New York Knicks show one significant positive in loss to Portland

New York Knicks, Julius Randle
Jan 24, 2021; Portland, Oregon, USA; New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) dribbles around Portland Trail Blazers forward Robert Covington (23) during the third quarter at the Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks found themselves in a massive hole come the second half against the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday evening. Down 50-70 at the half, the Knicks battled their way back into the contest, losing by just three points in the end.

Overall, it was a disappointing performance for a majority of the team, as RJ Barrett scored just eight points. However, there were also stand-out performances, notably Julius Randle who finished with 25, and rookie shooting guard Immanuel Quickley, who finished with 31, a career-high. Quickley continues to impress as he dominates in transition and utilizes his shifty speed and agility to create shots. He connected on 9-of-18 from the field, shooting 50% and hit 5-of-8 3-pointers. He also didn’t miss a free-throw over eight attempts. Another positive stat, he recorded four assists, the second-highest on the team behind Randle.

Quickley is becoming a focal point for the Knicks on offense, playing 24 minutes, equal to starting PG Elfrid Payton.

The New York Knicks battled to until the very last moment:

However, when you’re down 20 points at the half, it is extremely difficult to come back from. Even had coach Tom Thibodeau was impressed with the team’s fight and resiliency.

“It’s impressive. Again,’’ Thibodeau said. “I think that shotmaking is a huge asset for our team. That’s something that we need. He gets better with each outing, puts pressure on people”

While the offense sputtered in the first half, they picked it up significantly in the second, scoring 63 points while Portland finished with just 46.
The Knicks showed off their defensive prowess, as the number one ranked defense in the NBA.

Now, thanks to a strange COVID-19 schedule, they will have a week off to rest up and get some of their injured players healthy.

“Moreso this year with COVID, the schedule is against you and sometimes it’s for you,’’ Thibodeau said. “It usually balances out over the course of the year. We want to have the mental toughness to get through whatever we’re facing. This was the situation which they had been off a long time. You deal with what’s in front of you. We know we have to bring more to a game to win.’’