The Knicks eked out a 106-103 win over the Denver Nuggets to improve to 2-0 on their West Coast trip and 8-7 overall.
Here are the takeaways….
- Julius Randle had his best game of the season, dominating front-to-back with 34 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and four steals on 11-of-21 shooting from the field.
- Randle and Jalen Brunson, who finished with 21 points and seven assists, led the charge late.
- A Randle breakaway dunk and and-one finish, followed by Brunson free throws, gave the Knicks a 99-98 lead with just under three minutes to play. Randle's crowding defense and dive on a loose ball got Brunson an open dunk to go up three.
- Cam Reddish attacked off a Randle find to cap a 12-0 Knicks run and put them up five. Bones Hyland responded with an and-one and an additional at-rim finish to tie the game back up at 103 with a minute to play.
- A Randle free throw gave the Knicks a one-point edge. Jericho Sims stopped Jamal Murray on a switch on the other end, and Brunson dropped two free throws to extend the lead to three with ten ticks remaining. Murray had one more go that fell short, defended nicely by Immanuel Quickley.
- Despite the late misses, Murray looked like his vintage self with 21 points to co-lead Denver alongside Hyland. They were without reigning two-time MVP Nikola Jokic and Aaron Gordon.
- RJ Barrett struggled mightily, starting 0-6 from the field, finishing 0-9 from deep for only 11 points and riding the pine in crunch time. Luckily, Reddish stepped up for another masterful two-way performance, putting up 10 points, two steals and a block while holding Michael Porter Jr. to 1-for-8 shooting from the field.
- Denver got off to a 9-2 start, with Barrett pressing early, forcing shots and getting cooked by Murray on the other end. Randle responded with a hot start, tallying 12 first quarter points to tighten the game up.
- The Knicks bench came in later in the quarter and picked up where they left off Tuesday night. Quickley scrambled defensively and on the boards, while Obi Toppin hit a three and scored on a leakout to give the Knicks a 30-27 lead after one.
- Quarter two was a back-and-forth affair to start. Sims provided another steady defensive performance off the bench, and Derrick Rose had some vintage moments en route to 13 points. Hyland answered with a couple of deep threes.
- The starters returned around the midway point. Barrett continued missing en route to a 2-for-12 shooting half. Randle picked up the slack, tacking on another 12 in the quarter to bring his first half total to 24. The Knicks led 55-54 at the break.
- The third quarter began as more of the same. Brunson hit a couple of threes and found Barrett easy buckets. But Denver hit back with threes and ball movement of their own.
- Quickley once again controlled the game well once he checked into the third quarter. On the other end, Bruce Brown made timely plays and finished with 12 points. Denver led going into the fourth, 84-80, after a buzzer-beating Hyland trey.
- Hyland opened the fourth with a four-point play, and the Nuggets ran out to a double-digit lead early in the period, the biggest for either team to that point.
- Head coach Tom Thibodeau closed with the Randle-Toppin frontcourt, benching Barrett for Quickley. The Knicks fought back within single digits, slowly battling to get the game within reach to close it out.
- Thibodeau also stuck to his shortened rotation, with Evan Fournier and Quentin Grimes not playing despite Barrett's struggles.
The Knicks continue their road trip when they take on the defending champion Golden State Warriors on Friday at 10 p.m.