Not only did the Knicks blow a 28-pt lead they held in the 2nd quarter — but they blew an 18-point lead they held with 11:46 left in the 4th quarter to a Brooklyn team without Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Ben Simmons. It was the worst loss of the year and 3rd straight game where the Knicks blew a game they seemed to be sure winners of.
Instead Brooklyn rookie Cam Thomas — a 6’4″ guard the Nets picked #27 overall in last June’s draft — hit big shot after big shot down the stretch to stun the Knicks. He finished with a 3 from seemingly 35 feet out for the clincher with 7 seconds left to give Brooklyn a 109-103 lead.
The loss left Knicks Twitter spinning with the finger of blame vociferously pointing in all directions — but mostly at coach Tom Thibodeau, with other fingers pointing at GM Leon Rose — the guy who never makes himself available to the press.
“The 4th quarter is different,” said coach Tom Thibodeau afterwards. “We have to understand the intensity of the 4th quarter. When you have a lead like that it’s about control and management of the game. You don’t play recklessly. The intentions are good; we may be going about it the wrong way. You have to do it individually; you have to do it collectively.”
“The first half was terrific,” added Thibodeau. “We were strong on both sides of the ball; getting stops; getting the ball up the floor quickly; getting open looks. Then we started the 3rd quarter slowly; we finished it pretty well. But the start of the 4th was problematic.”
“Everything’s on the table now,” Thibodeau summarized. “You look at everything. What are we going to do. How are we going to manage this. If a guy is playing good, he plays. We have a chance to reset here; we have to look at what’s going on, and we have to figure out how to do it better.”
1. Woke Up from a Dream
I was watching this game by viewing the boxscore on my cell phone in a hotel room on the road, as the game was nationally broadcast and couldn’t be viewed on Verizon Fios. Brooklyn pulled to within 7 at the end of the 3rd quarter but by the start of the 4th NY was able to pull back up by 18. I fell asleep with NY leading by 15 and 8 minutes left.
When I woke up and checked the score, I saw NY had won by only 5 points and I thought “man they almost blew it”. Then I started reading down the Play-by-Play and saw Brooklyn had gotten to within 3 points — read further down and saw it had been a tie game — and thought to myself, ‘phew the Knicks almost really blew this one’. Then a horrible thought came to my mind — had the Knicks won the game or was I reading the score wrong. Then to scan back up at the final score to realize Brooklyn had won by 5. A total nightmare.
2. The Wrong Cam Starred
Cam Thomas is averaging 9.6 ppg in 19 minutes a game. In this game he took over down the stretch, finishing with 21 points on 9-21 shooting — mostly on drives and pullups — and the big 3 at the end (although he was only 1-5 on the evening from 3 and is shooting only .270 from 3 on the season). Meanwhile Seth Curry — who now plays for Brooklyn after the James Harden trade — was popping 3’s, killing the Knicks as he often does. Seth finished with 20 points on 7-14 shooting (6-9 from 3) for a +27.
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) February 17, 2022
3. Thibs Accused of Not Playing Youngsters
The rookie doing so well provided a stark contrast to the Knick fans pointing a finger at coach Tom Thibodeau who has been accused of not playing the youngsters enough — instead finding so much time for 36-year old Taj Gibson.
But that’s unfair criticism since Thibodeau does play Knick youngsters — a ton.
- RJ Barrett — missing for his 4th straight game with an ankle sprain — is 21 years old.
- Quentin Grimes — who got 32 minutes in this game and was 3-5 for 8 pts — is 21 years old.
- Immanuel Quickley — who had a good evening with 7-10 shooting (4-7 from 3) for 21 points in 21 minutes — is 23 years old.
- Mitchell Robinson is 23 years old
- Obi Toppin who is always first man off the bench for 10-15 minutes a night — is 23 years old.
- Cam Reddish is 21 years old.
- Even Julius Randle is only 27 years old and Evan Fournier is 29; Alec Burks the old man at 30.
The Knicks have a very young team and Thibs plays them all.
Quick creating s p a c e pic.twitter.com/pkHFOsk3JD
— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) February 17, 2022
4. Drummond Beats Up on Robinson
Andre Drummond is a Net now after the James Harden trade as well — he was a salary throw in. Drummond is one of the greatest centers of all time — led the league 4 times in rebounding and is an offensive juggernaut inside — yet has found himself with little value in today’s NBA. He is only 28 years old yet Brooklyn is his 4th team in 3 years. In this game he showed why he’s so good — he dominated Mitchell Robinson all night — getting Robinson into early foul trouble from which he couldn’t recover.
Just throw it up, Mitch will get it. pic.twitter.com/Y1qqe41C4Q
— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) February 17, 2022
Drummond finished with 11 pts on 5-11 shooting, 19 rebounds, and 1 block in only 23 minutes.
Then the Nets brought old man LeMarcus Aldridge (36 years old) off the bench — also one of the great centers of this era — and he scored 18 pts (on 7-14 shooting) with 10 rebounds in 22 minutes.