Trae Young scores 45 points against New York Knicks in Madison square This Knicks season’s wreckage can’t be slung solely around Julius Randle’s shoulders, nor can it be dropped wholly at his feet. You’d assume that most Knicks fans were aware of this, and that they were aware of it. When you’ve already clinched a losing season 10 days before April Fool’s Day, rationality isn’t a factor.
When a 10-point fourth-quarter advantage is shattered by the reality — make that the inevitability — of a 22-6 run, and the Hawks win 117-111, reason isn’t the first emotion that comes to mind.
Randle sat out Tuesday’s game. For big swaths of the game, it didn’t appear that the Knicks missed him. But there were larger, more important parts where the Knicks looked exactly the same as they had all year, with or without him.
Tom Thibodeau, the Knicks’ coach, stated, “We’re short-handed. It isn’t only Julius, Derrick and Nerlens are both missing. It also offers other guys a chance.”
It’s probably best for Randle that things transpired as they did, because if they hadn’t, Knicks fans on talk radio and social media would have gone crazy on Wednesday. And, in the end, it would have only served to disguise the hard reality that the Knicks must have already accepted — players, coaches, and management.
They are in serious need of repair. However, it will not be a straightforward remedy. The Knicks were eliminated from the final play-in game by a score of six. The season is down to its last ten games.
“In our situation, they’re all must-have games,” Thibodeau explained. “However, you aren’t removed until you are.”
Let the numbers speak for themselves. For weeks, it’s been time to look at the Knicks through the lens of next year and the years ahead, rather than the present. If getting go of one elite player is even on Leon Rose’s to-do list, the Knicks will need to do more. This team’s roster is devoid of talent. There are a few hidden gems. RJ Barrett is about to become a franchise foundation piece.
However, there is still a lot wrong with this team. The Garden was packed Tuesday night, but it didn’t feel like it; after dropping 45 on the Knicks, Trae Young, the modern-day Reggie Miller, quipped, “It wasn’t that noisy in here.”
It wasn’t the case. Consider the following:
This had been the hottest ticket in town just 303 days before, and these were the two teams on everyone’s lips. It was a Sunday, just like back in the day, and it felt like back in the day at Madison Square Garden, whether you define “back in the day” as the 1990s or the 1970s (or both). Thibodeau added, “You can feel the electricity. This is how it’s meant to feel in here.”
That Sunday night at the Garden, things started to go awry for the Knicks, with Young announcing himself as Reggie 2.0 and the Hawks taking Game 1, setting the stage for a five-game gentleman’s sweep. With the benefit of hindsight, it’s easy to look back on that Hawks series and realize precisely what the Knicks were in for.
The Hawks got all they wanted against the Knicks after playing excellent defence all season (in May, and again Tuesday night). Even as the Garden sought to get inside his skull, Young was everywhere, and he was fearless (in May, and again Tuesday night). Perhaps most perplexing of all, Thibodeau was unable to figure out which buttons to use to reverse the situation. In the month of May. On Tuesday evening. And, frankly, for the majority of this season’s rolling-blackout disappointment.
“All year, we’ve had a feeling of urgency,” Barrett said. “All we do is fight. Some of these games have gotten away from me, but there’s nothing I can do about it except improve every day.”
And you’ll be even better next year. Rose needs to see if this still qualifies as a “deep rebuild.” By making Julius Randle disappear, Knicks supporters could have gotten their fill of endorphins by making one man suffer for their team’s anguish. I wouldn’t be able to do it on Tuesday night. If Rose wants to fix this disaster, she can’t do it this summer.