8 Reasons Why Knicks Beat Indiana 106-102

In their second matchup of the young season against playoff-bound Indiana, the Knicks played a good brand of basketball throughout, and took the game in the final minutes. The ways how:

1. Knicks Executed Down Stretch — With Rivers Over Bullock

The Knicks held a 1-pt lead with 5:15 left in the game when Reggie Bullock made a lazy, cross-court pass that was intercepted by Indiana’s Domantas Sabonis, and resulted in a driving layup by Victor Oladipo to put Indiana up 93-92. On the next play Bullock missed a 3-point jumper, and Sabonis scored down the other end to give Indiana a 95-92 with 4:41 left.

Elfrid Payton drove the lane and fed Mitchell Robinson for another slam to pull the Knicks within 1 again, and when Reggie Bullock made a foul seconds later, Coach Tom Thibodeau called a timeout, and replaced Bullock with Austin Rivers for the final 3:51.

All of Knicks Twitter agreed. Bullock is not the sharpshooter the injured Alec Burks is, and plays a decent brand of defense but seems the one Knick starter miscast as a starter: he makes mistakes on offense, and is out there for his shooting but often misses.

Rivers immediately hit a 3-pt jumper to give the Knicks a 98-96 lead.

Rivers teamed with the rest of the starters — Mitchell Robinson, Julius Randle, RJ Barrett, and Elfrid Payton — to win this game down the stretch.

2. Randle’s Defense on Sabonis

Julius Randle had a poor shooting game, and didn’t even score in the game until late in the first half — but played great all around ball, including tremendous Defense against Sabonis — in general and especially down the stretch.

Randle locked up Sabonis forcing him to miss an inside jumper with 2:12 left — Sabonis spun right, left, right and couldn’t shake Randle who was all over him before missing the jumper badly.

Then with 1:32 left, Randle stole the ball at midcourt and drove ahead of the field for a slam and a 100-96 Knicks lead — one of two final key plays that carried the Knicks to victory.

3. Mitch to Payton to Rivers

With 36 seconds left and the Knicks up 100-96, Malcolm Brogdan took a 3-pt shot that was BLOCKED by Mitchell Robinson, who grabbed the block and spun it to Elfrid Payton, who drove the field and fed Austin Rivers for the layup and ballgame — NY 102-96.

4. Barrett with a Bounce-Back Game

After that it was Indiana trying well-guarded 3’s, and fouling Knicks to stop the clock. RJ Barrett hit 2 free throws with 10 seconds left to make it 104-96.

Indiana would not give up — they called timeout with 9 seconds left, after which Oladipo hit a meaningless 3 with 8 seconds left to make it 104-99, and again fouled RJ Barrett — who hit 2 more free throws. Brogdon hit a 3 with 1 second left for the final score.

The 4 big free throws in the final seconds were icing on the cake for Barrett — who led the Knicks with his scoring all night — a big bounce-back game for him after the horrid shooting night he had against Toronto in the previous game in Tampa.

Barrett started off hitting every 3 he took — he was 4-4 in the first half — a similar performance to the last time he was in this building in Indiana a week ago. Barrett finished 8-15 (4-5 from 3, 5-6 in free throws) for 25 pts, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and a +5. He outplayed Oladipo, who was 3-16 (-9 from 3) for 16 pts, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, and a -12.


5. Payton Payton Payton

Elfrid Payton was a big difference-maker in this game. All game long he penetrated, penetrated, and penetrated — either scoring on layups or 5-footers in the lane, or feeding teammates for easy looks from 3, or feeding Mitchell Robinson for slams.

Payton finished with 8-17 (0-1 fromn 3, 4-5 in free throws) for 19 pts, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, and a +6.

6. Robinson = Good Game

Mitchell Robinson was the beneficiary of many of those passes — he finished 8-10 for 16 pts, 9 rebounds, and 2 blocks in 29 minutes. Mitch dominated the early scoring with put-back slams. He only had 3 fouls and played terrific defense throughout against Myles Turner, who had outplayed him last week. Turner was 7-15 (3-9 from 3) for 17 pts, but only 4 rebounds, 1 block, and a -10 in 32 minutes.

7. Quickley Provided Offense

It was noted by an Indiana fan on Twitter that the Knicks came with much more energy all night than Indiana did. A small part of this was Immanuel Quickley — his first game back from injury. He entered in the second quarter and immediately attacked attacked attacked — drawing fouls, scoring, or passing. He finished with 15 minutes, and was 3-4 (1-2 from 3, 2-2 in free throws) for 9 points.

8. Thibodeau’s Game Plan

And finally — the biggest reason why the Knicks won this game: Tom Thibodeau — who laid out a great game plan to correct the issues of the loss to Indiana a week ago. Randle absolutely tied up Sabonis, with the help of some double teams. Sabonis finished 4-8 (1-1 from 3, 4-4 from free throw line) for 13 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists and a -10. Indiana press tweeted it was rare for Sabonis to take only 8 shots in a game. This was because Randle and the Knicks were drapped all over him all night.

The Knicks defense was terrific all night and in fact the only reason why this game was close was because Indiana kept hitting 3’s on broken plays at one point in the 3rd, and because Malcolm Brogdon had a stellar shooting night — 12-18 (7-10 from 3, 2-2 in free throws) for 33 points in 41 minutes.


Nerlens Noel also played well for the Knicks in his 17 minutes (2-2 for 4 pts, 6 rebounds). Kevin Knox had a poor shooting night (0-4, 0-3 from 3) in 15 minutes.

The Boxscore



Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.