Too Close for Comfort. Brunson, Barrett, Randle Lead Knicks. NY 121 Detroit 112

Derrick Rose played well -- hitting a drive here.

RJ Barrett led the Knicks early, and Jalen Brunson took over late — with Julius Randle playing an important role at all times — to lead the Knicks to the uncomfortable 121-112 win over Detroit at MSG on a Friday night.

Led by Barrett, New York had a 16-point lead in the 2nd quarter — but could not put the young Pistons away, and Detroit pulled to within 6 points several times in the 4th quarter, and then within 4 points with a minute left in the game.

But Jalen Brunson took over for NY in the 4th, driving for big bucket after big bucket — with help from Randle and Barrett — and other Knicks like Immanuel Quickley who hit a big 3 in the final minute.

The Knicks were coming off a horrible loss at Brooklyn, where they were blown out from start to finish.

“I think the start of the game was good. The thing that was different about this game — we still didn’t shoot the ball great,  but — we made a lot of unselfish plays that helped get a lot of high-quality shots,” said coach Tom Thibodeau afterwards. “I thought everyone was focused on helping the team first.”

The Knicks were supposed to win this game easy — as Detroit has one of the worst records in the league. But they have a lot of highly touted young talent and a good coach in Dwane Casey — so they hung in. With the win NY goes to 6-6; Detroit falls to 3-10 (0-7 on the road).


1. Knicks Played D & Made Extra Pass Early

The Knicks played evenly with Detroit in the 1st quarter and then pulled away to a 16-point lead in the 2nd.

Derrick Rose played a big part of the run — he recently said he’s been in “no man’s land” with the amount of limited time he’s been getting. Thibs seems to have heard him and gave him a good run in this one — and Rose played well: 8 pts in 16 minutes.

2. Barrett Bully Balled the Way

RJ Barrett led the Knick charge in the 1st half with efficient “bully ball” drives to the basket. Barrett finished with 10-17 shooting (3-8 from 3, 7-8 in free throws) for 30 pts, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and a +11.

3. Burks & Detroit Youngsters Hang Tough

But Detroit would not go away. They had a 9-0 run near the end of the 1st half to pull to within 68-58 at intermission. Former Knick Alec Burks led their charge — picking up fouls on drives, and hitting 3’s.

Detroit also got strong play from Isaiah Stewart at center, Bojan Bogdanovic (25 pts) at small forward, and former slam-dunk champ Hamidou Diallo.

Jaden Ivey made some good plays but made mistakes too; he finished with 11 points on 4-11 shooting and a -17. Killian Hayes had an almost identical game — some good plays, some mistakes, and 11 pts on 4-12 shooting (1-6 from 3) and a -6.

4. Brunson Carried Knicks Late

Alec Burks and Detroit’s Isaiah Livers helped Detroit pull to within 6 pts several times in the 4th, but each time there was Jalen Brunson taking over for the Knicks — driving for tough buckets in the lane, pullups, or passes.

Brunson was the best player on the court in the 4th quarter. He had 30 pts on 10-17 shooting (2-5 from 3, 8-8 in free throws), 7 assist, 4 steals, and 26 points with a +5.

5. Randle Played Tough

And Julius Randle was there to take passes from Brunson for buckets or slams, and grab huge rebounds. Randle finished with 21 points (8-18 shooting, 0-7 from 3), 8 rebounds, and 5 assists with a +13.

The Knicks were without Mitchell Robinson again — with Isaiah Hartenstein at center. Hartenstein played well but NY clearly missed Robinson’s interior Defense.

Obi Toppin played with Randle at times in the 4th and played well — 22 minutes and 8 points (3-9 shooting) with 5 rebounds in 22 minutes.

The Boxscore

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