The New York Knicks pushed their winning streak to seven and continued their climb up the Eastern Conference standings with a 142-118 dismantling of the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night. After a relatively slow start to the season, the Knicks are playing their best ball at the right time, with the playoffs rapidly approaching.
The Knicks have the second-longest active winning steak in the NBA, behind only the Milwaukee Bucks’ string 16 victories. At 37-27, the Knicks have already equaled their win total from last season, and they now sit just a game and a half behind the Cleveland Cavaliers for the fourth seed in the East with 18 games left to play.
As they have been all season, the Knicks were led by the duo of Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle in the victory over the floundering Nets, who have dropped four straight. Brunson tallied 39 points, six assists and five rebounds, while Randle added 21 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.
While Randle is a familiar face in New York, Brunson is the new addition, and his signing has proved to be one of the most monumental moves made last summer. While some wondered if the Knicks overpaid for Brunson prior to the start of the season, he seems to have made it a mission to prove that they didn’t. Over the past 15 games, Brunson is averaging nearly 29 points per performance while adding close to six assists and shooting well over 50 percent from the field.
Robinson’s strong game coupled with Claxton’s struggles gave him the confidence to declare himself the best center in New York after the Knicks win “Fun fact: Best center in New York,” Robinson said on Twitter. “and I’m Standing 10 toes on that.”
The debate between Nic Claxton and Mitchell Robinson is an interesting one, as both young centers have more traditional skill sets yet still impact the game at high levels. Claxton is more versatile on defense and has averaged more blocks per game this season. But Robinson is bigger and one of the best rebounders in the NBA, especially on the offensive end. In this game, though, Robinson certainly had the upper hand.
By the time the game was over, Brunson had 39 points, six assists, and five rebounds on a ridiculous 15-of-18 shooting performance from the field and 5-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc. Brunson was unstoppable in the first half and while he slowed down as the game went on, this wasn’t necessarily a bad thing as the Knicks’ offense was flowing incredibly well to where he didn’t need to score in bunches.
This was the Knicks’ highest-scoring game of the entire season, surpassing their 140-point total they racked up against the Pistons back in November. What makes this even better is that they likely would have scored more if they weren’t beating the Nets by so much.
Out of all the games the Knicks have played this season, there may not be a better one than last night. The offense was flowing nearly perfectly, the defense looked incredible, and the players looked like they were having tons of fun on the court.
There were really no disappointing players from this game, as guys were contributing on all areas of the floor. Whether it be Mitchell Robinson’s fourth consecutive double-double, Quentin Grimes’ fourth game scoring 20+ points, or Julius Randle’s near triple-double, there wasn’t a thing Brookyln could do to stop New York.
With the Knicks set to take on the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics in their next two matchups, we are going to need to see the team continue their hot streak if they want to make their push to the fourth seed.
Who would have thought that at this point in the season, the Knicks would be pushing for a top-four seed in the East and the Nets would be slipping further and further down the conference standings?
The downfall of the Nets has been absolutely hilarious to witness especially when you consider how loud their fans were talking before the collapse. It seems as if Brooklyn “fans” will go back into hiding for the time being until their team becomes relevant once again.
Van Gundy even compared Hart to Knicks legend John Starks in that latter regard.
“Starks coined the term long ago in the ’90s, when he would scream out, ‘Make ’em feel ya on defense,’ ” Van Gundy added. “Constantly. You couldn’t shut him up, ‘Make ‘em feel ya!’
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