Knicks are Thunderballed


That was an awful display of NBA basketball that was played at the Garden last night.

In a game that neither team seemed like they wanted to win, the Knicks lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder in overtime, 127-123. The Thunder outscored the Knicks, 15-11, in overtime to secure the win.

Evan Fournier bounced back nicely from his terrible game in Portland as he scored 29 points. Julius Randle had a triple-double with 30 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists while Mitchell Robinson had a double-double with 13 points and 17 rebounds, but, as has been the case lately, it doesn’t lead to a win.

Even with Robinson on the floor, Oklahoma City was able to challenge inside, as evidenced by 64 points in the paint. “The thing that they do well is they drive the ball into the paint very effectively, coach Tom Thibodeau said after the game. “We knew that would be the challenge for us. Their guards got into the paint and created havoc and that was a problem”

That was only one of the problems. The Knicks once again struggled in the fourth quarter and failed to put the game away. This time, no double digit lead was blown, but the Knicks blew a lead nonetheless when Darius Bazley, who had 23 points, hit a lay up with five secs left in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 112.

With a little over four minutes left, a Fournier bucket made it a 110-106 Knicks’ lead but that would be their last points until late in the fourth quarter. Both teams went cold and the Thunder broke the scoring drought when rookie guard Josh Giddey, who had a triple-double, hit two free throws with 1:07 remaining.

With the game tied at 110, Giddey made a bad inbounds pass that was stolen by Founier, who found Quentin Grimes for an easy lay up and a 112-110 lead with 15 seconds left.

Bazley’s reverse lay up tied the game at 112 and the Knicks had one last shot to avoid overtime but Randle missed a corner shot at the buzzer.

The Thunder controlled the overtime but they missed free throws down the stretch to allow the Knicks to have one last chance to tie, but Immanuel Quickley, who had a brutal night, and had just re-entered the game, missed a three.

Why Quickley was even on the floor, much less take the shot, was a head scratcher because he was 0 for 6 from the floor and 0 for 4 from three before launching that final shot.

Sometimes, things happen earlier in a game that could have a direct effect on what happens at the end of a close game.

Consider this sequence that occurred near the end of the first half.

With 1:07 left in the first half, Kemba Walker hit a three pointer to put Knicks up 62-57. After the Thunder inbounded, Grimes stole the ball from Giddey and four seconds later, he misses a three. I don’t care if you have a “good look.” Do you really need to shoot a three in that spot, even if it’s a “good look.” Why not run some clock? That’s not winning basketball.

OKC scored in transition to make it a three point Knicks lead. On the ensuing inbounds, Randle made an awful pass that was stolen by Aaron Wiggins who fed Bazley for an easy lay up and a one point deficit at halftime.

As “good” as Randle has played lately, he had 7 more turnovers last night and is averaging 3.5 turnovers per game this season. That’s 3.5 less possessions and chances to score. Some of the local media seem to gloss over this number when they laud how well Randle is playing.

All things being equal, the Knicks were outscored 51-50 in the second half. If they were a little smarter at the end of the first half, maybe they win by four and OKC doesn’t even see overtime.

Knicks have now lost 5 of their last 6 and 12 of their last 15 as they continue to sink in the Eastern Conference standings.

The failure to execute in the fourth quarter seems to be an ongoing trend for the Knicks. “We just letting a lot of ‘em go,” Randle said. “Four losses of our last five, probably very winnable games and the narrative would probably be a lot different.”

The Knicks launch threes like they’re the Golden State Warriors but Steph Curry and Klay Thompson don’t have New York written across their chest. Knicks were 15 of 50 from three, while OKC was 13 of 34 from beyond the arc.

Question about this Knicks team have arisen and need to be answered. The bloom is off President Leon Rose, who never addresses the media, nor is he made to, so all you can do is speculate.

Quickley taking the last shot last night, Barrett injuring his ankle because he was on the floor in the final 20 seconds of a blow out and numerous fourth quarter melt downs is a reflection of the coach and Thibodeau needs to be held accountable.

The coach doesn’t seem to care for Cam Reddish, but keeping him on the bench, when the current rotation is not exactly winning games, doesn’t make sense for the present or the future. Reddish got 5 minutes in the first half and then sat for a long time before he returned for three more minutes, early in the fourth quarter.

It would be prudent to at least see what you’ve got in Reddish since you traded a first round pick to acquire the third year forward.

Grimes had 19 points and 7 rebounds but he gets too “three-happy” (5 for 14 from BYA) and needs to work for better shots, but his continuing development was one positive from a dismal evening.

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