Losing big in the big city: Three takeaways from Monday’s 137-115 loss to the Knicks

Mar 27, 2023; New York, New York, USA; Houston Rockets guard Jalen Green (4) looks to drive past New York Knicks guard Josh Hart (3) in the second quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Losing big in the big city: Three takeaways from Monday’s 137-115 loss to the Knicks

Immanuel Quickley and Julius Randle combined for 66 points as the Rockets’ losing streak hit six games with a 137-115 loss to the Knicks at Madison Square Garden. The Rockets played a strong first half, trailing 66-61 after two quarters, but the Knicks ended the third quarter with a burst to take a 12-point lead into the fourth, where they promptly blew the Rockets out of the building. Kevin Porter Jr’s 26 points led the Rockets.

An embarrassing fourth quarter

Any momentum the Rockets might’ve had in the game was erased when Julius Randle drilled a 3 at the buzzer to put the Knicks up 102-90 after three quarters. They scored the first 10 points of the fourth quarter and kept piling on.

The Knicks pushed their lead to as much as 32, though the Rockets put together some better possessions in garbage time to shrink the margin. New York outscored Houston 35-25 in the quarter, though things were far from equal after the Knicks’ initial 10 point surge.

New York made nine of its first 12 shots in the quarter while attempting 10 free throws before seven minutes had elapsed off the clock.

Immanuel Quickley puts on a show

A sprained hand kept Jalen Brunson off the floor for the Knicks, but Immanuel Quickley more than picked up the slack in his absence, scoring a career-high 40 points on 14-of-17 shooting to go with nine assists and only one turnover. He scored 13 points in the first quarter, nine points in the second, and 15 in the third before scoring three in the fourth. He did whatever he wanted whenever he wanted. The only negative of his night were the two missed free throws he had in the fourth quarter after he was fouled attempting a 3-pointer.

The third-year guard out of Kentucky entered the game averaging 13.7 points on 43% shooting.

A rotation tweak doesn’t work

On most nights, Stephen Silas will start the second and fourth quarters with Usman Garuba on the floor as the Rockets center, but on Monday night, he switched things up. With Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr. on the bench after mirroring each other in the first quarter, Silas had Sengun on the floor leading the second unit along with K.J. Martin, Tari Eason, Daishen Nix, and Josh Christopher. It did not work.

The Rockets were outscored 8-4 in the first 3:40 of the second quarter while shooting 1-of-6 with three turnovers, and it was worse to start the fourth, lasting just 2:10 with the Rockets missing all five field goal attempts to go with a turnover while the Knicks stretched a 12-point lead at the end of the third quarter to 20.

In 5 minutes and 50 seconds, the Sengun, Nix, Eason, Martin, Christopher lineup was outscored 16-4 while shooting 1-of-11 with four turnovers.

Next up

The Rockets will conclude their five-game road trip when they visit the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night.

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