Knicks Know How to Win. NY 102 Orlando 98

The team that knew how to win — won.

The team with the confidence to win at the end — won.

The team with Jalen Brunson on their side, leading the offense at the end — won.

Also Franz Wagner missed that 3 with 33 seconds left that would have tied the game.

NY 102 Orlando 98 on a Tuesday night in Orlando — the Knicks home-away-from-home — Knick fans shaking the building with their cheering down the stretch.

“We knew it would be a hell of a fight,” said coach Tom Thibodeau. “They’re young; they’re very very athletic; they’re quick to the ball; they can crack you off the dribble. And we started off in a hole.”

“I thought in the 2nd half we were a lot better,” continued Thibodeau, “And in the 4th quarter we were very good. We got used to the speed of the game. We weren’t in the gaps; we were giving them holes to penetrate; our weak side wasn’t aware — we had to move quicker. Once we tightened that up, it was better for us.”

NY improves to 30-26; Orlando falls to 22-33 — despite their youth, athleticism, and quickness, they don’t know how to win yet. Plus Wagner missed that 3.

1. Barrett Elevated His Game in the Clutch

The Knicks took a 2-0 lead then trailed the rest of the evening by single digits and RJ Barrett was stinking up the joint with a 1-10 shooting performance until the 3rd quarter, when he started to bring it. He hit a 3-pointer late in the 3rd to pull NY to within 3, then banked in a 3 early in the 4th to tie the game at 69 all.

Immanuel Quickley added firepower for the Knicks, hitting a bunch of 3’s early in the 4th, but Moritz Wagner scored 9 straight points for Orlando until RJ Barrett answered with a drive and pullup jumper for an 80-77 Orlando lead.

Barrett then hit a 3 to pull NY to within 82-80.

“It’s uncanny how when the game is on the line he elevates his game, folks!” said Walt Frazier on the broadcast — as Barrett then defended Wagner well on the other end forcing a miss, and came down, penetrated the lane and fed a Beautiful alley-oop pass to Jericho Sims for a DUNK and tie game.

“Barrett dishing and swishing now!,” added Frazier.

We tweeted Frazier’s comment and it got a lot of likes on Twitter — for particular reason:

It was a story within the game story itself as before the game much muckery was being made of Frazier’s comment in Saturday night’s broadcast (not even the Knicks’ last game which was Sunday) that defensive numbers had come out that showed RJ Barrett to be “the worst defender on the team!”

Note that in the Saturday broadcast, Frazier didn’t say RJ Barrett was a bad defender — but that stats had come out that said he was.

2. Brunson Led Down the Stretch

The teams dueled down the stretch — taking back the lead from each other several times. Markelle Fultz was putting on a show with and-one drives and jumpers, and Jalen Brunson was answering with and-one drives and floaters.

  • A Julius Randle 3 put NY up 90-88 with 2:40 left but Fultz answered with an and-one drive to give Philly a 91-90 lead. Brunson answered with a pull-up and it was NY 92 Orlando 91.
  • Fultz answered with a spin move and Superman dunk — elevating to the moon last second over Immanuel Quickley — to put Orlando up 1 with 1:30 left.
  • But Brunson came back with a floater high off the glass to put NY on top 94-93 with 1:13 left.

It was that kind of action.

A Paolo Banchero drive “scooby doo”ed in and out (as Clyde Frazier put it) and Brunson drove and fed Jericho Sims for a SLAM and 3-pt Knick lead with 38 seconds left.

That’s when Franz Wagner missed a 3 that would have tied the game with 31 seconds left.

3. Knicks Hit All their Clutch Free Throws

But Randle missed and Orlando had the ball with a chance to tie and 16 seconds left.

The Knicks denied the 3 but allowed Franz Wagner to hit a layup and a 1-pt game with 10 seconds left.

It was to the free throw line for the Knicks — and Orlando; Thibodeau ran a strategy that the Knicks immediately foul Orlando when they got the ball to send them to the free throw line instead of allowing them to get a 3 off.

The Strategy worked. The Knicks hit all their free throws. Orlando ran out of time.

  • Brunson went 2-2 with 7 seconds left
  • Fultz went 2-2 with 6 seconds left.
  • Brunson went 2-2 with 5 seconds left.
  • Banchero went 1-2 with 3.1 seconds left — missing the 2nd on purpose so Orlando could try to get the offensive rebound but Randle snared it.
  • Randle went 2-2 to end the game.

“Julius and Jalen set the tone in the 4th quarter,” said Thibs afterwards. “And just the way we closed. Big rebounds; physicality; hustle plays. Then we had a number of guys make timely plays. The offensive rebounds by Jericho were huge for us. And they were aggressive with Jalen, blitzing him — so once we got off the ball and we got to the second pass, good things come from that.”

4. Randle & Brunson Played Like All Stars

Julius Randle had another All Star night — 22 points on 7-15 shooting (4-10 from 3; 4-6 in free throws including the clutch ones to end the game), 14 rebounds, 6 assists and a +9.

Brunson hit all the big shots down the stretch and finished with 25 points on 9-13 shooting (3-6 from 3; 4-5 in free throws), 5 assists and 2 steals.

5. Quick Lit Up Scoreboard

Immanuel Quickley added 18 pts on 7-15 shooting (4-9 from 3). Quentin Grimes had 9 points (on 4-8 shooting) in 30 minutes.

6. Jericho Dynamic at Finish

Jericho Sims started and finished the game — in between Isaiah Hartenstein only played 13 minutes but picked up 5 fouls.

Sims made huge plays in the 4th — offensive rebounds and slams.


  • Before the game it was announced Jericho Sims would be going to the All Star game to compete in the Slam Dunk contest, as Shaedon Sharpe of Portland had asked out to concentrate on the rest of the season.
  • After the game LeBron James broke Kareem Abdul-Jabbar‘s career point record in a game LA lost to Oklahoma City.

The Boxscore

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