Disappointing Win? 6 Reasons Why NY 107 Chicago 103 on 2-3-21

Is there such a thing as a disappointing win? A win is a win. Unless somebody got injured and nobody got injured in this game. And yet — this 107-103 victory over Chicago seemed like a disappointing win; echoed by NY fans like Mike D. on Twitter. That would make two Disappointing games in a row in the back-to-back in Chicago — a Disappointing loss and a Disappointing win.

Here’s how it went down:

1. Payton, Randle, & Team D Carried Knicks to Big Lead

The Knicks jumped out of the gate in this one — led by Elfrid Payton and Julius Randle and energetic team defense that was not allowing Chicago to get easy 3-pt looks — especially Lauri Markkanen who had torched the Knicks in the 1st half of the previous game.

Payton was everywhere from the opening tap — penetrating, scoring, grabbing rebounds — he had 7 rebounds in the 1st quarter!

And Julius Randle was a scoring machine — popping 3’s — he hit three 3’s in a row at one point.

RJ Barrett did his part — and finished with 17 pts on an efficient 8-16 shooting (only 0-1 from 3). It seems coach Tom Thibodeau has made an adjustment with Barrett — since his 3-pt shooting percentage is down, have him shoot less 3’s. Simple and effective approach.

NY was up 34-17 after the 1st quarter. Chicago pulled to within 11 at the half, and kept trying to get back in the game but when Julius Randle ended the 3rd quarter with a 3 at the buzzer — NY entered the 4th with a 15-pt lead.

2. 4th Quarter Woes

And then came the 4th quarter — when Chicago made their final run to get to within 3 points with 5:45 left. Immanuel Quickley was keeping Chicago at bay with his scoring, but he left with 8:16 left and NY up by 12. The Knicks then went into a mini scoring slump and Chicago went on an 11-2 run to pull to within 99-96.

Reggie Bullock hit a big 3 with 4:49 left and that ended up being the last push back the Knicks needed. Elfrid Payton added a drive and bucket with 3:33 left and it was 104-96 NY. Danger mostly over. In the final minutes the Knicks nursed their 5-pt lead; their Defense keeping Chicago in check — and allowing Zach LaVine to take some bad shots. It became a foul-shooting game in the final 22 seconds; Quickley was back in to take them.

3. Disappointing?

So it seemed a disappointing win — in that it looked like NY would put Chicago away but didn’t. You were left thinking what other player do the Knicks need to make them better — so they could put teams like Chicago away. Does Mitchell Robinson need to do more — take the wraps off his offensive moves? Do the Knicks need to get a better small forward to replace Bullock? Etc.

Afterwards, many on Knicks Twitter seemed disappointed Payton had done well — and mocked his post-game interview as being not enthusiastic enough. Every team in every sport always seems to have a whipping boy — in a Lord of the Flies kind of thing where the groupthink goes after a particular player on the team. With the Yankees in recent years it’s been players like Tyler Wade and Luis Cessa. With the Knicks, last year it was Randle; this year it is Payton.

This despite the fact that the Knicks coach — Tom Thibodeau — is regarded as one of the best coaches in the world and he values Payton’s play — enough to start him and give him 30 minutes a night.

4. LaVine Unimpressive

Zach LaVine did not look like the person the Knicks should be trading for. He was unimpresssive in the 2 games NY played vs Chicago — and seemed disengaged at times — perhaps due to the trade rumors. His handle wasn’t impressive; he seems unrefined on the court — a bad shot taker and maker. Or, as Jeremy Cohen put it on Twitter, “I hope everyone who wants to trade for Zach LaVine paid attention to him not hitting Markkanen cutting to the hoop, ignoring Williams after he set a pick, and then bricking a deep three with his team down late, because that is the Zach LaVine Experience™”

LaVine was 0-7 from 3 in the game; overall he had 24 pts on 10-21 shooting, 5 rebounds, and 7 assists. He filled up the boxscore.

5. Payton Impressive

Payton finished with 20 pts (on 9-19 shooting, 0-2 from 3, 2-2 in free throws), 8 rebounds, 4 assists, and good defense — he didn’t get credit for any steals but caused several turnovers with disruptions to Chicago player dribbles. Thibodeau had him in for 35 minutes vs Quickley’s 13 minutes — Thibs seemingly placing an emphasis on Defense and also running with Payton since he was pushing the pace and put the Knicks in the big lead. Payton had a +7 to Quickley’s -3.

6. Knicks Defense

Thibodeau made adjustments to the Knicks Defense from the prior game — and engaged them to “defend the line” more, resulting in Chicago shooting 6-36 from 3; Markkanen who had killed the Knicks the prior game, went 0-4 from 3, and 3-8 overall for 9 pts and a -8. NY shot 11-22 from 3.

Julius Randle did a much better job guarding Markkanen, and was a big reason for the Knicks shooting 11-22 from 3: Randle had another All-Star performance — 27 pts, on 11-20 shooting (5-7 from 3), 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, and a +14.

Mitchell Robinson played good D inside — 8 pts on 3-5 shooting, 11 rebounds, 2 steals and a +9. He didn’t block any shots for the first time in a year, but was solid in the middle for 28 minutes. Nerlens Noel added 4 pts and 3 blocks in 20 minutes.

The Boxscore



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