On the tail end of a back-to-back, the Knicks dominated the formidable Charlotte Hornets. Doing so by committee, as once more, three Knicks players scored 20 points or more. The seamless manner in which the Knicks have conducted themselves over these past three wins indicates they are indeed separating themselves as a true contender in the Eastern Conference.
Jalen Brunson continues to shock Knicks faithful with how effective he is on all three levels. Scoring a team-high 32 points from every angle on the court.
Brunson continues to show his assertiveness. With an astounding 70% true shooting percentage in the contest, Brunson has been a master at work offensively. An aggressive and poised Brunson is the perfect balance for the more modest play style that will keep star Julius Randle healthy throughout the season.
Coming off an ankle injury, Randle must take it slow, and in doing so, he has adjusted his game to fit what the Knicks need. Julius Randle is averaging eight assists in this current three-game winning streak and looks better than ever in his attempts to execute in transition as well as dishing to the open man.
RJ Barrett returns
After battling migraines and missing the previous two games, RJ Barrett was back in the Knicks starting lineup against Charlotte. Totaling 15 points on 15 shot attempts, Barrett was very aggressive in his return as he wore that rust off on the road.
Expect the usual greatness from Barrett when the Knicks play the Timberwolves in Minnesota on Monday Night. Continuing his assertive nature will be essential against Anthony Edwards. A team-high +/- of 16 against the Hornets in his first game back speaks candidly to the commitment of RJ Barrett in all facets of his game, offensively and defensively.
“The Big Ragu” himself has been a gem for the Knicks this season. Besides a contagious winning mentality, Divincenzo has orchestrated brilliance on both sides of the ball. In 28 minutes, DiVincenzo scored 25 points with seven made three-pointers and an excellent three steals to cap off the best performance in his NBA tenure thus far.
The depth the Knicks possess is truly remarkable, and the high IQs blended with excellent coaching have brought a variety found far and few in the entire association. Mitchell Robinson is the perfect example, as what he brings can’t be found elsewhere across the league. Leading the NBA in total offensive boards by a whopping 26 rebounds makes the case that this is the best Mitchell Robinson has ever looked.
When the anchor of the defense is looking phenomenal, that bodes well for the entire team, as everyone now is more assertive to match what Robinson brings night in and out. The New York Knicks are top ten in offensive and defensive ratings this season.
This game was one where the Knicks again led throughout the entire contest. Amid that, the Hornets backcourt combined for 63 points. Rookie Brandon Miller had his best game of the season as Lamelo Ball did what he did, and that’s to score the basketball at a high rate.
The Knicks’ defensive discipline was the difference maker in this contest, but continuity will be of the essence, not comfortability. The Knicks must assert themselves defensively even more, and with the guard rotation at Coach Thibs’ expense, there should be no “leaving the hip” of the opposing team’s best player.
The Knicks have started the season now 8-5, tied for their best start since the 2012-2013 NBA Season. Along with winning six of the last seven contests, New York is embedding a winning culture that even Knicks fans are still getting used to. No more tough matchups with weak opponents because the Knicks are as strong as they’ve ever been.
The conversation in the national media will move from “Who should New York add?” to giving the Knicks the respect they deserve. New York’s road stand continues when they take on a strong defense in Minnesota on Monday.