Heartbreaker. 5 Reasons Why Boston 101 NY 99 on 4-7-21

Same old story — the Knicks couldn’t close against a good team, losing by 2 points — this time to Boston in Boston on a Wednesday night. NY has now lost 5 of their last 6 — the heartbreaker to Minnesota, the heartbreaker to Miami, the heartbreaker to the Nets. And now this — another heartbreaker.

The Knicks were up 85-80 with 6 minutes left.

It is starting to feel like it did in 2015-16 when the Knicks were 20-20 on January 12 under Derek Fisher, and then all those close losses in January, and 2016-17 under Jeff Hornacek, when they were 16-13 on Christmas, and then all those last-second losses in January. But this is a Tom Thibodeau coached team with league-leading defense, so expect the Knicks will get back on their stick.

1. Barrett Shooting STAR

The one great thing that came out of this game — and the highlight of the sports evening in NY if you are a Yankee fan too since they also lost — is the shooting of RJ Barrett. He is not only improving the one aspect of his game that people questioned — he is becoming lethal.

He lost his dribble which resulted in a bad pass for a turnover with 1:05 left, NY down 91-90 — that led to a Boston bucket and 93-90 lead, but came right back down and hit a 3 to make up for it to tie the game at 93.

He was a go-to guy throughout the 4th quarter, hitting that key 3 and another 3, and a 2. On the night he was 10-14 (6-6 from 3, 3-4 from the free throw line) for 29 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists. In the day leading up to this game, he was left off a list of top 25 players under age 25 in the NBA that ESPN put out. A mistake on their part.

2. Boston Hit Key Last-Minute Shot; Knicks Didn’t

In the final minute:

  • The Knicks played great D but Jayson Tatum kicked out to Marcus Smart who found himself all alone at the top of the key with 36 seconds left — he hit the 3 for a Boston 96-93 lead.
  • Alec Burks missed a step-back 3 from top of the key down the other end with 25 seconds left and that was the ballgame. The Knicks were forced to foul.
  • Down 4 after one made free throw by Jalen Brown, Alec Burks drove to the basket for a 2 attempt with 12 seconds left — Jaylen Brown blocked it and that suffocated the Knicks final chances.
  • After 2 free throws by Smart gave Boston a 6-pt lead, Elfrid Payton hit a 3 with 6 seconds left to pull NY to 99-96, but Tatum made his free throws.
  • Barrett made another 3 with a second left for the final score.

The Knicks seem to be missing one more elite go-to guy at the end, in addition to Julius Randle and RJ Barrett — a gritty, clutch, high-scoring small forward like Marcus Morris who played that role so well for them so well last year.

As the Knicks were coming down to the wire, the Yankees tied their game on a Gio Urshela single in the 8th — so attention of Yankee and Knick fans was riveting back and forth.

3. Randle Great But Shooting Is Off

Julius Randle played with fire as usual in this one, but his shooting has been off the last few games. In this one he was an inefficient 9-23 from the floor (2-6 from 3) for 22 pts, 9 rebounds, 6 assists.

But his overall play continues to be ferocious — on Defense and on leading the team with assists.

4. Payton at the End

Elfrid Payton had a horrible first half, but made up for it by playing well in the second half. Derrick Rose played well (11 pts on 4-10 in 17 minutes) but didn’t seem to have enough umph to his game with 4 minutes to go — he had a drive blocked by Tristan Thompson with 5:31 left and missed a floater with 4:14 left — I was in fact hoping Thibodeau would put Payton back in but doubted he would because Rose is his guy.

Sure enough though, Thibodeau must have been seeing the same thing as he put Payton back in for the final 2:40. Walt Frazier remarked that Payton is coming in for his DEFENSE.

5. Knicks Beat on the Boards

Boston beat NY on the boards all evening. The Knicks missed Mitchell Robinson down the stretch. Nerlens Noel seemed to play well but had 6 pts, 7 rebounds, and by far team worst -18 in 27 minutes. Taj Gibson played his usual gritty D and was a +15 in 20 minutes, but with only 4 rebounds.

In contrast, Boston starters Tatum, Brown, and Robert Williams III had 10 rebounds each, and Tristan Thompson had 8 rebounds off the bench with 3 blocks. Boston outrebounded NY 53-39.

The Knicks outshot Boston from 3 — 16-33 (.485) vs 15-40 (.375) due in large part to Barrett’s 6-6 from 3.

6. Knicks and Boston Seem Even

Boston is a good team and this was on their home court in Boston. The two teams seem evenly matched talent wise and both have good coaches. It was remarked early in the game by Walt Frazier that Celtics coach Brad Stevens said the team has not been playing good Defense this year, but in this game Boston laid down a tough D; teams always play their best against the Knicks.

The Boxscore


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