This evening, I almost missed the tip-off because I was caught up telling my teenaged, guitar-slinging son about Hüsker Dü. In the late nineties, I took a roadtrip to see their frontman Bob Mould on a double-bill with Archers of Loaf at the 9:30 Club. In D.C. Where the Knicks (8-5) won last night—Crap, the game!
The two teams competing in Charlotte tonight were both playing the second of a back-to-backs. The Hornets (3-8) lost last night to the Bucks; the Knicks had punched out the Wizards. Last Sunday, the Knicks beat the Bees convincingly, 129-107. Would they again?
Yep, thanks to a career-night by Donte DiVincenzo, who recorded bests in three-pointers (seven) and points (25). The Knicks haven’t had back-to-back wire-to-wire victories in 16 years. Which is, coincidentally, the age of my aforementioned son. Syncronicity!
Knicks win, 122-108.
New York picked up the story where they left off in D.C. Jalen Brunson, who scored 32 points about 24 hours ago, scorched ten points within the first five minutes of tonight’s game as the Knicks galloped ahead by 11. The Knicks made five of their first seven three-pointers. The Knicks!
getting buckets on his mind ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/Tvh13Ij7fL— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) November 18, 2023
RJ Barrett played in his first game back after missing three with migraines. He seemed a step slow in the first half, when he played only 12 minutes and shot 1-of-6 from the floor for three points, plus three assists.
Midway through the frame, Miles Bridges checked in for his second game back. If you hadn’t heard, he had been out of action for 583 days due to suspensions related to domestic violence. The forward would play 16 first-half minutes, scoring seven points and three rebounds. Meh.
The Knicks cooled off, not making a field goal in the last five minutes of the quarter. Fortunately, Charlotte only made two field goals over the same stretch.
The Knicks brought a 30-19 advantage into the second frame. Filling in for Brunson, Deuce McBride contributed the first five New York points this quarter. The Knicks opened up a 15-point lead. Brunson came back in and continued to generate points for himself and his cohorts. He would carry 26 points into halftime, having shot 71% from the field and 4-of-5 from deep.
In the first half, rookie Brandon Miller of the FIghting Mosquitoes scored 13 of his team-high 15 points in the second quarter. Little by little, his team fought back, thanks to fast break points—they won that first-half battle 11-3—and alley-oops. They cut the deficit to five before Brunson took over again. He dropped five points in the final minute and a half to give Knicks a halftime lead of 61-50.
Both teams had shot about 44% from the floor, and both well from deep: 9-of-19, or 47% for NY; 5-of-12, or 42% for CHO. The Knicks had outrebounded the Hornets, 27-23, but had lost for second-chance points (9-5) and for points in the paint (22-16).
Your halftime shot chart:
With Brunson already well over twenty points scored, the race was on to see who of his teammates would join him. Randle scored four of the Knicks’ points coming out of intermission. Although Miller, Bridges, and LaMelo Ball kept fighting for Charlotte, the Knicks gradually regained a 13-point lead, thanks to Donte DiVincenzo raining threes and reaching his season-high, 19 points with four minutes to go in Q3.
Meanwhile, when Mitchell Robinson grabbed his ninth offensive rebound of the night, he moved up to fourth on the franchise’s all-time list. He has grabbed over 1,114 offensive rebounds in 301 games with the Knicks.
The Knicks entered the fourth quarter ahead, 89-80. Josh Hart promptly drilled a three. Later in the frame, fellow Wildcat DiVincenzo would hit his career-high sixth and seventh triples for a career-best 25 points. We cannot confirm if a whimper was heard from Quentin Grimes’ end of the bench.
RJ Barrett still seemed out of sync, badly missing a three-attempt and stepping out of bounds this quarter. His final stats are below. He was either rusty or not fully recovered from whatever ailments precluded him from playing recently, or both. With eight and half on the clock, however, he hit a timely tripe, to stave of a Charlotte comeback that had been gaining steam. LaMelo and Bridges were trying to keep up, but, inevitably, the final buzzer signaled a Knicks’ win.
It’s remarkable that the Knicks now feature at least five or six guys who could pop off for over 20 points any night. Want to see something cool? The Knicks have not fallen behind in the past eight quarters. Here are the lead trackers from this and last night’s games:
- Jalen Brunson: 32 points, eight assists, three rebounds, 12-of-21 FG, 4-of-8 3P, 38 min.
- The Big Ragu: 25 points, eight assists, three apiece rebounds, assists, and steals, one block, 9-of-12 FG, 7-of-10 3P, 28 min.
- RJ Barrett: 15 points, three apiece boards and dimes, one steal, 5-of-15 FG, 1-of-5 3P, 26 min.
- Julius Randle: 21 points, six rebounds, seven assists, four TO, 8-of-17 FG, 2-of-5 3P, 37 min.
- Mitchell Robinson: 14 boards (11 offensive), four points, four blocks, three TO, 33 min.
The Charlotte Hornets have averaged 113.5 points per night. Once again, the Knicks held their opponent under their average total—that makes 12 of 13 times they’ve done it.
On Monday night, the Knicks head to the hinterlands to face the Minnesota Timberwolves for the fifth and final game of this road trip. Should be a tough one. Safe travels, Knickerbockers.