Twas a beating, wasn’t it?
On Wednesday, the New York Knicks (37-27) hosted their friendly neighbors from Brooklyn (34-28) at MSG and defeated the Nets by a solid 142-118 final score for the second time since they got rid of KD and Kyrie.
Times are a-changin', ain’t they?
“We’re on a mission,” Mitchell Robinson said after Monday’s blasting of the Celtics. “We wanna be in the playoffs. Everybody wants to be there. Everybody on the team is gonna fight.”
Looking at the standings on Thursday, the New York City Kingpins have sole possession of the no. 5 seed in the East sitting two games above the Brooklyn Newbies in sixth place. The next stop, Cleveland, is just 1.5 games above NYC.
Wednesday’s game marked the Knicks' seventh consecutive win and also the Nets' sixth loss in a row. Sheesh...
“I feel like right now we are clicking on all cylinders,” Quentin Grimes said post-game. “Everybody is playing unselfish and playing for one another.”
Grimes scored the second-most points, 22, among those donning Knickerbocker threads yesterday. Only Jalen Brunson topped that figure with 39 bangers on the evening to go with six dimes and five rebounds. Tidy shift at the office.
It took New York barely 30 minutes to get past the 100-point barrier. It took Brooklyn more than 40 and breaking more than one or seven sweats.
So immaculate were the vibes, that coach Tom Thibodeau and his extraordinary point-guard Brunson were joking on the sidelines with a few minutes left on the clock. Fist bump. Joke. No bad feelings inside the Garden these days.
March 2, 2023
“No, [Thibs] doesn’t care about [my performances],” Brunson said. “He cares about wins. That’s it. Wins and how we can get better. That’s all he cares about. That’s all I care about.”
Uh, oh. Eastern Conference and beyond, get ready for this New New York.
“I like where we are in the season in terms of [knowing] the intensity is getting different now, so we have to respond accordingly and this should bring the best out in us,” Thibodeau said.
The Knicks were up 18 by the end of the first quarter, led by 27 at halftime, and got to build a 29-point distance just a couple of minutes into the final stanza.
The 81 points New York scored through the first two quarters fell three short of a franchise record. Just imagine!
Julius Randle put up 21 points with RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley adding 15 each through 28 and 22 minutes of play starting and coming off the pine respectively.
“It’s a really fun game because everybody is involved,” said Barrett. “You could point to everybody and say, alright, they had a great game tonight. That’s something that’s rare.”
Mitchell Robinson had his fourth double-double in as many games since returning from injury scoring 13 points (perfect 6-for-6 from the floor) while pulling down 10 rebounds, three of them (very) offensive.
The big men did their thing (Isaiah Hartenstein stood out among those in the second unit with eight points and eight boards), Randle cooked himself a 21-8-8, and the Knicks as a team set season-high marks for 3-pointers made (20) and total points scored (142).
Of course, the 37-27 record they boast now has the Knicks matching their win total from last season and makes them look like a 47-win team, had they rocked that winning percentage through a full 82-game season.
The Knicks, just for context, have not won 47 games since they made the playoffs with a 54-28 record all the way back in the 2013 season only to drop the Eastern Conference semifinals matchup with the Indiana Pacers.
Brunson compared the current Knicks with the late-90s version of the squad in the context of Thibs, saying that “[Thibs] was here, and he sees the direction we’re going in.” Is this a Finals-bound team? Probably not, but neither were the ‘99 Knicks, and look what they ended up doing to the field.
Thibs, expanding on the comparisons between both eras of the Knicks, the 90s one and this very bright new one, believes that “the things that go into winning are the same: unselfishness, hard work, discipline, dependability.” The coach drills that stuff into his players' brains daily as for him “that’s what drives improvement and achievement.”
“The more willing you are to make that commitment to work, have discipline and be dependable for each other, play through things, be mentally tough...” started Thibodeau, before continuing. “The only way you can be mentally tough is to go through things together,” he finished.
The Knicks go on the road next as they’ll visit Miami on Friday followed by a trip up north to Boston on Sunday.
“Don’t look back, don’t look ahead,” Thibs said. “Keep the same process for each and every game, and if you’re doing the right things, we’ll win our fair share of games.”
Tip-off at 8:00 EST on Friday. Things will be heating up, so don’t miss it.