Knicks Studs and Duds: Stars shined and role players aligned in win over the Bulls

New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) looks to pass the ball to guard Jalen Brunson (11) after stealing a pass intended for Chicago Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan (11) during the third quarter at Madison Square Garden
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Continuing to begin the new year on a winning note, the New York Knicks improved to 2-0 in 2024. Stars shined and role players aligned to set the pace for a phenomenal second half versus the Chicago Bulls. A valiant effort was led, as Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson combined for 66 points in the contest, propelling the Knicks to a 116–110 win over the Bulls

Studs: Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson are a dynamic duo

The incredible cohesion of Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson continues to be the engine of the New York Knicks. They are one of just five duos averaging 24 points per game in the NBA

New York went down in the second quarter behind big nights from Demar Derozan and Coby White, but it was Randle and Brunson setting the tone down the stretch. Randle has averaged 33 points and 9.6 rebounds in his last five games and extended his streak of consecutive 20-point games to 19 in Wednesday night’s victory.

Brunson has paced prolific performances with back-to-back games of 10 assists or more. Brunson has averaged 23.5 points and 13.5 assists since the Anunoby acquisition. 

Studs: Isaiah Hartenstein is filling big shoes for the Knicks’ defense

This recent productivity from Hartenstein has been a spark plug for the New York Knicks. Averaging 7.6 points and 9.9 rebounds in his last ten games, Hartenstein has garnered a reputation for being tenacious and persistent in his efforts on the floor in the absence of one Mitchell Robinson.

Hartenstein is the first Knicks player since Patrick Ewing to record 20+ REB, 5+ BLK, and 60+ FG% in a game. Starting for New York in this stretch bodes well for his negotiations this offseason as he hits the market as an unrestricted free agent. 

Studs: The Knicks are 2-0 with OG Anunoby

The poise and confidence of all Knicks players on the floor rise when OG Anunoby shares it with them. A winner by all means, Anunoby posted 11 points, eight rebounds, and two steals. The defensive presence and constant slashing in the lane from Anunoby makes him the perfect player for New York’s style. An intimidating wing for the opposition, Anunoby’s ability to stretch the floor also marks dire complications for future opposing defenses.

Duds: Who can step up when Brunson goes to the bench?

The only issue with a Knicks win is if there was a glaring misfortune. Brunson’s ability to alter his style of play from a predominant three-level scorer to a premier facilitator within the offense has been a joy to watch as he expands his game.

The downside to losing Immanuel Quickley is there is no presence to be a dependable facilitator once Brunson goes to the bench.

The Bulls took a 10-point lead near the end of the first half as New York’s offense became stagnant in Brunson’s absence. A combination of Malachi Flynn and Myles McBride minutes may do better for the Knicks, but time will tell. 

Takeaways from the Knicks’ win over the Bulls:

The Knicks are now 2-0 in the Anunoby Era. The defensive prowess has looked spectacular, as in the last two contests, Knicks opponents have scored less than 110 points. DiVincenzo has been quietly averaging 16.6 points over the previous five contests. Consistency from the pillars Brunson and Randle will be crucial this Friday as the Knicks are on the road to face the Philadelphia 76ers and reigning MVP Joel Embiid. 

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