Knicks Know How to Win. NY 108 Brooklyn 103

The Knicks gutted out a win in a frenetic finish over the Brooklyn Nets at Barclay Center in Brooklyn — the Knicks’ home away from home — on a Tuesday night on national TV.

Final score: NY 108 Brooklyn 103.

The Knicks had to pull out all stops at the end — and get stops — to beat the pesky, no-name, high-scoring Nets, well coached by Jacque Vaughn and led all night by a sharpshooting Mikal Bridges who had 36 pts (and 7-13 from 3).

The difference between the teams: the Knicks now know how to win; the Nets are like the Knicks were 4 years ago (pre-Thibs) — they don’t know how to close a game for a win. Part of that is because the Knicks have Jalen Brunson as their point guard now (interestingly, the Nets close with Dennis Smith Jr who was one of several Knick point guards 4 years ago).

But also importantly, this Thibs-crafted team has players who make the big stops and the big plays: Julius Randle with CLUTCH shots, rebounds, and free throws in the final minutes; OG Anunoby and Josh Hart with HUGE plays on defense and offense.

“I don’t think we played particularly well — but I love how we responded in the 4th quarter,” said coach Tom Thibodeau afterwards. “That said a lot about who we are. The bench was hustling — flying all over the place. That closed the gap and gave us the hope that ok, we can get this done. Then when the starters came back they fed off that energy. There were a number of hustle plays — stops, loose balls, block shots, steals — that got us some easy buckets and we just did whatever we had to do to win the game, which is huge for us. So that part was great; obviously we have to be a lot better.”

“I thought Jericho gave really good minutes,” added Thibs. “Precious was terrific, particularly in the 2nd half. And you can’t say enough about what OG brings to our team; steals, blocks — those plays were huge going down the stretch for us. And of course Julius and Jalen were their usual selves. And let me add Josh Hart — Josh Hart was terrific.”

“Finding a way to win when you’re not playing at your best is huge, and that’s the bottom line — just finding ways to win. And I think our team is doing that.”

NY improves to 27-17. Brooklyn falls to 17-26.

1. Jericho Block Party in 1st Quarter

If you missed the 1st quarter you missed Jericho Sims‘ Block Party. Starting at center with Isaiah Hartenstein out with a sprained ankle and Mitchell Robinson out with a broken ankle, Sims excelled on both ends of the court — slamming home passes on offense and blocking 4 (four) shots on defense.

The Knicks had to emphasize defending the mercurial Cam Thomas who comes off the bench these days for the Nets — placed there during a long Nets losing streak in December. He would finish the night with 14 points on 6-11 shooting (0-3 from 3) but it was the other Cam that was torching the Knicks early: Cameron Johnson the 6’8 starting forward.

Cam Johnson started off on fire and would finish with 19 pts on 7-14 shooting (4-6 from 3).

The game was tied 28-28 after the first quarter.

2. Knicks by a Point at the Half

The 2nd quarter was more of the same — the Knicks trying to take command but the Nets coming right back at them. NY took a 4-pt lead late in the quarter on back-to-back Brunson and Randle buckets — but a Mikal Bridges 3 pulled the Nets to within a point at the half.

Randle powered inside against Bridges all night; Bridges hit deuces and 3’s from the outside.

3. Brooklyn Takes Command in 3rd

The Nets took control in the 3rd — seemingly hitting every shot they took, especially 3’s. Mikal Bridges was on his game, and Brooklyn jumped out to a 10-point lead, at 81-71, off a Nic Claxton dunk.

4. Knicks Take the Game in 4th Quarter

And then came the 4th quarter — NY down by 9 at 85-76.

The Knicks’ 2nd team came out with fire. Precious Achiuwa was huge — grabbing rebounds on both ends and scoring inside. Miles McBride led at the point, and hit a deuce and then a huge 3 to pull NY to within 87-83.

  • The Nets fired back with 3’s — by Lonnie Walker and Royce O’Neale and the Nets were still up 8 with 7 minutes left.
  • But OG Anuoby scored 6 straight points, Brunson got to the line for free throws, and then hit a Huge 3 with 5:50 left to pull NY to within 1 at 95-94.

  • Precious Achiuwa scored a big bucket inside and then Julius Randle tipped in his own miss for a Knick lead, 98-97, with 4 minutes left.
  • But Dorian Finney-Smith hit a 3 and the Nets were back up!
  • The game went back and forth — Randle hit a HUGE 3 with 2:19 left to put NY back on top by a point.

The Final Minute

It was tied after a Mikal Bridges free throw when the play of the game happened with 1 minute left — Nic Claxton blocked Brunson’s drive — the ball went the other way for a Nets fast break, but Hart suffocated Dorian Finey-Smith’s layup, and Anunoby blocked Cam Johnson’s put-back attempt, Josh Hart got the rebound — fed Randle who fed Brunson who fed Randle back for a SLAM and Knick lead, 103-101.

Next time down Josh Hart hit a HUGE runner and NY was up 4 with 25 seconds left.

“Josh Hart didn’t have a single bucket until late in the game and it was huge,” noted NBA Analyst Ross Kreines. “He put himself in that position by staying engaged by defending, rebounding, making extra effort plays which usually decide games. Josh plays hard through every possession. Skills you can’t teach or cheat.”

But Mikal Bridges countered with a jumper to pull the Nets within 2.

After that is was free throws. Brunson made 1 of 2 giving the Nets one more chance.

Cameron Johnson missed a game-tying 3 — Randle with the tough clutch rebound and made 2-2 clutch free throws with 3 seconds left for the ballgame.


  • Randle finished with 30 pts on 10-19 shooting (2-2 from 3, 8-8 in free throws), 9 rebounds, and 7 assists.
  • Brunson had 30 pts on 11-22 shooting (2-7 from 3, 6-7 in free throws), with 4 assists.
  • Anunoby had 10 points and a +11.
  • Hart only shot 1-7 from the floor (0-3 from 3) for 2 pts but had 5 rebounds, 2 steals, a block and a +9.
  • Achiuwa ha 8 pts and 9 rebounds.
  • Quentin Grimes played 20 minutes and had 5 pts on some aggressive drives to the bucket.
  • Donte DiVincenzo played 25 minutes and had 11 pts on 4-10 shooting (3-8 from 3).

The Boxscore


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