OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Jalen Brunson scored a season-high 34 points, and R. J. Barrett as well as Julius Randle each had 25 points, leading the New York Knicks to a 129–119 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday night.
Just eight days ago, the Thunder beat the Knicks at Madison Square Garden by 145 points, including 79 in the first half. But this time, New York held off Oklahoma City’s offense for most of the game.
Coach Tom Thibodeau was unable to say that his team made any special adjustments in the rematch, rather pointing to familiarity as the key to better defensive play.
“This is a hard cover. I don’t know if we did something differently, but they got everyone’s attention with their performance last week,” Thibodeau said.
— NEW YORK NIKKS (@nyknicks) November 22, 2022
The Knicks took control in the second quarter with Immanuel Quickly came off the bench and scored 12 of his 18 points as New York took a double-digit lead, and they eventually increased it to 16 when the starting line-up returned.
Randle had 16 points in the half to lead while the Knicks had 11 points at halftime. Randle finished the game with a double-double, leading all rebounders in the game with 11.
Brunson took over in the third quarter with a dozen points as the Knicks maintained that halftime lead before the finals. An off-season signing free agent achieved his Knicks record by hitting 13 of 14 two-point shots, conceding the only one in the last minute. He was more impressed with how his teammates rose to the occasion.
“It was a total team effort. Julius made us start early and that helped me open up in the second half,” Brunson said. “I was just trying to stay aggressive and stop defensively, and I was lucky that the shots didn’t work out tonight.”
As different players took turns providing offense for New York, Thibodeau was encouraged by the way his team played all four quarters.
“I think they played well with each other and made some good plays to get everyone to work and create quality shots for each other,” Thibodeau said. “When you have that kind of balanced attack, I think it’s hard to tune in to one particular guy.”
Philadelphia fans came to boo Ben Simmonsand they get their money’s worth. From the intro.
The crowd is looking forward to the 66ers-Nets… pic.twitter.com/n8liDw9SF3
— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) November 23, 2022
Simmons has shrugged it off so far, scoring 9 points on 3-of-6 shooting plus five assists in the first half. His first points came at the free throw line – a source of frustration when he wore a Sixers jersey – but he calmly hit both goals.
Ben Simmons hit both free throws.
It’s locked. pic.twitter.com/KQWo5dcDxE
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 23, 2022
From there, he made several quality plans at both ends.
Ben at both ends 💪🏼 pic.twitter.com/b8zPIFbQg8
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) November 23, 2022
And silenced the crowd.
Simmons calms the crowd 🍿 pic.twitter.com/80CmHRHjvL
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) November 23, 2022
Before the game (after a warm-up about 45 minutes before the start of the match), he even took selfies and signed autographs for the fans. Of course there were no boo birds, but for Simmons it wasn’t too bad.
The New York Knicks have a .500 rating and are ranked eighth in the East at the time of this podcast (and this post went live), which is what they expected from the team in the preseason.
However, things feel worse than that.
Tommy Beer – author of What’s on Tap newsletter on the Knicks – joins me to sort out everything related to Nyx. There is good, for example, the game Jalen Brunson and the fact that some of the young potential stars of the team – Quentin Grimes as well as Immanuel Quickly – recover.
Then there are so many questions, like if Randle is right, Obi Toppin ready for the big stage, and are the Knicks going to make a bold move at the trade deadline?
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The Knicks need draft picks – they were scooping up future picks in the NBA draft – not going to use them for picking, but rather to pack them in exchange for a star. (If you’re asking “then why not put more picks in exchange for Donovan Mitchell trade, well, you’re not the only one asking this question.)
According to league sources, the Knicks are targeting a future first-round pick in exchange for Quickley, who is eligible for an extension this summer.
Whether the Knicks can get Quickley in the first round is a matter of debate. He has struggled to score this season, shooting 36.5% overall (49 percent correct) and scoring just 8.9 points per night. However, he is a reliable perimeter defender and only 23 years old, he will qualify for an extension next offseason and whoever changes him must also have the intention of paying him.
The Knicks need assets to go after the next superstar to go on sale. Whoever it was. And next time they need to go all-in on the go.
I am Morant had to be out week after week with a first degree ankle sprain, but he might not even miss a week.
Morant has been promoted to questionable and could return tonight when the Grizzlies play the Kings.
.@memgrizz status update: Jah Morant (LT Ankle Sprain) has been upgraded to QUESTIONABLE for today’s game…