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Knicks Bulletin: Thibodeau on injuries and adjustments, goofy Brunson and Hart

Straight Outta Sources.

Utah Jazz v New York Knicks Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

The Knicks kept their winning games going on Tuesday in their return to MSG to put a golden brochure to a historic month of January in which New York won 14 of 16 games, making it there earning their eighth consecutive win against the Utah Jazz at the Garden.

Even missing key players such as Julius Randle, Mitchell Robinson, and OG Anunoby of late, this team is simply unstoppable and seemingly incapable of running out of solutions for their problems.

With the Knicks beating Utah 118-103 on Tuesday to get in possession of the no. 3 seed in the East, just 1.5 games behind no. 2 Milawukee, here is what our beloved Knickerbockers had to say before and after yesterday’s game.

Tom Thibodeau

On making the proper adjustments to beat the Jazz after falling to Utah last December...

“We had a very heavy road schedule early. We [navigated that]. You keep the focus on your daily improvement and don’t get sidetracked, you improve. And that’s what we’re doing.”

Donte’s playing great basketball. You can’t say enough about Josh Hart—a triple-double. You’re getting quality play out of a lot of people. Jalen was Jalen. Isaiah looked like he got some rhythm back. I thought Precious was phenomenal.”

On beating the Utah Jazz with a shorthanded, eight-man rotation...

“I’m pleased for our players because of the way they worked. There’s still a long way to go. There’s still a lot of things we have to do to get better. I think the focus has been really good. Playing for each other has been really good.”

”We want to keep improving, but if you put the team first and you are willing to sacrifice for the team—which we have a number of guys doing that—good things come from that.”

”What makes it enjoyable is the winning. There’s going to be a lot of great games and scoring and that sort of thing. The winning is what makes it enjoyable.”

On having to face a high-powered offense in Utah’s unit without having OG and Randle available...

“We have more than enough. Next guy get in there and get it done. So I like the way the guys responded last night [against the Hornets], and the next day is a new challenge. They’re a very explosive team, they put a lot of points on the board, so we have to be at our best.”

“The big thing is you don’t replace guys individually, particularly a guy like Julius. So it’s our defense, our rebounding, taking care of the ball. Those three things put you in a position to win.”

On having a next-men-up mentality across the full positional spectrum while navigating injuries...

“We’re asking everybody to do everything. Last year we had Jericho [Sims] at [PF], I think Precious can do it. I’m confident in OG. One of the great values with what we did with Josh—it’s really a point guard, three wings and a center. That’s the way everybody plays.“

“If you’re looking at matching up with people, we knew we wanted that to be part of our makeup. So we wanted to be comfortable doing that. So we went into the season with that in place.”

“The big question mark and it’s a great question—we’re sacrificing size, but our rebounding wasn’t sacrificed, our defense wasn’t sacrificed. And that was the big thing. And what it does do is allows you to play at a different pace and gives you the drive-and-kick and that sort of thing. So offensively you don’t have to change.”

On having a great season to date but not getting comfortable with the results...

“This is our 10th back-to-back and I think we weathered that storm pretty well. And we’re playing pretty good, but that’s the challenge. It just keeps coming.”

On Precious Achiuwa’s skill set and improvements of late...

“He’s skilled. He can put the ball on the floor. He can make a play, and I think his defense, he’s got great feet and when he plays with high intensity, he covers a lot of ground.”

On Julius Randle’s recovery timeline...

“[We will have a timeline] in a day or two. Just let [the medical staff] gather all the information, and then [Randle] is gonna get together with our medical people, as well. They’ll come up with a good plan going forward. It’s the smart way to handle it.”

On OG Anunoby’s status after he missed the last two games...

“Oh, I’m concerned about everything. He is day-to-day.”

On (re)signing veteran forward Taj Gibson for the second time this season after doing so last December...

“He happened to be in the backyard. So we thought he knows us—we just love having him around.”

“The last time when he was here he was instrumental in three wins. So just having a guy that knows our players, knows our system, and is tough, I think that goes a long way.”

“He is a high-quality person on top of everything else, so happy for him and we’re glad he’s with us.”

