New York Giants: Wayne Gallman says goodbye to New York after deal with SF

New York Giants, Wayne Gallman

Going into the 2021 season, the New York Giants will lack the player that made the biggest rushing impact in Saquon Barkley’s absence. Wayne Gallman ended up being their leading rusher following Barkley’s injury, but was reaching the end of his rookie deal and would be one of the players to not get a new contract. It seems like cost is part of the reason, as the Giants have already made several roster moves because of this in 2021.

Gallman’s new home this season is going to be San Francisco. After visiting with the 49ers, Gallman ended up signing a one year deal to compete for a backup job there.

Now that the deal has been confirmed, Gallman has taken to Instagram to say his goodbyes to the Giants and their fans.

“Thank you to the Giants organization and fans for all the love you gave me. I will always have a special place for you all in my heart!” Gallman wrote.

This comes after Gallman had his best statistical season and had 6 touchdowns. The Giants seem to have brought in Devontae Booker to replace him, on a two year contract, but it’s not the most unpopular opinion in the world to say the Giants should have stuck with the in-house option.

After all, unlike Booker, Giants fans have seen Gallman’s development since the beginning of his career and his potential for improvement. With Barkley coming back healthy in 2021, it seemed for many that Gallman would be a strong backup given his good performance as an unexpected RB1 in 2020.

However, that’s just not how things panned out, and we’ll just have to see if the Booker signing works out this season. Not every running back the Giants have signed, after all, has performed to expectation.

Rose Namajunas knocks Zhang Weili out at UFC 261

In the co-main event of UFC 261, the strawweight title was on the line. Undisputed champion Zhang Weili (21-1) was set to defend her title against the former champion Rose Namajunas (9-4). In the UFC‘s most stacked female division, these two are the best of the best.

Zhang Weili has been dominant since she joined the UFC just a couple of years ago. She rose right to the top and won the strawweight title with a knockout win over Jessica Andrade. Andrade was the one who took away the strawweight title from Rose Namajunas.

Namajunas battled issues outside the cage over the last few years. At one point, Namajunas wasn’t sure whether or not she wanted to continue to fight in the UFC. In fact, she said it was almost a relief when she lost the title to Andrade.

However, she’s found that fire again. Last year, she avenged her loss to Jessica Andrade to earn that shot at Weili. Weili hasn’t fought in almost a year, but the UFC strawweight champion was looking to show the world that she’s without a doubt the best at 115 pounds.

UFC 261 Recap

Round 1

The UFC 261 co-main event kicked off with no touch of the gloves as Namajunas was all business. Weili plots forward and starts the striking with a leg kick. Both ladies exchange big jabs and Weili follows with a nice leg kick. Good jab lands for the former champion.

Another good leg kick lands for the UFC strawweight champion. A massive headkick lands for Namajunas and this one is over. Thug Rose is the strawweight champion once again!

Rose Namajunas def. Zhang Weili by KO – Round 1

Valentina Shevchenko destroys Jessica Andrade at UFC 261

The first of three title fights at UFC 261 featured the women’s flyweight title. The undisputed champion Valentina Shevchenko (20-3) was taking on the former strawweight champion Jessica Andrade (21-8). This title fight was flying under the radar but was massively anticipated on my end.

Jessica Andrade is finally competing in her natural weight class. When she broke into the UFC, she fought at 135 pounds because that was the only option. She was massively undersized and when the strawweight division opened, she dropped 20 pounds.

Andrade rose to the top and became the UFC‘s strawweight champion. However, the weight cut was always extremely difficult and after back-to-back losses at 115 pounds, Andrade decided to move up. In her first fight at flyweight, she stopped the number one contender in the first round.

While defeating the top contender is impressive, the UFC‘s flyweight champion is a different animal. The only person who has gotten the better of Shevchenko since she joined the UFC was Amanda Nunes. Nunes did it twice although, I thought Valentina won the second time.

