The New York Knicks overcame the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday evening by a score of 112-109. After losing three consecutive games, it was clear that the Knicks had a newfound sense of urgency, dragging their record back to .500 on the season. However, it was several individual performances and a dominant outing from RJ Barrett who willed them to victory.
The third-year guard posted 32 points on the evening, connecting on 11-of-20 shots from the field and 7-of-8 from three point range. Barrett has struggled as of late, shooting just 29% from three-point range in the month of November and 36% from the field.
December has already started off far better, playing 39 minutes against the Spurs, his highest number since November 8 against Philadelphia. His 87.5% success rate from downtown was exactly what he needed to get back into form. He also contributed five rebounds, two assists, and two steals on the evening, leading the Knicks to victory.
However, I would be remiss not to mention the contributions of Alec Burks, who recorded 18 points, Julius Randle, who posted 15, eight assists, and seven rebounds, but also Mitchell Robinsonâ€˜s dominance in the paint.
Robinson had been criticized lately for his lack of stamina but played 22 minutes off the bench, as Thibodeau rolled with Nerlens Noel as the primary starter, a shift in strategy that clearly paid off. Tom Thibodeau said of Robinson’s reaction to being relegated to the bench, â€œcartwheels.”
Robinson recorded double-digit points with 11, 14 rebounds, three blocks, and two assists in the win.
Clearly, Robinson needed a bit of a push to exert maximum effort, and being relegated to the bench may have been a catalyst. This was the first time since November 17 where Robinson posted 10 or more points, and 14 rebounds were his highest since the double-overtime victory against the Boston Celtics on opening night.
This was a clear offensive master-class from New York, as they shot 47.4% from deep and 47.3% from the field, recording just 10 turnovers, 23 assists, and 52 rebounds. While the Spurs shot 38.7% from deep, the Knicks needed this offensive performance to get back on track. They will look ahead to the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night, a team that has lost four of their last five games.