Alec Burks steps up in the fourth, helps Knicks escape another embarrassing loss at the Garden
The Knicks were heading for another loss at the Garden. Last time, they lost to the worst in the east, now they were about to be embarrassed by the worst in the league. Luckily, there was Alec Burks‘ effort down the stretch that helped the Knicks survive and hand the Rockets their 14th straight loss, 106-99.
After an awful first quarter when the RJ Barrett – Julius Randle combo combined a shameful 3-14 from the field, the Knicks were trailing 21-13.
Then, the second unit stepped in and, led by Derrick Rose, went on a 13-5 run early in the second quarter to cut the lead 27-26. Almost half of these points were earned from the free throw line as the Rockets protected their rims as best as they could, denying the Knicks to score from the paint.
With 1:17 left in the first half, the Knicks took a 47-42 lead following a three pointer by Evan Fournier, yet the Knicks were unable to preserve the fragile advantage and the Rockets tied the game at halftime inspired by Eric Gordon’s hustle plays.
Gordon made one of his two free throws, assisted Kenyon Martin Jr. for a layup then blocked Randle on a driving layup and finally beat the clock with his own layup, all in under a minute.
The starters returned to the flow in the second half and appeared to be getting out of the slump. Fournier, Kemba Walker and Immanuel Quickley combined 12 points from long distance but under the hoop the Knicks were still getting hammered.
The Knicks were still trailing 73-72 before the final act and that is when Burks started to shoot the three ball. Prior to this, he had only 3 points on his stat sheet but then he added 17 more while shooting a career-high 6-7 from behind the arc for a season high 20 points. Burks also finished with 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 5 steals and most of these numbers were produced in the fourth quarter.
“I’m just basically trying to win a game. Things happen like that. It could have been anybody. But it was my night. I don’t really feel it. I’m in the moment and it’s over. And everybody tells me about it.”
– Alec Burks
Nerlens Noel was his help on the defensive side with three huge blocks in the final act after missing the last four games due to a sore knee. Fournier finished with 19 points, Randle scored 16, secured 10 rebounds and dished 9 assists and Quickley dropped 13 buckets off the bench.
The Rockets, who now fell 1-15, were led by Christian Wood’s 18 points and 12 rebounds, Jalen Green scored 16 points and Eric Gordon added 15.
It was a very physical game, with both teams delivering 8 blocks. Mitchell Robinson left the court early in the third quarter after getting hit in the nose by Jae’Sean Tate and had not returned.
The Rockets made the Knicks earn most of their points in the paint from the free throw line, outscoring them by 30 (56-26). They also rebounded better, with 48 boards to Knicks’s 37. The Knicks had the upper hand at the free throw line where they shot almost 85% while the Rockets were under 60%, and from long distance where they shot 18-41 compared to Houston’s 10-39.
Up-next: The Knicks (9-7) will travel to Chicago for the second game against the 11-5 Bulls, tonight from 8:00pm