Studs and Duds: Knicks get back to winning ways against the Memphis Grizzlies

New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) reacts with New York Knicks guard Miles McBride (2) during the second half against the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum
Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

On the road again, the New York Knicks faced a depleted Memphis Grizzlies team. Led by Julius Randle, the sense of urgency from the Knicks was nonexistent. A clear talent gap existed, yet the Knicks played down to the competition, but ultimately came away with an uninspired 106–94 win in Memphis

Studs: Miles McBride makes the most of his first start of the season

In his first start of the season, Miles McBride’s skill set was on full display. Playing the entire second half for New York, McBride scored a career-high 19 points on 70% from the field. The variation in McBride’s game allowed for a seamless fit with a performance that should secure him a backup point guard role for the foreseeable future.

With six rebounds and five assists to add, McBride has the necessary confidence to allow his teammates a chance to thrive, in turn setting the tone for the Knicks throughout the contest. 

Studs: Isaiah “sign this man” Hartenstein

It’s getting to the point that Hartenstein’s productivity and durability are becoming renowned across the entire NBA. Eyes are on the Knicks’ starting center as in January he has averaged 9.6 points per game with a league-leading 14.7 rebounds per contest.

Hartenstein’s 20 rebound night versus the Memphis Grizzlies puts him at the top for rebound totals, and he is the only player in the NBA averaging 2+ steals and blocks per game. The elite production from Hartenstein in Robinson’s absence alludes to great possibilities in the later half of the season when these two are both in the Knicks’ rotation.

Duds: Knicks stumble against the Memphis Hustle 

A putrid first-half performance saw the Knicks down four to a depleted Memphis team. The Knicks came away with the win, but that had more to do with the talent gap that existed down the stretch, as Memphis only had 12 to New York’s 22 turnovers in the contest.

This game should’ve been a blowout for New York, who got lucky on this occasion, coming out much better in the second half. As the leader, Julius Randle’s attempt to play with a lack of gusto set the wrong tone as New York’s prominent role players followed suit.

Duds: An off night for Julius Randle 

Without Jalen Brunson on this team, the performance shown by Julius Randle seemed suspect at best. With reports stemming over the last week that the Knicks would be open to trading Randle gaining traction on social media, a game against the lowly Memphis Grizzlies is one where one’s dominance is on full display.

The Grizzlies presented lengthy defenders, but Randle is nearly a ten-year veteran with skills that make him one of the best forwards in the Eastern Conference. Scoring 24 points and 11 rebounds looks good on paper, but holding the supposed best player to the highest standards separates the good from the great in the NBA. 

Takeaways from the win over the Grizzlies

No Jalen Brunson and the Knicks looked disheveled at times on the floor. Yet, once again, a Knicks’ opponent scored less than 100 points as OG Anunoby had his second-highest-scoring performance as a Knick so far. The self-creation seen by Anunoby was a welcoming sign of things to come.

In the past seven games, Knicks opponents have scored an average of 101 points per game, and New York boasts the highest defensive rating in the NBA. Following the win, a four-game home stand exists for New York, beginning with an anticipated battle Monday night against the Orlando Magic. 

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