The New York Knicks finally reached .500 tonight, beating the Indiana Pacers 110-107.
They’ve moved up to a tie with the Toronto Raptors for 4th place in the Eastern Conference.
New York has won 6 out of the last 8 and continue to distinguish themselves in a crowded Eastern Conference.
ALL STAR VS ALL STAR
Julius Randle locked down Sabonis tonight, limiting his fellow All Star to 15 points and only 5 field goals. Randle started off slow offensively, deferring more often to his teammates before turning it on in the second half and finishing with 28 points, 10 rebounds, and 6 assists.
Randle had a lot of help tonight, as RJ Barrett finished with 24 points and 7 rebounds.
Barrett lucked out – as he missed two foul shots with 14 seconds left, giving Indiana the ball down two with a chance to tie it up.
Indiana turned the ball over on a baffling play call, culminating in a steal from Frank Ntilikina. Ntilikina was fouled himself and made both of his free throws, putting the Knicks up 4 and securing their victory.
With Elfrid Payton out again, Ntilikina found himself in the lineup for the second straight game.
He played 11 minutes tonight and finished with 5 points. He is looking like a natural addition to Coach Tom Thibideaou’s lineup.
Derrick Rose started his second straight game and thrived, as he had 17 points, 11 assists, and 5 steals.
Success from any guard named Rose, Immanuel Quickly, or Ntilikina will fuel some Knicks fans desire that Elfrid Payton see his playing time reduced.
Payton has been an important ball handler and perimeter defender, but lacks the playmaking and shooting that the veteran Rose and rookie Quickly bring to the court.
He also likes the cult following that Ntilikina has developed.
NEXT MAN UP
New York has done well in Mitchell Robinsons’s absence, as Noel and Gibson have effectively replaced his consistent rebounding and defense.
If Gibson is out for a few games, expect to see some more small ball like we saw tonight: Randle at the five and Knox at the four.
With Robinson, Payton, and now Gibson out, New York’s depth has been tested over the last few games. And the Knicks have shown they are up to the challenge.
Vs. Detroit Pistons, Sunday February 28th at 5:00pm Pacific
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