Following their win over the Western Conference-leading Minnesota Timberwolves to open the new year on Monday, the New York Knicks were back at home taking on a middling Chicago Bulls squad. In a game the Knicks were favored to win, they showed up and handled business, as Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson both went for 30+ points on the night to seal the win. In an excellent effort on both sides of the ball, the Knicks dominated in the second half after trailing by 55-51 entering halftime.
The Knicks improved to 19-15 on the season and collected their second-straight win since their acquisition of OG Anunoby last week, as they were impressive in this 116-110 win.
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While this was a game the Knicks were heavily favored to win, they handled business with Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle both dominating in the win. Brunson, who struggled with his shot in their win over the Timberwolves, shot 13-22 (59%) from the field for 31 points and fell just an assist shy of tying his career-best which he reached in the aforementioned Minnesota game (14). The guard has embraced the increase in ball movement with the subtraction of RJ Barrett and the addition of OG Anunoby, and the Knicks have generated plenty of great looks as a result.
He drained four of his nine attempts from beyond the arc, but he wouldn’t lead the team in scoring despite his incredible performance, as Julius Randle continued his stretch of brilliant play. The two-time All-NBA forward shot 13-23 (56.5%) from the field and hit three of his seven threes for 35 points, adding six rebounds and two steals as well, and he’s been brilliant over the last two months. After getting off to a slow start, Randle is looking like his All-Star self again, and with more space to operate with, he’s been vicious in the paint and has bullied defenders often.
This dynamic duo guided the Knicks to their win, but other key contributions kept the Bulls from maintaining their first-half lead. Isaiah Hartenstein has continued to excel in Mitchell Robinson’s absence, as he collected 20 rebounds and had five blocks as well, being a dominant force in the paint which set the tone defensively for the game. Chicago shot just 41.6% from the field for only 100 points and the 25-year-old big man played a huge role in slowing the Bulls’ offense to a crawl in the final two quarters.
OG Anunoby shot five for nine from the field for 11 points but added eight rebounds, two steals, and two assists as well, helping to anchor the Knicks’ defense and create second-chance opportunities with the rebounds. His +33 was the best mark on the court for New York, and he’s continued to look excellent in their system. As for Donte DiVincenzo, he shot 4-10 from the field for 11 points, hitting three of his eight attempts from three and adding five assists and rebounds as well, taking on a new role as a secondary defender with Anunoby in the lineup, but remaining a high-volume shooter.
The Knicks didn’t see great contributions from their bench as they only got 18 points from that unit, with Quentin Grimes leading the scoring off the bench with eight points, although that came with nine shots. Josh Hart brought in five rebounds and three assists but also made potentially the worst pass of all time early in the game when he sailed a ball well above DiVincenzo’s head into the stands, part of a turnover issue the Knicks nipped in the butt in that second half. In the first half, they turned the ball over 13 times but would only have two more turnovers the rest of the way, and overall it was a great win for the Knicks.
On Friday the Knicks will take on the 76ers in Philadelphia, as they’ll get a chance to take one of the best teams in the NBA on primetime and make a statement.