Following a dominating win against the Cavaliers in their matchup on the road the night prior, the Knicks’ offense sputtered in a deflating loss that dropped their record back under .500 on the season. The Knicks held their end of the stick on defense, holding Cleveland to under 100 points again, but their offense couldn’t get anything going. They sorely missed the presence of RJ Barrett, who was out with a sore knee, as the offenses lacked a consistent scorer.
This concludes a back-to-back with the Cavaliers, leaving their season series tied at one, as they won’t face off again until March 3rd. The Knicks will have to return to the drawing board as their two big stars failed to deliver, continuing a troublesome cold streak to open the season for the duo.
Knicks See Offense Sputter in Deflating Loss
While the Knicks looked remarkable from three last night, they followed it up with a brutal performance from beyond the arc, with the team shooting a combined 5-30 from downtown. They also floundered from the charity stripe, going 20-30 and continuing to leave boards on the table with their inability to reliably hit free throws. It’s something that’s become a troubling concern for the team, as the team entered this contest with the fifth-worst mark in the NBA (70.1%).
If the Knicks are going to compete for a higher seed in the Eastern Conference, they’ll have to iron out their shooting woes, but they’ll also have to get their two top scorers from last season back online. Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson both put up poor shooting nights, with Julius Randle going 3-15 from the field for 6 points and while he grabbed six boards as well, it came with three turnovers. Jalen Brunson performed better though, leading the team with 24 points on 8-23 shooting, but it’s efficient scoring that makes the Villanova alumni so valuable.
On the glass, it’s hard to be dissatisfied with the effort put in by Mitchell Robinson, as while he went 1-3 from the field and 4-8 from three, he had 16 boards and two blocks as well, keeping the rebound advantage in the Knicks’ favor (50-46). The Knicks are top three in the NBA in rebounds per game, and the efforts they get at the rim from Isiah Harteinstein, Josh Hart, and of course Mitchell Robinson are big reasons why.
The bench was silent for the most part, as while Immanuel Quickley had 18 points, it came on 7-16 shooting (43.8%) and 0-3 from downtown. Donte DiVincenzo was efficient and effective on offense, with 16 points on 5-10 shooting, hitting three of his seven attempts from downtown, which makes him responsible for 60% of all the Knicks’ perimeter offense on the night.
It’s not all bad though, holding the Cavs to just 43.2% from the field and just 95 points while generating more blocks (5-3) and more turnovers (18-13) than Cleveland did. The difference comes down to how the Cavs shot from three (37.5%) and their 19-20 performance from the charity stripe. The Knicks lost by six and missed ten free throws and 25 three-point attempts, and that’s a credit to Cleveland’s perimeter defense but a terrible look for the Knicks’ offense.
It was a game that was in their hands, and the Knicks now fall to 2-3 on the season, looking to get back to .500 in a Friday night matchup on ESPN against the ever-dangerous Milwaukee Bucks on the road.