Scant defense and far too much Jordan Poole spelled the Knicks’ downfall tonight at Madison Square Garden. Wasting a strong performance by Julius Randle, New York fell to the Washington Wizards, 131-106. New York’s final preseason record: 1-3.
The threes fell early for New York, with our heroes shooting 5-of-10 through the first quarter. Julius Randle (2) and Quentin Grimes (1) exhibited downtown perfection. Not merely showing the sweet stroke, Randle came out with aggression. Here he drives the ball through the skull of Mike Muscala. Memo to the league: his ankle is fine.
BRO! RANDLE! OMG!— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) October 19, 2023
ON HIS HEAD pic.twitter.com/QSC9b3lj66
The first frame concluded with New York ahead, 31-29. Both teams moved the ball well; both got sloppy when the action accelerated. Neither team played exceptional defense throughout the game. In particular, RJ Barrett played a rocky first half but did have one nice highlight: this lob to Mitchell Robinson.
Muscala recovered from his Randle-induced head wound and took his revenge, canning five of his first five attempts from beyond the arc. His back-to-back treys in the second frame gave Washington their first lead of the game, and the Knicks never recovered.
His cohort, Jordan Poole, demonstrated the scoring ability that earned him a big fat contract. The newest Wizard scored 29 first half points while shooting 8-of-14 from the floor, 4-of-8 from three, and 9-of-10 from the line. On the MSG telecast, Mike Breen, master of the subtle dig, said of Jordan Poole: “He will score a lot of points. His opponent will score a lot of points, as well.” Bang!
Poole would finish the night with 41 points on 10-of-19 from the floor, 6-of-12 from deep, and 15-of-16 from the line, all in 27 minutes.
Against the Timberwolves, Barrett, Immanuel Quickley, and Hartenstein executed this play. Tonight, it was run by Josh Hart, Evan Fournier, and Donte DiVincenzo.
It’s like they’ve played together before. pic.twitter.com/ONZtYhk78G— Knicks Film School (@KnickFilmSkool) October 19, 2023
Washington’s biggest lead in the second quarter was 16 points. The Knicks entered intermission down 62-52. The Knicks had cooled off from three, finishing the half 6-of-17. Not helping matters Jalen Brunson, RJ Barrett, Deuce McBride, and Evan Fournier had combined for 0-of-9. Furthermore, Quentin Grimes–who drilled seven threes the night before in Boston–committed three personal fouls in the opening five minutes and rode the pine through the rest of the half.
The Wizards can put points on the board, but their defense is suspect and their frontcourt is small potatoes against Mitchell Robinson and Isaiah Hartenstein. Through the first two quarters, New York outscored Washington in the paint, 26-16, with eight of those points belonging to Mitchell Robinson and four to Hartenstein.
Coming out of halftime, the Wizards goosed the lead to 18 points. Jalen Brunson applied some gas, though, and RJ Barrett fixed whatever ailed him. They combined for 12 points in the first four minutes of the third quarter. After shooting 2-of-10 for the first half, Barrett went 4-of-4 in the third while grabbing two boards and dished two dimes. He finished the game with 19 points, seven boards, and three assists, 8-of-19 from the floor, 3-of-8 from deep. Alert play here:
The Knicks shaved the deficit to two points but ultimately closed the third frame down 95-82. Throughout the second half, their defense remained stanky. To their doom! The Knicks lack the firepower to keep up when their opponent shoots over 40% from downtown. The Wizards stretched the lead to 20 points with four-ish minutes left, and this debacle was done.
- Over four preseason games, Mitchell Robinson shot 2-of-9 from the free throw line. But those IG clips were so convincing! Le sigh.
- Julius Randle for the night: 20 points, 10 rebounds, four threes, and he shot 8-of-15 from the floor.
- Jericho Sims didn’t check in until halfway through Q4.
- Josh Hart played 19 minutes tonight, eight points, attempted only three shots (three 3’s), made two. Five boards, three dimes, one theft.
- Brunson couldn’t find his rhythm tonight. The 3-of-12 shooting was a tough watch, but nothing to worry about. Regular season Brunson arrives next week. Last season, he had two technical fouls. One tonight. His frustration was obvious.
- All the Knicks starters hit double-digits, save Grimes. Quentin finished with five point in 17 minutes, and still finished with a +4 in his time.
- Taj Gibson played a few minutes of garbage time for the Wizards. Can still hit the three at 50 years old!
That’s a wrap for the preseason. More fresh squeezed content served up tomorrow. Til then, sleep tight, Knickerbockers.