Knicks' strength becomes weakness in discouraging loss to Suns

New York Knicks, Mitchell Robinson
New York Knicks, Mitchell Robinson / Rich Graessle/GettyImages

The New York Knicks are one of the best rebounding teams in the league, but you wouldn't have known that on Sunday. More specifically, New York is notorious for pulling down offensive boards, but that wasn't the team's identity in a 116-113 loss to Phoenix.

The Knicks' effort was lackluster in a game where the Suns were without Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal. Similar to the game against Miami on Friday, New York clawed its way back into the contest, but critical mistakes down the stretch and a clutch Devin Booker three-pointer with 1.7 seconds left doomed the Knicks.

Mitchell Robinson, who is averaging a career-best 11.3 rebounds per game, finished with a game-high 11 boards (six defensive, five offensive). Outside of that, New York struggled on the glass. Jalen Brunson had the second-highest rebounds (6) for the Knicks, which speaks for itself.

Typically, New York is the team that hustles to the 50-50 balls, but on Sunday, the Suns outhustled the Knicks en route to 18 offensive rebounds, the most they've recorded in a game this season. For reference, Phoenix averages 10.6 offensive rebounds per game.

Suns finish with 18 offensive rebounds in 116-113 win over Knicks

Phoenix was active on the glass early, posting more offensive rebounds than the total number of rebounds that New York had as a team. Jusuf Nurkic led the Suns with 10 rebounds, most of which he recorded in the first half.

After the game, Tom Thibodeau called out the Knicks' lack of effort and cited the rebounding numbers as proof. He emphasized preventing the opposing team from second and third-chance opportunities.

Behind Robinson, Julius Randle averages the second-highest rebounds per game at 9.9, but he finished with only five rebounds in the loss. Josh Hart is one of the best rebounding guards/small forwards in the league, with an average of 6.3 boards per game, but he wasn't active on the glass, as he had only three rebounds against Phoenix.

New York has to control the little things. As Thibodeau said, even if the opposing team isn't shooting well, it's hard to beat them when they get offensive rebound after offensive rebound. That's a major advantage.

The Knicks won't have to wait long for a shot to turn things around, as they'll host the Hornets on Tuesday in another In-Season Tournament matchup. Hopefully, the team that showed up on Sunday won't make an appearance.