Both of those fights were at 135 pounds. When the UFC opened the flyweight division, it was immediately known that it was going to be her weight class. Shevchenko was looking for her fifth successful title defense tonight at UFC 261.

UFC 261 Recap

Round 1

The UFC flyweight title fight kicked off with a touch of the gloves. Andrade looked to open the striking with low kicks, but was out of range. Shevchenko opens her striking with some strong kicks. The UFC champion lands a clean counter as Andrade looks to press forward.

A hard 1-2 lands for Shevchenko. Body kick lands for Jessica Andrade. Shevchenko gets a body lock off an Andrade kick and takes Andrade down immediately. Andrade pops back up to her feet, but the flyweight champion drags her right back down. Again, Andrade gets back up.

Shevchenko lets her go and throws a headkick on the break. A vicious combination lands for Valentina Shevchenko and the two go to a clinch. Andrade presses Shevchenko against the fence and starts working body shots. However, Shevchenko just uses her strength to throw Andrade down to the ground.

The UFC champion tries to lock in a rear-naked choke, but Andrade defends well. Dominance thus far for Valentina Shevchenko. Andrade uses the fence to work her way back up. Shevchenko is heavy on the clinch pressure and takes Andrade down before the round ends. Dominant round one for the UFC champion.

Round 2

The second round opens with some pressure from Andrade, but she’s popped with a couple of big shots from Shevchenko. The two clinch and the UFC champion slams Andrade to the ground. There is a massive strength difference between these two ladies and it’s very evident here in the first.

Shevchenko starts working her ground and pound on Andrade. Andrade tries to explode up and she works her way back to her feet. She pushes Shevchenko to the fence and tries to pick her up. However, the UFC champion wasn’t going anywhere.

Shevchenko gets Andrade back to the ground and ends up in the crucifix position. Massive elbows rain down from Valentina Shevchenko and Andrade is bloodied. The referee steps in and this one is over. Total domination from the champion.

Valentina Shevchenko def. Jessica Andrade by TKO – Round 2

Uriah Hall snaps Weidman’s leg with a checked kick at UFC 261

The second fight on the main card at UFC 261 featured a middleweight showdown. Former middleweight champion Chris Weidman (15-5) was looking to pick up his second victory over the talented Uriah Hall (16-9). These two men first fought on the regional circuit back in 2010.

That night, Weidman was able to get the TKO victory. That was just the third fight in the career of Weidman and we all know where his career went from there. He rose to the top of the world and starting with two wins over Anderson Silva, he was the UFC middleweight champion.

After Weidman defended his title successfully twice, he lost it to Luke Rockhold. The Rockhold loss started a downward spiral for Weidman. After losing several in a row, he jumped to light heavyweight for one fight. After getting knocked out there, he returned to the UFC‘s middleweight division last August.

While Weidman’s career has been heading more in a downward direction, the opposite can be said for Uriah Hall. With Hall, the issue has never been his talent. He has just as much talent as anyone in the UFC‘s middleweight division. “Primetime” just needs to be able to put everything together. He was riding a three-fight win streak coming into UFC 261.

UFC 261 Recap

Round 1

The UFC 261 middleweight contest kicked off with a touch of the gloves. Weidman looks to work his jab as the striking starts. One massive leg kick is thrown by Weidman and it’s checked. Weidman’s leg snaps and this one is over. Wow, hard to believe what we just witnessed.

Uriah Hall def. Chris Weidman by TKO (Leg Injury) – Round 1

Anthony Smith TKOs Jimmy Crute with a leg kick at UFC 261

Anthony Smith

Kicking off the main card of UFC 261 was a light heavyweight showdown between top fifteen contenders. Former title challenger Anthony “Lionheart” Smith (34-16) was set to take on the surging Australian contender Jimmy Crute (12-1).

Originally, Crute was set to take on Johnny Walker. However, after Walker required surgery for an injury, the former UFC title challenger stepped up to fill his place. This is a big step up in competition for Jimmy Crute. A win over Lionheart would be massive for his career.

