Steve Kerr praised Tom Thibodeau’s Knicks as “a typical Thibs team” on Thursday and erupted in that they have “disappeared like crazy” while “building a foundation” towards finally re-emerging as a winning ball club.
Such strong words from the triple NBA championship coach had to mean so much more after the Knicks opened a four-game western turn with a sharp 119-104 victory over the Kerrs Warriors in San Francisco. It was their third, equally defensive, robust victory – after a five-game losing streak – to equal their record of 8-8.
“It means we have a lot of work to do. We can not feel good, we have to keep working, “said Thibodeau after the match. “It̵
“So we have to be honest with ourselves and know that a lot of work needs to be done and we are able to improve and do much better. That is our challenge. ”
RJ Barrett netted 18 of his career high 28 points in the first half, while Julius Randle continued to build his All-Star resume with almost his second triple season (16 points, 17 rebounds and nine assists).
“We just worry about ourselves … and we get into every game and feel like we have to win the game or give ourselves a chance to win the game,” Randle said after the Knicks improved to 5- 4 on the road. “I think we have a good team and play good team basketball.”
Backup center Nerlens Noel recorded four of the Knicks’ nine blocked shots, Mitchell Robinson scored all of his 18 points after the break, and Alec Burks contributed 11 points in 31 minutes from the bench in his first game since suffering a sprained ankle on the 27th. December.
Stephen Curry finished with a high of 30 points, but the two-time MVP committed four turnovers and missed nine out of 14 attempts from 3-point range. Golden State (8-7) played the final two quarters without Draymond Green after suffering his second technical foul just before the break.
“A guy like Curry is impossible to protect with a guy. I thought Elfrid [Payton] did as good a job as you possibly can, ”Thibodeau said. “What you are trying to do is make him work as hard as possible for everything. He missed some shots that he probably usually takes, and I think when we were shorthand, we left him pretty much from the point where Draymond was thrown out. ”
Reggie Bullock (12 points) nailed three 3-pointers in the first four minutes and combined with Barrett to 23 points in the first quarter as the Knicks shot 54.5 percent from the floor and grabbed a 40-31 lead – their highest scoring output for each quarter this season.
Curry, the NBA’s third leading goal scorer (28.1 ppg) who entered the game, was kept goalless for the first eight minutes until it finally converted a three-point game late in the period.
Randle responded with a three-point game for the Knicks, and Curry missed his free throw after Payton (15 points) hacked him while draining a 26-footer over the arc. But Payton nailed a 3 to snatch a 55-55 draw en route to a 63-57 Knicks lead through two quarters.
Robinson thumped twice, scoring the first nine of his 18 points in the second half as the Knicks extended their lead to 89-76 in the final quarter.
The first of two baseline thumps by rookie Obi Toppin and a 3-pointer by fellow first-round pick Immanuel Quickley put the Knicks ahead by 16 just under three minutes into the fourth.
“I have said this from the beginning, I love our young guys, especially with their attitude and their approach,” Thibodeau said. “Every day they come in with a lot of energy. Some days we make mistakes. But the next day there is a will to correct mistakes and get better. If we do this every day, we will continue to grow. ”