Studs and Duds: New York Knicks roll over Toronto Raptors to spoil Barrett and Quickley’s homecoming

Toronto Raptors guard Immanuel Quickley (5) hugs New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) after being substituted out of the game during the fourth quarter at Madison Square Garden
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

In one emotionally motivated contest, it was the New York Knicks hosting the Toronto Raptors. The returns of RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley brought fans to their feet in unison as both players made tremendous impacts during their Knicks’ tenure. Led by Jalen Brunson, New York’s lead ballooned to 28 points in a dominant 126-100 win over the Raptors. 

Studs: Jalen Brunson is on a tear 

Brunson set the tone with a 13-point first quarter as he navigated his way to a 23-point second half. Since returning from injury, Brunson has averaged 36 points, five rebounds, and eight assists in three games played.

The undersized Raptors team threw everyone they could at Jalen, but the legitimate three-level scorer he is was not fazed in the slightest. Top 20 in both points per game and assists, the poise of Brunson is nothing short of commendable as he is arguably the best point guard in the Eastern Conference. 

Studs: Julius Randle’s big night

For the first time this season and the 14th time in his career, Julius Randle tallied a triple-double. Totaling 18 points, 16 rebounds, and 10 assists, the utilization of Randle in this game was well crafted — albeit with seven turnovers in the process.

Scoring 15 points on 6/7 from the field while adding six assists in the first half, Randle’s banter against his former teammates took social media by storm during this contest. Bringing light to a new version of the phrase “bully ball,” this approach sets the stage for when these teams run it back In Toronto. Julius Randle is now fourth all-time on triple-doubles in New York Knicks history. 

Studs: Precious Achiuwa revenge game

With Isaiah Hartenstein going down due to a sore left ankle early in the game, Precious Achiuwa stepped up big for the New York Knicks. Achiuwa scored 18 points and 11 rebounds on 90% from the field. The former first-round pick out of University of Memphis showed skills off the dribble and high energy with handoffs in the post. Toronto’s lack of size may have benefited Achiuwa on this occasion as a performance of that caliber in the NBA can be the well-needed catalyst on a team lacking heavily on depth in the front court. 

Duds: Injured bigs

Isaiah Hartenstein has been dominant as of late. The incredible level of play he has shown in the wake of Mitchell Robinson’s injury has done wonders for his future contract negotiations. Now harboring a sore left ankle, this injury could be significant for the New York Knicks.

The big man was on a streak of seven straight double-rebounding games while leading the league in total rebounds since the new year. Recently averaging 35 minutes per game, the workhorse mentality of Hartenstein and his tenacity on the glass may be imitated but will be hard to duplicate.

Achiuwa lacks the size to battle in the post against premier big men, and Nikola Jokic followed by Bam Adebayo comes to town next week. 

Takeaways from the Knicks’ win over the Raptors 

In the words of former New York Jet Santana Moss, “Big-time players make big-time plays.” This game was one of many that emphasized the importance of Jalen Brunson as he raised his level of play once again. His Villanova cohorts in Donte DiVincenzo and Josh Hart combined for 27 points and 12 rebounds while both solidifying how formidable this Knicks rotation is.

OG Anunoby had three blocks with one steal to add his lockdown defense in the fold while averaging 16 points and five rebounds over his last five games. Looking ahead, the Knicks face Brooklyn on Tuesday and look to extend their winning streak to four games from the Barclays Center. 

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