In the Knicks‘ first game without Julius Randle after the star power forward landed on the NBA’s health and safety protocols list, they dropped a dud to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
After barely squeaking out of victory against a league-worst Detroit Pistons team, the Knicks were outmatched entirely by Oklahoma City, who held them to just a measly 80 points compared to the Thunder’s 95.
However, more bad news developed before the game, as a veteran point guard Kemba Walker with scratched due to left knee soreness. Walker felt something odd during pregame warm-ups, forcing the Knicks to get him evaluated before allowing him to play.
“It was last minute,’’ Thibodeau said. “He was warming up, and something didn’t feel right. So, I haven’t talked to the trainers yet. It was a last-minute scratch.’’
The Knicks eventually sat Walker, starting Miles McBride in his place, who sported seven points and shot 3 of 9 from the field over 24 minutes. McBride being forced into a starting role certainly wasn’t expected, and he struggled to get things going on short notice.
“I don’t know, because he started his warm-up, and then he stopped. And then [trainer] Anthony [Goenaga] was looking at him and just felt, let’s get him examined, and then we’ll go from there.,” Thibs said regarding the severity.
The entire Knicks team suffered through poor shooting efficiency and lackluster defense. RJ Barrett led the team with 26 points and seven rebounds, shooting 10 of 20 from the field and just 1 of 8 from three-point range. The Knicks shot an embarrassing 19.5% from three, one of their worst marks of the season. Alternatively, Oklahoma City hit on 41.9%, with Shai Gilgeous–Alexander posting 23 points.
If Walker is forced to miss any time, expect to see plenty of McBride and Alec Burks rotating at point guard. They may even ask Immanuel Quickley to fill the starting role — he came off the bench in a reserve utility against the Thunder.
Julius Randle’s impact missed by the Knicks Vs Thunder:
Recently, Julius Randle has been getting a lot of hate for his lackluster defense and inconsistent scoring. However, the Knicks missed his presence against Oklahoma City, who not only outmuscled New York on the boards but simply outplayed them in every facet. However, the Knicks did create good looks at the basket, they just weren’t able to convert. A bad shooting night might’ve been the culprit.
Suppose you consider the fact that Randle is averaging 19.3 points per game this year, and nearly double-digit rebounds. In that case, his presence might’ve been the difference between winning and losing this game, as Obi Toppin added just five points over 27 minutes. It’s an argument to consider but the flow of the game suggested New York just didn’t knock down open looks.
Hopefully, the Knicks prove this was just an anomaly against Oklahoma City as they prepare to face off against the Toronto Raptors on Sunday afternoon.