Starters Blow It Down Stretch; Randle Flips Out. Utah 108 NY 93

It was a 4-point game with 4:50 left, and the Knick reserves had the momentum. Then coach Tom Thibodeau put the starters back in — and Utah went on a 15-2 roll. Julius Randle missed a layup inside off a beautiful RJ Barrett feed that would have cut a 6-pt deficit back to 4 — and that started the domino. Randle had another dreadful shooting night — 6-21 from the floor (1-6 from 3) for 13 points — and was so angry at the end, he almost fought with Utah center Rudy Gobert as the game ended, even as Gobert was trying to be friendly.

It was a bad look for Randle and a bad look for the Knicks, who fall to 30-41 with 11 games left in the season. Atlanta had lost earlier in the evening, giving NY a chance to pull to within 4 games of a playoff spot. But they couldn’t finish. Again.

1. Donovan Dominant at End

Donovan Mitchell made all the big plays in the 4th quarter to lead Utah, including a stunning dunk in traffic midway thru the 4th. He finished with 36 points on 11-21 shooting (7-12 from 3) and looked like the point guard the Knicks needed — as do all elite point guards that they face.

2. Knicks Reserves Almost Took Game

The Knick reserve team of Immanuel Quickley, Obi Toppin, Jericho Sims, and Quentin Grime with RJ Barrett almost took the game in the 4th quarter — pulling the Knicks from a 14-point deficit late in the 3rd.

“We get stops and fly up the court. Obi and Quick they make a huge difference,” said RJ Barrett afterwards. “Quick really pushes the ball, and Obi’s just a freak athlete. Jericho too. So it’s just automatically you’re just flying up the court and it’s a little different.”

Quickley almost made it a 1-point game with 7 minutes left when he came up court, and launched a 3 that bounced off the front of the rim while he was fouled — ‘this close’ to a 4-point play — but instead he went to the line where he only hit 1 of 3 free throws — despite coming into the game 2nd in the NBA in free throw percentage. His mom at home (elite college player and free throw shooting instructor) must’ve been besides herself.

Quickley finished with 16 points on 3-9 shooting (2-5 from 3; 8-11 from the free throw line) and 4 assists.

Obi Toppin had 9 points in 13 minutes on 3-6 shooting (1-2 from 3).

3. Barrett & Fournier Lead

RJ Barrett had a strong game — 24 points on 8-20 shooting (4-8 from 3; 4-6 in free throws).

Evan Fournier also shot well (6-13, including 5-10 from 3 for 17 points) and played well again — he’s been on a tear recently.

Mitchell Robinson had a hard cover with Rudy Gobert. The eye test said he held his own. The stat sheet said he didn’t: Robinson had 4 points and 3 rebounds in 26 minutes; Gobert 14 points and 9 rebounds in 33 minutes.

The Boxscore


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