The Knicks desperately needed a win over the Hornets as their final game of the group stages tipped off in Madison Square Garden, and they’d need to win big. With how the point differential system works, the Knicks winning by a large margin would ensure that the Knicks would have a better tournament point differential than the Celtics and Bucks, who were right behind New York.
With a strong team performance on offense and another excellent rebounding and defensive night for the team, they were able to crush the Hornets and also officially advance to the quarterfinals of the In-Season Tournament.
Knicks Take Care of Business in Must-Win Contest
The Knicks were able to dominate in all facets as they scored 115 points on 41-88 shooting from the field (46.6%) and excelling from three as well, as they made 15 of 38 attempts (39.5%) and stifled the Hornets’ offense. While the Hornets shot 41.9% from three, they only scored 91 points due to poor efficiency inside the three-point line and the Knicks’ strong presence on the interior. Julius Randle was the Knicks’ star tonight, as he made eight of 15 attempts from the field for 25 points, tacking on 20 rebounds and five assists as well.
Randle, who has been shooting 46.3% from the field on 22.3 points a night over his last six games, has looked a lot better recently and helped the Knicks secure a much-needed blowout win. Immanuel Quickley, who has been one of the brightest spots on offense for the Knicks, shot 9-20 (45%) from the field for 23 points, as he was a +21 when on the court. He could be in the running for the Sixth-Man of the Year Award once again, and he had an excellent showing to improve upon his 15.9 points a night on 58.5% True Shooting.
Josh Hart, who mentioned feeling excluded on offense, was dominant as well shooting 70% from the field for 17 points and adding six boards as well, and he would hit two big threes in his three attempts from downtown. It was a much-needed showing for the reliable wing, who was acquired last trade deadline and has been a key cog in the Knicks’ machine ever since. While Tom Thibodeau was adamant that Hart’s usage in the offense hasn’t differed, it seems his contest didn’t affect Josh Hart.
RJ Barrett didn’t have the might he was looking for, shooting 3-13 from the field, but he still gave the Knicks 16 points as he went a perfect 9-9 from the charity stripe. Mitchell Robinson would give the Knicks 10 rebounds and add six blocks, stuffing the Hornets whenever they challenged him. He’s been a dominant force on the glass for New York, and his season has gone under the radar with how integral he is to the team’s offense and defense.
Jalen Brunson only took nine shots on the night, going 5-9 (55.6%) for 12 points, generating seven assists and three steals, being less aggressive after a scoring tear in November. It now climbs the team to 10-7 on the season, and they’ll advance to the quarterfinals of the In-Season Tournament because of this win. They’ll look to make it two in a row against the Detroit Pistons, who have been slumping heavily as of late on Thursday night at the Garden.