Entering UFC 261, Crute had back-to-back stoppage victories. Standing in his way of a third straight victory was Anthony Smith. Lionheart has gone through an interesting few years. It seems just like yesterday that he was challenging Jon Jones for the title.

Starting with the Jones loss, Smith went just 1-3 in his next for. In his last matchup, the UFC gave him Devin Brown. Lionheart got the first round stoppage and he’s looking to build more momentum. Defeating Jimmy Crute at UFC 261 would greatly assist him in his journey back to the top.

UFC 261 Recap

Round 1

The UFC 261 main card kicked off with a low kick from Crute. Smith was circling on the outside keeping his guard up early in the opening minute. Crute was trying to gauge the range with his jab and he lands a massive body kick. Smith counters with a nice stiff jab.

Another big jab lands for Lionheart. Low kick lands for Crute that Smith counters with a big left hook. A stiff jab from Smith wobbles Jimmy Crute briefly. However, he recovers almost instantly. Another big calf kick lands for Jimmy Crute, but Smith continues to work his jab.

The jab of Smith is a thing of beauty tonight and he lands two more. Crute’s nose is busted up from the jab of Lionheart. However, now Smith is getting hurt from the low kicks of Crute. Smith lands a massive right hand but Crute just eats it. Another big jab from lionheart.

Crute is doing damage to the legs, but Smith is busting his face up here in the first. A big kick from Smith lands to the leg and down goes Crute. However, Crute gets up and immediately lands a takedown. Crute starts landing bombs as the round comes to a close. 1-0 Lionheart after one here at UFC 261.

However, the doctor calls a stop to the action after Crute can’t walk. Leg kick TKO for Lionheart Smith.

Anthony Smith def. Jimmy Crute by TKO – Round 1

New York Yankees Recap: In monumental match up of aces, the Yankees win third game over the Indians

Gerrit Cole, New York Yankees

Tonight the New York Yankees met up with the Cleveland Indians for game three of a four-game set. The Yankees won the first two games, 6-3 and 5-3. Tonight they looked for their third win with a  historic pitching match; the Yankees ace Gerrit Cole and the Cleveland Indians ace Shane Bieber. It was a somewhat warming night at Progressive Field in Cleveland. The game-time temperature was in the high fifties with showers in the area. It should have been an epic game, and it didn’t disappoint. The Yankees won the game 2-1 against the Indian and their ace Shane Bieber. Roughie Odor was the deciding run for the third time this season.

DJ LeMahie led off the first by grounded out to first. Giancarlo Stanton flew to the outfield for a single. Aaron Judge walked. Gleyber Torres struck out. Gio Urshela, with sprinkles on his helmet, struck out with a ball down the middle to end the half and get Bieber out of trouble. At the bottom, Amed Rosario led off against Gerrit Cole; he grounded out to second. Cesar Hernandez struck out for Cole’s first strikeout of the game. Jose Ramirez struck out to end the half. No score.

At the top of the second, Aaron Hicks led off for the Yankees. Hicks struck out for this third strikeout in as many Yankee hitters. Clint Frazier down on Bieber’s curveball. Kyle Higashioka had a line drive out to end the half. At the bottom, Eddie Rosario against Cole struck out for Cole’s third strikeout. Franmil Reyes struck out for the fourth strikeout in a row. Josh Naylor flew out to Roughie Odo for the final out. No score.

Rougie Odo led off the third inning against Bieber; he had a long fly ball out to left. DJ LeMahieu ground out to short Giancarlo Stanton popped out to short. Jake Bauer led off the bottom against Cole and struck out for Cole’s fifth strikeout. Roberto Perez doubled for the first baserunner for the Indians. Andres Gimenez struck out. A Rosario ground out to second to end the innings. No score.

