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Knicks 115, Hornets 91: “Watching the starting lineup pound a sh*tt* bench“

“The real juice.” — Airfeet

Charlotte Hornets v New York Knicks Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Big or small, the Knicks have not been three games away from winning a title since June 1999. Back then, in a lockout-shortened season, New York fought San Antonio in the NBA Finals eventually dropping them 4-1.

The Knicks lost back-to-back games to get the series going with both of those matchups taking place in Texas. They went on to cut the Spurs lead in the series in half in Game 3 beating San Antonio to make it 2-1 entering a pivotal Game 4.

The Spurs took that game from the Knicks by seven points, and then, in soul-breaking fashion, New York surrendered the long-chased Larry O’B on June 25, 1999, when they lost Game 5 78-77, at MSG, to Pop’s mob.

It’s been more than 8,900 days since that happened. It’s been around 38,000 seconds since the Knicks (10-7) defeated the Charlotte Hornets (5-11) for the third time this season on Tuesday, 115-91.

The dub allowed our superheroes to punch a ticket to Milwaukee (not Las Vegas, yet) for a quarterfinal matchup against the Bucks part of the knockout stages of this new thing we call In-Season Tournament.

Three more victories and the Knicks will fly back to Manhattan from Sin City with a chip in their collective bag for the first time in 8,900+ days... or more than 24 years, whatever you prefer.

Will there be a parade? I’m not sure and I won’t be there either way, but it’s not that I really care about the Knicks lifting the Cup. It’s about Ws, baby, and that’s what the Knicks got on Tuesday thanks to Tom Thibodeau coaching his team as he only knows how to.

  • NYK Starters: 34, 34, 33, 28, 19 minutes (148).
  • CHA Starters: 36, 33, 32, 28, 25 minutes (154).

Gotta bulk that point differential up, my men.

As Airfeet put it in the Game Thread’s comments section: “The real juice, watching the starting lineup pound a shitty team’s bench lol“

The Knicks beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in the race for that coveted fourth place in the standings, the first-and-only slot granting access to the IST QF via wildcard berth. All it took was a nonsensical mauling of the Hornets by 24 points. In a game that the Knicks already led by 10 entering the final frame. LOL

“We all thought we were going to Vegas, I cannot lie,” Immanuel Quickley said postgame. “When we first won, we all were saying we were going to Vegas like we were going to Disney World when you go to the Super Bowl.”

Turns out they will have to wait at least a few more days and earn their place in the Vegas Final Four by beating the Bucks next week. As you see, not even the very own main characters of this thing have a clue of what’s going on here, or what means.

All they should care for is wins, and win the Knicks did. And the win has New York already in double-digit dubs with 10 to just seven losses. That means your Knicks are in possession of the fifth seed in the East, two games behind the Sixers (12-5) and half a game above Indy (9-7).

Oh, and also, “Just so you know, I’m not a disgruntled player. Make sure y’all tweet that shit. Josh Hart said he’s not disgruntled.”

I’d like to touch on some of the players' performances here before moving on to giving the flowers to the ones that deserved them the most on Tuesday, so let’s get rid of the former thing first quickly before moving on to the latter.

As always, Russell did wonders with his post-game Scenes. The man is an information (and informative) machine.

After getting 10-minute-effort, Meh-to-good Randle last Sunday, we experienced All-Star, All-NBA Randle on Tuesday.

The league has changed a lot since its inception, and it’s not surprising to find more than two or seven players scoring 20+ points, pulling down 15+ boards, and dishing out 10+ dimes any random Friday. Even then, JR’s 25-20-5 is only the second such stat line to emerge this season after Nikola Jokic put it up on Nov. 12.

This is what is wild: Randle became just the ninth player to get that line in 34 or fewer minutes. Bill Russell and Bob Pettit did it in 1957 and 1961. Nobody else in the freaking free world achieved the feat in nearly 60 years. Then we had it three times in 2019 (Embiid, KAT, Valanciunas), once in 2021 (Giannis), and twice in 2022 (Jokic, Sabonis).

It’s stupid to expect this nightly. If only could Randle approach these levels more often than not... Let a man dream!

“[The In-Season Tournament] was fun. It makes the game more competitive,” Randle said after the game. “It keeps you engaged. So shoutouts to the league for coming up with this.”

Can we make his IST a daily thing? Maybe keep using the special court? Something!? Adam Silver, ya hear?

The other GOAT was Mitch Rob, who was simply unbeatable in the paint grabbing 10 rebounds while swatting six shot attempts by the lowly Hornets. He added six points shooting .500 on six attempts, avoided visiting the charity stripe, stole a couple of rocks with active hands and also by putting his massive frame in front of a Bee trying to get the ball past it.

Jalen Brunson had a bad day by his standard and still finished with 12 points, seven assists, three steals and rebounds, and +20 in the plus/minus column.

RJ Barrett had a similar day, scoring 16 points somehow as he hoisted 13 FGA but only found the net with three of them (the trick: going 9-for-9 from the free-throw line).

Hart and Quickley combined for a fancy 40-pop in 56 total minutes between them. The former shut some folks out there trying to build a narrative out of thin air. The latter kept building an already strong resume on his way to filling his bag next summer.

Also important, Hart wants a fresh Rolex and is hella determined to get him by snatching the fat 500K check dangled by the NBA via IST. “I can get a new watch,” Hart said. “I love watches, so hopefully it adds to the watch collection.”

Randle might be getting $29 million worth of dough, but “From a money standpoint, 500K is a lot to anybody. It’s a lot of money,” he said. “I don’t care what anybody says. But for the guys that are not making as much, it’s a big deal. We definitely want to win it for them.”

Now, for what really matters.

Shouts out to the Knicks fam watching live on location inside Madison Square Garden. We might not be able to force the Association into straight cancelling Miles Bridges, but we have to do as much as we can to let the league and their honchos how we fell about this ridiculous situation.

The crowd at MSG came into the arena with one and only one thing in mind: boo the crap out of MB. And so they did, and it got the attention of everybody.

The New York Post is echoing the development in a story devoted to the event.

A lot of fans (basketball fans, life fans, law-abiding fans, all types of fans of good things) were flooding social media platforms with messages giving their kudos to the MSG crowd.

For some reason, Bridges made his return to an NBA court a couple of weeks ago and the Charlotte folk thought he deserved an ovation. Seriously.

The Knicks led by 16 in the second quarter. They put the lead in danger allowing Charlotte to trim it down to 56-55 with about eight minutes left in the third. Miles Bridges scored five of the last seven points of that near-game-tying run. The Hornets never get closer after that.

Bridges hoisted three more shots throughout the remainder of the game. I’m glad he missed all of them.

If you’re reading this after attending the game and boing that human being, you got my blessings.

MSG remains undefeated.