National TV Knicks games are usually an annoyance. Naturally, Shaq and Barkley took their pot shots at the Knicks on the pregame show.
Shaq on the Knicks: "I don't think they can get out of one round of the playoffs"— New York Basketball (@NBA_NewYork) December 21, 2022
Charles Barkley on the Knicks: "…I'm with you Shaq. Whoop-de-doo…They're playing great, but they're not even the best team in their city" pic.twitter.com/8wnW0bEvUa
And then we all settled in to watch the Knicks take on the Golden State Warriors...with Reggie Miller on the call.
Narratively speaking, this game was a no-win scenario for the Knicks. If they won, it would be because Steph Curry and Andrew Wiggins were injured. If they lost, the TNT crew would get even more jokes off.
Instead, we witnessed something else entirely on Tuesday night at MSG: a massacre. The Knicks punished the Warriors for 48 minutes in a 132-94 rout. The defense actually struggled a bit at first to deal with the Warriors’ impressive off-ball moving, cutting, and screening. But New York’s offense, led by Jalen Brunson (21 points), Quentin Grimes (19 points) and the welcomed reemergence of Immanuel Quickley (22 points) kept the Knicks out in front. In the third quarter, the Knicks really established themselves, brutalizing the Warriors in the paint and earning repeated trips to the free-throw line. The starters weren’t really needed in the fourth quarter (except for a few minutes of Grimes), as IQ and the bench butchered the Warriors’ young reserves.
Golden State is kind of in a weird place right now. They’re the defending champs. Their core is old as hell. However, they’ve been blessed with the No. 2 pick in 2020 (James Wiseman), No. 7 pick in 2021 (Jonathan Kuminga) and No. 14 pick in the 2021 draft (Moses Moody). And those boys got their asses handed to them, particularly Wiseman. The TNT announcers droned on and on about Wiseman in the second half, even as he was being clowned by Isaiah Hartenstein and Jericho Sims. I mean, look at this shit.
Mercy, what a fun night it was.
- Knicks fans held their collective breath when Warriors guard Ty Jerome slid under Grimes as he took a three toward the end of the second quarter. Grimes stayed in to take his free throws, and exited for the remainder of the half. He returned for the third quarter, however, and looked none the worse for wear, even though Thibs took him off Jordan Poole defensive duties after halftime. Hopefully the ankle is 100%, because Grimes was fantastic yet again. Poole got his in the first half (17 points), but Grimes nearly matched him (13 points).
- RJ Barrett didn’t have his best shooting night (18 points on 8-19 shooting), but I thought he was integral to breaking the game open in the third quarter. The Warriors climbs to within 10, but RJ did his second-half thing, ripping off a scoring run with punishing drives to the hoop. When he missed, he simply ripped the offensive rebound out of the hands of the Warriors bigs. He also did a decent enough job checking Poole in the quarter.
- Immanuel Quickley has been tough to watch offensively, even in the midst of the win streak. But not tonight, baby! IQ ended up leading the Knicks in points with 22 on an efficient 6-10 shooting, including 5-6 from three. He needed a game like this badly. And the Knicks will surely need the IQ of old if they want to stay hot.
- Jalen Brunson: All-Star.
- Julius Randle didn’t shoot well (15 points on 5-12 shooting), but he grabbed 12 rebounds, dished five dimes, and generally was a strong dude on a team of strong dudes beating up on weaker dudes.
So sayeth P&T’er Purist__: “Christmas came early.” It was a festive atmosphere at the Garden Tuesday, even if they have two more games before Christmas. They’ll be back at it Wednesday night against the Raptors.