The special night belonged to Stephen Curry.
He broke Ray Allen’s record for the most three-pointers in NBA history, and his Golden State Warriors came away with a 105-96 win over the New York Knicks Tuesday night at the Garden.
But the Knicks could take solace on squeezing another solid performance from one of their recent draft picks.
Miles McBride, the 36th pick of the draft, seized the opportunity to show he belongs and deserves to share the court with Curry. With the Knicks missing three players (RJ Barrett, Obi Toppin, and Quentin Grimes) due to health and safety protocols, McBride was Tom Thibodeau’s ninth man in the rotation.
After checking in for Evan Fournier in the final six seconds of the opening quarter, McBride quickly made his presence felt. He opened the second quarter with his first stepback three-pointer.
With some razzle-dazzle dribbling, the 6-foot-1 McBride shook off Damian Lee, then used Mitchell Robinson’s screen to lose his bigger defender. After creating the space, he stepped back to the right corner and avoided Nemanja Bjelica’s closeout.
Six minutes later, he did it again against the Warriors’ defensive stalwart Juan Toscano-Anderson from the right elbow.
Mcbride’s two beautiful stepback three-pointers helped the Knicks build a 46-38 lead before the Warriors stormed back and cut the deficit at the half to a solitary point, 48-47.
Deuce McBride vs Warriors thread
On Deuce's first non-garbage time offensive possession of his career, he displays his best skill on offense: Pull up shooting. Watch how much space he creates on Bjelica on the stepback to get behind the 3PT line. Very smooth looking jumper pic.twitter.com/BJB6VaIkYF
— Ariel (@APachecoNBA) December 15, 2021
Buoyed by his stellar first half, McBride got a longer leash in the final two quarters. The rookie out of West Virginia ended up playing a season-high 20 minutes. He responded with eight points on 3 of 8 shooting and went 2 for 4 from downtown. He added four rebounds and one assist with no turnover, showing nerves of steel for a rookie.
â€œWe see it in practice. When heâ€™s had opportunities in the G-League, heâ€™s played really well there as well. He played well in the summer league. Itâ€™s good for him to have an opportunity like that,” Thibodeau said of McBride. “All the things that heâ€™s working on every day and then to get into a game situation and to see it unfold, itâ€™s good, itâ€™s positive. Our young guys are really playing hard, and theyâ€™re coming along.”
McBride’s confidence was oozing all night. Even the shots that he missed, he took them with conviction. There was no sign of hesitation.
Four impressive games in the G League prepared McBride for his moment. He dominated the G League competition with monster numbers — 26.8 points, 6.0 rebounds, 9.5 assists, and 1.3 steals — and shot 40.5 percent from the three-point territory on 9.3 attempts.
“Deuce is a good player, man,” Derrick Rose said. His confidence is very high. His defense is top-tier. He just needs the time. Hopefully, Thibs gives him the time. But we know how good he is. And we know how good the rookies are. So it’s all about opportunity in this league.”
Thibodeau constantly harped about “confidence comes from preparation.”
McBride is another proof of that Thibodeau’s tenet.
When preparation met opportunity, he grabbed it, and he never let it go. McBride was the only Knicks player who finished with a positive (+4) plus-minus.
Barring any trade that would bring in a solid Kemba Walker replacement in the coming days, McBride figures to play more minutes moving forward as they continue to miss their COVID-19 stricken teammates.
McBride leapfrogging Walker in the rotation could be the final sign that the former four-time All-Star point guard is on his way out of New York. Walker and Fournier, who had a season-low two points on 1 of 5 shooting, will be trade-eligible beginning Wednesday.
Thibodeau remained steadfast with his decision to sit out Walker despite the Knicks sliding to their seventh loss in the last eight games — their record since he yanked the New York-bred point guard out of the rotation.
â€œYou just want to put your team in a position to win. If you look at the games and you go through the games, thereâ€™s some really good stuff, and thereâ€™s some stuff that, obviously, has to be better,” Thibodeau reasoned out.
While Golden State coach Steve Kerr has it all figured out with the Warriors thanks to the continuity of their championship core led by Curry, Thibodeau is still learning more about his team.
“I think weâ€™re finding some stuff out about some [of our] young guys. I love our young guys. When Jericho [Sims] stepped in, he played well (in Atlanta). When Quentin (Grimes) stepped in, he played well. I thought Deuce (Miles McBride) played well tonight. So, you know, we need everyone.â€
What is becoming more apparent is that the Knicks’ offseason acquisitions — Walker and Fournier — have been a major flop. Their rookies’ promising showing somehow provides the silver lining amid a disastrous start.
Curry capped his 22-point (5 of 14 3s) performance with the dagger three-pointer in the final 2:41.
Curry’s historic night was a painful reminder of what the Knicks missed in the 2009 NBA Draft. They came one pick away from perhaps their greatest selection since Patrick Ewing.
The Warriors scuttled their plan.
To the victor belongs the spoils. To the loser belongs the lessons.
After several draft misses, finally, the Knicks appear to have had hit their recent picks.
Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo