The Knicks start their six-game road trip with a blowout victory over the Rockets, thanks to Julius Randle’s third-quarter play and Derrick Rose’s pace and outside shooting. 

The New York Knicks (36-28) defeated the Houston Rockets (16-49) by a final score of 122-97. For New York, Julius Randle finished with 31 points, seven rebounds, and six assists, while Derrick Rose backed him up with 24 points, six rebounds, and four assists off the bench. For the Rockets, Kevin Porter Jr. tallied 14 points, six rebounds, and six assists, while Christian Wood led the Rockets with 19 points, eight rebounds, and three assists. With the win, the Knicks are up 2.5 games over Boston for the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference.

Starting the month with a six-game road trip over the next 10 days, the Knicks did not disappoint. It started with Houston and New York trading basket—R.J. Barrett getting some aggressive attacks to the basket while Porter Jr. matched him with his inside-outside game. But the Knicks began to turn up on both sides of the ball. Defensively, the Knicks made sure to stifle and throw a second man at Wood and Porter, making them attempt to move the ball rather than create their own offense.

On offense, the Knicks began raining threes. Barrett knocked down a couple of threes while Randle backed him up with two of his own. In the first half, five Knicks knocked down threes and that outside presence allowed New York to get more easy looks around the rim. Randle began to attack the basket while a Nerlens Noel finish pushed the Knicks to double digits. What started as a back-and-forth game turned to a 15-point lead at the half.

That lead didn’t disapparate as Randle reminded everyone that he is, in fact, an All-Star, taking care of most of New York’s offense in the third, puzzling Houston’s defense with an array of jumpers and drives. In total, Randle finished with 12 points in the third. When he wasn’t scoring the ball, he found Reggie Bullock (11 points, 3-of-6 from three) on the perimeter. Randle’s play and ability to create baskets for himself was key in pushing New York’s lead to 22 by the end of the third.

The fourth quarter was simple for New York—let Randle and Barrett rest as they prepare for a game tomorrow. Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin (five points, three rebounds) got some minutes while Rose led the charge. Tom Thibodeau decided to empty the bench. Norvel Pelle, Frank Ntilikina, Jared Harper, Kevin Knox, and Theo Pinson all got some run tonight, and the Knicks remained in fourth place in the Eastern Conference. All was well as the Knicks avoided falling against a feisty Houston team and got the road trip off right with a blowout win.

Game Notes

  • Derrick Rose had a solid game, but where it showed was in the first half. Once Rose subbed in, the Knicks offense leveled up and began to push the ball. Houston’s defense couldn’t keep up as the combination of Rose and Randle kept the pressure on the Rockets. His passing was good in getting his teammates some shots and a good call from Tom Thibodeau going to Rose early.
  • R.J. Barrett had a solid game. Rose and Randle get all the plaudits, but 21 points, five assists, seven rebounds, and two steals on what felt like a quiet night for him. I enjoyed his early offense—attacking the basket off the dribble and getting some solid threes—but I thought Porter got him a few times on defense. Regardless, Barrett had a solid night.

  • Immanuel Quickley (13 points, 3-of-5 from three) continues to impress. He’s still figuring it out as a playmaker and creator, but his shooting—now extended out to “four-point range” has become such a threat that defenders have to play, creating more space around inside the arc. He’s going to be a fun watch for the playoffs.
  • Let’s hope Nerlens Noel (two points, two rebounds, left the game due to sprained ankle) is alright. The Knicks are already without Mitchell Robinson; losing Noel would be a tough go. I wouldn’t be shocked if he missed a game because of this injury, and as we get closer to the playoffs, Thibodeau will have to balance playing his guys against resting them to preserve them for the playoffs.

The Knicks travel to Memphis to Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies (32-31) on May 3rd. Tip-off is set for 9:00 p.m. ET.


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»READ: R.J. Barrett is becoming a defensive force under Tom Thibodeau’s tutelage