NY Post: Knicks no match for Tobias Harris, fade late in loss to 76ers

From Marc Berman:

Long Island’s Tobias Harris quietly fumed when he was not selected to the NBA All-Star Game after helping the Sixers to the best record in the Eastern Conference.

Harris sure looked like he had a strong case Tuesday night. For one night, he took it out on his hometown team that was desperate for the offensive firepower that Harris supplied the Sixers.

Harris hit two key inside buckets down the stretch to finish with 30 points as the Knicks went cold, scoring only 14 points in the fourth quarter, and Philadelphia escaped with a defensive-oriented 99-96 victory at Wells Fargo Center.

The Knicks point-guard issues are rearing their ugly head as Derrick Rose (health and safety protocols) and Elfrid Payton (hamstring) continue to be out and Austin Rivers (paternity leave) may be done with the club.

Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau is finding it difficult sledding deciding whom to tab in the fourth quarter between rookie Immanuel Quickley, who looked limited with a balky ankle, and Frank Ntilikina, who has gone stone cold offensively.

Starting his second straight game, Quickley missed a wide-open 3-pointer with 11 seconds left that would have tied the score. He finished with 13 points but was just 1 of 5 from 3-point land.

Ntilikina, as good a defender as he was again, went scoreless for the third straight game, going 0-for-4. He’s 0-for-15 in the last three games.

“We’re shorthanded — that’s part of it,’’ Thibodeau said.

Though they battled tough against the East’s two best teams in the Nets and Sixers on back-to-back nights, the losses dropped the eight-place Knicks’ record to 20-21. The Knicks blew a nine-point lead after three quarters with their anemic final period.

It really is kind of absurd how much they are leaning on Quickley, right? I mean, don’t get me wrong, they lean on Randle and Barrett, as well, but Randle is an All-Star veteran, Quickley is a rookie and they just need so much from him right now.

Hopefully someone of Rose and Payton get healthy by the next game. Annoyingly, the Magic are getting healthier, too, with Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier possibly ready to play on Thursday. The Magic still suck, though, so it is a good chance for the Knicks to get back to .500.

Anyhow, the Sixers are a really good team, even without Embiid, so this was as close to a “good” loss as you can get. I really thought the Knicks would get one of these games just because Thibs pushes them so hard and both games were winnable, so that’s something!

Boy, the Eastern Conference lower teams are all really bunched together right now. The Knicks are just 2.5 games back of the #4 seed, but they’re only 2 games ahead of the #11 seed!

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.

Playoff Game Thread: Knicks @ Pacers Game 6

Here we go!

Win and the Knicks will get to play an epic Game 7 on Monday night, lose and, well, you know.

Pacers starting point guard George Hill has been cleared to play. It will be fascinating to see how he deals with contact, or whether the Knicks will shy away from hitting him hard, fearing that the refs will call any contact with Hill tight.

Just like Game 5, the key for the Knicks is to take an early lead. The Pacers are not good at coming back. The team leading the game entering the fourth has won every game this series, so an early lead is very important (especially in terms of taking the crowd out of the game).

Let’s go Knicks!

Playoff Game Thread: Knicks vs. Pacers Game 5

The Knicks already had to feel good about heading back to the Garden to try to take care of business and at the very least force the Pacers to clinch the series in Indiana. However, things changed dramatically a little while ago when the news came out that George Hill suffered a concussion during the last game. Hill will miss tonight’s game and since you never know how concussions go, he might very well miss the rest of the series. The Pacers’ third-string point guard is Ben Hansbrough (the Pacers have cornered the market on Hansbroughs), but I bet they’ll play Lance Stephenson as the back-up point guard behind DJ Augustin. The drop-off from Hill to Augustin is steep, so this is major news for the Knicks. If Felton (and the returning Prigs) could perhaps attack Augustin and get him into some foul trouble, the Pacers might just fall apart.

At the very least, let’s hope that Jason Kidd (who will remain in the rotation) at least out-scores Hill.

This game was already winnable but now it just got a lot easier. No excuses tonight, the Knicks have to get it done!

Let’s go Knicks!

Playoff Game Thread: Knicks @ Pacers Game 3

Well, here we go, the first game 3 the Knicks have played in the second round since 2000!

Seriously, though, the Knicks pretty much have to at least bring a split back to MSG for Game 5, so they need to get one of these two games in Indiana. Might as well be tonight!

In the Knicks’ year-long hokey pokey dance, Amar’e is about to put his right knee in but JR Smith might have to take his whole body out as he is sick and is listed as questionable for tonight (he missed today’s shootaround).

Should be a really interesting game (and hopefully a really interesting win).

Let’s go Knicks!

Playoff Game Thread: Knicks vs. Pacers Game 2

Here we are, the first Game 2 of the second round for the Knicks since 2000!

In all seriousness, the Knicks are in a hole after losing Game 1 but they can right things to a major degree with a win tonight. The key here, as it was in Game 1, is to play stronger to start. We all know that the Knicks tend to turn it on late (they have done so in pretty much every game in the playoffs so far), but their problem has been that they have started slowly in pretty much every game in the playoffs. That is okay against a lesser team like the Celtics, but it is not going to fly against a team like the Pacers, who have enough offensive firepower to go with their strong defense that they are hard to come back against.

Steve Novak might play tonight. It would be nice if he could hit some shots. The Knicks need someone other than Raymond Felton to make some shots.

Obviously, also Tyson Chandler, Melo and JR Smith all need to play better. I have faith that at least two of them will come through tonight. If they do, the Knicks should win this one and take the series to Indiana where they hope to at least split the series and get home court back.

Let’s go Knicks!

Playoff Game Thread: Knicks vs. Pacers Game 1

Here we go, the first Game 1 of the second round for the Knicks since <b>2000</b>!!

The Knicks should win this series, but I think we’ll have a much better idea of where the Knicks stand after this first game and we see if the Pacers have anything sneaky up their sleeves in how they plan to play the Knicks.

The first series had Shump play out of his mind and Tyson Chandler slowly got back into shape, so the Knicks are in really good shape right now, and that’s with JR Smith not even playing particularly well!

Let’s go Knicks!