Look, the New York Knicks should absolutely beat the crap out of the Charlotte Hornets, especially a Hornets team missing its All-Star (LaMelo Ball) and resident Knick-killer (Gordon Hayward). And for most of the first half, Friday’s game was a bit lackluster, even though New York never trailed. The Hornets were kind of in the game, thanks to some genuine weird Thibs bullshit: namely, playing Isaiah Hartenstein and Jericho Sims together. That lineup didn’t work at all in the first half.
However, the Knicks of late have two weapons that they didn’t have earlier in the season. One is a starting lineup that is actually good. Since Mitchell Robinson got healthy and Quentin Grimes got promoted, the starting lineup is straight-up crushing fools to the tune of a +11.2 net rating in 159 minutes. The starters set the tone in the third quarter as the Knicks pushed the lead past 20. The second weapon is the emergence of Miles McBride. The combo of Deuce and Immanuel Quickley overpowered the Hornets guards, preventing a comeback. In the end, the Knicks walked out with a 121-102 victory.
- As P&T’er ISwearImNotJamesDolan noted, happy Julius Randle seems to be dominating again. Randle dropped 33 on Charlotte, thanks to the combination of free throws (11-14 FT) and threes (4-10 3P). He has been chucking threes to the tune of 9.7 attempts per game over his last six, and making them at a 36% clip over that span. Is that elite? No, but it’s good enough! Keep chucking, I say.
- This was the best RJ Barrett game in a while: 26 points, 9-18 shooting (1-3 from three, 7-8 from the free-throw line), seven rebounds, four assists. He missed his first four shots of the game and Knicks fans — myself included — started to roll their eyes. Credit the young man for getting his offensive game back on the rails. The defense on Kelly Oubre was passable, I thought.
- Jalen Brunson has been rough during this winning streak. I think the quad may be bothering him. One thing is certain: Thibs ain’t gonna rest him anytime soon.
- Ho-hum, another 13 rebounds (seven offensive) and three blocks for Mitchell Robinson. This kind of dominance down lown is becoming routine. I could certainly get used to it.
- Deuce doesn’t just guard his man; he hunts them like a puma. Case in point:
Watch Deuce McBride on this possession. pic.twitter.com/Cc6FBFv3o8— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) December 10, 2022
I don’t have footage of it, but my favorite Deuce play came on a Charlotte fast break which ended in a Sims foul. Deuce looked to be out of the play, but he damn near tracked down the Charlotte ball-handler before Sims got to him. I enjoy watching that kid play.
- I would prefer to never see the Hartenstein/Sims pairing ever again, especially against the better teams in the league (and they’re pretty much all better than this shorthanded Hornets club), but I have to admit, they did some interesting things to try to make up for their lack of spacing.
With Sims spaced out to the corner in a two big lineup, Jones cheats off him to help in the paint. RJ finds Sims who immediately flows into a DHO with IQ that creates an open 3. This is a great way to utilize a non-shooter offensively pic.twitter.com/urjFS1tTGC— Ariel (@APachecoNBA) December 10, 2022
Still, maybe try Svi Myklhailiuk if you’re dead set on never playing Derrick Rose or Cam Reddish again, Thibs.
The suddenly excellent Sacramento Kings come to MSG on Sunday. That’ll be a battle.