Studs and Duds from Knicks’ double-digit road loss to the Timberwolves

New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) looks towards the bench after a call on the floor against the Minnesota Timberwolves in the second half at Target Center
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks completed a five-game road stand with a 117–110 loss Monday Night to the Minnesota Timberwolves. With a defense ranked best in the league in Minnesota, the Knicks must bounce back Friday when the old foe, the Miami Heat, comes to the Garden. 

Studs: Jalen Brunson maintained his consistency

In a disappointing game from the Knicks filled with duds, the reigning Eastern Conference player of the week was one of the few exceptions. This game saw Jalen Brunson get off to a great start, totaling 11 points in the first quarter and ending with an efficient 25 points on the night.

On a selective night with only 15 shot attempts, Minnesota threw much more length at Brunson defensively. Brunson is averaging 27.8 points per game over his last five games while shooting an incredible 52% from three. The consistency shown by Brunson with his IQ makes him the clear-cut first option following a rough start to the season from Julius Randle and a couple of early health woes from RJ Barrett. 

Studs: Mitchell Robinson continued his rebounding dominance

Mitchell Robinson is continuing to demonstrate his value to his team and in this league. Robinson totaled seven offensive boards to Rudy Gobert’s three, showing the game within the games when going up against Robinson. He is now the first player in the last 30 years of the NBA to record three or more offensive rebounds in each of the first 14 games. 

Duds: IQ and RJ Barrett struggled to hit their shots against a tough Minnesota defense

The top-tier Minnesota defense, blending with this being the last game on a five-game road trip, had the Knicks’ number on Monday night. Lackadaisical transition defense and careless turnovers by New York saw the second half begin with an 11-0 run by Minnesota, and they never looked back. Immanuel Quickley and RJ Barrett, usually a dynamic duo, combined for 8/27 from the floor, shooting 29% in the contest. 

Duds: The big three struggled to perform

The Knicks’ losses this season have been to the Celtics twice, the Bucks, the Cavaliers, the Pelicans, and now the Timberwolves. When it’s time to play winning teams, New York has struggled to maintain its form.

A lack of discipline shows itself, and what must change is how the leaders in Brunson, Barrett, and Randle assert themselves when it is time to play big games. Only eight assists between the three to seven turnovers.

The Knicks finished with just 16 assists and only shot 23% from the three-point line in the contest, as shots were not falling for much of the third quarter.

However, Julius Randle came alive in the second quarter and finished with a double-double on the night.

Duds: The Knicks’ role players failed to make an impact

Even the Knicks’ prominent rolemen saw a tough night as DiVincenzo, Grimes, and Hart all combined for 11 points, and Grimes went 0/6 from the floor in 24 minutes of action. A testament to how great Minnesota’s defense is, but never an excuse to roll over. This game should’ve been much closer after a brilliant first-half performance that saw the Knicks only down two. 

The Knicks have a tough challenge ahead

The three-game winning streak has been snapped, but after a solid road trip for the Knicks, they showed tremendous promise. Getting accustomed to the winning ways and games within the games will be crucial to being the top-three seed in the East. Now 4-2 in their last six games, New York looks forward to three days of rest before seeing their playoff rivals Miami Heat to continue the in-season tournament. 

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