The Knicks let go of their shooting problems in 2020, put up a solid defense and found their finishing touches.
After a brutal New Year’s Eve shooting night against the Raptors in Tampa, the Knicks bounced back and leaned on their defense late to close the Pacers to a 106–102 Saturday night win at Bankers Live Fieldhouse.
After losing the lead briefly in the middle of the fourth quarter, the Knicks (3-3) used an 11-0 stretch and ended the match in a 13-6 run to secure the victory.
“That’s what he’s about – all we have to do to win, that’s the only thing that matters,” said Julius Randall, who came up with a massive robbery late that led to a flood during the deciding round. “We did a great job getting stops along the half and then at the end of the attack, just playing for each other.”
RJ Barrett, who was among the main culprits during a cold shooting night Thursday, re-discovered his groove and led the way with 25 points. Randall made a tough start on Saturday – he was suspended without goals until the last minute of the first half – and ended the match with 12 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists.
Randall’s defense over Dumantas Sabonis, Mitchell Robinson’s Big Night (16 points, nine rebounds) and Elfred Payton (19 points) helped the Knicks dominate the Pacers (4-2) in the paintwork, defeating them 56-26 and recovering the rebound. They are 51-32.
“That was a big concern,” said coach Tom Tibudo. “The way they put the ball on the field and scored there.” “That’s everyone that’s bonded together. … [The Pacers put] Immense pressure on your defense. It requires you to do more than one thing, so there are often two, three, four, five efforts in one game and that is what it takes to win. “
Sabonis scored 32 points in the Pacers’ season-opening win over the Knicks, but kept the score of 13 on Saturday night. Malcolm Brujdon from downtown caught fire, he led the Pacers’ side with 33 points, but the Knicks were not allowed to spoil their strong defensive efforts.
After shooting a 3-to-36 brutality from behind the arc in Thursday’s loss, the Knicks started a Saturday 3-for-4 match from deep and finished with 12-27.
Barrett drained his first 3 defeats in the first quarter, picking up 21 straight fouls from outside the arc over his previous four matches. He scored two goals after two minutes, and resumed from where he left off in Indiana with a 3-for-3 shot from deep in the opening season.
After Barrett’s 0-8 out of 3 show on Thursday, he spent an hour on the field in Tampa putting on more shots. It looks like he’s helping to take him out of his funk as on Saturday he finished shooting a 4 vs 5 of 3.
Barrett said, “I put in the extra effort, but I really did shoot the same footage that I was shooting the last two games.” “They went tonight.”
Although Randall didn’t score until he sank into a corner kick 43 seconds before halftime – after he started 0-6 with four turns and four assists – he helped Robinson hit the slump. Position was active around the edge, clearing offensive rebounds and 6-to-6-12 points in the first half.
The Knicks trailed 51-50 in the first half but came out hard to start the third quarter, setting the tone for how to end the match on the back of their defense.
“We feel we’re giving ourselves a chance to win every night and that’s what we’ve done so far,” said Randall. “The most important thing is to finish the games. With the third quarter approaching, I tried to tell the players that the Indiana team is huge in the third quarter. … so we had to be aggressive, go in and fight and that is what we did.”
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