Excruciating loss. 6 Reasons Why Minnesota 102 NY 101 on 3-31-21

“Excruciating loss”, summed up Walt Frazier a few seconds after dead silence by the broadcast team and Knicks nation after RJ Barrett‘s last-second jumper fell short. The Knicks had just blown an 18-pt lead in the first half, a 12-pt lead with 7:55 left in the 4th quarter, and a 2-pt lead with under a minute left to lose this game to the worst team in basketball — the 12-35 Timberwolves.

5 reasons how:

1. Edwards & Beasley Killed the Knicks

Minnesota has a lot of young talent — led by last year’s #1 pick in the draft Anthony Edwards. He Killed the Knicks, and in the final quarter, outdid RJ Barrett. Edwards scored 12 points in the last 7:52 of the game — and was the main reason why Minnesota undid the Knicks’ 12-point lead. His name is all over the 4th quarter play-by-play — “Edwards makes a jumper”, “Edwards with a tip in”, “Edwards makes a free throw”, “Edwards makes a jumper”.

Edwards jumper with 1:16 left finally pulled Minnesota all the way back to a 99-99 tie. And then, after Taj Gibson grabbed a loose ball and put it home to give the Knicks a 101-99 lead with under a minute left — Malik Beasley hit a 3 with 37 seconds left to give Minnesota the lead.

RJ Barrett had a good game — but in contrast to Edwards, made two errors in the final minute to cost the Knicks the victory. Barrett lost the ball on the baseline on a drive with 25 seconds left to try and put the Knicks back on top. That plus the final missed jumper ruined the evening for him.

Barrett finished with 23 points on 8-17 shooting, 3-4 from 3, 4-6 in free throws, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, and a +1).  In contrast, Anthony Edwards had 24 points on 9-16 shooting (2-7 from 3), 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, for a +14. Beasley had 20 points on 5-9 shooting (5-6 from 3).

2. Minnesota’s Young Talent & Shooters Have Done This Before

Despite the record, Minnesota’s young talent and sharp shooting have enabled them to make several great comebacks against teams lately. In the last week they came back from a huge deficit to almost beat the Nets and came back from a 14-pt 4th quarter deficit to beat Houston. They beat Phoenix two weeks ago. Tom Thibodeau said in the postgame that the Knicks were aware of this.

Besides Edwards and Beasley, 6’9 power forward Jaden McDaniels (28th pick of the 2020 draft) also killed the Knicks with his shooting in the first half — 18 points on 7-13 shooting (4-9 from 3). Karl Anthony Towns is part of Minnesota’s talented young team — 18 points (on 7-18), 17 rebounds, 6 assists and a +9.

3. Randle Tried His Best

Julius Randle put the Knicks on his shoulders down the stretch, hitting two big buckets at around 3 minutes left to stave off the Minnesota advance — an iso-Melo baseline jumper and a pullup jumpers in the lane — but it wasn’t enough against Edwards. Randle had 26 points (on 11-20, 2-5 from 3, 2-2 free throws), 12 rebounds, 6 assists — a typical night for him. But in the closing minutes the Knicks didn’t seem to have enough scorers. Barrett didn’t finish well, and the Knicks didn’t execute the offense well enough. A lot of that was due to Minnesota’s surprisingly excellent defense.

4. Knick Turnovers

The Knicks were not careful with the ball, especially late in the game. They had 17 turnovers to Minnesota’s 12 turnovers. Minnesota’s defensive intensity matched that of the Knicks in the 4th quarter.

5. Chris Finch Has Minny Well Coached

With Minnesota playing such good defense, and executing well offensively — you look to see who the head coach is. Remember the Timberwolves fired their coach Ryan Saunders after the Knicks beat them last time.

Minnesota’s new head coach is Chris Finch. Finch was an assistant coach to Nick Nurse in Toronto, and has been an assistant in New Orleans, Denver, and Houston. He coached in the G League (when it was D League) in 2009, leading the Rio Grande Vipers to two straight Finals appearances, and won coach of the year honors.

“Who’s That?”

Finch is probably the biggest reason why Minnesota won this game. Late in the game, Finch burst onto the court after the referees changed a jump ball call and awarded Reggie Bullock, who had grabbed a loose ball, a timeout. Walt Frazier said “who’s that?”. Kenny Albert then asked him if he meant the assistant coach, Pablo Prigioni. But Frazier seemed to be referring to the guy who burst out onto the court (Finch), thinking it was an assistant coach.

6. Knicks WERE Having a Good Night

The Knicks jumped out to that huge 18 point lead in the first half and WERE having a good night until Minnesota’s young shooters came back — Minny hit 7 of their last 9 three-point shots before the half to make it 51-50 NY at the break. The Knicks then regained control by outscoring Minny in the 3rd to head into the 4th with an 11-pt lead. This game had Knick Win all over it.

Elfrid Payton played well — 17 pts (on 6-13, 1-1 from 3, 4-5 in free throws) — although he lost the ball in the 4th when, when Anthony Edwards stole the ball from behind — the Knicks having just gotten an offensive rebound with Payton gaining control at the top of the key.

Taj Gibson played a Great game neutralizing the much bigger Towns — keeping him out of the paint most of the night.

Alec Burks played well (5-12 for 13 pts) as did Reggie Bullock (4-6 for 10 pts).

The Boxscore



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