The top of the fourth had Aaron Judge at the plate; he struck out against Bieber. Gleyber Torres ground out to first. Gio Urshela struck out for eleven down in a row in what turned out to be an epic pitching duel. At the bottom, Hernandez led off against Cole; he flew out to Frazier in left field. Ramirez tripled on a ball just away from Judge at the wall. Upon review, it was a triple, not a home run. E. Rosario got a base hit to left, scoring Ramirez for the Indian’s early lead. Franmil Reyes struck out, but Rosario stole second base. Josh Naylor struck out, but the Indians took the lead. Indians 1 Yankees 0.

Aaron Hicks led off the fifth inning against Bieber and hit the Yankee’s first home run of the game, homering to far centerfield to tie the game at one. Clint Frazier struck out. Kyle Higashioka struck out. Rougie Odor homered over the bullpen for the New York Yankee lead in the game. DJ LeMahieu ground to end the half, but the Yankees took the lead. At the bottom, Bauers ground out. Perez also ground out. Gimenez struck out for Cole’s ninth strikeout on the game to end the inning. Yankees 2 Indians 1.

The top of the sixth saw Bieber back on the mound facing Giancarlo Stanton that ground out to second base. Aaron judge flew out to center field. Gleyber Torres beat out a single on a grounder to third. Gio Urshela, with 91 pitches from Bieber, flew out to left-center at the warning track to end the half. At the bottom, it was back to the top of the lineup with A. Rosario leading off against Cole with 86 pitches hit sharply to shallow center but caught by Odor. Hernandez flew out to Hicks. Ramirez got the prize for Cole’s ground out to end the inning. Yankees 2 Indians 1.

The top of the seventh saw Hicks facing Bieber. Hicks struck out. Clint Frazier walked. Kyle Higashioka ground out to third, with Tauchman pinch-running moved to second. Rougie Odor walked. DJ LeMahieu, with 117 pitches from Bieber, ground out to short and let Bieber out of the inning with his career-high 119 pitches. At the bottom, Eddie Rosario faced Cole in his seventh inning of work, and 97 pitches struck out for Cole’s 10th strikeout of the game. Reyes flew out to the well caught by LeMahieu for the second out. Naylor makes Cole’s 11th strikeout of the game ending the inning. Yankees 2 Indians 1.

Aaron Judge led off the eighth against the new pitcher Bryan Shaw, and he doubled off of him. Gleyber Torres ground out to first base. Gio Urshela walked, bringing up Aaron Hicks with two out and two on. Hicks popped out to foul territory in right to end the half. At the bottom against Yu Chang for Bauer faced Justin Wilson, hit a line drive directly to Torres for the first out in the inning. Perez walked on four pitches. Gimenez got a passed ball, moving Perez to scoring position. Luplow pinch-hitting for Gimenez popped up to Torres. Jonathan Loaisiga came in against Rosario, who popped out to Torres to end the scoreless inning for the New York Yankee bullpen. Yankees 2 Indians 1.

The new pitcher in the ninth was James Karinchak against Mike Tauchman, who stuck out. Kyle Higashioka also stuck out against Karinchak. Rougie Odor struck out for a strikeout of the side for Karinchak. With last licks for the Indians, Jonathan took the mound against Hernandez, who ground out. Ramirez lined out to first. E. Rosario flew out to Tauchman to end the game, with the Yankees winning the game 2-1 against the Indians for their third win in a row for the first time this season.

The final score was 2-1 New York Yankee. The winning pitcher was Gerrit Cole (3-1),  the loser was Indian ace Shane Bieber, and the save went to Jonathan Loaisiga for his first save of his career. Rougie Odor and Aaron Hicks homered in the game.

Mets Can’t Get Anything Going in 7-1 Loss To Nationals

The first play of the game was the theme of the New York Mets‘ miserable 7-1 loss to the Washington Nationals. Josh Harrison’s leadoff single was misplayed by Michael Conforto in right field and rolled all the way to the wall. On the error, Harrison made it all the way to third base. Yadiel Hernandez drove him in with a sacrifice fly and four pitches into the game; the Nats had a 1-0 lead. They never looked back by scoring in each of the first five innings.

