The Knicks left Florida on Thursday night with a supreme 0-2 record in their bags on their Disneyland trip.
New York (42-33) fell 106-111 to the Orlando Magic (31-43) on the road at the Amway Center and completed their trip down the East coast with their second loss in as many games on the end of a back-to-back that started Wednesday at Miami.
The Knicks were their usual (of late) selves, which means they couldn’t play defense to save their collective life.
Things went reasonably well through the first frame as your boys kept things tight never falling more than seven points down early in the game. An ominous 20-5 start to the second quarter was all you needed to watch to know what was coming, though, with the Knicks getting buried before the break... only to use their strong offense to enter the halfway mark trailing Orlando by eight pops.
“In the third quarter we got out of the hole, and then at the start of the fourth quarter we played poorly,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said.
In fact, New York won the quarter 30-22... only to drop the fourth 31-36 and come close but short once more, as was the case in Miami just 24 hours earlier.
“That third quarter our defense got us into the open floor. We exerted so much energy trying to fight out of that hole that we fell short in the end.”
The Knicks didn’t have Jalen Brunson available (right hand sprain) so they were forced to start 6MOY leading candidate Immanuel Quickley at the point. He was fantastic. IQ dropped 25 points, dished out seven dimes, and filled the rest of the stat line with five boards, two steals, and one swat.
Quentin Grimes, who has caught offensive fire of late, dumped 25 more (5-of-10 from beyond the three-point arc) while Julius Randle added 23 and nine rebounds.
Randle added another interesting thing to his resume: the 11th tech of the season midway through the third period. It’s also his third tech in three games. One per.
“There’s emotion involved, so you want the emotion to get out of it and then, sometimes when you talk, it clears the air. So, that’s good,” started Thibs commenting on Randle’s exchange with IQ following the call. “You also don’t want—you’ll allow for idiosyncrasies as long as it doesn’t get in the way of winning. Nothing can get in the way of winning.“
Then, Double-T shared the enlightening statement: “The team always has to come first, and everyone’s responsible for that.”
Randle, already cool and collected and speaking after the game, thinks the Knicks “have to get our defense in order” and “find a way to get stops.”
As Peter Botte pointed out in his game recap, the Knicks had allowed 133.5 points on average to the Wolves and the Heat in their last two losses. Orlando scored 111 on them, more than 20 fewer, but still more than enough to outscore the touring Knickerbockers.
Mitchell Robinson was questionable entering the game (sore knee) but he ended up logging 30+ minutes and grabbing 12 rebounds to go with four swats. That was nearly all New York bright on defense on Thursday.
RJ Barrett finished 3-of-12 with 10 points and no three-point shots made. He turned the ball over five times. Josh Hart showed the worst version we’ve seen of the former Trail Blazer to date scoring seven points while “only” contributing five boards, two dimes, and one steal in a game in which he committed four personal fouls.
“We gave up 36 points in the fourth quarter tonight. That’s not who we are. Sometimes, that happens,” Quickley said.
The Knicks got down 19 in the first half. The Knicks also got down 19 in the second half. What about that, uh?
“Right now, our team is out of sorts,” Thibs said. “You have to pull together in rough times. You get into things together, you get out of things together. There are going to be ups and downs we have to navigate,” he finished.
Let’s start improving by beating—no excuses allowed—the lowly Houston Rockets in the Knicks return to MSG next week. Tip-off at 7:30 EST on Monday. Knicks. Rockets. Don’t miss it.
“It’s a long season,” Thibodeau said. “We have to do better. We know that.”