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The Knicks get defensive in producing five-game winning streak

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The Knicks get defensive in producing five-game winning streak
The Knicks allowed an average of 127.6 points over a five-game stretch from December 23 to December 30, when they went 1-4. Among those points was a concerning 140 in a road loss (140–126) against the Indiana Pacers on Saturday, December 30.

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But earlier that Saturday, the Knicks traded RJ Barrett, Immanuel Quickley, and a 2024 second-round pick to the Toronto Raptors in order to obtain OG Anunoby, Precious Achiuwa, and Malachi Flynn.

Before tonight’s game in Texas against the Dallas Mavericks, the Knicks are 5-0 since Anunoby made his debut on New Year’s Day against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Madison Square Garden. Without a doubt, Anunoby’s versatile skill set has strengthened and stabilized the Knicks, particularly on defense.

Their defensive rating has been among the best in the NBA. Prior to the Portland Trailblazers’ 132-point victory over the Nets in overtime at Barclays Center on Sunday, Anunoby’s Knicks team led the league in defensive rating over the previous four games, conceding just 103.1 points per 100 possessions. The Knicks will play the Trailblazers at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday.

They surpassed that total by limiting Portland, which scores 108.3 points per game, 29th out of the 30 teams in the league, to 84 points while winning 112 points. With 23, Anunoby led the Knicks in scoring as well. He shot 9–12 and 4-6 from beyond the arc. As the NBA schedule began Friday night, the Knicks had risen to 22-15 and the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

Julius Randle stated, “Obviously, he gives a lot of space, but we need him to be aggressive and we still need him to be OG. He should shoot when he’s open and attack when he feels like he needs to be aggressive, and we’ll work out the rest.” It was nice to see him assertive and forceful tonight.

After the win, Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau added his thoughts. “We played excellent defense to start the season, and sometimes that’s what you walk into,” he remarked. “If you’re walking into high-scoring teams, your goal is to obviously play great defense, but hold them to below their average and that’s what I measure. You can make a stretch or a brief segment from a season say whatever you want it to say, but the difficult part is maintaining consistency from beginning to end while concentrating on getting better.

That’s our current location. I believe that the team’s current spirit, unity, and devotion to one another are incredibly strong, and we need to maintain them.”

Yes, there has been a team effort involved. Since Mitchell Robinson underwent season-ending ankle surgery last month, center Isaiah Hartenstein has made a significant impact for the team. Deuce McBride and Quentin Grimes have also taken full advantage of their expanded positions.

Randle and Jalen Brunson, who are now the Eastern Conference Player of the Week and 25.6 points and 6.4 assists, respectively, are potential choices for the All-Star team as they continue their campaigns.

The Knicks play the Grizzlies in Memphis on Saturday and the Orlando Magic at the Garden on MLK Day, Monday afternoon, following their matchup with the Mavericks.

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