NY Post: Knicks thump Pistons to head into All-Star break over .500

From Marc Berman:

Tom Thibodeau soared into the All-Star break smiling and owning a winning record.

The Knicks whipped the Pistons, 114-104, Thursday to enter the All-Star break on an 8-3 spree, a 19-18 record overall and in fifth place in the Eastern Conference.

The Knicks haven’t owned a winning record this late in a season since the 54-win, 2012-13 campaign.

With chants of “Let’s Go Knicks’’ from the 2,000 strong on hand at the Garden, they clobbered the Eastern Conference-worst Pistons for the second time in four days, making sure to take advantage on what has been a soft patch of the schedule recently.

Asked what he planned to do during the All-Star break, the hard-driving Thibodeau broke into a smile and joked, “You know me, Turks and Caicos.’’

Nah, there’s no Carribbean beach laying ahead for Thibodeau, though the Knicks first-year coach has earned at least a couple of days of respite.

“I’ll get some time with my family, just relax and recharge a little bit and then get ready for the second half,’’ Thibodeau said.

Of the Knicks’ last eight victories, seven have come against clubs well below .500 (Washington, Houston, Atlanta, Minnesota, Sacramento and Detroit).

“Last year those games were a tossup,’’ said first-time All-Star Julius Randle. “This year we’re handling business when we’re supposed to. That’s always encouraging, taking care of what you’re supposed to. It’s definitely helped us get in the position that we’re in right now.’’

Indeed, after seven years as the league’s laughingstocks, the Knicks will take it. Whether they can keep it up when play resumes is another story.

It’s not even that Berman is wrong, exactly, but that seems like a rather dour way to look at it. For now, we should just celebrate that the Knicks are .500 at the All-Star break!

It’s a fun situation to see them in.

2020-21 Game Thread: Knicks vs. Worst Team in the Eastern Conference Playing Without Their Best Player

The Knicks host the Detroit Pistons in their final game before the All-Star break with a chance to go over .500 ahead of the break.

And now the news is that the Pistons’ best player, Jerami Grant (which, of course, says a lot about the Pistons) will miss tonight’s game.

Derrick Rose, despite a few more negative COVID tests, will miss tonight’s game, but there is a chance that either Elfrid Payton or Frank Ntilikina will play tonight despite both being considered day-to-day. I imagine whichever one of those two plays will then also start the game.

The Knicks blew these guys out in Detroit, the Pistons played last night and they’re playing without Jerami Grant. The Knicks should absolutely win this game. It’d be a shock if they did not. Obviously, the Raptors should have also beaten the Pistons last night, but seriously, this has got to be a win.

Entering the break with a winning record would be awfully sweet.

Let’s go, winning record at the All-Star Break Knicks!

NY Post: Derrick Rose-less Knicks ripped by Spurs, fall back to .500

From Marc Berman:

The Knicks were without Derrick Rose — and a pulse.

This pandemic season finally crushed the Knicks on Tuesday, with Rose’s COVID-19-related absence demonstrating how a player can go from invisible to prominent in an eye-blink.

Just a week ago, Frank Ntilikina hadn’t played since late December — felled by a knee sprain, COVID-19 protocols and being yanked from the rotation.

Tuesday in San Antonio, the Frenchman became the Knicks’ starting point guard, and may be for the foreseeable future.

Though Ntilikina held up his end of the bargain with 13 points, 5 of 7 from the field and 3 of 3 from 3-point range, the undermanned Knicks were awful in the second half and their three-game winning streak was snapped in an ugly 119-93 loss at AT&T Center.

“You get what you deserve,’’ Tom Thibodeau said.

The Spurs are a good team and Pop is one of the greatest coaches in NBA history, so this really wasn’t a particularly surprising result, especially once the Knicks were officially out both of their starting point guards.

Still, you hate to see an ass-whupping, no matter what, especially from a team playing without a star player, as well (LaMarcus Aldridge, who is now the lone NBA player left from the draft picks that the Knicks traded for Eddy Curry, as former Knick Joakim Noah is now retired, although the Knicks are still paying Noah through next season) and who played an overtime game just last night.

Z-Man mentioned Chuck Connors, so I thought I’d share a fun story about him that I wrote about years ago.

NY Post: Julius Randle carries Knicks to significant win over Pistons

From Marc Berman:

Julius Randle became an All-Star last week. He became a winner Sunday in Detroit.

After six previous seasons being part of losing teams, Randle has spearheaded the Knicks to a winning record — achieved Sunday with a 109-90 rout of the Pistons at Little Caesars Arena.

The Knicks moved to 18-17 and hold fourth place in the bunched-up Eastern Conference. It’s the latest they’ve been over .500 in a season since the 54-win campaign of 2012-13.

“The reaction to the winning record, honestly in our locker room it’s expected,’’ said Randle, who racked up his usual gemstone numbers of 25 points, eight rebounds, six assists and two steals. “I said all year, we feel like every time we go out we have a chance to win the game. I’m not really surprised where we’re at as a team. We have a certain level of focus on a night-to-night basis that gives us a shot every night.’’

The Knicks led by 11 at halftime before Randle punched the Pistons’ lights out with a brilliant 12-point third quarter. Randle finished 10 of 17 shooting as his bustout season roared on one night after dominating All-Star Domantas Sabonis of the Pacers.

Beating up in the shitty teams is what you absolutely need to do to stand out in the league. A winning record after 35 games is certainly a sight for sore eyes!

Did the starters play too many minutes on the second night of a back-to-back? Sure, but whatever, it’s such a significant win that it is still a lot of fun to see, so you can’t get too upset about it.

2020-21 Game Thread: Non-Losing Record Knicks vs. Pistons

The Knicks have an amazing opportunity tonight to actually have a winning record, which would put them at their best record through 35 games since the 2012-13 season (the 2015-16 Knicks actually got to 22-22 after 44 games, which is the last time the Knicks were .500 that late in a season, but that team never got over the .500 hump after being 8-7, and they were under .500 through 35 games).

And really, there’s no reason they shouldn’t get there, as they are playing the worst team in the NBA now that Towns is healthy again for Minnesota.

Hopefully Dennis Smith Jr. has a terrible game!

Let’s go get a winning record, Knicks!

NY Post: Knicks nip Pacers to reach .500, pull into fourth place in Eastern Conference

From Peter Botte:

Twice in the previous 10 days, the Knicks had wasted opportunities to push their record to the .500 mark in unsightly losses to the Magic and the Warriors.

They appeared headed for another blown chance to even their record and move up in the murky Eastern Conference on Saturday night. Coach Tom Thibodeau’s surging squad stormed back from a 16-point deficit in the first half, however, and moved into a tie for fourth place in the playoff standings with a gritty 110-107 win over the Pacers at the Garden.

The Knicks improved to 17-17 and are deadlocked with the Raptors entering Sunday’s visit to conference-worst Detroit (9-24).

Imagine if the Knicks had an actual winning record after 35 games!

Very nice win, with RJ playing some phenomenal basketball during a stretch where he brought the Knicks back into the lead. Yes, he bricked two free throws that could have been brutal, but, whatever, the other stuff was more important than two missed free throws.

The Eastern Conference, man, it is high-larious that the Knicks would technically have home court in the first round at this point, with a .500 record! This Conference is such a mess. However, it is a mess that everyone else is involved with, as well, so it is not like the Knicks aren’t playing the same teams as everyone else. Best of a mess is still something to be proud of for this franchise.

Having a winning record after 35 games would be even sweeter!