In a battle of two basement-dwellers, the Knicks defeated the Blazers by 30 points with RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley logging strong efforts.
The New York Knicks (29-40) welcomed the Portland Trail Blazers (26-42) in the first game back at Madison Square Garden after two weeks away. The Knicks had not been at the Garden for some home cooking in seven contests and they could not have been happier to be at the Mecca as multiple Knicks got off to a fast start, winning wire-to-wire, 128-98, and ending a five-game home losing streak.
New York was led by RJ Barrett, who scored 14 points in the first quarter and drained four early three-pointers. Julius Randle was also extremely active, creating for his teammates and notching six assists in the period. In an eventful opening period, Evan Fournier may have had one of the highlights of the night as his quick hands got in the Blazers’ passing lane and he stole a ball leading to a fast break, where he no-look passed a dime to Randle for an easy bucket.
Portland’s Josh Hart scored a quick 10 points to keep his team within a respectable distance, but the Knicks carried a 10-point lead into the second quarter. New York stayed in control of the game with a free-flowing offense that saw plenty of ball movement. In another first-half highlight, Barrett continued his domination getting Obi Toppin involved in the action as they collaborated together on one of his many highlight alley-oop dunks that lead to a Toppin one-handed high-flying dunk. The ‘Bockers were able to bait Portland into foul trouble in the first half; the Blazers committed 17 personal fouls in the first two quarters. New York showed much better discipline, only committing six fouls.
RJ with ANOTHER 3 pic.twitter.com/BxjMyB0sGO
— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) March 16, 2022
Barrett ended his excellent 21-point first-half with the Knicks leading by 11 going into the break. Josh Hart was the only Blazer able to score double-digit points in the first half as the rest of his team struggled to get things going. After starting hot from long distance, the Blazers missed their last eight attempts of the half from behind the arc.
The Knicks got off to another strong start in the second half, quickly building their lead to as high as 20 points in the period. New York dominated the third quarter with Portland having no answers as they continued to commit fouls. RJ Barrett seemed to be hot all night, he would continue his hot scoring in the third quarter scoring another eight points. New York may have finally slain their third-quarter dragon—after multiple collapses in the third quarter this season, the Knicks have had a recent stretch of impressive third quarters and that continued tonight.
By the time the fourth quarter came around, it was garbage time. Head coach Tom Thibodeau emptied the bench as the youngsters go some extended playtime; notably, Jericho Sims and “Deuce” McBride, playing 24 and 20 minutes, respectively. Even Ryan Arcidiacono got some late-game action; he hit the last three-pointer of the game to push the Knicks’ lead to 30 points.
The Knicks continue to play terrific basketball highlighted by Barrett, who ended the night with 31 points, five assists, four rebounds, and two steals. Evan Fournier scored just 14 points but totaled a season-high six assists and pushed his season three-point total past the 200 threshold—only the second player in franchise history. Julius Randle struggled, shooting just 5-of-18 but knocked down 10 of 12 free throws on the night; he notched a near triple-double with 20 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists.
Mitchell Robinson totaled seven points and six rebounds but tallied five blocked shots. Obi Toppin had a great, highlight-reel night, scoring 13 points in just 14 minutes of action. Immanuel Quickley kept up his great play scoring 18 points to go with six assists and five rebounds.
The Trail Blazers were never really in the game. After starting hot, Josh Hart shot 6-of-15 for 17 points. Justise Winslow struggled as well, shooting 3-for-10 with just seven points on the night. Rookie Brandon Williams also struggled shooting 6-for-15 for 14 points. Portland’s bench was almost nonexistent as well; the only player with a meaningful contribution was Kris Dunn, who scored 13 points and tallied seven assists.
Next up the Knicks host the Washington Wizards on Friday night as they hope to keep their slim play-in game hopes alive. The game may hold some extra meaning as Wizards deadline acquisition, former Knick, Kristaps Porzingis comes back to MSG.