Most would say that Kyrie Irving was the difference in the New York Knicksâ€™ loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Monday evening, and they would be right. Irving posted 40 points, shooting 15-of-28 from the field and 5-of-12 from downtown, but his biggest moment came in the final seconds of the fourth quarter when he executed a perfect step-back three-pointer, breaking Julius Randleâ€™s ankles in the process.
The Knicksâ€™ defense held Brooklyn below their average per game but still fell by two points, with Randle missing the final shot to tie the game. New York continues to force-feed Randle in the final moments, and there has been only a handful of times where heâ€™s connected on the shot, sending the team to overtime just to lose it in the end.
Brooklyn has officially swept New York this season, and the Knicks continue to lose contests that come down to the wire. Recently, they lost to the worst team in the NBA, the Minnesota Timberwolves by one point, the 76ers by one point, and the Nets by five a few weeks ago.
Until the Knicks find the recipe for success and winning games down the stretch, they will continue to trend downward, as beating bad teams simply isnâ€™t enough to make the playoffs. They are currently 10 games behind Brooklyn in the Atlantic standings and nine games behind Philly, who are in 2nd place.
Did Tom Thibodeau lose this game for the New York Knicks?
While Thibodeau has been a fantastic coach this season, making the Knicks somewhat relevant, his desire to provide Randle with a final shot in most games is becoming malpractice.
At the end of the day, RJ Barrett was connecting on shots efficiently, and Alec Burks hit a game-tying three-pointer with seconds left on the clock. You could make the argument that either Barrett or Burks were better options over Julius, who was clearly dealing with an injury in the fourth quarter and was shooting poorly.
In fact, Barrett was 7-of-13 in the game, with 22 points, outscoring Randle. Even Reggie Bullock mightâ€™ve been a better option, who scored 21 points and was 50% from downtown. Eventually, Thibs is going to have to give the ball to others, as Randle seemingly doesnâ€™t have that clutch gene.