PHEW. 3 Reasons Why Knicks 91 Orlando 84 on 1/18/21

The Knicks had a 14-pt lead at the beginning of the 4th quarter and all game long looked like they were about to blow Orlando away, but found themselves down 81-80 with 1:40 left — until Julius Randle and RJ Barrett made big plays in the final minute to give the Knicks this win.

The reasons how:

1. Randle and Barrett’s Big Plays

A Julius Randle free throw tied the game at 81, and then coach Tom Thibodeau called a play for Randle to drive to the basket off a timeout; Randle bully balled to the basket for the bucket and it was Knicks 83-81 with 56 seconds left.

The Magic called time. But on the ensuing play, Alex Gordon drove the lane, and passed to the outside — but RJ Barrett deflected the pass to teammate Reggie Bullock, who fed it back to Barrett — who drove the length of the floor for a tough driving bucket with 2 guys defending, one hanging on him — giving NY an 85-81 lead with 46 second left and ballgame. It was the play of the game. Bully Ball.

The Knicks DEFENSE continued to contain the Magic on their next 2 possessions, and all the Magic could do was foul to stop the clock, and send the Knicks to the line.

Randle finished with 21 pts, 17 rebounds, 1 assist and a +15.

Barrett had 22 pts, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, and a +16. Barrett went 4-4 from the free throw line and is now shooting .739 from the free throw line this year; much improved over his rookie season when he shot .614.

2. Payton Payton Payton

Elfrid Payton starred at the point all night for the Knicks. His dribble penetration opened up the Orlando defense and set the Knicks offense in motion. Payton was 6-11, 4 assists, 2 steals for 12 points and a +20 in 33 minutes.

Payton made the night miserable for rookie Cole Anthony — the son of the former Knick. Payton’s size and defensive abilities were too much for Anthony — who was 2-12 (2-5 from 3) for 6 pts and a -14 in 28 minutes.

Payton was in at the finish. Immanuel Quickley had a good offensive game, but the Knicks lost their lead when he was in there, causing coach Thibodeau to call back on Payton. Quickley finished with 11 pts in 15 minutes on 4-10 shooting (1-3 from 2) and a -13.

3. Robinson Defense on Vukovic

Mitchell Robinson had his hands full with Orlando star Nikola Vucevic, who came in averaging 22.8 pts and 10.8 rebounds. Robinson gave Vukevic a tough time for most of the evening, although Vukevic did damage in the 4th quarter and finished with 24 pts (on 10-16, 2-5 from 3) and 14 rebounds — he had a -3; Robinson essentially ‘contained’ him. Robinson played 34 minutes, keeping his fouls (3) at a minimum, and had 10 rebounds, 6 points.


This was the 2nd game in 24 hours for the Knicks — playing on Monday Martin Luther King day afternoon, after having blown out Boston on Sunday afternoon. Obi Toppin got 9 minutes (2 pts); Kevin Knox got 10 minutes (2 pts), Austin Rivers 18 minutes, and Nerlens Noel 14 minutes.

The Boxscore

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