Knicks get back to .500 with a commanding win over the Spurs

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at New York Knicks
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks finally notch their first win following a win, as they climb back to .500 on the season (4-4) following a dominant win over the San Antonio Spurs. It was a highly-anticipated matchup as the Knicks would square off with a team led by the first overall pick and generational prospect Victor Wemanyama, who would find stalwart center Mitchell Robinson too tough of an assignment to handle, as the Knicks held him to just 4-14 shooting and collecting a 126-105 win.

For the first time all season, all three of the Knicks’ top stars were in-sync offensively, as Julius Randle (23), RJ Barrett (24), and Jalen Brunson (25) all scored over 20 points on the night, and the Knicks’ coasted to a much-needed win.

The Knicks Gel Brilliant Shooting With Gritty Defense and Rebounding

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at New York Knicks
Nov 8, 2023; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) reacts during the third quarter against the San Antonio Spurs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Knicks got things started early as they dominated the Spurs in the first quarter, scoring 33 points while holding them to just 16. Mitchell Robinson was giving Wembanyama plenty of trouble, and he ended up collecting 12 rebounds and scoring 8 points, only being charged with three total fouls. Robinson is one of the premier rebounders in the NBA, and his defense and strong presence on the interior have made him one of the best centers in the NBA early on, a welcome sight to see for the 25-year-old big man.

On offense, the Knkcks 19-42 (45.2%) shooting from beyond the arc helped them keep the Spurs at bay, and that was guided by big shooting nights from Jalen Brunson and RJ Barrett, who both had five makes from beyond the arc. Barrett has continued to impress with his efficiency, as the 23-year-old wing has shown strides in terms of efficiency, especially when it comes to his three-point shot. With a perfect 3-3 night on the charity stripe, Barrett is clicking on all cylinders early.

Brunson was also impressive, with 25 points and six assists on 8-19 (42.1%) from the field. Brunson has struggled with his efficiency, but it was encouraging to see Brunson find his stroke from deep alongside a 4-4 performance from the free-throw line. Julius Randle may have needed 19 shots to get 23 points, but with 16 boards and five assists, it’s hard to be upset with the performance and effort of the two-time All-NBA forward in a solid encore to his showing against the Clippers.

If the Knicks can keep these three locked in for most of the season, they’ll win plenty of games, especially with how well their role players are supplementing the offense and defense as of late. Immanuel Quickley scored 19 points on 47% shooting, Isiah Hartenstein got 13 points in 15 minutes of play, and Quentin Grimes hit two threes in four attempts, adding three assists and not turning the ball over or fouling once.

Another big component of their win was their stellar defense and rebounding, which has been a consistent theme for the Knicks all season. The Spurs shot just 26.5% from beyond the arc and were held to just 105 points, and entering tonight’s game, the Knicks’ 103.2 Defensive Rating was the second-best in the NBA. In terms of rebounds, while they marginally won the rebound battle (47-46), it’s just the volume of boards that remains impressive. At 50.4 per game, no team is averaging more rebounds a game than the Knicks, and it’s a testament to their physicality.

New York gets to fight for a chance to go above .500 for the first time on the season in a matchup at the Garden against the Hornets, as they look to make it a three-game sweep at home before an extensive road trip.

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