The New York Knicks started 2024 off with a 112-106 home win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday. The Knicks unveiled their new acquisition, forward OG Anunoby, who had an impressive debut while veterans Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson led the way to victory.
Anunoby Excites in First Game as a Knick
Anunoby, traded from the Toronto Raptors last week, made his highly-anticipated first appearance in a Knicks uniform. He finished with 17 points on 5-11 shooting along with 5 rebounds, 3 assists and a block in 34 minutes.
The 25-year-old received a loud ovation from the Madison Square Garden crowd when he first checked in. “It was an amazing feeling, I’m not gonna lie,” Anunoby said of the reception after the game. “This crowd and this arena, it’s iconic. So for them to cheer for me like that, I’m really happy about it.”
Anunoby knocked down two early three-pointers to get his scoring going. He played mostly at power forward next to center Mitchell Robinson in the starting lineup.
“You can tell he knows how to play, he fits right in,” said Julius Randle of his new frontcourt partner. Randle led the Knicks with 39 points.
Coach Tom Thibodeau came away impressed with Anunoby’s versatility. “He can score, he can shoot, he can drive, he gets to the free throw line,” Thibodeau said. “And he’s an elite defender so he gives us a lot on that end too.”
Anunoby’s Arrival Completes Knicks Roster Overhaul
The Knicks have reworked their roster over the past six months with an eye on returning to the playoffs in the Eastern Conference. Anunoby is the third major addition along with shooting guard Quentin Grimes and backup point guard Immanuel Quickley.
New York now features more three-point shooting and defensive versatility around cornerstones Randle and Brunson. “I think we have all the pieces now, we just need to put it together,” Randle stated.
Anunoby explained that he is comfortable playing multiple positions. “I’ll do whatever they ask,” he said. “Most of the time I’ll be at the four I think but I can slide over when needed.”
If Anunoby keeps producing like he did Sunday, the Knicks’ rebuild will be right on track.
Randle Dominates Down Low
Even with all the new acquisitions, Julius Randle reminded everyone he is still the Knicks’ main man. Randle scored at will in the post against Minnesota’s big men, finishing with 39 points on 14-24 shooting along with 15 rebounds.
“Jules was aggressive from the jump,” said guard Jalen Brunson. “When he plays like that it opens everything up for us.”
Randle did the bulk of his damage inside, overpowering defenders for layups and dunks. He drew 12 free throw attempts, knocking down 11. When Minnesota doubled him in the post, Randle found open shooters on the perimeter.
His putback dunk with under two minutes left put New York up by six and all but sealed the win.
“We just couldn’t handle Randle down low,” Timberwolves coach Chris Finch admitted. “He was determined to have a big night.”
Other Key Contributors for Knicks
While Randle starred, other Knicks had strong outings as well:
- Jalen Brunson had 15 points and 9 assists running the offense
- Immanuel Quickley provided a spark with 13 points off the bench
- Quentin Grimes added 10 points, including two clutch corner threes late
- Mitchell Robinson protected the rim with 4 blocks to go along with 9 rebounds
Where the Game Was Lost for Minnesota
Minnesota’s Anthony Edwards led all scorers with 44 points, but it wasn’t enough. New addition Rudy Gobert grabbed 15 rebounds yet only scored 6 points as the Knicks swarmed him inside.
The Timberwolves went cold from three-point range at inopportune times. They shot just 31.6% on threes compared to 44.4% for New York.
“We got some good looks but just couldn’t knock enough down,” said guard D’Angelo Russell who shot 3-12 from the field. “Couple more threes fall and it’s maybe a different game.”
Late turnovers also plagued Minnesota. Edwards had a key offensive foul, and Russell threw the ball away twice in the last four minutes. The Knicks converted those giveaways into crucial points down the stretch.
In the end, Minnesota again struggled to close out a tight contest. “It’s disappointing because we were right there,” Edwards said plainly. “Gotta learn how to pull these types of games out.”
What This Means Going Forward
The Knicks needed a marquee win to kick off 2024 after a disappointing start to the season. Their revamped roster showed its potential, highlighted by Anunoby fitting seamlessly into the offense and defense in his first minutes on the court.
For Minnesota, despite Edwards’ huge game, this loss repeated an unfortunate pattern. The Timberwolves now sit seventh in the West at 16-19. Running the offense through Gobert has not paid the dividends they hoped yet.
The Knicks and Timberwolves don’t meet again until March 12th. By then, New York hopes their new pieces will have further jelled as they try to chase down a playoff spot. Minnesota hopes to have figured out their late-game struggles before falling too far behind the pack out West.
This exciting matchup showed that both teams can score at a high level. But it was New York’s balance and defense that proved superior on this day. Anunoby and Randle led the way as the Knicks secured an impressive victory.
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