An unexpected thriller in the Garden saw the league’s least-winning team go toe to toe against the New York Knicks. Handling business down the stretch, the craftiness of Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson can’t go without mentioning. Both players combined for 71 points to give the Knicks a much-needed 118–112 back-to-back win at home before heading on the road.
Studs: Jalen Brunson is playing at an All-Star level
Jalen Brunson’s All-Star season has arrived. Accumulating 42 points in 39 minutes, Brunson was the engine for New York. He was a marksman from all three levels, helping the Knicks pick up their 13th-straight win against Detroit.
Brunson is averaging 48% from three for 12th best in the entire NBA. Over the last six games, he is averaging 28.3 points per game and a career-best 25.1 points this season. In the top five for three-pointers made as well, the sheer dominance from Brunson has been paramount and a catalyst for the winning ways of the Knicks.
Brunson now has the second-most 40-point games by a guard for the Knicks. After having four last season, he already has two through the first 20 games of this year. It is a safe bet to suggest Brunson will be the all-time leader in this category by the end of his Knicks tenure.
Studs: Julius Randle is back in form
Julius Randle has been back to peak form offensively as of late. A near triple-double once again, Randle put up 29 points, ten rebounds, and eight assists on a remarkable 57% from the floor.
Ranking in the top 15 in rebounds across the league for the season, Randle averaged 27 points and 11.6 rebounds over the last four-day span. A resurgence that Randle himself said would come to fruition, he’s kept his word and shown better shot selection resulting in great efficiency over his last few games especially.
The dynamic duo of Brunson and Randle has been stellar. Knicks fans may have two players representing the East in this year’s upcoming All-Star festivities.
Studs: Knicks get off to a hot start
The Knicks have loads of talent and showed it coming out of the gate with a 14-point lead to end the first quarter. Everyone in the NBA thrives playing in the Garden, much like players get up to play against the “media darling” in the Los Angeles Lakers.
Studs: Donte DiVincenzo to the rescue
A respect for the Mecca runs deep, and the Detroit Pistons truly put together one of their better performances of the season thus far on the road. After the Pistons took the lead early in the fourth quarter, it was Donte DiVincenzo to the rescue, with three of his four made threes coming in the fourth quarter alone. DiVincenzo comes off the bench for now, but expect a return to the starting shooting guard position soon.
Duds: Quentin Grimes continues to struggle in starting role
Quentin Grimes has been a miss since his return to the starting lineup. Over the last five contests, Grimes is averaging just 2.4 points per game. Defense is “will” as much as it is a skill, and following a big three from Cade Cunningham to bring the game to a tie at halftime, there is nothing Grimes does better than Divincenzo nor Josh Hart in his role.
In the words of Brunson, the season is indeed a rollercoaster. The assertiveness that DiVincenzo and Hart bring can be utilized much better in the starting lineup and give less attention to Grimes from opposing defenses if he’s playing off the bench.
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Duds: The Knicks’ poor defense is alarming
The poor defense from the Knicks over the last couple of games has been alarming. Even with the games resulting in wins, the Knicks must not become complacent with their defensive presence and awareness.
The Pistons shot better from two (53%) and three (42%) than the Knicks. The defensive pressure forcing turnovers by the Knicks and free throws show a more mature and experienced cadence than their counterparts in Detroit, which resulted in a win. However, against great teams, that will not be the case.
Takeaways from the Knicks’ win over the Pistons
The Knicks come away with a victory over the Detroit Pistons before heading on the road to face a formidable foe in the Toronto Raptors in the second half of a back-to-back.
Over the last ten games, New York is 7-3, a win before heading into In-Season tournament play would be huge for the Knicks. The tremendous depth of the Knicks has been their saving grace, and as Barrett gets back to form, expect a much better game from him as he visits his hometown of Toronto, Canada.