7 Takeaways from Knicks’ 2nd Win of Year: NY 95 Clev 86

The Knicks didn’t play well in this game as a team — too many turnovers and some sloppy basketball. But they played good defense and won — the offense primarily provided by Julius Randle, who continues to play like an All Star.


1. Randle Playing Like an All Star

The Knicks did play well as a team early — and jumped out to a 29-15 at the end of the 1st quarter, based primarily on the scoring and passing of Randle.

The Knicks ballooned the lead to 16 points — 32-16 — before Cleveland started to climb back into the game. The Knicks kept turning the ball over — Randle had 6 first-half turnovers himself. Cleveland tied the game 40-40 before the Knicks worked back to a 53-46 lead at the half.

The Knicks continued to play sloppy basketball — lots of turnovers — in the 3rd, but were able to maintain a lead. Cleveland pulled to within 60-58 but the Knicks held on to the lead and ended the quarter up 71-64.

2. Payton and Randle Take Over in 4th

Coming off a tremendous-shooting prior game, Elfrid Payton was having a tough game with his shot all night until the 4th. Playing point with Frank Ntilikina as the shooting guard, Payton started taking it to the rim against the smaller Cleveland backcourt. He muscled in a put-back off his own missed shot with 11 minutes left to start himself going.

With Cleveland within 7 points and 5 minutes left, Payton missed 2 free throws but then knocked down a 3 from the corner off a Julius Randle pass the next time down with 4:24 left to give the Knicks a 10-pt lead.

The next time down, Payton penetrated and fed Mitchell Robinson for a slam and 90-80 lead with 3:12 left. Then Julius Randle made a beautiful pass to Reggie Bullock in the corner for a 3 and a 13-point lead with 2:51 left and pretty much the ballgame.

Randle finished with the 7th triple double of his career: 28 pts on 9-16 shooting (4-4 from 3), 12 rebounds, and 11 assists.

3. Mitch Hung in Against Beefeater Drummond

Andre Drummond is playing great ball — as seen in the preseason game against the Knicks and this game. He is a beast compared to the skinny Mitchell Robinson — yet Drummond can still get up to block a lot of shots. Walt Fraizer said on tv that Drummond has stated he wants to win Defensive Player of the Year this year, and that Cleveland has a lot better team than others are giving them credit for.

Robinson was able to use his tenstile strength to hang in against Drummond — keep him somewhat neutralized in the paint. Robinson played 32 minutes, and had 9 pts (4-9 shooting), 10 rebounds, 2 blocks.

Drummond had 33 minutes, 18 pts on 7-13 shooting (4-10 from the free-throw line), 17 rebounds, and 6 blocks.

Nerlens Noel looked really small while trying to guard Drummond. So small I had to double check his height on basketball-reference. Noel is listed at 6’10 but damn he looked like a guard trying to guard Drummond. If Noel is actually 6’8 I wouldn’t be surprised. Maybe 6’9. Yet the NBA supposedly measured everyone in stocking feet last year so his 6’10 must be legit — maybe it’s his 210 lbs on that frame that makes him look small.

4. Knox Playing Good D; Contributing on O

Kevin Knox is playing a good brand of basketball — engaged and playing an excellent Defense — according to coach Tom Thibodeau as well — and scoring whenever he has a chance — 2-3 (2-2 from 3) in this game for 6 pts and a team-high +14. Knox has that pretty, high-arcing, and accurate 3.

5. Barrett Is Money Going to Hoop

RJ Barrett had a poor shooting game — 4-15 (0-3 from 3) — but boy is he money going to the hoop — fluid and finishes strong against traffic at the rim — using either left or right hand — completely unbothered by the bodies. His defense also good. He’s an all-star caliber player. Barrett had 14 pts, 8 rebounds, 7 assists, and a +12.

6. Noel with Quick Hands; Good D

Nerlens Noel played excellent ball — especially at the start of the 4th quarter when he used his quick hand to create turnovers and steals. He played 16 minutes, and had 4 pts, 7 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 2 steals.

Cleveland at times played backup center Javale McGee at the same time as Drummond. McGee played 16 minutes — 11 pts on 5-7 shooting, 9 rebounds and a block. The Knicks countered with either Robinson or Noel with Randle at power forward.

7. Cleveland Missed their 3’s

Cleveland has quick scoring guards Colin Sexton and Darius Garland and the two shot blockers Drummond and McGee. But the two guards are small and are a weakness defensively. Thus the reason why Cleveland brought in the shot blockers and also picked the defensive-minded guard Isaac Okoro at #5 overall in the June 2020 draft. Okoro was injured and didn’t play in this game.

Cleveland’s sharp-shooting small forward Cedi Osman had a horrible shooting game. Osman — who shot .409 from 3 last year — was 2-12 (0-5 from 3). Larry Nance Jr was 1-6 from 3, Damyean Dotson was 1-4 from 3, and Dante Exum came off the bench to go 0-3 from 3. Overall Cleveland shot 21.9 percent from 3 (7-32). Some of that was the Knick defense. Some of it was them missing 3’s.

The Boxscore




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