Knicks Win with Hart & Intensity Down Stretch. NY 126 Utah 120

In his first game with the Knicks, Josh Hart raised the Knicks level of intensity and capability on the court in the closing minutes as he and Isaiah Hartenstein seemed to grab every loose ball and offensive rebound, leading to Knick scores on second and third chances, to capture momentum and the game.

NY 126 Utah 120, at a frenetic Madison Square Garden on a Saturday night.

“That’s who he is,” said coach Tom Thibodeau about Josh Hart. “He brought a lot of energy and toughness to the game. Jalen and Julius were their usual selves. The intangible stuff that Josh brought was critical. Quick gave us good minutes. I thought our two centers really battled on the boards. We had a lot of guys step up and play well. RJ got going in the second half. We needed everyone.”

1. The Frenetic Finish

It was a 109 tie with 4:30 left in the game when Jalen Brunson hit a step-back 3, and on the next play down, first Isaiah Hartenstein grabbed a key offensive rebound and then Josh Hart grabbed another, feeding RJ Barrett for a corner 3 and 6-pt Knick lead as Madison Square Garden erupted.

Next time down, first Barrett grabbed an offensive rebound, then Hartenstein grabbed one, then grabbed another offensive rebound off his own missed shot, feeding Julius Randle for a 3 and 9-pt Knick lead.

Yet another offensive rebound the next time down led to a ferocious Julius Randle Dunk.

And on the next time down Josh Hart hit a 3 from the corner and the Knicks had all momentum and a 123-114 lead with 1:42 left. And ballgame.

2. Utah Has a Big Offense

Utah played three 7 footers throughout the evening — All Star Lauri Markkanen, top rookie Walker Kessler (4th in NBA in blocks with 2.0 per game), and Kelly Olynyk. They also have Jordan Clarkson, an explosive scorer at the guard.

The Knicks countered with a small team comparatively — at one point Utah had their three 7 footers on the court and the Knicks countered with 6’5 Quentin Grimes, 6’2 Immanuel Quickley, 6’2 Jalen Brunson, 6’9 Julius Randle, and 6’10 Jericho Sims.

Julius Randle and/or RJ Barrett played good defense on Markkanen throughout, forcing him into a horrible shooting game — but in the 4th quarter Markkanen got going from 3 — nailing several in the 4th to pull Utah into a tie.

“Utah is very explosive,” said Thibs afterwards. “Every time we got up 10 points, they came right back.”

Talen Horton-Tucker is only 6’4 but plays 6’8 — he killed the Knicks all evening with drives to the hoop; finishing with 23 points off the bench. Collin Sexton had 15 points and Markkanen finished with 29 after all of his shooting struggles throughout the first 3 quarters.

3. Brunson and Randle Led the Knicks

Jalen Brunson led the Knicks with 38 points on 11-22 shooting (2-5 from 3 and 14-15 in free throws). Randle had 31 points on 12-26 shooting (3-11 from 3) with 6 rebounds.

  • RJ Barrett was having a 1-10 shooting night into the 3rd — but came up big again late — hitting his last 5 shots including 2 three’s. He finished with 20 points on 6-15 shooting (2-6 from 3, 6-8 in free throws), 6 rebounds, 3 assists, and a +6.
  • Quickley added 15 off the bench on 6-9 shooting (3-6 from 3).
  • Josh Hart had 11 points on 3-6 shooting (2-3 from 3; 3-4 in free throws) and 7 rebounds in 26 minutes.
  • Quentin Grimes had a tough shooting night: 0-3 for 1 point in 22 minutes — but had a +1.
  • Hartenstein grabbed 14 rebounds and Jericho Sims grabbed 10.
  • Miles McBride fell out of the rotation with the addition of Hart; McBride did not play.

4. The 2017-18 Lakers

Julius Randle played with Josh Hart and Jordan Clarkson on the 2017-18 Lakers — a team that was LOADED with young talent. They traded that talent away for Anthony Davis and a title with LeBron James so you can’t fault them. But the team was stacked.

The 2017-18 Lakers:

In fact, that Laker team DESTROYED the Knicks in a game in January, 2018, which was pivotal to the Knick future, as we have written up in the past: Scott Perry and Steve Mills were sitting courtside and have said that game showed them the Knicks needed to get younger and more athletic.

A year and a half later the Knicks signed Julius Randle to a free agent contract. Now they have Josh Hart.

The Boxscore

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