Blowout. Knicks One of 8 Teams to Make In-Season Tourney. NY 115 Charlotte 91

The Knicks jumped out to a huge lead and were looking to roll the LaMelo Ball-less Hornets off the court, but then fell asleep and allowed Charlotte to pull to within a point in the 3rd quarter.

NY then put the pedal to the metal  — increasing their defense, powering the ball inside, kicking it outside, and spreading the ball around to blow the Hornets out — running up the score in the 4th quarter so that their overall point differential in the 4 in-season tourney games was as good as it could be.

NY went 3-1 in the 4 games, but so did Boston, Brooklyn, Cleveland, and Orlando. NY and Boston got into the tourney because of their point differential. Final in-season standings here. So NY becomes one of only 8 teams in the in-season tournament.

NY will play the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday, Dec 5th in Milwaukee while 22 NBA teams sit home and watch. The in-season tournament — which has left most fans baffled and led to unsportsmanlike conduct by teams trying to run up scores — is all of a sudden looking pretty interesting to Knicks fans, who woke up in the morning looking at this graphic:

Just like last season, when the Knicks were one of the final 8 teams playing.

The broadcast announcers have been plugging the tournament to high heaven, disregarding a lack of enthusiasm and lots of confusion from fans. But the players and coaches — who probably have been told by NBA to plug it as well — have come out in its favor.

“It’s met its intended purpose,” said a diplomatic coach Tom Thibodeau afterwards. “There’s great interest in it. So I think it’s been good. I just care about winning.”

NY improves to 10-7; Charlotte falls to 5-11.

1. Randle On FIRE

Julius Randle Dominated all night — finishing with 25 points on 8-15 shooting (2-7 from 3, 7-8 in free throws), 20 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, and a +25.

Randle took it to Miles Bridges, who was back and was booed by some in the MSG crowd when he had the ball — he being back from an extended suspension due to a domestic violence incident.

In fact on one play in the 1st half, Bridges got past Randle on the baseline and Randle let him go — and the MSG crowd booed as Bridges scored on a drive. Mike Breen on the broadcast initially announced that the crowd was booing Randle for a poor defensive effort — which seemed insane since Randle was dominating the game on offense at that point. Then Breen realized the fans were booing Bridges.

2. Knicks Jump Out to Big Lead; Hart Takes Shots

NY jumped out to an 29-16 lead in the 1st quarter, and led by 16 midway thru the 2nd quarter. NY was defending and moving the ball on offense, scoring at will.

Josh Hart, who had mentioned to NY Post reporter Stefan Bondy that he felt left out of the offense before the game — to which Tom Thibodeau responded that he needed to take more shots — took more shots. And hit them. He hit 3’s, and took opportunities to drive to the basket. Hart would finish with 17 pts on 7-10 shooting (2-3 from 3), with 6 rebounds and a +25 in 30 minutes.

Bondy had tried to make a thing about Hart’s side comments — running a story in the NY Post. Josh Hart put the story to rest after the game, “Just so you know, I’m not a disgruntled player. Make sure y’all tweet that shit. Josh Hart said he’s not disgruntled.”

Bondy failed to add Hart’s comments to his story on the game or tweet them on Twitter.

3. Charlotte Pulls to Within a Point in the 3rd

But Charlotte got back in it in the 2nd quarter with a number of 3’s by P.J. Washington and 6’9 rookie standout Brandon Miller, the #2 pick in last June’s draft. Myles Bridges, Terry Rozier, and Gordon Hayward added to the scoring — pulling Charlotte to within 9 at the half.

It was more of the same to start the 3rd, with Miller hitting a 3, Myles Bridges hitting a drive and a 3, and then a Mark Williams drive pulling Charlotte to within a point, 56-55, with 8:12 left in the quarter.

4. Knicks Start to Lay Hammer Down in 3rd

The Knicks started to get serious — and drive the ball inside — Randle scoring on consecutive inside jumpers and Jalen Brunson hitting a jumper and a drive. But on the other end P.J. Washington hit a 3 and was active on the glass — grabbing offensive rebounds, and blocking an RJ Barrett shot that seemed right over the rim — initially called a goal tend but overuled on a challenge.

That seemed to give NY the karma it needed. Plus the 2nd team came in and laid the hammer down with defense, rebounding, and ball movement.

Brunson started it with a step back and a drive and it was 64-58 NY.

P.J. Washington hit yet another 3 to pull Charlotte within 3 again. Josh Hart and Randle made drives and then Immanuel Quickley hit two 3’s sandwiching a Hart 3 near the end of the period and NY had a 14-pt lead entering the 4th.

5. NY Blows Charlotte Out in 4th

The 4th quarter started with a Quickley drive, a Dante DiVincenzo 3, and an RJ Barrett drive-and-1, and NY was up 20.

The Knick 2nd team clamped down the defense and owned the boards and it was a blowout. Isaiah Hartenstein owned the inside — blocking shots, ripping down rebounds, scoring on a dunk. Immanuel Quickley kept coming down and launching 3’s — and hitting. Quick would finish with 23 points on 9-20 shooting (4-10 from 3) and a +21.

“We got into the paint and passed the ball; sprayed the ball,” said Julius Randle afterwards. “We just started making the right plays. They’re a collapse team. And when we got into the paint, everybody was there — so we put it into the drive and kick and got easy opportunities.”

RJ Barrett, playing with the 2nd team as usual, kept driving to the basket and drawing fouls. He would go 3-13 on the night (1-4 from 3) but go 9-9 from the free throw line for 16 pts.

Mitch Robinson Dominates Inside

The Knick starters came back in and continued to pour it on. Mitchell Robinson had the put-back SLAM of the season, causing Mike Breen to fall off his chair with enthusiasm.

Robinson finished with 6 points, 10 rebounds, 6 blocks, and a +18. On one play he showed off his ball-handling skills with a drive to the bucket that he ultimately lost the ball on as a guard snuck in to slap away his dribble — but he looked good at first. Possibly another hint of what’s to come.

Running Up the Score for the Tournament

On the bench, a hot mic caught RJ Barrett humorously telling Julius Randle that the Knicks needed to “run these points up” for the tournament.

“It was fun,” said Randle afterwards. “It makes the game more competitive. It keeps you engaged. So credit to the league — this in-season tournament is pretty fun.”

Quentin Grimes had his best game since being out with the sprained hand — 6 points on 2-4 shooting (2-3 from 3) for a +2 in 19 minutes.

Thibs finally emptied the bench with 2 minutes left.

Brunson was seen on the sidelines offering a polite applause as if he was at the opera.

The Boxscore


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