Knicks look to end 2022 with a victory against the Rockets

Jalen Brunson, New York Knicks
Dec 27, 2022; Dallas, Texas, USA; New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (right) congratulates New York Knicks guard Miles McBride (2) and New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) during the second quarter at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Here we go again. The New York Knicks (18-18) will once again look to get back in the win column when they close out the Texas Triangle three-game road trip against the Houston Rockets (10-25) on New Year’s Eve.

Both teams suffered losses in their respective previous matchups, and both were pretty easily lost. Neither team held a lead in either of their games at any point after the first quarter, setting the tone for a redemption game for both sides.

The Rockets had low expectations coming into the season and were expected to be fighting for a lottery pick, so their 10-25 record – good for dead last in the Western Conference standings – is not surprising.

On the other hand, the Knicks were the surprise team of the month after winning eight consecutive games, but have since faltered precipitously and have dropped each of their last five games, with the last being a disappointing 122-115 loss against the rebuilding San Antonio Spurs.

The Knicks struggled mightily to protect the glass in their previous game, allowing a whopping 62 points in the paint to the Spurs. Mitchell Robinson was completely shut down in the loss, scoring zero points and grabbing just six rebounds in approximately 28 minutes on the floor. Despite great individual performances from Julius Randle and Immanuel Quickley, the defense was too porous to catapult the Knicks to a victory.

The key for the Knicks to leave Houston with a victory will be to shut down the interior. The Rockets come into this game ranked 15th in the league in points in the paint per game at 50.7 a night.

Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau said after Thursday’s loss to San Antonio that their defense “needs to be tied together.”

Addressing the defense issue that was ever so present could help the Knicks snap their season-high five game losing streak and close out the calendar year above .500.

Looking at injuries, for the Knicks, Jalen Brunson (hip) is listed as questionable for the game. RJ Barrett (lacerated finger) and Obi Toppin (knee) are out.

For the Rockets, Jae’Sean Tate is out.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @DylanBacker_

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