On Obi Toppin ahead of the matchup against the Indiana Pacers on Thursday...

“He was a very popular player here, we loved having him. I think there’s always an appreciation for former Knick players—him being from the area.”

On the Knicks potentially having two All-Star players this season in Brunson and Randle...

“I’m hopeful. The hard part for the coaches is there’s a lot of guys who are deserving and are having great years and there’s just not enough spots. When you get down to the end, you try to weigh it out and it’s what sways the votes. You tend to use that and what’s the impact on winning. It’s not a lot of fun (voting). Lots of guys having great years, a lot of guys who are deserving. I always felt the all-star game was for the fans that’s what makes it exciting.”

Jalen Brunson

On the Knicks going 14-2 in January following the OG Anunoby trade at the end of December...

“I knew we were on a trajectory to go forward, and go upward. But I’d be lying if I said I saw this coming.”

“It’s just our depth. We have a couple guys out, and when people are called upon they are ready to go. Whether they’re playing three minutes or 30, they’re ready to go. We have a good collection of guys that think that way.”

On making the Knicks starting lineup along with two former Villanova teammates in Josh Hart and Donte DiVincenzo...

“To see where we are now, it’s really special. Hearing the starting lineup saying ‘from Villanova’, ‘from Villanova’, ‘from Villanova’, it’s pretty cool.”

On what Josh Hart has brought to the Knicks starting lineup...

“Cardio.”

On Josh Hart’s complains about having to play at the four instead of his natural two/three position...

“Josh is all talk, all bark, no bite. So whenever the ball is thrown up in the air, he’s going 110% every single time, no matter what he says. That’s just how he’s wired.”

Josh Hart

On Brunson’s “all bark, no bite” comments...

“I mean—it’s either bark or demand a trade. I don’t think I could get traded this year so I don’t have another avenue to go, so y’all can demand my trade. Demand my trade this year. I’m out.”

On beating the Jazz and keeping the positive results going...

“We’re playing well, and we’re playing to our strengths. We’re just having good vibes right now, and I think that’s the biggest thing.”

On learning the news of OG missing another game forcing him to play forward minutes for the second game in a row...

“I’m definitely gonna make sure Thibs knows OG is four inches taller and probably, like, 15 pounds heavier. So hopefully he knows that.”

On the crowd wanting to enjoy some Taj Gibson minutes at the end of the game...

“Shit, I wanted Taj too. What did I play? 43 (minutes)?”

On going 0-for-3 from beyond the three-point arc on Tuesday...

“At some point, I gotta make a shot. Hopefully I do that before Christ comes back.”

Donte DiVincenzo

On how the Knicks have been able to put together a monster run of results even missing key players...

“One, I think we have a deep team, but two, I think it’s the blueprint that Thibs has given us. Guys can step up and play the roles without trying to do too much.”

“We have an identity here, and everybody buys in and there’s a joy that we have with our team right now. Everybody is celebrating one another, but also, everyone is holding everyone accountable.”

On his career-high nine three-pointers on Tuesday against the Jazz...

“Whoever is on the court I’ll still carry myself the same way, play with the same confidence—tonight it was just falling for me.“

On the 14-2 month of January put together by the Knicks and how it was possible...

“We’re just playing together. We have some of the best fans in the league, so whenever we go on the road they’re following us, when we come home we gotta protect our court.”

Precious Achiuwa

On his improved production of late as he’s become more accustomed to playing for the Knicks...

“I’m getting more and more comfortable with my teammates. They’re getting comfortable with me and my style of play as well, and just playing the right way, making the right reads.”

On taking advantage of the Randle/OG absences...

“Versatility has always been a strength of mine, and we have a need for guys, bodies, with guys being out and stuff like that. Guys just gotta step up and play, and me and my versatility, I think that kind of adds to the team.”

Taj Gibson

On his return to the New York Knicks organization for the second time this season...

“Right before I was gone, I already felt like the team was coming together. Guys were really creating a bond, just working together, playing for each other. And now it’s like the same to a new level. Everybody’s feeling a lot more confident. Guys are playing together. It was a great thing to see.”