The New York Knicks might never lose again.
After coming back from the All-Star break in shiny fashion beating Washington on Friday, the Knicks returned home and completed the second half of a back-to-back by blasting the visiting Pelicans 128-106.
It was a day to remember in Manhattan with the New York Knickerbockers paying homage to the 1973 Champs.
Of course, given the rare occasion, your performers put up exactly 73 points on the scoreboard right before halftime leading up to the celebratory reception of the former—and last—champion Knicks and other world-renowned faces, mostly around these places.
Just knowing New York hit 73 points through 24 minutes should be enough to know this game was a no-show by the Zion-less Pels.
“We want to get off to good starts,” said Julius Randle, “and we did that today and sustained it.” After scoring a career-high 46 less than 24 hours before in DC, Randle came back down to Earth finishing yesterday’s affair with a respectable 28 points to go with seven boards and five assists in 33 minutes.
Big man Mitchell Robinson, in his second game back from injury, put up his second double-double in as many nights going for 11 points and grabbing 13 rebounds while swatting a shot to put the cherry on top.
Speaking of blocks, the Knicks got seven in total to New Orleans’ zero with Josh Hart and Immanuel Quickley swatting two field-goal attempts each and Robinson, Jericho Sims, and Isaiah Hartenstein blocking one.
You wouldn’t believe it, but the Knicks put as many as 12 (!!!) players on the hardwood through the game with Evan Fournier the only dégusteur of a delicious DNP-Thibs.
That meant, of course, that Derrick Rose got his two minutes of playing time on a night reserved for the legends of past times. Too bad for the former MVP, he couldn’t find paydirt with any of the four shots he attempted, finishing with a two-minute Club Trillion-esque statline filled with a whole bunch of zeroes.
“D-Rose, that’s a legend,” Randle said. “He still got some juice and he can still play, but that’s not his role on this team.”
Randle acknowledged that as he sees it, Rose is having “just as much, if not more, of an impact vocally as a leader for us.” The forward also revealed that Rose is “constantly talking to me, giving me advice,” adding that “[Rose’s] impact is huge.”
“I love to see [Rose] out on the floor,” Randle finished. A much younger Knick, RJ Barrett, added that “to be around a guy like [Rose] every day is special.” You could really feel the love.
Barrett had an extraordinary game dishing out seven dimes for the first time this year and just the sixth time in his career. He scored 25 pulling down four rebounds.
Jalen Brunson went back to his usual ways scoring 20 points after failing to reach that figure against the Wiz. Quickley (13) and Hart (15) were the only other New Yorkers scoring in double digits, while Quentin Grimes had to conform with nine pops, a dime, and one board.
“Everybody kinda had a great game, so that was really good,” Barrett said.
The Knicks enjoyed a perfect 50-year anniversary celebration of their last NBA title and judging by what was witnessed at MSG on Saturday, you’d think this new iteration is here to lift the Larry O’B next June or soon after.
P&Ter Russell Richardson already wrote it in his recap:
“I’m starting to get a peculiar feeling about the current team. It’s not championship feels, but I daresay this 2022-23 club has a deep playoff run in it.”
At the end of the day, the game felt like an endless loop of this:
Robinson with MAJOR authority pic.twitter.com/oq6jnj38Dv— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) February 26, 2023
“That was such a great team,” coach Tom Thibodeau said before the game speaking of the 1973 Knicks. “They were so unselfish. They played great defense. It was such a fun team but it’s what they embodied and how they played for each other.”
Barrett touched on those remarks himself after the game, comparing that championship-bound squad with the current New York bunch. “[This] is a team, and any given night it’s going to be different. We did a great job sharing the ball. Everybody kind of had a great game.”
The bench sucked a bit late, but it’s not that the game was at risk of ending in a loss. They went four minutes without scoring a point until Hartenstein dumped a time-expiring bucket for the final 128-106 result. It must be said that the giant also pulled down 10 rebounds in just 19 minutes, splitting them equally between the offensive and defensive glass.
Thibs wrapped it all up by saying that his players have to “put the team first.” Referring to RJ Barrett’s outing at MSG on Saturday, the coach said about his wing, ”He’s always been a team-first guy,” adding that the members of his squad have to just, ”...get out there and whatever you can contribute to the team, winning, that’s what we want everyone to do.”
New York (35-27) stays home waiting for the arrival of the league-leading Boston Celtics (44-17) come Monday. The Knicks didn’t move in the standings but inched closer to no. 5 Brooklyn (0.5 above NYK) while building up a sizable gap between them and no. 7 Miami (2.5 behind NYK).
The Celtics will get to New York boasting the best road record in the NBA at 20-10. Tip-off at 7:30 PM EST. Don’t miss it.