Studs and Duds: Knicks win the battle of New York once again

New York Knicks guard Miles McBride (2) takes a three point shot in the first quarter against the Brooklyn Nets at Madison Square Garden
Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The battle of New York resided on this occasion inside Madison Square Garden as the New York Knicks hosted the Brooklyn Nets. Herculean efforts from Miles McBride and Donte DiVincenzo made the difference against a lengthy and rugged Nets defense. Now only one game behind the coveted third seed, New York is well aware of the ramifications that come with home-court advantage in the upcoming playoffs. The Knicks came out on top of the Nets with a final score of 105–93.

Studs: Donte DiVincenzo makes plays on both ends

In another stellar showing, Donte DiVincenzo scored 31 points, six rebounds, and five assists. Recently, Donte has been exercising his two-way excellence more, as he hadn’t had a game scoring 20 or more in eight games before this masterclass. With every contest remaining possibly garnering playoff implications, DiVincenzo was one of three players to tally 40 minutes played.

The Brooklyn Nets have a considerable defense with depth on the wings as they disrupted New York through three quarters. In the fourth quarter, DiVincenzo caught fire for nine straight points, extending the lead to 87-80 and never looking back.

13 of DiVincenzo’s 31 occurred in the fourth quarter as Donte continues to climb the Knicks season record for threes made in a season. Only second by 18 made threes to Evan Fournier and 12 games left, expect DiVincenzo to eclipse that 241st-made milestone and make history. 

Studs: The Miles McBride breakout continues

Averaging 22 points in his past three games, Miles McBride’s breakout has unlocked another level for the Knicks. A small detail that will make a world difference is that opposing teams will not be capable of sending doubles to McBride because of the lethality of the Knicks’ rotation.

What Miles McBride lacks as the primary point, he makes up for much more by playing alongside Jalen Brunson. With the ability to create his shot from anywhere on the floor, McBride showed an array of skills en route to a 26-point night with six threes made.

McBride played the entire game, as this was his third game in a row, playing 40 minutes or more. In the last week, McBride has only sat a total of four minutes. The smooth jumper and quick moves from McBride made him a nightmare for a Nets team that was successful in taking Brunson’s effectiveness out of the contest.

In most cases, that spells ‘doom’ for New York but the leap McBride has taken will now force the hand of coaches to game plan against McBride. Thankfully, when players reach the game plan, they have made it. 

Studs: Isaiah Hartenstein is consistent

Since returning from a harboring left Achilles injury eleven games ago, Isaiah Hartenstein has only recently returned to dominant form. In the last four games, he is averaging 14 points and 10 rebounds, with phenomenal showings against Denver’s Nikola Jokic and Sacramento’s Damontas Sabonis.

The return to consistency from the big man ahead of the playoffs raises the floor of New York significantly with the pending return of Mitchell Robinson. Against the Brooklyn Nets, Hartenstein scored 17 points and nine rebounds with four steals and two blocks. The best center on the floor against Brooklyn, Hartenstein was a part of the fourth-quarter surge, scoring seven points, that ultimately put the game away. 

Duds: Off day for Jalen Brunson 

This game was just an off day, salvaged by incredible teammates, who had more room to work with the attention the defense gave Jalen Brunson. Swarming the all-star guard at every turn Jalen Brunson scored 17 points and dished eight assists on 7/24 from the floor.

Walking away with a win removes any concern, but antennas should be moving with the strategy Brooklyn used to give Brunson a hard time. If the opposition has strong wing defenders, especially without OG Anunoby and Julius Randle, there will be added pressure on the rotation outside of Brunson to produce. The Knicks have the depth to get the job done, but every team has cold nights and Brunson is the engine on offense. 

Takeaways from the Knicks’ win over the Nets

Only 12 games remain this regular season and the Knicks sit one game back of the third seed. The next three opponents for New York are all below .500 teams compared to the current three-seed Cleveland Cavaliers team, which is on the brink of a three-game losing streak.

Momentum is trending in the right direction for the Knicks, who still have core players to return to the lineup. The Detroit Pistons visit Madison Square Garden on Monday with an 0-2 season record against the New York Knicks. Alec Burks and Bojan Bogdanovic play their former team as possible motivation will coast New York to back-to-back wins. 

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