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Scenes from New York surrendering 144 points to the L.A. All-Stars

Despite 87 points from their starters, and five players in double-digits, New York loses each quarter in a 144-122 defeat by the Clippers.

New York Knicks v Los Angeles Clippers Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

On Friday night, the New York Knicks (14-11) stole a surprising win in Phoenix, led by a career night from Jalen Brunson. A short plane ride later and they were in Los Angeles tonight to face the Clippers (15-10). That’s a tough double-whammy.

The Clips have been on a tear of late, winning eight of their last ten games and six straight. A nagging hip injury had Paul George listed as questionable tonight, but he suited up, joining fellow All-Stars James Harden and Kawhi Leonard in the starting five. As well as they’ve been playing, P.G. could have rested one more game and not affected his team’s outcome. Knicks lose, 144-122. Here’s what happened.

First Half

To start, the Clippers’ big man Ivica Zubac deliberately targeted the Knicks’ young center Jericho Sims for nine early points. After Sims committed two fast fouls, ex-Clipper Isaiah Hartenstein subbed in for relief with four minutes gone. Would we get Taj Gibson tonight?

It’s odd to say about a game in which Jalen Brunson scored 50 points, but a balanced offensive attack was key to the victory in Phoenix. New York continued that strategy early tonight. Donte DiVincenzo delievered 12 early points, plus a steal and an assist, and all the starters (save Sims) were on the scoresheet by midway through Q1.

The Knicks had played the league’s worst defense over the last five games. That held true in the first frame, with neither team offering much resistance. New York were clobbered on the glass and outscored in the paint (20-10), but thanks to Julius Randle’s perseverance and hustle late in the first quarter, they were only behind 35-33 going into the second quarter.

Early in the second quarter, Josh Hart groused about a foul, received a double-tech, and was tossed. With L.A. dominating the glass already, losing his rebounding could prove costly.

The two teams had combined for 100 points by the seven minute mark of Q2. New York fell behind but mounted an 8-0 run to take a lead. After shooting 1-of-7, Jalen Brunson warmed up and posted nine points in the second frame. That gave the Knicks momentum, but then they coughed up turnovers and missed a few buckets, which enabled a 20-5 run by the Clips.

At halftime, the Knicks were down 77-66. That marked the most points surrendered by the Knicks in a half this season, and was the third time they had allowed 70+ by intermission.

The Clippers took 30 free throws in the first half, which was the most by any team in a first half this season. Although the whistle worked against them, the Knicks problems were largely self-inflicted. In the first half, they had lost the battles for fastbreak points (15-10), points in the paint (34-26), rebounds (31-18), assists (17-9), and steals (4-2). At least they had outshot the Clippers from deep, 47% to 42%. LA’s starters had scored 58 points; New York’s, 48.

Leonard had led the enemy with 21 points. Your halftime shot chart:

Second Half

Sims was back! Zubac went at him again, to similar results. Jericho wasn’t alone in his follies—the Knicks had allowed 102 points with five minutes left in the third quarter.

The Clippers moved the ball well, and the extra pass usually went to an All-Star. New York needs kung-fu defense to compete against a superstar squad. Lacking that, it was unsurprising that Los Angeles greased the lead to 22 in the third frame. Taj time soon?

Randle and Brunson led a brief run to cut the deficit to 13, but Los Angeles had no intention of dropping the rope. After three quarters, the score was 114-98. Early in the final frame, Deuce McBride made his 16th appearance of the season. Down by 19, Tom Thibodeau subbed Randle and Brunson back in; the deficit jumped to 24. Thibs knew there was only one thing to do. Fire up the Taj!

Your Starters:

  • Jalen Brunson: 22 points, seven rebounds, six assists, 7-of-17 FG, 2-of-5 3P, 34 minutes. -25.
  • Donte DiVincenzo: 18 points, one apiece for steals, boards, and dimes, 5-of-8 FG (all threes), 22 minutes. -22.
  • RJ Barrett: 18 points, five rebounds, one block, 7-of-15 FG, 2-of-7 3P, 28 minutes. -30.
  • Julius Randle: 22 points, four boards, two assists, 8-of-17 FG, 0-of-3 3P, 31 minutes. -17.
  • Jericho Sims: seven points (mostly in garbage time), two rebounds, one assist, one steal, three fouls, 18 minutes. -14

Honorable Mention: Isaiah Hartenstein: 12 points, 10 boards, three blocks, two assists, 5-of-7 FG, 30 minutes. -9.

Up Next

Our heroes stay put for another game at the arena, this time against the Lakers on Monday night. Tough loss tonight. Get your rest, Knicks.

Box Score