The Knicks stopped in their tracks, to the point of unhinging the Mavericks, with a forceful 108-85 win in New York in which the Dallas team, with a Luka Doncic who only scored one of the nine triples he threw, lost 25 points. Although Doncic finished the game with a double-double of 21 points and 11 rebounds, the Slovenian player had a bad night in which he made numerous mistakes that were added to a shooting percentage of 11% in 3-pointers and 34.8% in shots field.
And if Doncic suffered, the Knicks’ young Canadian forward RJ Barret demonstrated his increasing progression by crowning himself the game’s leading scorer with 32 points. Barrett is already the Knicks’ youngest player with two straight games in which he has scored more than 30 points. Despite all his problems with the Knicks fans, Julius Randle also had a good night, with a double-double of 17 points, 12 rebounds, and 8 assists. Similarly, center Mitchell Robinson had a double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds. The entire five Knicks starters ended up with double digits under their belt. In the Mavericks only Jalen Brunson, with 14 points, and Tim Hardaway Jr., with 13, in addition to Doncic, added more than 10 points.
The Mavericks arrived in New York in good shape, with six consecutive victories, including Sunday against the all-powerful Chicago Bulls and on January 5 against Stephen Curry’s Golden State Warriors. That string of victories had propelled Dallas to fifth place in the Western Conference.
Knicks hit early
The Knicks started hitting first. Evan Fournier, Robinson and Alec Burks executed the attack with success and placed 10 points in the locker for the locals in the first five minutes. At the Mavericks, Doncic, in his usual vein, was the one burdened with the responsibility of scoring. The Slovenian made 5 of the Mavs’ first 8 points but the European star was not right from the line of three. Doncic missed all three triples he tried in the first quarter, and the rest of his teammates weren’t much better either. The Mavs scored only 2 of the 11 3-pointers they threw in the first 12 minutes, an 18.2% accuracy. With no points from the outside arc, Dallas ‘men couldn’t keep up with the Knicks’ pace and when the first quarter ended, New York’s were up. 30-21.
In the second quarter, the Mavs were still off target from beyond the 3-point line even though their shooters had good chances. Dallas’ only triple in the period came from emergency center Marquese Chriss. Doncic only tried a triple and missed it, as did Tim Hardaway Jr. The lack of fortune in the long distance forced the Dallas team to focus on the inside game, which slightly improved their performance. The Knicks did not suffer from the long-distance problems of their rivals. In the second quarter, the New Yorkers made 4 of the 9 triples thrown. With a more balanced game, when the second quarter ended, four Knicks players were in double digits: RJ Barret, Julius Randle, Alec Burks and Evan Fournier. The locals went to rest with an 11-point advantage, 56-45, thanks to the Mavs’ lack of accuracy from beyond the three-point line.
At the start of the second half, the Mavs briefly edged closer to 7 points, 58-51, but a series of back-to-back misses by Doncic allowed the Knicks to answer with an 11-0 run and leave the score at 68-51 for the four minutes from the start of the third quarter. The Knicks’ lead would reach 20 points shortly after, 72-52. With Doncic on the bench, the Mavs cut the lead by 2 points and at the end of the quarter the light marked a decisive 84-66 for those in New York.
Doncic returned to the court at the beginning of the fourth quarter but two new consecutive errors by the Slovenian allowed the Knicks to increase their lead to 22 points, 90-68. The point guard could not even score easy baskets and after his last mistake, a tackle without great difficulties with 2 minutes remaining in the game, Doncic retired permanently. The Knicks were 25 points up, 108-83, with 39 seconds remaining for the final horn, although when 48 minutes of the game were finally completed, the score remained at 108-85.