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Knicks fall back to concerning old ways in loss to Warriors

SAN FRANCISCO — The Knicks left their game in Denver. 

Their improved defense, their shot-making, their bench production — none of it made the trip to the Bay Area. 

They didn’t resemble the team that pulled off a back-to-back sweep of the Jazz and Nuggets on Tuesday and Wednesday. Instead, they treated defense like an optional exercise and handled the ball without any semblance of care. The positive vibes from those two wins felt like a distant memory as the defending champion Warriors toyed with them in a one-sided 111-101 victory at Chase Center on Friday night. 

The Knicks (8-8) frequently were scrambling on defense, out of position as the Warriors’ ball movement tied them in knots. Their offense often resulted in forced shots or ball-handling miscues. Golden State entered the game a middling 6-9, but certainly didn’t look like a team that had struggled early on. The Warriors held the Knicks to 34.5 percent shooting, forced 16 turnovers and hit 18 3-pointers themselves. 

Steph Curry finished with a game-high 24 points.
Stephen Curry finished with a game-high 24 points.
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Stephen Curry dribbled and shot circles around the Knicks, pouring in 24 points to go with 10 assists, and Andrew Wiggins (20 points) was by far the better Canadian on the court, outplaying the Knicks’ slumping RJ Barrett, who scored 18 points, but went just 6-for-19 from the floor and 1-for-6 from 3-point range. 

Julius Randle, who couldn’t come close to equaling the virtuoso performance he turned in against the Nuggets on Wednesday, finished with 20 points and seven rebounds. Jalen Brunson missed 11 of his 13 shots in an ineffectual 13-point performance. To make matters worse, Cam Reddish suffered a groin injury in the third quarter. 

Backup center Jericho Sims was the Knicks’ best player, notching a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds. 

Tom Thibodeau reacts during the Knicks' loss to the Warriors.
Tom Thibodeau reacts during the Knicks’ loss to the Warriors on Friday night.

The Knicks missed their first 10 3-point attempts and 26 of their first 31 shots overall. Obi Toppin blew a pair of dunks, hit the top of the backboard with a 3-pointer and simply fell down while bringing the ball up the court after a rebound. Barrett, still struggling with his shot (he has made one of his last 23 3-point attempts), hit the rim on an attempted pass from just inside half-court. And the Knicks’ perimeter defense, improved at the start of the trip, was nowhere to be found. 

The Warriors hit seven of their first 13 attempts from distance and led by double digits just 3:34 in. Golden State had a 16-point edge after one quarter and was up by 21 after Curry went behind his back through a double team for a layup with barely two minutes left before halftime. 

Andrew Wiggins scores on Julius Randle in the second half.
Andrew Wiggins scores on Julius Randle in the second half.
The Knicks resorted back to their old ways in the loss.

The Knicks finally responded at that point, going on an 11-1 run to get within 11 at the break. Randle, coming alive after a quiet start, scored nine of those points. It was a manageable deficit, considering the Knicks had been outshot, out-hustled and outplayed by the Warriors over the first 24 minutes. 

But the second half began much the way most of the first half had gone: Back-to-back forced shots by Randle and Barrett and a Curry 3-pointer. The Warriors’ lead was soon back to 16, after Curry found Draymond Green all alone at the top of the arc for their 13th made 3-pointer of the evening. 

The Knicks scraped to within eight with 5:54 remaining in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t get closer. The Warriors reeled off a 13-3 run to put the game away.

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