Alec Burks Leads Knicks to Victory; NY 106 Houston 99

Alec Burks shot lights out in the 4th quarter, and played his “poor-man’s Kobe Bryant” game — tremendous defense, and stealing the ball on key plays — to lead the Knicks to victory over a desperate 1-15 Houston team at Madison Square Garden on an early Saturday evening (start time 5pm). NY moves to 9-7 on the season and plays Chicago Sunday on a back-to-back.

1. Physical Game

The new rules in the NBA this season are causing physical games — no more ticky-tack fouls; the refs are “letting them play”. This has resulted in more grind-it-out games and this was one of them. Mitchell Robinson caught an accidental elbow to the face at the start of the 3rd quarter on a drive by Jae’Sean Tate, left the game and did not return due to Concussion protocol. Nerlens Noel caught an elbow to the face in the 2nd half but stayed in. Houston’s Garrison Mathews caught an elbow to the nose in the 4th quarter and had to sit with a bloody nose.

Amidst all that there were lots of inside drives that were repelled with the offensive player complaining he’d been fouled — but no call.

2. Houston Has Young, Plucky Team

Houston gave the Knicks all they could handle — with the athletic play of Jalen Green — the #2 overall pick in last June’s draft — the tough inside play of Christian Wood, Kenyon Martin Jr., and 19-yr-old Alperen Sengun of Turkey (#16 overall pick in the 2021 draft; expert at inside pivots); as well as the outside shooting of Eric Gordon and D.J. Augustin.

John Wall is on this team and has not played this year yet, in mutual agreement with the Rockets to sit until they find another team to take on his contract.

3. Burks Takes Over in 4th

Desperate for a win, Houston was giving NY everything they could handle and led going into the 4th quarter, 73-72. And it was looking bad for the Knicks when Houston scored the first 5 points of the 4th on a 3 by Augustin and a dunk by Sengun to take a 78-72 lead and cause a Tom Thibodeau time out.

And that’s when Alec Burks rose to the occasion:

1. Burks hit a 3 to pull NY to within 78-75.

2. Burks then pulled down a rebound, drove up court, and was fouled inside for 2 free throws — to pull NY to within 78-77.

But a Kenyon Martin Jr drive and a bad Derrick Rose cross-court pass that resulted in an Augustin breakaway layup put NY back in an 82-77 hole.

3. Burks then tipped the ball away from Houston on a pass inside leading to a Quickley full-court drive and free throws the other way and 82-79 game.

4. Burks then stole the ball again and heaved a full-court pass to Obi Toppin for a slam! Houston 82 NY 81.

5. Burks then stole the ball again on the very next play and was fouled! After the ball was inbounded, Burks hit ANOTHER 3 for a Knick lead, 84-82.

Houston then missed a 3 and Burks got the rebound.

A Sengun put-back, and later post-up pivot score inside on Nerlens Noel gave Houston back the lead, 86-84 — then a Matthews 3 gave Houston an 89-84 lead with 6 minutes left.

But a Quickley deuce in the lane, and a Noel block of a Wood drive inside, then a fastbreak in the other direction that resulted in …

6. ANOTHER Burks 3 to make it 89-87 Houston — a HUGE turnaround play.

Evan Fournier made two key buckets to make it 91-91 with 5 minutes left. Julius Randle hit one of two free throws to give NY a 92-91 lead.

And then Burks put it into overdrive to push the Knicks over the top.

7. Burks stripped Gordon when he went behind the back on a dribble, and fed Quickley for a 3 and NY 95-91 lead.

8. Randle penetrated and fed Burks for ANOTHER 3 with 3 minutes left; NY 98-93.

9. Randle posted then fed Burks for ANOTHER 3 with 2:30 left for NY 101-93 and Madison Square Garden in a frenzy. “Burks hotter than July now with the 3 ball,” said Walt Frazier on the broadcast.

Final play here:

And that was pretty much the old ballgame. Jalen Green hit a drive but Gordon missed a 3 and after that it was the Knicks making their free throws.

Burks finished with 20 pts on 6-8 shooting (6-7 from 3), 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and 5 (Five) steals.

4. Barrett Played Well

RJ Barrett didn’t play down the stretch — as Fournier was shooting well and Burks was on fire. Barrett had played well in this game — with constant penetrations to the basket for buckets. He’s still in a shooting slump from outside but making up for it with the Defense and penetrations. Barrett had 11 pts on 4-13 shooting (1-5 from 3; 2-2 from the free throw line) in 25 minutes; a -2. His recent 3-pt shooting slump has dropped his pct to .312 from 3, his free throw shooting is at .739.


  • Randle as a cornerstone of the offense all night — posting up and spraying the ball. He had 16 points on 4-15 shooting, 10 rebounds, 9 assists.
  • Fournier had 19 points on 7-13 shooting (5-10 from 3).

The Boxscore


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