This game developed similarly to how the five-game trip endured by the Knickerbockers developed through the last seven days. Losing start, reasonable bounceback, demolition.
Check the comparison, which is forced but serves the purpose of making this an interesting intro, so bear with me for a minute.
These are the point differentials of yesterday’s four quarters, in order: -3, +1, -14, +1.
These are the point differentials of New York’s games spanning from Nov. 13 through Monday: -16, +2, +21, +14, -17.
See the parallels there? If you don’t, here’s the thing.
The Knicks started their road trip against the Celtics and dropped one at Boston in which they didn’t have any answer to the questions posed by the best team in the Eastern Conference.
They followed up that loss with three wins in a row against the Hawks, the Wizards, and the Hornets.
No need to mention how the Knicks got their collective bag packed by the Wolves—the best team in the Western Conference—on Monday.
Playing five games in a week sucks. Playing all of them on the road makes it even worse. Six games in nine days? Crazy! Also: no excuses.
“We can always control our energy and the little things on the court,” Brunson said. “They just beat us to the punch tonight in the second half, and we didn’t react as fast as we could—we just gotta react better.”
2018-19 Knicks (17-65 Record)— KnicksMuse (@KnicksMuse) November 21, 2023
• 43.3% FG
• 47.9% on 2-Pointers
2023-24 Knicks (8-6 Record)
• 43.6% FG
• 48.0% on 2-Pointers
Need to be better. pic.twitter.com/j5Z2tnmUZJ
Simply put, the Knicks have been able to deal with bad-to-mediocre teams, but they have yet to catch up with the league honchos.
Wins: at ATL, at CLE, vs LAC, vs SAS, vs CHA, at ATL, at WAS, at CHA
Losses: vs BOS, at NOP, vs CLE, at MIL, at BOS, at MIN
I highlighted teams above .500 through Monday in bold and italics. Not hard to spot the trend.
What happened on Monday, however, was going to hit the Knicks at some point, most probably sooner rather than later. Yes, the shooting was uglier than any would have expected, but the regression had to arrive at some point.
New York was putting up ridiculous shooting numbers leading up to this matchup while facing a hellacious defensive unit in that of the Wolves. Minny entered Monday with the best defense and exited the game against the Knicks boasting the best DRtg across the league at 106.6 points allowed per 100 possessions.
The Knicks failed to nail 10+ triples for the first time since Nov. 1. They had bagged at least 15 long-range shots in their prior six games. They arrived at the Twin Cities having scored exactly 16 3-point shots in three consecutive matchups, all of them ending in dubs.
They shot 9-of-38 from three yesterday. They only scored 32-of-92 shots from the floor. The splits: 34.8/23.7/79.4.
Brunson, Julius Randle, and RJ Barrett combined to score 60 points between them. They needed 68 FGA+FTA to get there.
Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Rudy Gobert combined to score 59 points between them. They needed 56 FGA+FTA to get there.
“The big thing is we missed some bunnies inside and then we also missed some wide-open 3s,” Tom Thibodeau said. “You’ve got to make some shots.”
“The first half, I thought we played pretty well,” Thibs added, “The third quarter was a problem.”
Randle shared the same opinion as his coach, saying “We just didn’t start the [second] half off strong, or finish off this road trip the way we wanted.”
The return of Quentin Grimes after sitting the last two games with a hand injury didn’t add nearly enough energy to the team. Grimes might be back, but he came back to put up a 0-1-2-2 stat line going 0-for-6 from the floor (all threes) while committing two personal fouls and earning a team-worst minus-18 in 25 minutes.
Nobody clad in Wolves uniforms had a negative plus/minus, including Nickeil Alexander-Walker getting to a +15 in 33 minutes replacing an injured Jaden McDaniels less than five minutes into the outing.
Mitchell Robinson attempted seven field goals and he was the best-shooting Knickerbocker (bagged five of them) among those attempting more than one shot. Seriously. Mitch put up 10 points and pulled down 11 boards for a dub-dub adding two blocks and steals apiece to that.
Brunson kept his flame alive (25 points) to no avail. Barrett struggled mightily with 14 points on 13 FGA, although he found the net on three of his four 3-point attempts.
Immanuel Quickley scored 15 but had a nightmarish day as he needed 14 FGA to get there and only connected once in seven tries from beyond the arc. Only going 6-for-6 from the charity stripe saved him.
Donte DiVincenzo, back to the pine, was equally horrible scoring just seven points on two baskets and two freebies just 48 hours after registering career-high marks in 3-point makes and points scored.
As Muruju told us in the game thread, “I don’t like that we have so many days off.“
There are plenty of reasons for that, some positive, some negative. Feel free to pick the one that suits you best, and go from there.
Enjoy Thanksgiving and be thankful for your early-season Knicks, who are above .500 having already gone through a freakish schedule gauntlet.
See you Friday in the Garden. Knicks vs. Heat, In-Season Tournament Decider. Tip-off at 7:30 ET. Don’t miss it.