“Right now, New York is as good as any team in the NBA.”
There might be losers in Indiana, but at least they know when to acknowledge greatness. Enter coach Rick Carlisle speaking in his post-game press conference yesterday.
The New York Knicks extended their winning streak to seven consecutive victories after beating the Indiana Pacers 109-102 on the road coming from behind.
The Knicks found themselves six points down with fewer than two minutes on the clock, but when you root for the hottest team in the NBA you can put your mind at rest. New York won, as is its wont these days, and is now riding the longest winning streak the franchise has had since April 2021.
Jalen Brunson put up another 30-piece (his fifth of the year), Julius Randle bagged 25 pops, RJ Barrett scored 24, and Mitchell Robinson felt like entering the double-digit realm and went on to drop 10 himself.
The Knicks went a poor 8-of-26 from beyond the arc with the Pacers scoring 13-of-38 from 3-point range, creating a 15-point different just on those shots alone.
Not that it mattered at the end of the day, though, with Randle putting the clamps of Indy’s honcho Tyrese Haliburton with the game winding down to help New York reach an 8-2 record in the past 10 games while sitting 6th in the East (17-13) and four games above .500.
“The competitor in me just says, ‘Get a stop,’ ” Randle said when discussing his defensive effort to stop Haliburton. “It’s challenging, but you just wanna make him make a tough shot over you.”
The Knicks decided to switch on purpose when Hali got the ball and the clock reading 0:18, leaving JR on Tyrese Island. It paid off. Contested and forced shot, rim, Grimes on the glass, rebound secured, ball to Randle, freebies hit, game won.
Another one bites the dust.
“To win on the road and like this, it was tough,” Randle added. “It was a hard game, but we got it done.”
Randle said that the ongoing streak of victories ultimately comes down to “just trusting each other, helping each other.” He added that the team “is in the right position” and that the Knicks “are the aggressor, not them, and it works.”
“It is contagious.”
Asked precisely about that and his impressive level of play coming off his foot contusion, Brunson said that he was “not surprised” but also that he felt like he had “a great set of teammates that keep me confident and level-headed.” Brunson has dropped 82 points in the last three games, all on the road and nurturing this injury.
“It’s a credit to them,” said Brunson.
Barrett scored more than 20 points for the fifth game in a row getting back to Dec. 9, but he failed on hitting a 3-point shot after doing it in 14 consecutive outings. “We’re playing some really good basketball right now, sticking together on both ends,” Barrett said.
RJ didn’t assist any basket nor stole a single possession on Sunday while turning the ball over five times, though he blocked one shot and pulled down four rebounds.
“Everybody’s contributing. It’s fun to watch. It’s amazing to see,” continued Barrett. “We just got to continue that as long as we can.”
Tom Thibodeau, who warned his pupils ahead of Sunday’s matchup against the Pacers, repeated after yesterday’s game: “Win streaks don’t mean anything” and that this latest win “won’t mean anything” when the Knicks come back to the hardwood on Tuesday at home.
“You’ve got to start all over, put the work in preparation and when the ball goes up, be ready to go.”
Thibodeau kept on talking, saying that “it’s always better to win,” and that “I don’t want us to get knocked down. I want us to be ready for the next game.” He keeps on throwing cautions to his players not to fall in their laurels. As the coach sees it: “[If you think] you’re going to win the next game because you have a win streak, if you start skipping over the steps to prepare for a game, then there’s going to be slippage.”
The Knicks went to bed on Sunday as one of only three teams with at least 10 wins on the road this season, along with Portland and Boston. New York is 10-6 away from home and 7-7 at MSG.
The New York Knicks host the Golden State Warriors (3-14 on the road) tomorrow in NYC.