When the Knicks entered tonight’s game without Isaiah Harteinstein, it was expected that they’d have to pray just to even win in tonight’s contest. Going up against the best player in the NBA, it looked like Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets would roll into New York and pulverize a short-handed Knicks squad, but they would be on the other side of a lopsided blowout. It was a beatdown from start to finish, as both their offense and defense overpowered Denver, and New York has placed themselves firmly in the contention conversation.
This was nothing short of a statement win for the Knicks, who have bulldozed the competition since they acquired OG Anunoby. The aforementioned wing would dominate, helping guide the Knicks to their 28th win of the season, and pushing themselves ahead of the Cavaliers at fourth in the Eastern Conference.
OG Anunoby Shines in Knicks’ Win Over Defending Champs
It’s hard to argue who the star of tonight’s game was, as OG Anunoby has continued his streak of being one of the most impactful players in the NBA since joining the Knicks. One could argue that nobody has provided more on-court value than the two-way wing in that 13-game timespan, and his performance against the Nuggets was an example of that brilliance.
Anunoby led the Knicks in scoring on the night with 26 points, and he hit 10-18 shots (55.6%) in the process, proving to be both aggressive and efficient in his masterful outing. One could argue it was the defensive impact that was more impressive, as he collected six steals in the game, and stifled a Denver offense that can be unstoppable when Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic are their usual selves, resulting in Anunoby having a team-best +38 on the court.
While Nikola Jokic was able to score plenty, adding 31 points on 18 shots, his seven turnovers are a reflection of the Knicks’ strong defensive game plan entering the contest. Denver was held to a season-worst 84 points and shot under 20% from three, another feather in the cap of the Knicks’ defense, which has been on a tear since acquiring OG Anunoby. New York saw a strong team performance on offense, as six different players scored double-digit points on the night.
Jalen Brunson would add 21 points on just 10 shots, as he dished four assists and continued to look excellent even after being snubbed from the All-Star Game starting lineup. It’s expected that he’ll make it in as a reserve, but it’s an utter disgrace that he missed out considering the excellent season he’s having and the statistical edge he had over Damian Lillard, who isn’t even the top option on his team.
Quentin Grimes would provide 19 efficient points, hitting seven of the eleven shots he took tonight and looking excellent off of the bench even with the trade rumors surrounding the young guard. Donte DiVincenzo was a flamethrower for the Knicks tonight, adding four threes on nine attempts for 16 points, adding six assists (and no turnovers!) to his final tally for the night.
Despite only scoring 17 points, Julius Randle had an incredible impact on tonight’s game with seven rebounds and eight assists, continuing to display a balanced approach that has helped the offense look smoother. He was +25 on the court and is vying for All-Star consideration as well, although as with Brunson it would have to be as a reserve. Miles McBride has been impressive for the Knicks off the bench, adding 13 points on nine shots and hitting all four of his attempts from beyond the arc.
Unsung heroes off the bench include Precious Achiuwa and Josh Hart, who combined for 17 rebounds and helped the Knicks outrebound the Nuggets despite the disadvantage without Harteinstein available tonight. Jericho Sims, who has been called upon to start the last two games due to the aforementioned injury, looked formidable as their primary center tonight, adding eight rebounds and a block for the Knicks.
It was a 38-point beatdown of the reigning NBA Champions; it doesn’t get much sweeter than that for the Knicks, who are 11-2 since acquiring OG Anunoby. They improve to 28-17 on the season, and they’ll look to build off of this momentum on Saturday as they take on the Miami Heat at Madison Square Garden.