Didn’t Give Up. Or Give In. NY 109 Indiana 106

Julius Randle. Photo courtesy https://twitter.com/nyknicks

The Knicks were up many times in a hotly contested game that see-sawed back and forth, but Indiana made their move at home late in the 4th quarter, and were up 104-98  with 1:50 left.

It seemed over.

But Jalen Brunson willed the Knicks back — hitting a 3 and following with HUGE steal and a bucket to pull NY to within 104-103. The Knick Defense buckled down even tighter than it had been playing, and Julius Randle hit 6 straight free throws in the closing minute to lead NY to the 109-106 victory.

“Find a way to win,” said coach Tom Thibodeau afterwards. “The rebounding, attacking the basket, making our free throws. We needed everything.”

It was the Knicks 7th win in a row. They are now 17-13. Indiana falls to 15-16.


1. Knicks Had Leads Throughout

It was a hotly contested game from the start — the teams were chippy towards each other and playing a tough brand of basketball. NY kept pulling into leads of 6 to 9 points — but couldn’t pull away as Indiana kept hitting 3’s to keep them in it and then even take the lead back.

Indiana started two quick point guards — Andrew Nembhard in addition to Tyrese Haliburton — who put pressure on the Knicks D, and 6’5 forward Aaron Nesmith started off with a good offensive game. Late in the 2nd quarter and into the 3rd, Buddy Hield started hitting his 3’s despite good defensive pressure.

But Indiana went small — with Myles Turner the only big — so NY powered the ball inside with Julius Randle and RJ Barrett making Strong drives to the rim, and Mitchell Robinson feeding off passes or offensive rebounds for slams.

“They’re hard to guard. They’re really skilled,” said coach Tom Thibodeau afterwards. “Guys who put it on the floor. Halliburton. Nimbhart. McConnell. Put a lot of pressure on you. Buddy Hield is a tough cover; very clever; doesn’t need much space to get a shot off. Mathurin is tough to deal with. Turner spreads you out. Nesmith had a big game so they went small so that was good for us to see. And when teams go small, we got to pound them.”

“They have the ability because of the versality of their roster, to go big and small, and you have to be ready to handle both lineups,” added Thibs.

2. Barrett Bettered Mathurin

RJ Barrett had a Strong, efficient game — taking it to the basket and also hitting a number of precise, short floaters in the lane. He bested top rookie Bennedict Mathurin, who torched the Knicks in their first meeting this year.

Barrett was 10-19 from the floor (0-5 from 3, 4-5 in free throws) for 24 points and a +11 in a game-high 42 minutes.

Mathurin was 4-16 for 15 points.

3. Brunson the Closer

But the Knicks do not win this game without Jalen Brunson, who took charge and WILLED The Knicks to the win late. He hit every big shot needed — including the big 3 near the end, and then coming up with a huge steal and a bucket to make it a 104-103 game. He finished with 30 points on 11-22 shooting (3-3 from 3 and 5-5 from the free throw line).

4. Randle HUGE Free Throws

And Julius Randle’s wife and son had to be PSYCHED at home to watch Julius hit all 6 free throws in the final minute to ice the Knicks victory. The first two gave the Knicks the lead, 105-104 — after Andrew Nembhard armlocked him underneath the basket and was called for a foul. Indiana contested the call but lost the challenge — it seemed clear Nembhard grabbed Randle’s arm.

Randle then made 4 more free throws in the closing seconds after Indiana purposely fouled the Knicks to stop the running of the clock, in hopes he’d miss one.

Indiana had the final shot of the game — after Randle hit free throws to give NY the 109-106 lead, Indiana had 3 seconds left — without timeouts — Haliburton ran the floor and hoisted up a desperation 3 from 40 feet that missed.

Randle finished with 25 points and 14 rebounds.

5. Robinson Dominated Inside

Mitchell Robinson Dominated Myles Turner inside. There was a time when Turner was the higher-ranked player, and a time when there was a rumor that the Knicks were looking to trade for Turner, thinking they would lose Robinson as a free agent.

Cream rose — NY re-signed Robinson to a long-term deal in the off season, and he is one of the best inside forces in the game now. In this game Robinson had 10 points (on 4-5 shooting), 13 rebounds, 4 blocks, and a +5. Turner was 2-10 for 6 pts, 8 rebounds, 1 block and a -8.

6. Knicks’ Team Defense

Robinson’s defensive presence is just one part of the Knicks elite Defense:

“Everything is a shared responsibility,” explained Thibodeau afterwards. “We got to protect the basket first; you don’t have a man, you protect our basket. And then we go from there — find the ball, mark the shooter, stop the ball, build your wall — do all the things that you need to do to have a sound defense. We have to take that part away and build out the shell. And then whatever it is we’re doing — whether it’s defensive transition, pick and roll, catch and shoot, low post, it’s building out your shell.”

7. Grimes Played Well

The boxscore says Quentin Grimes went only 1-3 in 32 minutes (3-4 in free throws) for 6 points — but he played a great D and hit a huge shot near the end when NY was down 4 with 3 minutes left to make it a 99-98 game.

Indiana countered with a Heild 3 to go back up 4 and then 6 on a Nesmith dunk — giving Indiana that 104-98 lead with 2 minutes left that looked like the end.

But the Knicks wouldn’t have it.

The Brunson 3, the Brunson steal and bucket, and Randle free throws put NY on top by a point. With 20 seconds left and Indiana controlling the ball down 1, Grimes came up with a big steal but then stopped dribbling just past the halfcourt — was trapped, and lost the ball — a big mistake. But Grimes made up for it when Haliburton missed a contested 3 off an inbounds with 9 seconds left, Grimes grabbed a HUGE rebound under the basket and got it to Randle who was fouled.

8. Knick 2nd Team Played Well

The Knick reserves of Miles McBride, Immanuel Quickley, Jericho Sims, and Isaiah Hartenstein all played well in adding to the team win. “I thought Quick’s minutes were really good,” said Thibodeau. “Isaiah and Jericho — they gave us a good burst to start the 2nd quarter.”

9. Thibodeau On How to Win

“To win it’s your defense, your rebounding, and keeping your turnovers down,” said Thibodeau. “That puts you in position to win. And if we keep doing what we’re doing offensively, where we’re creating rhythm for each other, we’re going to score plenty of points. So we have to understand what goes into winning, and then how you win. Each game is different.”

The Boxscore


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