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Why have the Knicks lost so many close games lately?

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Does the Knicks have a problem in the fourth quarter?

When you consider their record in games decided in single digits (11-11) — including winning five of their first six such contests and, perhaps more importantly, losing seven of their previous 11 — it’s worth a closer look.

Overall, the fourth quarter was not kind to the Knicks. after wednesday night A lackluster and dramaless late 116-105 loss to the WizardsThey are outpaced by 2.4 points per 100 possessions in the final 12 minutes of regulation. This may not sound like much, until you consider that they are a plus 2.4 overall. Their offensive rating in the fourth quarter is 108.7far less than their number in all games (114.5).

And during the recent stint of dropping seven of 11 single-digit games across the past 15 contests overall, the fourth-quarter numbers slipped: an net score rating of -10.5, an offensive rating of 111.7 and a defensive rating of 122.3 (compared to 112.2 on the season). Those numbers rank 26th, 22nd, and 25th in the league over that period, respectively.

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Fred VanVleet’s nine fourth-quarter points helped the Raptors overcome a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit on Monday en route to a 123-121 overtime victory.
NBAE via Getty Images

The Knicks’ field goal percentage defense still ranks third in the NBA since Dec. 21: They held opponents to 44.7 percent shooting. However, a major problem emerged: the defensive rebound. Defensive rebound percentage over that span is 71.1, 19th in the league, and was a big deal at the Losing to the Raptors on Mondaywhen the Knicks allowed 14 offensive rebounds—including six in the fourth quarter and overtime.

Now, different issues have cropped up in many of these recent losses. Jalen Brunson missed the post-Christmas losses to the Mavericks and Spurs with a groin injury, and was the Knicks closer. RG Barrett was inactive for three relapses while treating a finger injury. If someone played in the defeat against Dallas on December 27, then when The Knicks blew a nine-point lead with 33.2 seconds left in the gameYou have to imagine that they would have found a way to prevail. Poor free throw shooting doomed the Knicks to forfeits to Birds of Prey on December 21st And To the bulls two days later.

Then there is Julius Randle who is having a great season. He’s a legitimate All-Star candidate, having an game-tying percentage (45.5) and averaging a few more points (24.2) and rebounds (10.7) than he did in his breakout season two years ago. But he fouled the Knicks in the clutch, which the NBA considers the last five minutes of any game in which either team leads by five points or less. Randle shoots 27.3 percent, 12.5 percent from 3-point range, 68.6 percent from the free throw line and averages 2 points in 4.4 “clutch” minutes per game.

New York Knicks forward Julius Randle reacts while on the court in the second half at Madison Square Garden in New York, New York, Monday, January 16, 2023.
Julius Randle played like an All-Star this season, outside of these minutes he scored close plays late in the fourth quarter.
Jason coal
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It’s a symbol for his team. In their “clutching” moments, the Knicks have a net rating of -7.6, a defensive rating of 120.5 and an offensive rating of 112.9, all below their normal numbers. They were last in assist percentage at 10.2 and 21st in defensive rebound percentage at 64.6. In the 15-game period we’re playing, those numbers are even worse: net rating -32.1-minus, defensive rating 132.1 and offensive rating up to 100.

Some of this can be attributed to games that Barrett and Bronson missed or were dismissed as having a relatively small sample size. But not all of it. The Knicks were not the same team in close games. This is why they have a mediocre record of 7-8 since their big eight-game winning streak in December.

Not enough looks for Grimes

By 3 points, Quentin Grimes is the second-best long-range shooter for the Knicks. The second-year guard shoots 37 percent of his attempts from outside the arc on 5.3 attempts per game—only Jalen Bronson, at 39.7 percent, is better—and 45.2 percent overall on field goal attempts. Conclusion: Good things usually happen when he’s aggressive with the ball in his hands. But lately, this hasn’t happened very often.

New York Knicks guard Quentin Grimes #6 blocks a shot as Alec Burks defends #5 of the Detroit Pistons during the second quarter.
Quentin Grimes has been one of the Knicks’ most effective 3-point shooters, although he hasn’t been given many chances to nail it lately.
Charles Winzelberg/New York Post

on Monday Overtime loss to the RaptorsGrimes took just five shots in 40 minutes. Over his past nine games, he has only shot four times despite averaging 34.9 minutes. This is due in part to the outreach teams that Grimes now has. They’re helping out a lot less from him, spacing the floor out and creating better chances for Knicks stars Bronson and Randle. But the Knicks also don’t run plays for Grimes. He gets his shots into the flow of the offense, which has recently been lonely heavy and lacks ball movement. They’ve only managed 17.9 tackles over the past nine contests, down from 22.3 over the course of the season.

In a game like Monday, when Bronson and Randle shot 18 of 49 and were clearly not at their best, the Knicks should have spread the ball further. It would have helped to have one of their best shooters get more than five shots in 40 minutes. For what it’s worth, the Knicks are 12-5 when Grimes scores in double figures. In other words, when he’s involved on offense, the Knicks perform better. More often recently, this has not been the case.

More pine

New York Knicks forward Obi Tobin stepped up against the Toronto Raptors on January 16, 2023.
Obi Tobin’s offense nearly disappeared in the third year.
Jason Szenes

The Knicks’ lack of offensive punch off the bench became hard to ignore.

Take Emmanuel Quickly, who’s basically their sixth writer, and he doesn’t exist. Even with Quickley’s offensive production—he averages a career-high 12.5 points per game—their reserves are near the bottom of the league, producing 29.2 points per game, which ranks 27th in the NBA. Over the past 15 games, the Knicks bench has been last in scoring (18.3), although part of that can be attributed to Quickley starting seven games during that span due to injuries.

One glaring issue is the suffering of Obi-Tobin. After taking a step up last season, he’s slipped this season, scoring just 6.6 points and shooting a career-worst 40.2% from the field. The last time he scored two goals was on November 13. Now, it should be noted that Tobin only recently made a comeback after missing 13 games due to a broken right fibula. The Knicks need the explosive young forward to find their game. They have become overly dependent on the Big Three of Bronson, Randle and Barrett to carry them offensively. It appeared in those two previous losses when Randle wasn’t at his best.

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