You can officially consider the 2022-23 New York Knicks season a winning one.
Your boys hosted the Western Conference leaders on Saturday at MSG and went to sleep having defeated the Nuggets 116-110 in a delicious matinee. It was, simply put, a historic victory for all it meant to the franchise.
For starters, this win marks New York’s 42nd of the season and the most the Knicks have gotten in a single campaign since they won 54 all the way back in 2013. This will also be just the second time in the past 10 seasons that New York will finish the year above .500 after doing so in the middle of the pandemic (41-31).
It was, also, the first time since Oct. 30, 2017, that Denver came to MSG and went back to the hotel carrying the L. Cold world.
This victory didn’t come easy, though. It was all tied at 110-apiece with less than three minutes left. New York had recovered from a 12-point deficit. Denver also went down 13 in the second period. Talk about swings. From a 28-36 first quarter in favor of the locals to a 39-26 second going the Nuggets way. So on and so forth.
“I liked the way we started the game, but I didn’t like the way we played in the second quarter,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said after the game. “We came back in the third quarter pretty solid, and in the fourth quarter we were at our best—it was a number of people doing a lot of things well.”
Jalen Brunson, who finally returned to the starting lineup having missed five of the last six games, hit the ground running and dumped 16 pops on the Nuggets' foreheads to get things going early.
“That was probably more adrenaline than anything else,” Thibs said about JB’s dazzling start.
Brunson revealed after the final buzzer that he was “a little worried” entering the game, although he followed that up by saying that “everything was according to plan, so I didn’t feel anything and kept playing.”
“I feel good. I’m happy to be back and glad we got the win. Everything feels good when you win,” Brunson finished.
Brunson’s return lasted 32 minutes in which he scored a grand total of 24 points to go with a couple of rebounds and five dimes. Julius Randle (20) and an aggressive, rim-running RJ Barrett (21) also reached the 20-point mark against the Nuggets.
“When [Barrett] attacks the basket, he’s very efficient,” Thibodeau pointed out after reading our own Lee Escobedo. “When he starts floating and fading away and all that, that’s where the problems come,” the coach said after the game.
It’s now 12 games this season in which all three of JR/RJ/JB have each scored at least 20+ points in the same matchup.
It’s the 21st time three different Knicks hit 20+ pops each in a single game this year. It happened 11 times last season. There are still 10 games left in this year’s regular season. Just saying.
Denying improvement is called being a Miami Heat fan. Good for us, Brunson knows we’re not that.
“I love playing [at MSG]. It’s the best place to play. The best fan base,” JB said post-game.
Earlier this week, Mitchell Robinson logged into his Snapchat account and shared a saucy post with the world. He later explained it and we all moved on. Robinson (obviously) couldn’t prevent Nikola Jokic from approaching another triple-double (24-10-8) but he managed to at least cut his production a bit shorter than usual while finishing with eight points and nine boards himself. Even more impressive were his three dimes, steal, and block.
Speaking of swats, check out this little mixtape featuring I-Hart, J-Hart, and Mitch Rob. Oofff, these Knicks.
This is Knicks Basketball pic.twitter.com/JBu1rZgoio— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) March 18, 2023
Immanuel Quickley played to 6MOY levels once more scoring 10 and assisting a couple of buckets. Hart finished did a little bit of everything with 13 points, eight boards, five dimes, and three steals. Isaiah Hartenstein put up a 6-9 and Obi Toppin went hunting for five points on two baskets.
“We’re confident in ourselves,” Robinson said. “We feel like we can beat anybody.”
Again, all of this happened against the no. 1 team out West. RJ Barrett, proceed, please: “They’re the number one team in the West so we knew it was going to be a battle. They played great on both ends of the floor but having Jalen back was huge for us today [and] we got a balanced attack from everybody.”
Brunson, your turn: “They’re the number one seed in the Western Conference for a reason, and Jokic is a two-time MVP for a reason. We kept our composure down the stretch.”
The Knicks (42-30) didn’t move in the standings but are now two games above the Brooklyn Nets (39-31) and just 2.5 behind the Cleveland Cavaliers (45-28; fourth seed). Only the Philadelphia 76ers (W8) have a better winning streak in the NBA than New York’s (W3) through Saturday.
Next game on Monday, back at MSG hosting the Minny Timberwolves. Tip-off at 7:30 EST. Don’t miss it.