Let's talk about ... the Knicks? Twenty-eight games into the season and the New York Knicks (13-15) are No. 7 in the Eastern Conference and poised to make the playoffs for the first time since 2013. They're also in the midst of a two-game winning streak by double digits.
The Knicks beat the Rockets 121-99 on Saturday, holding Houston to 37.5% shooting from the field and an ugly 18.6% shooting from 3-point range. On the other side of the ball, Julius Randle, who's been reliable all season scored 22 points on 7-of-15 shooting with nine rebounds and two assists. Elfrid Payton chipped in 15 points and Derrick Rose scored 16. Rookie Immanuel Quickley was a spark plug off the bench for 22 points on 7-of-9 shooting (four made 3-pointers) with four rebounds and a pair of assists in 21 minutes.
For better or worse, Tom Thibodeau has the Knicks playing real basketball which hasn't always been the case for a home team in Madison Square Garden in a long time. They have the No. 4 team defense in the league allowing just 108.96 points per 100 possessions and a somewhat passable offense scoring 108.08 points per 100 possessions (25th in the league.) Their defense has improved by nearly five points per 100 possessions, which is tremendous given the roster isn't dramatically different.
Whether a mediocre season is worth the draft repercussions to follow is a whole separate discussion but for now, the Knicks aren't an easy out anymore. They took care of business in 22-point and 18-point fashion over the Rockets and Wizards in back-to-back nights and have won four of their last six games.
Don't circle the Knicks as an easy night for scorers on your fantasy team anymore. They can lock teams down. Simply put: they're no longer a joke.
Suns 120, Sixers 111
Devin Booker — Booker torched the Sixers for his third 30-point game in a row. He connected on an impressive 14-of-23 shots from the field including three triples and added five rebounds and four assists. This guy’s for real.
Joel Embiid — Embiid had his second straight 35-point game though both came in losses. Still, he made 12-of-23 shots from the field including both threes he took along with eight rebounds, two assists, and a steal.
Dario Saric — Saric played his first game since January 11th and looked great. He scored 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting including one 3-pointer and added four assists, two rebounds, and four assists.
Tobias Harris — Harris didn’t attempt a 3-point shot for the first time all season but still finished with 18 points, five assists, and five rebounds.
Ben Simmons — Simmons had an All-Star first half and then disappeared for the second. He started off with 16 points on 6-of-8 shots and then scored two in the final quarters. He still had a nice box score game with six rebounds, four assists, and two steals.
Knicks 121, Rockets 99
Immanuel Quickley — Yeah! Despite all the worries of Quickley's spot in the rotation given the introduction of Derrick Rose into the rotation and Elfrid Payton's place as the starter (for now), Quickley had an awesome game. He scored 22 points on 7-of-9 shooting including four 3-point shots. He also added two assists and four rebounds.
John Wall — Wall didn't shoot great but finished with 26 points on 9-of-20 field goals including three 3-pointers with four assists, two rebounds, and two steals.
Eric Gordon — Gordon scored 24 points on a healthy 8-of-14 shooting with six assists, two rebounds, one steal, and a block.
Julius Randle — Randle tied a team-high 22 points on an OK 7-of-15 shooting including one 3-pointer. He made 7-of-8 free throws with nine rebounds, two assists, and a block.
P.J. Tucker — Tucker played through the thigh contusion he missed most of Thursday's game and all of Friday's practice with. He went scoreless with eight rebounds and one assist in 31 minutes.
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Pacers 125, Hawks 113
Doug McDermott — McDermott had his second-highest scoring game of the season dropping 26 points on 9-of-16 field goals. He made all five of his free throws and 3-of-6 3-pointers with three assists and three rebounds in 37 minutes.
Domantas Sabonis — Sabonis had another steady night anchoring the Pacers for 14 points on 7-of-14 shooting with 13 rebounds, seven assists, one steal, and one block.
Myles Turner — The No. 12 player in 9-cat leagues continued his streak of having at least one block in every game this season, swatting a pair to go along with 19 points, 10 rebounds, one assist, and one steal. He also made a pair of 3-pointers and 5-of-7 free-throws.
Clint Capela —Capela's a top-40 fantasy player this year and he added to his case on Saturday scoring 24 points on 12-of-17 shooting with 10 rebounds, one assist, one steal, and one block.
Aaron Holiday — Holiday scored 18 points off the bench on 7-of-11 shooting. He made one 3-pointer, 3-of-4 free throws, and contributed two rebounds and an assist.
Danilo Gallinari — Gallinari had his best game of an injury-riddled season scoring 20 points in 26 minutes off the bench. He sunk 7-of-14 shots from the field including 4-of-8 3-pointers, seven rebounds, and a steal.
Trae Young — Young grabbed at his shooting hand in the first half of the game but played through the injury. Keep an eye out for updates but it was telling that he didn't attempt a single 3-point shot in 36 minutes.
Nets 134, Warriors 117
Kyrie Irving — Irving was automatic in the blowout win that was even more of a lopsided game than the score indicates. He scored 23 points on 10-of-17 shooting with a pair of 3-pointers. He also grabbed five rebounds, four assists, and a steal.
Kevin Durant — This was a great game for all of the Nets' Big 3. Durant scored 20 points on 9-of-19 shooting with six assists, five rebounds, two blocks, and four turnovers.
James Harden — Let's round out all the big names for Brooklyn. Harden nearly triple-doubled with 19 points on 6-of-11 shooting (five 3-pointers) with 16 assists, eight rebounds, three steals, a block, and five turnovers.
Bruce Brown — Brown had a ton of easy buckets under the hoop and converted 8-of-12 looks for 18 points. He also added seven rebounds and an assist.
Steph Curry — For most players, this would be their best night but for Steph this was just a pretty good night. He scored 27 points on 10-of-17 shooting with two 3-point makes, three rebounds, and five assists.
Kelly Oubre — Oubre double-doubled with 17 points on just 6-of-15 shooting but he added 10 rebounds, two assists, one steal, one block, and just one turnover.
Draymond Green — Green went down with a non-contact knee injury in the first half but returned in the second to play a full 32 minutes. After the game, he said his knee "locked up" which has happened throughout his career but that he'll play on Monday. He scored six points on 2-of-5 shooting with eight assists, seven rebounds, and a block. Keep an eye out to see if he misses any time for it in the future.
Jazz 112, Heat 94
Rudy Gobert — Gobert double-doubled with 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting with 12 rebounds and three blocks. He also made 4-of-5 free throws.
Kendrick Nunn — With Goran Dragic and Avery Bradley out, Nunn got the start again and scored 23 points on 8-of-15 shooting (four made 3-pointers) with three rebounds, three steals, one block, and five turnovers.
Bam Adebayo — He didn't shoot great (just 7-of-17) but scored 14 points with 10 rebounds, six assists, two steals, and a turnover.
Jimmy Butler — Butler shot poorly, making just 3-of-10 shots and 8-of-12 free-throws but did grab eight rebounds with five assists and three steals.
Donovan Mitchell — Mitchell came away with 26 points on three 3-pointers but he only made 9-of-21 shots from the field with three rebounds, two assists, and a steal. It was enough for a W though.
Max Strus — The guard is getting opportunities with Bradley and Dragic out and knocked down 6-of-9 shots for 15 points on Saturday. In his last two games, he's scored 36 points on 12-of-18 shooting including eight 3-pointers. He doesn't provide much else but has been excellent shooting and scoring.