It was clear that Marcus Stroman did not have his best stuff from the beginning and received little help from home plate umpire Edwin Moscoso. The smaller zone forced Stroman to work up and throw only 43 strikes in 72 pitches. Stroman also failed to get the soft contact he recorded in his first three starts. He allowed eight singles which resulted in five runs, and only lasted four innings.

Bullpen Help

Stephen Tarpley provided no relief by allowing two runs and all four batters he faced to reach base in his Mets debut. Robert Gsellman‘s effort in relief will be overlooked, but he saved the bullpen from wasting arms. He threw three hitless innings and only allowed a walk. Gsellman was on his way out of the Mets bullpen but proved his worth in his long relief appearance.

The Mets offense struggled to figure out Nationals starter Joe Ross. He bounced back from a 10-run outing against the St. Louis Cardinals to hold the Mets to a Michael Conforto solo-home run in six innings. Pete Alonso recorded two singles as he starts to get into his groove after a small slump to begin the season. The loss drops the Mets back to 8-8, and they could be joined in first place by the Philadelphia Phillies.

The rubber game of the series sends two former Diamondbacks teammates to the mound in Patrick Corbin and Taijuan Walker. The first pitch for the Sunday afternoon game is 1:10 p.m. ET from Citi Field.

How the Chiefs-Ravens trade could affect the New York Jets’ draft plans

Baltimore and Kansas City’s deal might give the New York Jets some extra clarity at the 23rd overall pick in Cleveland next weekend.

A deal between contenders could have ripple effects on a team that’s desperate to join them.

The Baltimore Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs swapped assets and names on Friday, six days before the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft will be staged in Cleveland (8 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN/NFL Network). Pro Bowl-nominated blocker Orlando Brown Jr. will join the refurbished wall in front of Patrick Mahomes while four picks, including the 31st overall choice on Thursday, move on to Baltimore. Two Raven draft picks also come over with Brown, the first of which will be a second-rounder on Friday.

One can argue that a trade between a pair of playoff teams should have little effect on the New York Jets, who are ready for a potentially franchise-changing weekend. But New York will turn in three draft cards within the first 34 selections next Thursday and Friday. The Chiefs and Ravens’ gambit could set them up for what they plan to do with the latter pair.

The Jets’ first pick, second overall on Thursday, is more than likely accounted for: unless they plan on starting James Morgan or Mike White in September, they’re taking a quarterback. But debate rages on in what they’ll do with the 23rd overall choice, obtained from Seattle last offseason. The Ravens also own their regularly scheduled pick in the 27th slot, giving them two picks before the Jets pick again at No. 34, the second pick of the second round.

This de facto Baltimore sandwich…including the 31st pick from Kansas City traditionally bestowed to the Super Bowl runner-ups…only strengthens the case that the extra metropolitan first-rounder could behoove the Jets to address their offensive issues with each of their first two selections.

Baltimore is at an interesting point on its franchise timeline. They’ve earned at least 10 wins in each of the last three seasons and won a playoff game for the first time since 2014 in the Wild Card round in January. Barring a jaw-dropping transaction, they’re set with Lamar Jackson at quarterback for the foreseeable future. Their ground game enjoyed a significant jolt with rookie JK Dobbins working with Gus Edwards (1,528 yards, 15 touchdowns combined).

 Mandatory Credit: Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

With Jackson’s great power comes even greater responsibility (wrong city, we’re aware). Jackson is capable of beating teams both through the air and on the ground (1,005 rushing yards). His mobile prowess, however, leaves him open to sacks and injuries. The trade of Brown, a blindside blocker, leaves a mediocre offensive line (16th in Pro Football Focus’ final 2020 rankings) in somewhat dire straights. Former All-Pro Ronnie Stanley is expected back, but he’s coming off a brutal ankle injury suffered in November.

