It wasn’t pretty, but the Timberwolves missed just enough shots and the Knicks grabbed just enough second chances for victory—their second in as many games.
The New York Knicks (16-18) defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves (16-18) by a final score of 96-88. It was a quiet game offensively for both squads as the T-Wolves were down several starters due to health and safety protocols and the Knicks were downright abysmal from the free throw line. However, it became a Mitchell Robinson masterclass as he dominated the glass and the paint on the road to seal the victory for New York.
The Knicks were replenished with the likes of Miles “Deuce” McBride today, and have had Kevin Knox II and Immanuel Quickley back on the team for the last several days. However, the starting lineup for New York remained the same for tonight’s matchup against a depleted Minnesota roster.
In the first quarter, the scoring was fairly balanced between the two teams. Evan Fournier looked the most dominant of all Knicks on the court to start the game, but the Timberwolves responded with a level offensive effort even with their shorthanded lineup. Free throws were also a problem for the Knicks as they went 1-of-6 from the charity stripe in the period, but they were still up by seven on Minnesota to end the first.
The second period started off with a bang from rookie Quentin Grimes, who was flexing his superb shooting from three-point land. The neophyte was dominant alongside the resurgent bench unit for New York against Minnesota. However, once the bench was pulled for New York’s starters, play on both ends on the court became stagnant. The Knicks were out-rebounded 24-18, and their highest scorer was Grimes with 11 points. The score at the half was 44-41 in New York’s favor even as the Knicks only scored 15 points in the second quarter and were outscored for much of the second quarter.
To begin the third quarter, Minnesota regained the lead off of sloppy ball-handling by New York coupled with very shoddy shooting for the Knicks. Starters Julius Randle and RJ Barrett (zero points by the end of the third quarter) were especially disappointing to start this contest and that non-impact continued into the third. The Knicks were also only 1-of-7 from the free throw line by the end of the quarter. But once Kemba Walker and Mitchell Robinson began to heat up, the Knicks seemed to be crawling back towards a dominant showing against the Timberwolves late in the period.
The Knicks were up 72-62 to begin the fourth quarter in Minnesota after a lopsided but familiar performance from New York as their bench was far more coherent than their starters. It was a battle down the stretch as Minnesota kept fighting back within reach of the Bockers’ lead, and as the Knicks kept missing both open shots and free throws. But the dominance of Robinson over the court of the entire game did not waver in the fourth, and he helped to secure key rebounds and put-backs to leave New York on top by the end of the game on the road. Robinson finished with a season-high 18 rebounds along with 14 points.
MITCHELL ROBINSON pic.twitter.com/9iAqfClmzf
— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) December 29, 2021
Evan Fournier finished the evening with 13 points on a poor 5-for-14 shooting night. Randle also wrapped up the game with 13 points but was also able to record a double-double with 15 rebounds. Kemba Walker, who was coming off of being named Eastern Conference Player of the Week, was fairly silent with 10 points, four rebounds, and two assists. RJ Barrett, who was playing in just his second game since returning from health and safety protocols, ended the game with just eight points three rebounds. Those points from Barrett were huge for New York down the line.
Obi Toppin, Taj Gibson, and Alec Burks all finished with seven points for the Knicks off the bench. Gibson was able to grab six rebounds, while Toppin and Burks played important minutes for New York in the second half to help separate them from Minnesota. Immanuel Quickley played his first minutes since returning from health and safety protocols and hit two big three-pointers off the bench coupled with dishing out four assists. Quentin Grimes was hot to start the game and finished on 3-for-9 shooting from beyond the arc and 11 points.
The Knicks’ next challenge will be in Detroit against the Pistons tomorrow night. The Pistons will also be without key players due to several positive COVID-19 tests but are already 5-27 on the season. New York will look to extend their winning streak and keep the momentum going in a contentious eastern conference race.