In many ways, the Toronto Raptors are built the way I wish the Knicks were. They employ a starting lineup featuring four stringy, athletic wings capable of shooting the three, guarding on switches, and attack closeouts. Meanwhile, the Knicks, under Tim Thibodeau, are overly committed to having rim protection on the floor at all times, keeping the traditional center from extinction. But tonight, in the Raptors, the Knicks beat a team they have had a ton of trouble with in recent history. Although it was anything but easy. In typical Knicks fashion, they became lackadaisical on defense at the end of the game, allowing the Raptors to crawl back.
The Knicks won mostly on the back of their superstar, Julius Randle (32 points, 11 rebounds, and three assists), to who I owe a public apology (that is to come in another piece). Randle tied the record for most three-pointers in a quarter with five in the first, torching the Raptors. Soon after, the Raptors utilized a zone defense, where the Knicks finally got hot enough to break it with hot shooting from Quentin Grimes, Jalen Brunson and even Miles McBride!
All five starters for the Knicks scored in double figures, another sign of their evolution in chemistry and continuity. Thibs also showed some imagination with his rotation, dusting off Evan Fournier from the doghouse to come in and work as a decoy while scoring four points and grabbing three rebounds. If only he would bench Isaiah Hartenstein permanently in place of Jericho Sims. Hartenstein tries his ass off but just doesn't fit with the effort and IQ of this nine-man rotation. Unfortunately, under Leon “The Don lol” Rose, the Knicks are controlled not by stats and ratios but politics and optics. So Hartenstein remains in the rotation for now. It’s almost as bad as hearing Wally Szczerbiak peddle whatever nu-metal band James Dolan is peddling during commercial breaks.
After a cardiac Knicks fourth quarter, the guys pulled it together long enough to hold out. Recap to come.