The evening began with large pockets of Warriors fans loudly celebrating each Golden State basket. By the end of the night, the Golden State supporters had left Madison Square Garden early.
There was no reason for them to hang around, not after the Knicks treated the defending world champions like a junior team. In the final seconds of this one-sided fun, the park looked the way it was supposed to sound: with the deafening roar of the home team.
The Knicks received several final-minute standing ovations after pushing their NBA winning streak to eight with a 132-94 rout of the Stephen Curry Sans Warriors, beating Golden State for the first time at MSG in nine attempts.
He became such a blast in the fourth quarter that Tom Thibodeau did the unthinkable.
He sat down.
“This is crazy,” joked Julius Randle, who put in a stellar all-round effort of 15 points, 12 rebounds and five assists. Because Obi [Toppin] tell me. I haven’t seen that in the three seasons of Tepes here. … He was probably very uncomfortable. He didn’t know what to do.”
Intense and demanding, Thibodeau had every reason to enjoy this performance. Six Knicks (18-13) scored in double figures, led by 22 points from Emanuel Kwikley and 21 by Jalen Bronson, and compiled 27 assists on 45 field goals. As a team, the Knicks shot 51.7 percent from the field, hit 17 three-pointers and smashed the Warriors on the glass, 47-29. Golden State (15-17) star Klay Thompson and Jordan Paul finished 13 of 30 shots, with Quentin Grimes (19 points, four assists) and company once again defending the perimeter at a high level.
“We have a lot of guys on this team who are capable of monster games,” Bronson said.
During this winning streak, that became even more apparent. The Knicks don’t just win, they sail. Of the eight wins, six came by double figures and four by at least 19 points. Five opponents were held under 100 points. The defense was stingy and his 3-point shooting, at 37.1%, significantly improved.
“I think with anything, when you see something that works, you want to replicate it as often as possible,” Randel said.
After averaging over 27 points in a recent 3-0 road trip, Bronson picked up where he left off. He scored 16 points in the first half on a variety of middle jumpers, and went on a personal 9-0 run in the second quarter giving the Knicks their largest halftime lead at 57-43.
Bronson used the pass instead of the shot in the third quarter, collecting four assists in the early part of the period as the Knicks threatened to take the Warriors off the park floor. After hitting the jumper, Bronson set up Grimes’ 3-pointer and Barrett throwing on back-to-back possessions, leading the Knicks to a then-high. point defeat.
“The Knicks are in a good groove right now. They’re totally outdone,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.
It was another loose locker room after that, and the players were joking. Barrett, in a sparkly black outfit, looked like a Backstreet boy, said Mitchell Robinson. From across the room, Barrett interrupted Grimes’ interview to make sure the young star would be able to play on Wednesday after adjusting his ankle (the answer was yes). Everyone is having fun these days.
“Emotions are always better when you win, you know what I mean?” Barrett said. “So, we win. We play together. We have fun.”
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