The Knicks dropped their third straight home game to the Pelicans as the hosts heard boos at the Garden.

The New York Knicks (22-24) lost to the New Orleans Pelicans (17-28) by a final, deflating score of 102-91. Done in by a poor shooting performance from the free throw line (24-of-36) and from the field (38% FG), the Knicks were simply unable to ever compete with the young but hungry Pelicans squad who snapped a five-game road game losing streak.

The contest marked another game without center Nerlens Noel (sore knee), and another game waiting on newly acquired forward Cam Reddish to become available for the Bockers.

It was not necessarily a must-win for New York, but more so an expected win as New Orleans has been floundering this year. The Knicks sat at one game under .500 before the game, but the Pelicans were only 16-28 and third-to-last place in the Western Conference. Even with the great play of Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, and Jonas Valanciunas, the Pelicans are struggling this season in the absence of their third-year star Zion Williamson due to injury.

In the first quarter, the Knicks and Pelicans were cold offensively. New York had excellent ball movement, but they were unable to make almost anything fall. As a result, the Knicks began to feed Mitchell Robinson in the paint with some success. However, the bench unit for the Pelicans looked to be overwhelming during the tail end of the first as they started to attack the paint against the slower backup to Robinson, Taj Gibson. New York only shot 42% from the field, missed all six of their three-point attempts, and was down eight heading into the second.

The second opened with a three-pointer from neophyte Quentin Grimes, which gave New York their first make of the night from deep. But the Knicks’ shooting woes continued to haunt them as the Pelicans were able to get anything they wanted in the paint. Robinson looked like the sole Knick who seemed to have any touch at the rim before RJ Barrett was able to collect a team-high 11 points by the half. The Pelicans finished the half up four on New York as Julius Randle and Kemba Walker collected back-to-back technical fouls with tensions mounting through two sloppy quarters for both teams.

New York needed to clamp down defensively to try and get the lead against New Orleans. Coming out in the third quarter, they appeared a step slow behind the Pelicans and quickly went down by double digits again. The Pelicans began to hit their open three-pointers while the Knicks were still unable to find the touch from deep. Even with some fantastic clean-up work around the rim from Mitchell Robinson off of the rest of the Knicks’ misses, they could not stop New Orleans from going on a tear. The entire team seemed discombobulated, to say the least. A plethora of missed free throws, being an abysmal 31% from the field and having no answer to the Pelicans’ newfound range defined the third. There were no bright spots to speak of aside from Robinson’s effort. The Pelicans outscored the Knicks 35-15 and had a 26-point lead to end the period.

Entering the final period of regulation, New York was running their bench unit as their starters were not enough to help them climb out of their hole against New Orleans. Immanuel Quickley and Alec Burks hit several three-pointers and Obi Toppin played solid defense to start off the fourth, but the deficit remained high with the Pelicans leading by 17 with just over eight minutes to go. Even with a hint of a comeback looming after cutting the lead down to 10, the Knicks were unable to fully get back into the contest as they ultimately lost to New Orleans by double digits.

An important stat from the loss was the Knicks’ free throw shooting. As a team, they went 24-of-36. The starting unit went 15-for-27, continuing their bad stretch from the charity stripe.

Mitchell Robinson was the best player on the court for New York, scoring 17 points and going 6-of-7 from the field while grabbing 15 rebounds. Robinson only went 5-of-10 from the free throw line. RJ Barrett had 17 points and six rebounds but went 1-for-5 from deep. Julius Randle had a silent night offensively, but managed a team-high six assists and managed to get seven rebounds. He scored four points on 1-of-9 shooting. Evan Fournier was a nonfactor, only scoring six points and shooting 1-of-6 from beyond the arc. Kemba Walker was also not impactful, scoring five points on 1-for-5 shooting and grabbing three rebounds.

Quentin Grimes managed to score 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting from the field, as he also had one of the better three-point shooting nights for New York going 50% from long range. Immanuel Quickley had 14 points, five assists, and four rebounds off the bench, but coughed up four turnovers. Alec Burks had 13 points and was able to hit several shots after entering the game in a slump. Burks grabbed three rebounds as well. Obi Toppin did not score but played solid defense as the game winded down and collected two boards. Taj Gibson was a liability in relief of Robinson defensively and only scored two points for New York. He was able to grab five rebounds.

New York’s next challenge will be on Sunday against the Los Angeles Clippers for a matinee at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks will be seeking to right themselves at home against the Clippers who could be missing key players in Paul George, Marcus Morris Sr., and Nicolas Batum.


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