The Knicks have been a playoff team for the last few years, but they are looking to take their game up a notch. They added several new pieces this offseason, with some interesting talent and potential. The question is how far can the Knicks go?
The “nba new york knicks” is a professional basketball team that plays in the National Basketball Association. The Knicks are currently searching for their identity amid 3 straight losing seasons.
5:45 p.m. Eastern
ESPN’s Tim Bontemps
NEW YORK (WABC) — After the New York Knicks lost their third consecutive game and fourth in their last five, All-Star center Julius Randle said it’s up to him and his teammates to pick what sort of season they want to have.
“I need to improve.” “Everybody needs to become better,” Randle said after New York’s 113-99 defeat to Denver, a score that belied a game in which the Knicks trailed by 30 with eight minutes remaining. “I’m going to be in charge of the team.” I’m going to be responsible for myself. That doesn’t concern me in the least. At the end of the day, all I want to do is win. I believe that everyone… well, I know that everyone in that locker room wants to win.
“We need to take a good look in the mirror and determine how we want the season to proceed. It will be exactly what I want it to be. I know exactly what the boys want. But we must commit to it, and that is exactly what we must do.”
In Tom Thibodeau’s first season as head coach, New York was one of the NBA’s greatest shocks. Thibodeau won his second NBA Coach of the Year award on the back of a team that grinded out wins behind an elite defense. Randle had a breakout season and became an All-Star for the first time, while Thibodeau won his second NBA Coach of the Year award on the back of a team that ground out wins behind an elite defense.
Both Randle and Thibodeau said on Saturday that this year’s club is not the same as last year’s. It’s clearly acting the part. After Saturday’s defeat, New York’s defense has dropped from fourth to 19th, and the offense’s improvement from 22nd to 15th this season hasn’t been enough to make up for it.
And, predictably, when Randle, Thibodeau, and Knicks forward R.J. Barrett spoke to the media on Saturday afternoon, they all harped on defense as the area that has to improve after Denver shot 52 percent from the field and hit 20 3-pointers.
When asked what it would take to solve it, Barrett answered, “I believe simply our effort.” “Defense is nothing more than a matter of effort. Thibs is an excellent defensive mind, so all we have to do now is bring that energy and eagerness to play defense and make stops. All we have to do now is discover it. That is all there is to it.”
“That has nothing to do with magic,” Thibodeau remarked. “We got ourselves into this collectively, and now we have to get ourselves out of it together.” It includes players, coaches, and everyone else.
“When it comes to intensity, where does it originate from? It is the result of putting up full effort and attention. That’s where it originates. So those are the two things we need to accomplish.”
The Nuggets — notably, center Nikola Jokic — provided the only enchantment on the floor inside Madison Square Garden on Saturday afternoon.
While his two Denver teammates are out for the season with long-term ailments — Michael Porter Jr. is recuperating from back surgery, and Jamal Murray is rehabilitating from a torn ACL sustained this spring — Jokic dominated the Knicks with 32 points, 11 rebounds, and five assists.
He looked every bit the NBA’s reigning Most Valuable Player, a performance he said was aided in part by his Friday night trip to Meadowlands Racetrack to watch harness racing.
When asked whether his trip to the track had inspired him, he said, “Actually, maybe,” adding that nine drivers had attended Saturday’s game.
“Perhaps I should see the horses every time I go. Perhaps the front desk or someone else should look at it.”
The Knicks were left to pick up the pieces after yet another defeat as Denver sorted out future routes for Jokic to visit. Although there were positives to be found in Tuesday’s defeat in Brooklyn and even Thursday’s strong comeback before falling to the Chicago Bulls here, there was nothing good to be found in this one.
Jokic’s presence also served as a reminder, as Randle freely conceded, that the Knicks cannot win games by depending on a single player like the Denver Nuggets can. Instead, at both ends of the court, they must play as a cohesive team.
Randle, who had 24 points, seven rebounds, and eight assists, stated, “We’re going to win games with our defense.” “We are who we are.” We don’t have three or four superstars on our squad like Brooklyn or any of the other clubs. We’re a group. We have to win games with our defense, like we did last year and must do again this year.
“I simply believe we have to realize that in order to win games, we have to play incredibly hard. We need to stick to our game plans and win games on defense. Outstanding if our offense is great. That is only a perk. But who we are as a team, how we formed this squad and this culture is based solely on our defensive efforts, camaraderie, and hustling. That seems to be what the city of New York enjoys. When the fans know we’re out there giving it our all, that’s what they enjoy.”
Fans in New York were not happy with the Knicks on Saturday, as they booed them throughout the game, particularly when they managed to trim Denver’s lead to 69-63 early in the third quarter, only for the Nuggets to go on a 23-3 run to put the game out of reach.
Jokic, who had just played 27 minutes, was able to rest for the whole fourth quarter. Even with the game comfortably in hand, Thibodeau went back to Randle and many other starters down the stretch.
Kemba Walker, who has been a healthy scratch in each of the previous three games, was one player who did not see the floor. Thibodeau said that his decision to remove Walker from the rotation would not alter, but that if the Knicks do not improve, additional adjustments may be made.
“Look, if we’re not playing well, there might be more adjustments coming,” Thibodeau warned. “That’s the problem. I enjoy our group and the way they go about things. We all had to put our pieces together. We need to concentrate as a group and work together to get out of this mess. That’s the way things are.”
The Knicks can ignore the boos, but they can’t ignore their record, which has now fallen below.500, or their position in the Eastern Conference rankings. New York is presently in 11th place, one game under.500, while being just two games behind sixth place and one game behind a three-way tie for ninth in the crowded Eastern Conference standings.
For the time being, the Knicks’ attention is on themselves, as they will use the next few days to figure things out before embarking on a three-game road trip that begins Tuesday in San Antonio, Indiana, and Toronto.
“Every team has a game or two like this throughout the season,” Barrett said, “so [I’m] not too concerned.” “As I already said, we just must fight.” All of the X’s and O’s are meaningless at the end of the day.
“It’s imperative that we play defense. We have to battle and fight together for the duration of the game, and do everything it takes to win.”
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