Knicks Turn It on Late But Too Late. Orlando 117 NY 108

The Knicks suffered an abysmal 2nd quarter and start of 3rd quarter — turning a game they had control of into one where they trailed by 20 points. Then they got serious, and turned it on — pulling to within 6 points with 4 minutes left. But a couple of things didn’t go their way in the closing minutes and they lost, 117-108 to Orlando in Orlando on a Friday night.

It was a TOUGH physical game all night; both teams banging each other inside like it was the 1990’s. The Knicks couldn’t hit a 3 in the 2nd quarter and into the 3rd, there were ugly turnovers, and Jalen Brunson was getting hammered all night by a very physical Orlando defense — and not getting enough calls, causing coach Tom Thibodeau to storm out of the post-game interview session when speaking about it.

“The start of the 2nd quarter was a problem,” said Thibodeau. “Our rebounding wasn’t good enough. High turnovers. But we had a chance at the end, but we couldn’t get a key stop late when we needed it. I thought we hustled when we did turn it over; we only gave up the 12 points on the 16 (turnovers). Obviously you want to have 13 or less. I did think we hustled back.”

“The rebounding probably hurt is more than anything,” continued Thibs. “You’re going to have nights where you don’t shoot it well, but if your defense is good and your rebounding is good and your turnovers are good you’re still going to have a good chance to win.”

Thibs Goes Nuclear on Lack of Calls Brunson Was Getting

“It wasn’t an easy game because there was a physicality to the 1st half that was different, and then in the 2nd half — I didn’t know what a foul was,” said Thibs. When asked about Jalen Brunson getting fouled, Thibs got increasingly passionate:

I am so like.. what this guy is going through is ridiculous. Ridiculous. He’s getting hammered time after time and I’m just getting sick and tired of it. I watch it; I send it in. I see it all. They’re fouls. Plain and simple: they’re fouls. And there’s no other way to say it — except they’re fouls. They’re fouls. No one drives the ball more to the rim than this guy does. And if you rake across his arm you rake across his arm. And if you hit him in the head you hit him in the head. Those are fouls. Those are fouls. I’m sick and tired of it; sick and tired of it.” Thibs at that point got up and left the interview podium.

NY falls to 17-14; Orlando improves to 19-12.

1. Randle BULLED Inside

Julius Randle bulled and bullied inside all night for 38 points on 16-25 shooting (0-4 from 3), with 12 rebounds and 5 assists.

On the other end, Orlando’s 7-footer Franz Wagner did damage inside as well — 32 pts on 11-19 shooting (3-5 from 3), as did Paolo Banchero — 29 pts on 9-19 shooting. Moritz Wagner, Franz’s 7-foot brother, came off the bench to BANG as well — he had 7 pts and 11 rebounds.

Orlando jumped out to a 12-4 lead but Julius Randle POWERED the Knicks back to a 29-26 lead at the end of the 1st quarter.

2. Knicks Couldn’t Hit a Shot in the 2nd

But in the 2nd quarter the Knicks just couldn’t hit a shot — they missed 3 after 3 after 3, and Brunson was missing inside as well — as he was getting hammered by the tough Orlando defense — with 6’7 Anthony Black guarding him and 6’5 Jalen Suggs taking turns.

Orlando coach Jamahl Mosley has the team playing a very physical defensive game. Mosley has been an assistant coach for years in Denver, Cleveland, and Dallas after a playing career in Europe. As part of the defense-first team philosophy, Cole Anthony now comes off the bench with the 6’7 Black starting at the point. Suggs is another defensive demon.

3. Knicks Finish the 1st Half Badly

The Knicks fell behind by 12 — but then got serious at the end of the half with a run that got them to within 7 with 29 seconds left.

They were looking to close the half well. But then Donte DiVincenzo fouled Goga Bitadze, who made 2 free throws — and then DiVincenzo threw the ball away on a pass inside that was intercepted by Cole Anthony with 3 seconds left — the ball went the other way and Franz Wagner scored at the buzzer and Orlando was back up 11.

A very tough ending to the half.

4. Knicks Fall Behind by 20 in the 3rd

At the start of the 3rd the Knicks missing continued.  RJ Barrett was having another stinker of a night — he was 1 for his first 10. Donte DiVincenzo ended the night 1-7 (0-5 from 3) for 2 pts in 20 minutes. Even Jalen Brunson couldn’t get his drives to go down — getting hammered often as he drove. Brunson would finish 4-15 (0-4 from 3; 11-11 from the free throw line) for 20 pts.

5. Barrett Picks Up his Game in 2nd Half

Previously — with 1 minute left in the half, Barrett went to the free throw line off a drive — and missed the first free throw even. Mike Breen asked Wally Sczerbiak what Barrett needed to do to break out of his shooting slump — as he was saying it, Barrett hit the 2nd free throw. It would end up being prophetic.

Barrett missed a drive early in the 3rd, then got hit with a technical when he was called for a foul on Franz Wagner — and then started to get on his game. He hit a 3, and a drive, then fed Randle for a bucket and in between was ripping down rebounds. Barrett would finish with 19 points on 7-17 shooting (1-5 from 3; 4-5 in free throws) with 6 rebounds.

Brunson was driving to the bucket and getting free throws, Randle powered inside, and Josh Hart hit a 3 and NY pulled to within 12 at end of the 3rd.

6. Knicks Pull to Within 5 in the 4th

Barrett continued to dominate early in the 4th — with a floater, a drive that resulted in 2 made free throws, a nifty pass to Taj Gibson for a score, and a drive-and-1 for 3 pts, pulling NY to within 9.

Immanuel Quickley was also lighting it up — he finished with 12 pts.

Then Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle took over — continuing to drive inside for layups or fouls — a Randle jumper off a Brunson pass pulled NY to within 6 with 4 minutes left.

It looked like the Knicks were going to pull it out.

7. Brunson Hammered All Night

It was 105-98 Orlando with 3 minutes left when Jalen Brunson drove to the basket and was HAMMERED by Jalen Suggs and xx — both clearly clobbering him but the refs called it a clean block by Suggs and the ball went fastbreak the other way for a drive by Banchero — who was fouled and hit 1 of 2 free throws.

Even still the Knicks continued to push and pulled to within 5 points with 56 seconds left on a Randle drive.

But Jalen Suggs hit a big jumper with 36 seconds left to ice it.

The Boxscore

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