Despite it being New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau’s birthday, his team failed to pick up a victory against the Charlotte Hornets on Monday afternoon. After enjoying a three-game win streak, building momentum at MSG, the Knicks lacked energy against Charlotte, especially from their starters, who all posted a negative +/-.
RJ Barrett and Julius Randle led the scoring efforts for the Knicks, posting 18 points apiece but showcasing lackluster defense in addition. However, Barrett contributed 12 rebounds and Randle 10 in the contest, trying to impose their physicality on Charlotte, who have a relatively small team. Thibodeau’s squad did out-rebound the Hornets 53 to 39.
Once again, new acquisition from the Atlanta Hawks Cam Reddish watched from the bench as he works his way back from an ankle injury.
Point guard Kemba Walker was also questionable for the contest but was ruled out closer to game time due to a left knee injury.
The Knicks are short point guards at the moment, with Immanuel Quickley and Alec Burks picking up the slack. Burks had an off day, posting six points and just one assist. Quickley recorded five assists off the bench but was quiet from three-point range, hitting just 25% of the shots.
Altogether, the starters were not up to scratch, as Evan Fournier posted just six points over 25 minutes. The team hosted a 32.3% three-point percentage and shot 38.7% from the field. Their 52.4% free-throw rate was also an indication of focus issues.
The Knicks have been wildly inefficient from the free-throw line this season, which is part of the reason they are intrigued by Reddish and his qualities as a 90% free-throw shooter the season.
Aside from their offensive deficiencies, the Knicks simply didn’t close out shots fast enough again, Charlotte. They allowed too much space and good shooting opportunities, resulting in a double-digit deficit for the majority of the game.
It is quite clear that New York lacks a point guard at this point in time, with Kemba and Derrick Rose both rehabilitating from injuries. Rose is still several weeks out from a return after undergoing ankle surgery at the beginning of the new year.
Settling back at .500 on the season, the Knicks will look ahead to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday evening to get back in the win column. They will enjoy three consecutive home games until departing on a three-game road trip against Cleveland, Miami, and Milwaukee.