Julius Randle hosted a player-only dinner for the New York Knicks Monday night in Salt Lake City ahead of their game against the Utah Jazz on Tuesday. R. J. Barrett confirmed the event when talking to reporters after the shootoutstating that the players are “trying to hold each other accountable”.
Dinner, a new twist in the players-only meeting, came in light of the team’s embarrassing loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder in their last game. They lost 145 points in the first team and allowed the Thunder to shoot 62.5 percent from the field – a defensive figure that would be shocking for any team, let alone the one coached by Tom Thibodeau.
“It was good, good that we had such a team dinner,” Barrett said. “Try to figure it out as best you can. We all make sure that everything goes on the right track.”
After starting 3-1 in recent weeks, the Knicks have fallen apart. They are 3-6 in their last nine games, with all six of those losses in double figures, and have amassed 116 points per 100 possessions in those games. This defensive ranking ranks 28th in the league during this time period. This season, they are 24th in defensive rating (113.5), 29th in opposing 3-pointers per game (14.1), and 25th in opposing second chance points (15.7) and rushing points. breakthrough (15.9) per game.
“But the problem was our defense.” Thibodeau said after being defeated by Grom. “We have to fix this. It’s hard to win if we don’t put in more effort on defense… If we rely on outscoring our opponents, it won’t work. We have little chance of making a mistake.”
As bad as the Knicks have been lately, they could get even worse next week. Tuesday’s game against the Jazz will be the start of a tough five-game, seven-day journey that also includes the Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors and Phoenix Suns.
Pressure is already mounting on both the team and Thibodeau, and the latter could easily be out of a job anytime soon if this West Coast turnaround goes as badly as some expect. At least for now, he still has the support of those on the list. “His work speaks for itself,” Barrett said. “He knows what he’s doing.”
But while past results are great, this will only save Thibodeau for the long haul.