That Was Easy: 5 Reasons Why NY 119 Okla City 97 on 3-13-21

Well that was easy. It looked like it was going to be real hard at first, but in the end garbage time and a blowout. That was no consolation to Frank Ntilikina who was publicly spanked by coach Tom Thibodeau for not leading the Knicks well when given another opportunity to be the starting point guard with both Elfrid Payton, Derrick Rose, and Austin Rivers out. With the NBA trade deadline looming in a week on March 25th, we’ll soon find out if it was the final straw for Frank Ntilikina as a Knick.

Here’s how the game went down:

1. Knicks Started Out Directionless

This was supposed to be an easy win for the Knicks — facing 16-21 Oklahoma in Oklahoma City who were without their star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. But the Knicks came out listless as Frank Ntilikina again did not assert himself. He at one point tried to drive the lane, stumbled and pushed the ball to Randle while on the floor. Without a true point guard on the court, penetrating and distributing, Randle started to ‘try too hard’, which saw him do some of the things he did last year — go one-on-everyone underneath and put up a contested shot. In 5 minutes — literally 5 minutes and 21 seconds into the game — coach Tom Thibodeau pulled Ntilikina from the game, after he picked up a 2nd foul call — not a smart thing to get in foul trouble on a night where the Knicks were missing 3 point guards. NY was down 15-7. Immanuel Quickley came in and immediately the tenor changed for the Knicks as Quickley went into attack mode and also the Knicks team Defense woke up.

Ntilikina would never enter the game again.

The Knicks were still down by 31-22 at the end of the quarter, and down by 11 early in the 2nd. The fickle finger of blame started to point in Quickley’s direction — as Walt Frazier said, Quickley “is not your prototypical point guard. He’s looking to swish before he dish; maybe that’s why he hasn’t been inserted into the starting lineup. The Knicks only with 3 assists; and we keep saying they’re not moving and grooving with the ball; too much dribbling.”

2. Knicks DEFENSE & Energy Took Over

But in the 2nd quarter the Knicks began to pull back even on team Defense (Taj Gibson gave them a big lift) and the scoring strength of Alec Burks, Quickley, Obi Toppin and the 2nd team.

And then RJ Barrett started to heat up.

At one juncture late in the 2nd quarter, Barrett:

  • Hit a 3,
  • Made a Tough right-handed drive for a 2 next time down,
  • Got fouled on a drive next time down and hit both free throws’s, and
  • Made a hard drive off a Quickley steal & got the foul call (missed the free throw).

Nerlens Noel‘s defense inside and Barrett taking charge carried the Knicks on an 11-2 run. The Knicks took a 56-54 lead at the half.

The Knicks came out in the 3rd with Quickley at the point — not Ntilikina. As a team they played with even more energy on Defense and led by Quickley, Barrett, and Randle on Offense they gradually turned the game into a blowout.

3. Barrett Stars

For yet another game in a row — hard to count them now but it’s been over a month — RJ Barrett looked like a Star who is going to be something even more special. His take-no-prisoner power moves to the basket, with either the left (favored) or right hand, and his so-much-improved exceptional outside shooting, and his ability to hit free throws, and his terrific defense — made him the best player on the floor. Barrett owned the court. You wondered what the announcers on the other team were saying about him; what the fans of the other team thought as this was probably the first time this year they were seeing Barrett.


Barrett finished with 32 points on 12-21 shooting (3-6 from 3; 5-7 on free throw line), 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, and a +17. It was his first 30-pt game.

4. Randle With His 2nd Triple Double of the Season

And Julius Randle quietly did his thing — another stellar game this one coming off his worst game of the year, a 7-pt effort against The Greek Freak and Milwaukee the other night. Randle bounced back to get his second triple-double of the season: 26 pts (on 8-15 shooting, 3-6 from 3), 12 rebounds, 12 assists. One of his last assists was to RJ Barrett to make sure he got 30 points.

“He’s big-time, he was encouraging me to get the 30-ball,’’ RJ Barrett said. “Great leader, great guy.’’

5. Garbage Time

At the end it was blowout city. Reggie Bullock played well — 14 pts on 5-12 shooting (4-11 from 3) for a +23. Quickley finished with 21 points (9-16, 3-8 from 3), 4 assists, and a +16.

Kevin Knox and Theo Pinson got to play during garbage time in the 4th. The only Knick not to play was Frank Ntilikina, buried on the bench — clearly being disciplined by the coach. Made an example of.


After the game, former Knick coach Rick Pitino led Iona into the NCAA playoffs with an automatic berth by winning the MAAC conference title. Pitino had been dumped by Louisville in 2017 amidst a scandal. And later in the afternoon Patrick Ewing coached Georgetown to a win of the Big East tournament, providing them with an automatic berth. A great day for former Knicks.

The Boxscore


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