Second half, you know whose time it is ⏱️⏱️⏱️ pic.twitter.com/oTpIfoz8jZ— The Strickland (@TheStrickland) April 24, 2021
Not to worry, though! Rose got back in (eventually) and luckily the Knicks survived Payton’s minutes well enough to close strong.
Rose's craftiness in his 30s is almost as fun as his crazy hops in his early 20s pic.twitter.com/98kWqtlvKb— The Strickland (@TheStrickland) April 24, 2021
Rose would end up with 19 points and seven assists, continuing his stretch of fantastic play during this magical run for the Knicks.
Once the fourth quarter got going, RJ really turned on his jets and took over, netting 12 points in the final frame. He’d finish with 25 points, 12 rebounds, and four assists on 50% shooting.
Obi Toppin even got it rolling, hitting two threes in a row, which pushed his total to three for the game and nine points overall. Really good minutes from the rook, which allowed Randle to play “just” 39 minutes.
The Raptors almost tried to make it interesting down the stretch, but then the Knicks put the clamps on on the defensive end and made some shots down the stretch to turn this game from a garden variety win into a full-on blowout.
RJ three...— The Strickland (@TheStrickland) April 24, 2021
FORTUITOUS BOUNCE!!!! pic.twitter.com/x5wijYFW6t
And that was that. Nine straight wins, and it hasn’t stopped feeling surreal yet. Now the Knicks get probably their toughest test of their home stand on Monday, when the Suns — second place in the West, and maybe one of the only teams that qualifies as much in the “feel-good story” category as the Knicks — come to town. It’ll sure be fun to see the billing of that game as “the hottest team in the NBA and fourth seed in the East takes on the second seed in the West.” A power matchup at MSG with less than a dozen games left in the regular season! Imagine that shit!
Miranda’s got the recap later. Soak this win up, enjoy this feeling.