The Knicks went through several temperatures during this meeting. Worn by Jalen Brunson, who signed his return, they were hot at the start of the game. Then, the Nuggets quietly took control of the game. Tom Thibodeau’s troops certainly continued to fight, but by making too many mistakes in defense and the atmosphere was no longer as hot.
Nikola Jokic and his band remained on a cruising rhythm and nothing seemed to disturb them. Then, in the third quarter, with an energetic Josh Hart, the defense goes up a notch, New York and Madison Square Garden go up in flames with a 17-4 in the third quarter, then a 7-0 to start the last act.
We then go into a “money time” where each team responds to the other, but with a solid Brunson on free throws and a Jokic who misses two award-winning shots in a row, the Knicks win 116-110.
With this third success in a row, the Knicks give themselves a little more air in the standings ahead of Brooklyn, while the Nuggets, still leaders in the Western Conference, confirm that they are not in great shape at the moment, with a fifth defeat in six matches.
WHAT YOU MUST REMEMBER
The return of Jalen Brunson. After three missed matches, the New York playmaker found his teammates. He did not miss his start to the match, with 13 points in six minutes and 16 in the first quarter. It was he who launched the Knicks, before then disappearing, then finding colors in the last act. In the last minutes, he scored a basket and two very important free throws, to finish with 24 points and 5 assists.
The Knicks awakening. For long minutes, the Knicks were dominated but remained in the game thanks to their offensive rebound activity (15 in total). They managed to recover some possessions, but that could not fully compensate for the many absences in defense, with failed rotations and a more than suspicious withdrawal. Under the impetus of Josh Hart, the defense will regain efficiency and the Nuggets will no longer have it easy in the second period. They will end the last quarter with only 19 points…
✅ The Nikola Jokic-Jamal Murray duo. Both missed key shots in money time, including the first, but without them Denver wouldn’t have dominated early on or held off late. The pivot gained momentum as the game progressed, alternating baskets and assists for Aaron Gordon in particular. The second, he mainly put the shots open, even if some decisions were not very fair. Jokic finished with 24 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists, but also 6 stray balls. Murray with 25 points at 9/14 to shoot.
✅ Josh Hart. Other players deserved to be honored on the New York side, such as RJ Barrett, for his points, or Isaiah Hartenstein, for his presence on the rebound, but the former Portland player changed the face of the Knicks, and of the simply match. Present on all contacts, even if he made a lot of mistakes in the lot, he was everywhere. His activity allowed him to take 8 rebounds and steal 3 balls. Not to mention his 13 points at 4/5 shooting.
⛔ Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. In difficulty for a few days with his outside shot, the Denver shooter did nothing. However, well served, he had open shots and his two misses in the last four minutes hurt the troops of Michael Malone. Result: 4 small points in 37 minutes, 0/5 behind the arc.
New York (42-30) : reception of the Wolves on Monday evening (00:30).
Denver (47-24) : trip to Brooklyn on Sunday evening (8:30 p.m.).