Additionally, Baltimore may also look to surround Jackson with more weaponry. They’re set with the young pair of Dobbins and Edwards in the backfield but their receivers leave something to desired. Is there a No. 1 receiver in this bunch? Marquise “Hollywood” Brown has potential (58 receptions, 769 yards, 8 touchdowns) but even if the Ravens want to roll with him, major questions reside behind him. Second receiver Willie Snead left for Las Vegas, leaving behind the unproven Miles Boykin and Devin Duvernay. Veteran Sammy Watkins was welcomed in this offseason, but he’s not somebody who’s going to be the difference in wrangling away control of the AFC from Kansas City or Buffalo.

Thus, it’s very possible that the Ravens could be going offense with each of their first two picks. From a Jets standpoint, it’s thus less likely they can afford to wait until Friday to address a non-quarterback need. Had Kansas City kept Thursday’s penultimate pick, it was more likely to see them addressing their pass rush woes. It’s quite possible Baltimore could go offense with each of their Thursday couple. Several teams between 23rd and 34th (Pittsburgh, Green Bay) already appear to be leaning toward an offensive pick as well. Baltimore’s extended prescience should at least help narrow the Jets’ choices. Several defensive talents should still be around by the time Friday’s proceedings start, but some elite blockers (Tevin Jenkins, Alex Leatherwood, Christian Darrisaw, Landon Dickerson) and weapons (Travis Etienne, Rashod Bateman) could be gone with another offense-seeker injected into the fold.

New York Giants, Rashod Bateman
 Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Granted, the Jets are working so far from behind that there’s almost nowhere to go but up when it comes to day one of the draft. But while the Jets will likely have to address defensive woes sooner or later, they’re about to put a big investment in one of the non-Trevor Lawrence passing talents of a strong 2021 passing class. Whether it’s Zach Wilson, Justin Fields, Trey Lance, or an unknown party, they can’t lead the Jets’ resurrection on their own. They need help, namely on the offensive line after not doing too much to upgrade over the offseason.

Secondary and edge help will be around in the second round. Thursday should be a day dedicated to the new quarterback and getting him as comfortable as possible before the hard part begins. Giving him a more attractive offensive depth chart to look at before he makes his Florham Park entrance requires an offensive mindset in the earliest stages in Cleveland next week.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Giants: Drafting an offensive tackle should not be a priority

New York Giants, Andrew Thomas, Matt Peart

The New York Giants are entering the 2021 NFL Draft with a clear weakness on offense: the offensive line. The Giants’ pass-block win rate in 2020, according to ESPN, ranked dead-last in the NFL at 46%. Their run-block win-rate ranked 18th at 70%, which is about average or slightly below. So while the Giants did upgrade Daniel Jones’s weapons in free agency, fans feel like they still desperately need to fix the offensive line in front of him.

Many fans and analysts are predicting that the Giants will prioritize the offensive line in the 2021 NFL Draft. While the Giants should make it a point to add an offensive lineman or two in this year’s draft, they should focus on the interior of the line. New York is set at offensive tackle and should not make it a priority to draft one this year.

Last year, the Giants did make it a priority to draft an offensive tackle. They selected Andrew Thomas with the fourth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, then double-dipped at the position in round three with Matt Peart out of UConn. New York has already invested plenty of assets into its offensive tackles. The Giants feel comfortable rolling into the 2021 season with these two second-year tackles as their starters on each side of the line.

The Giants are confident in Matt Peart

According to Paul Schwartz of the NY Post, the New York Giants coaching staff “is high on Matt Peart, who will be given the first shot at the starting right tackle job.” Matt Peart was impressive as a rookie, albeit in a small sample size.

Peart played 150 snaps for the Giants’ offense in 2020. Ten of those snaps came in jumbo formations where Peart lined up as a tight end. 37 of those snaps came at left tackle. The other 103 snaps came at right tackle. The Giants used Peart in a versatile way and tested him out at varying positions to see where he will fit in their future plans.

