Studs and Duds: The Knicks’ winning streak extends following huge 4th-quarter effort against the Nets

New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) reacts during the fourth quarter against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center
Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks were at a home game on the road against the Brooklyn Nets from the Barclays Center on Tuesday night. Cheers from the “away team” fans were rampant as Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson handled business down the stretch. A depleted front court for the Knicks and a big night from Mikal Bridges was not enough as the Brooklyn Nets lost the battle of New York. The Knicks came out on top with a final score of 108-103.

Studs: The Julius Randle Renaissance 

Julius Randle saved his best work for the fourth quarter. In what was a close affair throughout the contest, Randle went for nine points, five rebounds, and three assists, converting on what some are calling the play of the season thus far.

Randle finished the game with 30 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists on 52% from the field. The most prominent aspect of Randle’s performance was his shot selection. Only shooting two threes all game and converting both, the grit and determination from Randle is more fluent when he’s within 12-15 feet. Doing the dirty work in the paint and playing with finesse on fadeaway shots, Randle is a nightmare for opposing matchups when allowing the game to come to him. In his last four games, Randle’s true shooting percentage is 64.8. 

Studs: All-Star Jalen Brunson 

Jalen Brunson’s level of play is no longer surprising to Knicks faithful. The future All-Star has averaged 34 points per game and seven assists since his return from a left calf contusion. Brunson tied with Carmelo Anthony as the last Knicks player to have five consecutive 30-point games.

The dynamic duo of Brunson and Randle is one of the best in the league. Hearing MVP chants and roars from the Barclays Center crowd in support, no Eastern Conference team wants anything to do with the New York Knicks come playoff time. 

Studs: The Knicks’ defense is clicking on this winning streak 

The New York Knicks have won four consecutive games while holding their opponents to an average of 101.5 points per game. The best defense in the league since the OG Anunoby acquisition, the Knicks are also 10-2 this calendar year. Anunoby’s defensive efforts have made a seamless fit for him in New York. The 26-year-old forward has dominated, averaging a career-high in blocks per game while allowing Brunson and Randle to get in their bags offensively. 

The lack of depth at the center position and an offensive initiator off the bench are slight issues to be solved. The fact that the Knicks are still winning games bodes well for how players have bought in and stepped up to cultivate the teams’ mission this season. 

Duds: The Knicks still lack sufficient depth

The proper balance of winning teams includes key scorers and health in the rotation. The Knicks’ dominance as of late has transcended their lack of point guard and center depth, but these are issues to address in the coming weeks as the NBA trade deadline draws closer.

Isaiah Hartenstein’s recent left Achilles injury has warranted the “next-man-up” approach, yet upcoming matchups may expose the Knicks’ frontcourt and extend the workload of Randle. The same goes for Brunson, as the minutes he’s not on the floor show a lack of playmaking and more ball-stopping offense. New York will need to address both areas to not overexert their two best players on the road to the playoffs. 

Takeaways from the Knicks win over the Nets

A dominant fourth quarter led by Randle and Brunson was the difference maker on this occasion. Both combined for 15 points and five assists while showing incredible endurance.

Looking ahead, the Knicks look to extend their winning streak against the reigning NBA Champion Denver Nuggets. Led by Nikola Jokic, Denver boasts a top-three seed in the Western Conference. Winning this game will open the eyes of many as New York looks to be in winning conversations and championship contention for years to come. 

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