Jalen Brunson dominates as the Knicks fend off Washington’s surges to end the preseason with a 3-1 record.

The Knickerbockers (3-1) finished up preseason action tonight with a 105-89 victory in The Garden over the visiting Washinton Wizards (1-3). New York’s starting five stretched their lead by as much as 18 points only halfway through the first frame. The bench unit, however, lacking cohesiveness throughout the evening, let the Wizards claw back into the game. Picking up their effort on the defensive end, running out on the fast break, and sharing the rock revitalized Washington; they were able to close the margin and tie the game in the second quarter. What looked like an easy win from the jump quickly became a contest again. In what was a trending theme throughout the game, Knicks point guard Jalen Brunson and the starters reentered the game and steadied the ship with an array of buckets to thwart any Wizards’ comeback.

RJ Barrett and Jalen Brunson came out hot, but Mitchell Robinson looked the most dominant of any Knick in the early action. Robinson feasted in the paint dominating  Daniel Gafford and any other Wizards’ big in his way. Robinson finished the night with 20 points and 12 rebounds with great efficiency. Still lean but not quite as strong, Robinson clearly worked on his body during the offseason. Now it’s time to wait and see how well that translates to an 82-game season.

Brunson caught fire and carved the Washington defense up for a team preseason-high 27 points. He was also able to show those off-ball skills again, letting RJ or Julius Randle find him in spots for him to attack. This bodes well for the team’s new dynamic. New York hopes to have three capable ball handlers on the floor with Randle, Barrett, and Brunson.

On the other side; Rui Hachimura got hot in the final rep before the regular season starts. His 15 points in the first half were a welcome sight as the Wizards look for him to be a consistent offensive creator. Finishing with 20 points on 50% shooting, Hachimura looks a lot more comfortable with the ball in his hands than in years past.

 

Key takeaways:

With Cam Reddish getting eight minutes and Miles McBride not stepping on the court until garbage time, it will be interesting to see how the deep bench shakes out. McBride and Reddish were expected to make some push for rotation minutes but have mostly struggled with the opportunities given. Tonight’s final practice match showed coach Tom Thibodeau’s presumptive 10-man rotation has left both of them on the outside looking in. Things could change with the ups and downs of an NBA season.

Quiet night for both Obi Toppin and Immanuel Quickley as shots were not falling. They were both able to impact the game in other ways, IQ grabbed nine boards on the night while Toppin dished out two assists to go with a block and a steal.

Randle has consistently shown throughout the preseason that he’s willing to delegate to his teammates, only averaging 10.5  shots through the four exhibition games. This is a great sign for a Knicks team that is looking for a more balanced offensive approach. Although the question will always loom when/if Randle starts to get hot during the season, just how unselfish he’ll be.

It was a positive sign for Quentin Grimes as he was able to get back on the court even. He was held scoreless in 16 minutes of action but being able to shake the rust-off person the season can only be a good thing going forward.

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