On Tuesday, the New York Knicks kicked their pre-season off at Madison Square Garden with a 117-96 victory over the Detroit Pistons.
This year’s starting line-up was a carbon copy of last year’s, with Jalen Brunson pasted over Kemba Walker. But, oh, what a difference a healthy point guard makes. Here’s our new floor general collecting his first bucket of the season.
number ☝️ for @jalenbrunson1 pic.twitter.com/UjLIqyt80F— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) October 4, 2022
The $60 million dollar man, Mitchell Robinson was off and running early with a steal, a breakaway dunk, and multiple blocks. He’s starting this season healthy and in shape, a marked improvement from how he started off last year.
Much maligned power forward Julius Randle heaved up some bricks at the outset, but after he caught and jammed a sweet open court dish from Brunson, he found his rhythm. He finished the game with 15 points in 18 minutes.
NO QUIT in this squad pic.twitter.com/hVjcC6hu5Q— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) October 4, 2022
Cam Reddish, Obi Toppin, and Isaiah Hartenstein were first off the bench, checking in with five minutes left in the first. Reddish promptly sank a three, followed by a nice exchange with RJ Barrett in traffic resulting in an RJ jam.
Obi joined in the fun, too. He clanged three attempts from beyond the arc, but jamming is what he does best and he gave us a couple gems tonight. Here’s a two-hander:
We havin' FUN tonight@RjBarrett6 ➡️ @obitoppin1 pic.twitter.com/NiMi038SZd— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) October 4, 2022
And here RJ gets his first points of the season:
Firing on all cylinders @jalenbrunson1 x @RjBarrett6 pic.twitter.com/4Dpmmm6Cdf— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) October 4, 2022
Immanuel Quickley and Derrick Rose subbed in with three left in the first. While the starters benefited from familiarity and the competency of Brunson at the head, the second unit was tentative early on. The first quarter closed with the Knicks up 23-22.
After the breather, Quickley was all over to start the second frame, with a steal and two drives to the rack.
Hartenstein was a tantalizing highlight tonight. He canned two threes on two attempts early in the second. Imagine that: a center with range. This could be a very different Knicks team after all. Donovan Mitchell who?
Big man can shoot pic.twitter.com/HYs45Vj6LU— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) October 4, 2022
Deuce McBride subbed in with 9:27 and promptly got a steal, then flung a long assist down the floor for an Obi dunk, and then stole again, which he ran down the floor for a contested layup. Deuce will compete for minutes this season; tonight he showed that he’s ready for the fight. He finished the contest with six steals.
At halftime, the Knicks were up 65-53.
Evan Fournier kicked off the second half with a block of Bojan Bogdanovic at the arc, and then fed a sweet lob to Robinson for the jam. Evan had a quiet night, but the defensive effort was encouraging.
The Knicks went up by 32 in the third, and it was smooth sailing after that. Overall, there was only one bummer tonight. Reddish played well in his limited time (11 minutes) but was ruled out in the second half with a sprained ankle. Does anyone know a decent witch doctor who can undo the bad voodoo that’s vexed this kid?
Final totals for the Knicks’ starting five:
- Brunson: 16 points and five assists. 7-9 from the field, 2-4 from three.
- Fournier: Five points and two assists. 1-3 from the field, 1-2 from three.
- Barrett: 21 points, five rebounds, and two assists. 8-14 from the field, 3-5 from three.
- Randle: 15 points, six rebounds, and four assists. 6-10 from the field, 2-4 from three.
- Robinson: Six points, four rebounds, three blocks, and a steal. 3-3 from the field.
Against a young, unrefined Pistons team, the Knicks (mostly) looked like a competent, professional team and were a helluva lot of fun to watch. Let’s see if the good vibes continue on Friday when the Pacers come to town. G’night, Knickabockas!