COSTLY WIN. Mitch Breaks Hand. 4 Reasons Why NY 109 Washington 91

It was Friday Night Knicks. Normally a jinx but the results this time changed: a win. The jinx unfortunately held: a costly win. The Knicks 2nd team turned on the jets midway thru the 3rd quarter to blow Washington out, at just about the same time Knicks PR announced on Twitter that Mitchell Robinson had fractured his hand on a play in the first half.

Friday Night Knicks Jinx lives.

1. Robinson’s Fractured Hand

The news of the evening was Robinson’s fractured hand. Robinson was having his best game of the year — 10 points (on 5-6 shooting) and 14 rebounds in the 1st half — a perfect half except for 0-4 from the free throw line. We learned later the last two free throws were missed due to the broken hand.

Nobody knew what play he fractured it on until after the game, when it was revealed he broke it when he accidentally hit Julius Randle with it coming down off a block shot attempt late in the 2nd quarter.

During the game, Filip Bondy of the NY Daily News guessed that he “injured the shooting hand while setting a screen in the second quarter, when Wizards guard Garrison Mathews ran into Robinson.” He guessed wrong.

Marc Berman of the NY Post waited until after the game was over to specify how it broke, “Robinson tried to block a shot, but collided with Julius Randle as he came down, his hand hitting Randle’s elbow. Robinson started shaking his hand, but stayed in the game. He looked in distress when he missed badly on 2 free throws — one that missed the rim entirely.”

After the game Tom Thibodeau said the Knicks wouldn’t be looking to trade for a center to temporarily replace Mitch, saying that not one player could replace a player like Robinson, but that Nerlens Noel would step into the starter role as he offers the same shot blocking and game style that Robinson does, and that Taj Gibson will get more minutes as the backup — as he has spent his whole career playing that style of game. Thibodeau also said the Knicks would go small at times — with Obi Toppin getting more minutes and then also Kevin Knox stepping in more.

It remains to be seen how long Robinson will be out.

2. Payton Leads the Early Charge

The Knicks jumped out to a comfortable 10-pt lead in the first quarter. Elfrid Payton was leading the charge again on offense and defense; 6 points and a steal in the 1st quarter. Payton finished with an efficient 12 pts on 6-12 shooting (0-1 from 3, 2-2 in free throws), 3 rebounds, 4 assists, and a +5.

Payton fed Robinson for slams and Julius Randle was back dominating after the poor game two days earlier against Miami’s suffocating defense. Randle had 24 pts on 8-15 shooting (2-3 from 3, 6-7 in free throws), 18 rebounds, 4 assists, and a steal. At the half Randle had 9 pts, 11 rebounds, Payton had 10 pts on 5-7 shooting, and Robinson had his 10 pts (on 5-6 shooting), and 14 rebounds  for NY 53 Wash 42.

3. Rose & the 2nd Team Lead the Blow-Out

The Knicks got sloppy after gaining the 10-pt lead in the 1st quarter; Washington hung in — still down 10 at the half and then crept to within 4 points with 6 minute left in the 3rd when a Reggie Bullock 3 and a Barret jumper pushed it back to 9 points. Washington still hung in — down 6 with 2 minutes left in the 3rd. Then the second team came in — Rose, Alec Burks, Immanuel Quickley, and Nerlins Noel with Randle — and blew Washington off the court — quickly moving the lead to 15 before the end of the 3rd quarter. Rose’s defense lit the charge — with several steals leading to breakaways and forcing turnovers.

Rose’s play has been exceptional — running the point with authority — constantly attacking, hitting players with passes at the right time in the right place, and scoring when he’s the best option. His defense has also been excellent.

Rose finished with 14 points (on 7-11, 0-1 from 3), 3 rebounds, 6 assists, and 4 steals for a +18. Burks missed all of his shots (0-3) but had 8 rebounds, excellent defense, and a +21. Quickley was 5-15 (2-7 from 3, 4-4 in free throws) for 16 pts and a +16.

Obi Toppin joined the mix in the 4th as the Knick second team moved the lead to 20 and then 25 points.

RJ Barrett stared off not hitting his shot — again — he’s had several games in a row now where he’s struggled with his jumper; but in the second half took it to the rim and finished 3-13 (0-1 from 3, and important 2-2 from the free throw line) for 8 pts, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and a +5. He played his usual brand of good passing and excellent defense.

And that was the game. An easy win. But a loss of Mitchell Robinson for weeks to come.

4. Westbrook’s Ugly Almost Triple Double

Bradley Beal, leading the NBA in scoring amidst rumors that Washington is looking to trade him, was out with an injury — or an ‘injury’ depending on how much you wanted to read into that. Russell Westbrook was 10-22 (0-4 from 3, 3-6 from the free throw line), 9 rebounds, 10 assists, 23 points, a -19 and accusations that he looked disinterested or washed by Knick fans — including Knicks analyst Alan Hahn — who has defended Westbrook’s play, but had this to say in this game:

The Boxscore

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