The Knicks’ winning streak may have been a fluke after hitting rock bottom

New York Knicks, julius randle
Dec 29, 2022; San Antonio, Texas, USA; New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) during the second half against the San Antonio Spurs at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks are at Rock Bottom. Again. This time, after suffering a pair of heartbreaking defeats this past week, they lost 122-115 to the rebuilding San Antonio Spurs on the road. Even with the depleted roster, a loss to one of the league’s worst teams feels nothing short of disappointing.

After winning eight straight games to start the month, New York has now lost five consecutive games, their longest losing streak of the season. The losses they have suffered recently are making their win streak seem like a fluke.

They have fallen back to .500 on the season – at 18-18 – and have slipped down to the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference standings after being the sixth seed just five games ago.

Not all is bad for the Knicks right now. There are some players that as having great stretches of individual basketball, but they must figure out how to turn them into wins soon.

The silver lining is the play of Julius Randle and Immanuel Quickley

Despite the Knicks’ struggles as a team lately, there are some things to feel good about. Julius Randle is in serious contention for his second career All-Star appearance, and Immanuel Quickley is playing some of the best basketball of his young career.

The Knicks have not had Jalen Brunson for the past two games, and they won’t have RJ Barrett until the new calendar year, so Randle and Quickley have had to become the Knicks’ new one-two punch temporarily.

They have not disappointed. On Thursday, the pair combined for 78 points, 14 assists, and 11-25 three-point shooting. They accounted for 54 of the team’s 90 shot attempts, essentially trying to carry the Knicks all the way through, but it, unfortunately, was not enough to secure a win.

Over the past several games, the two of them have been incredible, showcasing their peak offensive talents in several different areas.

During the win streak, RJ Barrett said that Randle was “going crazy” and that “he’s hooping.” It would appear that he is still doing just that.

If they can keep up the level of production they are both currently providing, there is good reason to be cautiously optimistic that the Knicks can once again become the dangerously cohesive unit they were during their win streak when they return to full strength.

However, they need to start translating these masterful performances from individual players into team victories so that they are not all for naught.

For now, the Knicks as a team seem stuck. They have fought hard in every game but can not seem to close those games out. They must turn it around fast and keep the team afloat in the playoff hunt while they wait for the reinforcements to return.

The Knicks have another favorable matchup on New Year’s Eve, playing the last-place Houston Rockets to finish off the road trip around the Texas Triangle. They are hoping to get Jalen Brunson back for that one, but even if they do not get him back, they need to step up and end 2022 with a victory.

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