Ultimately, New York decided that Matt Peart is their right tackle of the future. Peart posted a 69.7 overall Pro Football Focus grade as a rookie, allowing only 9 pressures on 84 pass-blocking snaps. He did not see any time as a full-time starter in 2020, but that will change in 2021 as Matt Peart assumes the starting right tackle position. The Giants are confident in what they have at both right and left tackle. The young duo of Matt Peart and Andrew Thomas should be the bookends on the Giants’ offensive line for a long time.

So while this is a talented and deep offensive tackle draft class, do not expect to see the Giants reach on an offensive tackle at any point in this year’s draft. They could take one as the best player available if that is how the board falls on draft night. But the Giants are unlikely to make drafting an offensive tackle a priority this year after addressing the position in last year’s draft.

Knicks on Cloud 9 after routing Raptors, 120-103

knicks, rj barrett

An extra day of rest kept the New York Knicks fresh as they extended the league’s longest winning streak to nine.

The Knicks continued their ascendance as a serious playoff contender after repeating over the Toronto Raptors at The Garden, 120-103, on Saturday for a firm grip of the fourth seed in the East.

It’s the Knicks’ longest winning streak since a 13-game run during the 2012-13 season. Carmelo Anthony led that Knicks team under coach Mike Woodson to 54 wins and the second round of the playoffs, the last time they managed to get there. Thibodeau’s current squad is poised to end that seven-year playoff drought with 11 games remaining.

To keep them fresh for the last stretch, Thibodeau made Thursday a Blackout Day after their eighth straight triumph. Julius Randle used it to rest and recover. His younger teammates followed suit though they still did light shooting.

Randle came fresh as he was unstoppable in the first three quarters. He scored 28 of his game-high 31 points in a variety of ways. The Raptors threw everything at him to no avail.

It was the sixth time in their last seven games Randle scored at least 30 points. He dropped 26 points on the Raptors in their earlier meeting this month before going on a torrid stretch that earned him his first NBA Player of the Week award.

RJ Barrett picked up steam in the fourth quarter, conspiring with the Knicks bench mob to rip the game wide open.

An Immanuel Quickley three ignited a 14-2 run in the first three minutes of the fourth quarter. Then an Obi Toppin three bookended the Knicks’ flurry as they transformed an 88-83 lead to 102-86 with 9:12 remanining.

Barrett again overcame a poor first half to finish with 25 points, 13 in the pivotal fourth quarter.

With the win, the Knicks improved to 21-10 at The Garden, the sixth-best home record in the league.

The 1,981 fans that roared like a full house Madison Square Garden gave the Knicks a standing ovation. They again serenaded Randle with M-V-P chants and cheered Barrett during his postgame interview.

“You know, playing in The Garden having fans behind like this, it’s tough for teams to play here,” said Barrett to the jubilation of their home crowd.

The Raptors experienced that first-hand as they found it tough to stage a comeback. They pulled within seven, 110-103, on a Pascal Siakam triple with 3:18 remaining. But Barrett steadied the Knicks’ offense while Nerlens Noel came through with a defensive gem.

Noel had only solitary point but pulled down five rebounds and swatted away four blocks. His monster block on Siakam’s dunk attempt with 2:15 left prevented the Raptors from getting within seven again.

The Knicks continued to wax hot from the outside hitting 16 of 31 three-pointers for a 51.6 percent clip.

Randle set the tone with three three-pointers in the opening quarter. He went 5-for-7 from deep while Reggie Bullock and Toppin added three apiece.

Derrick Rose continued his stellar play leading the Knicks bench mob with 19 points, four rebounds, seven assists, and two steals. Taj Gibson, who sported goggles after suffering a laceration on his eyelid in their previous win, had nine points and five rebounds off the bench. Toppin and Quickley added nine and six points, respectively, all coming from beyond the arc. The bench scoring was so lopsided in favor of the Knicks, 43-11.

At 34-27, the Knicks are now just 3.5 games behind the third seed Milwaukee Bucks (36-22).

They will have the West’s current second-best team Phoenix Suns, on Monday, who are expected to provide their toughest test yet in the last three weeks.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

 

 

 

 

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