The New York Knicks pulled out a win in Washington, defeating the Wizards by the final score of 117-99. That brought the team to a solid 2-0 record in exhibition play, with both of their triumphs being decided by double digits.
The game started off fairly even, with the two teams tied at 30 with just over a minute left in the first quarter. The Knicks then immediately went on an 11-0 run, sparked by a Kevin Knox three.
Taking a look at the New York Knicks’ second consecutive victory
Knox finished the night with 12 points while connecting on four shots from behind the arc. His career in New York has been underwhelming so far, but he still has an outside chance to crack the rotation if he can maintain his hot shooting.
The Knicks ended up leading 59-55 at the half, mainly thanks to some incredible individual defense.
RJ Barrett led the team with 18 points while shooting 4-8 from three, but the most promising aspect of his performance was his defense.
With Reggie Bullock going to the Dallas Mavericks in free agency, it’s now Barrett’s job to guard opponents’ top wing scorer on a nightly basis.
On Saturday night he spent most of his time guarding Bradley Beal, the 3-time All-Star who averaged 31.3 points per game on 49% shooting last season.
Beal ended up with just 14 points and 2 turnovers on 5-13 shooting, including just 1-5 from three.
If Barrett can become a top defender while continuing to improve his offensive output, it wouldn’t be a shock to see him get some All-Star votes this winter.
The game again got close in the 3rd quarter, with the Wizards actually pulling ahead 60-59 with just over 10 minutes left in the period. The Knicks responded with yet another run, this time outscoring Washington 23-4 over the next six minutes.
This run can be heavily attributed to Obi Toppin, who was starting in place of Julius Randle after the All-Star forward missed the game for personal reasons. Toppin tallied all 13 of his points in the second half alone, with 11 of those 13 coming in the third.
He scored both in and out of the paint, showing a consistent jumper while continuing to be a dominant finisher at the rim. He also happened to benefit from some picture-perfect ball movement.
Speaking of ball movement, the Knicks assisted on 27 of their 38 made baskets. While they did struggle with 18 turnovers, the improved team passing has become a welcome sight. They’ve topped 25 dimes in both preseason games so far.
From that point on, New York cruised the rest of the way towards an easy win.
Derrick Rose dropped 15 points and 8 assists off the bench, looking like a way-too-early frontrunner for the 6th Man of the Year award.
He did suffer a slight leg injury in the second half but walked off the court and remained on the bench without having to head to the locker room.
It doesn’t seem like something that’ll cause him to miss any regular-season action, and Tom Thibodeau said later that he’ll be fine.
Immanuel Quickley shrugged off his rusty preseason start with an efficient 11 points and 3 assists, connecting on 3-5 shooting from behind the arc.
He also displayed an improved handle, creating room and knocking down his looks.
Conversely, Kemba Walker had an off night after his impressive Knicks debut this past Tuesday.
He recorded just 6 points in 21 minutes, but connected on multiple threes and dished out 4 assists.
His outside scoring threat undoubtedly helped open up the paint for Barrett, Toppin, and Evan Fournier.
Rookies Jericho Sims and Quentin Grimes made their presence felt, even in small bursts. Sims racked up 7 points and 13 rebounds, showing fans that he’ll be a valuable big to have as a depth piece.
Grimes played just two minutes but connected on both of his three-point attempts, proving that his hot shooting in the summer league is here to stay.
While it’s important not to overreact to preseason performances, the Knicks showed a lot of positive signs on Saturday night. The goal for this season is to build upon last year’s surprisingly spectacular playoff team, and Thibodeau’s squad looks like they’re on their way to doing exactly that.
The Knicks host the Detriot Pistons next at 7:30 pm on Wednesday.