Entering the 2021-2022 NBA season, the Knicks made it a point to improve their three point shooting from beyond the arc. Last night at Orlando’s Amway Center, the Knicks went “above the beyond.”
The Knicks set a franchise record with 24 three point field goals as they blew out the Orlando Magic, 121-96 and improved to 2-0. The previous record was 20 three pointers. The Knicks took a franchise record 54 attempts and shot 44% from beyond the arc. Coach Tom Thibodeau said implementing more of a three point game was one of their early season goals. “We wanted them to shoot more threes but we wanted them to be the right threes.”
Immanuel Quickley hit, both the tying and record setting threes in the fourth quarter. With less than six minutes left, Quickley canned the franchise tying 20th three pointer. Less than 30 seconds later, the second year guard, who was 4 for 8 from three, established the new mark and finished with 16 points.
Julius Randle led the way with an all around game. The All Star had 21 points with 10 rebounds, and 7 assists. Evan Fournier scored 15 of his 18 points in the first half against his old team, while the Knicks had seven players in double figures, including four off the bench. Alec Burks and Derrick Rose chipped in with 12 points apiece.
Obi Toppin had another strong game off the bench as he played 23 minutes and scored 8 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter.
Kemba Walker began the three point parade by hitting his first three from beyond the arc in the first five minutes of the game. R.J. Barrett had a quiet night with 7 points, but he had 7 rebounds and 3 assists in 25 minutes and was a factor in helping the Knicks take a 36-16 lead after the first quarter.
The Knicks took care of business against a young Magic team that didn’t provide much of a defensive effort. As the great Walt “Clyde” Frazier noted on MSG TV, the Magic played “pathetic defense” when Barrett went the length of the floor and beat four defenders for a lay up.
The Knicks led 65-35 at the half (3rd time in franchise history they had a 30 point lead on the road at halftime) and scored the first four points of the third quarter to take a 69-35 lead when the Magic went on a 22-4 run to make it 73-57. Fournier hit a three pointer to stem the tide and Randle added a dunk to increase the lead to 78-57.
Mitchell Robinson appeared to injure his hamstring in the third quarter but he returned to the court and finished with 6 points and 9 rebounds in 28 minutes.
The reigning NBA Coach of the Year has been effusive in his praise of the young center. “His impact on the game is not measured by the box score,” Thibodeau said.
The Knicks had 34 assists, 24 fast break points and scored 22 points off turnovers. The Knicks bench outscored Orlando’s bench, 58-31, in a thoroughly dominating effort. “This was a good win to start how we wanna play on the road,” Randle said.
Defensively, the Knicks held the Magic to 40% from the floor and 40% from three.
One downer from the game was poor free throw shooting. Knicks were 9 for 17 (53%) from the free throw line. Two games in, the Knicks are 28 for 44 (64%) and that has to improve. They can get away with 53% against teams like Orlando. They won’t against the better teams.
It’s been awhile since the Knicks could empty their bench in “garbage time.” Rookie Quentin Grimes made a late three for his first NBA points. Miles McBride made his NBA debut and even Kevin Knox got some run.
It’s only two games, but it’s the Knicks’ best start since the 2012-2013 season. “As I said right at the beginning of the year, we wanna be playing our best at the end of the year so we don’t know where this can go,” Thibs said. “We just gotta keep working at it.”
Who knows where this Knicks team will go is anybody’s guess, but the journey should be fun.