The New York Knicks caught a break when the Washington Wizards opted to rest their superstar guard Bradley Beal on their Friday night matchup.
The Knicks, as expected, rolled to a 109-91 win and improved to 12-15 in the season. But they also caught a tough break with center Mitchell Robinson going down with a fractured right hand along the way.
Robinson was on pace to a monster performance when the injury happened in the second quarter. He hurt his right hand when his hand collided with Julius Randle’s elbow while going for a rebound. He had 10 points, 14 rebounds, and four steals in 20 minutes before he left.
Robinson will be re-evaluated upon their return in New York, where the Knicks are set to host the Houston Rockets in Madison Square Garden.
Randle bounces back
Even without Robinson in the second half, the Knicks still dominated the game, with Randle flashing his All-Star form and Derrick Rose pushing the pace.
Randle bounced back from a sub-par game against Miami with his fifth 20-point, 15-rebound game of the season, tying Orlando’s Nikola Vucevic. Only Cleveland’s Andre Drummond had more of those games with seven, per ESPN Stats & Info.
Randle paced the Knicks with 24 points, 18 rebounds, and four assists. His three-pointer with 7:27 left in the third quarter quelled a Washington rally, giving New York a six-point breather.
The Knicks were never seriously threatened the rest of the way and led by as many as 25.
The Derrick Rose and Immanuel Quickley backcourt tandem again provided the spark off the bench.
The Knicks’ second unit outscored the Wizards’ bench, 49-27.
Rose finished with 14 points and a team-high six assists in 20 minutes. He also added four of the Knicks’ 11 steals. Quickley put up 16 points in 22 minutes. New York’s lottery pick Obi Toppin is also starting to get comfortable with Rose as he came away with eight points on 4-of-5 shooting.
The Knicks’ defense limited the Wizards to just 38.2 percent shooting from the field.
Russell Westbrook led Washington with a near triple-double (23 points, nine rebounds, and 10 assists) but committed five turnovers.
Barrett struggles anew
The Knicks bullied the Wizards inside the paint, 58-42, and they crashed the boards, coming away with 24 second-chance points to Wizards’ seven.
Elfrid Payton was also solid with 12 points on 50 percent shooting in only 23 minutes on the floor.
RJ Barrett continued to struggle with his shot, going 3-for-13 for just eight points. It was the second time in the last three games he failed to score in double digits.
Next man up
With Mitchell expected to miss extended time, the Knicks will count on Nerlens Noel and Taj Gibson to hold the fort. Noel and Gibson combined for 10 points and seven rebounds.
“It was probably the best first half of the year for [Mitchell]. Obviously, we know how important he is to the team. And anytime someone gets hurt, you certainly feel for him. But we have to be ready for the next one as you know, the games keep on coming,” Thibodeau said after the game.
“I thought Nerlens stepped in and did a good job in the second half. And that’s the great value of having a guy like Taj on the roster. So the next man up! We have to circle the wagons and be ready to go.”
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