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Field Level Media - Professional sports content solutions | FLM

Jan 24, 2024 2:54 pm

Surging Knicks face Nuggets in tough home test

OG Anunoby’s arrival has provided an immediate spark for the New York Knicks, who are 10-2 since the dynamic wing arrived in a five-player trade Dec. 30 from the Toronto Raptors.

The Knicks have won four straight heading into Thursday’s matchup against the visiting Denver Nuggets.

Anunoby’s arrival has created more scoring opportunities for Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle, who combined for 60 points in a 108-103 comeback win Tuesday over the Brooklyn Nets.

“It starts with me and (Brunson),” Randle said. “We know we get a lot of attention so we have to make the right plays. We didn’t play the first and third (quarters) well, but, like Coach said, we played our best when it mattered.”

New York rallied from a 10-point deficit for the win, outscoring Brooklyn 32-18 in the fourth quarter. Anunoby had 10 points and four steals in the victory.

“I didn’t think we played particularly well, but I love how we responded in the fourth quarter,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “That said a lot about who we are. The bench, they were hustling, flying all over the place. That closed the gap and gave us the hope that, OK, we can get this done. Then when the starters came back, they fed off that energy.

“Finding a way to win when you’re not at your best is huge and that’s the bottom line. Just find ways to win. I think our team is doing that.”

New York played without center Isaiah Hartenstein, who sat out due to left ankle soreness. Jericho Sims got the start and had six points, four rebounds and four blocks in 27 minutes. Hartenstein is listed as questionable for Thursday’s contest.

The Knicks won both meetings last season against Denver, which is concluding a five-game road trip. The Nuggets won for the fifth time in their past six games Tuesday, beating the Indiana Pacers 114-109.

Nikola Jokic recorded his 13th triple-double of the season with 31 points, 13 rebounds, and 10 assists in the victory, while Jamal Murray added 31 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.

Jokic was 13-of-19 shooting from the field, including 3 of 4 from 3-point range. The two-time MVP is averaging a near triple-double for the season (26.2 points, 12.0 rebounds and 9.1 assists).

“When you have Nikola Jokic starting at center, Jamal Murray starting at point guard, and the display they put on in 20 playoff games last year, we walk into every arena fully expecting to win,” Denver coach Michael Malone said.

The Nuggets have also received consistent play from veteran guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who is averaging 10.2 points while shooting 39.6 percent from 3-point range in his second season with Denver.

Caldwell-Pope hit a pair of 3-pointers and finished with 14 points in the win over Indiana.

“We already know that our five-man starting unit is the best analytical, efficient, five-man unit in the NBA,” Malone said after Tuesday’s victory. “So when Pope is knocking down 3s, he’s driving and finishing at the basket, which he did tonight, and then he’s giving you the defense and the hustle.

“He’s a two-time world champion. He finds a way to impact the game in a lot of different ways without me calling many plays for him.”

–Field Level Media

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