Tom Thibodeau was close to Galen Bronson, having known him since he was a young child. He’s only watched it from a distance as a player, first in high school, then in college and later in the NBA.
But immediately after Bronson agreed to join the Knicks, his new coach had a pretty good idea why Bronson would be so valuable as his new starting point guard.
“I’ll be honest with you, when we first signed him, he started coming right away in the summer and I knew then, just what he was doing,” said Thibodeau. “Not by what he was saying. Not by anything other than the way he got in and the way he worked every day. I knew that was exactly what we needed.”
Over the first 31 games of the season — in good times and bad, when he’s less than 100 percent, when games are on the line — it became clear what the addition of Bronson meant for the Knicks. After Bronson signed a four-year, $104 million deal to leave the Mavericks, there was an anecdote that he was overpaid. So far it has been the other way around.
Nick’s stellar first season continued on Tuesday, as a 22-point masterpiece and five assists with no turnover led the Knicks to a 132-94 blowout of the defending champion Warriors and extended their winning streak in the NBA. to eight. For the first time in nine meetings at the Park, the Knicks beat the Warriors. This time around, they had the star point guard on their side, as Golden State was without Stephen Curry with a left shoulder injury, and treated the Warriors as a sparring partner, rather than the other way around.
Bronson set the tone – scoring in the first half and passing through after the break. He had a lot of help, four teammates in two. Emmanuel Kwikley broke out of a shooting slump to hit five three-pointers and score 22 points, Quentin Grimes scored 19 points while continuing his stellar play and RJ Barrett contributed 18 points and five assists. Julius Randle was once again a powerhouse inside, tallying 15 points, 12 rebounds and five assists. Jordan Paul led the Warriors (15-17) with 26 points.
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.
The ball moved well in the first half, and the Knicks kicked 15 assists on 24 field goals and shot 52.2 percent from the field. They hit 10 of 19 3-point attempts, three each from Grimes and Quickley, and were in control of the glass, owning a 22-14 edge. The lead was 13 in the first half, and it really could have been bigger had the Warriors not been shooting so well from deep, making eight out of 21 attempts.
There was panic late in the first half that momentarily dampened the positive vibes. Grimes landed on the foot of Warriors guard Ty Jerome, and appeared to turn his right ankle. Jerome was rated a page 1. Grimes hit two free throws, and was knocked out of the game, but started the second half.
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 a jumper hit, Bronson put Grimes 3-pointer and Barrett threw on back-to-back possessions, scoring a 16-6 run that moved the Knicks to a game-high. And he nearly doubled from there, finishing with a 38-point win.
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