The Knicks are playing better -- and with more accountability -- since the team held a players-only meeting prior to David Fizdale's firing.
Recently, improving defensively has been a focal point of interim head coach Mike Miller, and the results bear that out. In back-to-back wins over the Nets and Wizards, the Knicks held their opponent to under 35 percent shooting for the game.
"I think we have sustained these possessions where maybe we would have a segment of three or four good ones," Miller said. "I think we're getting now where it's five, six, seven good ones, and we're able to impact the game a little bit more. I thought we defended really well at the beginning of the Brooklyn game, and in stretches, we put together really good possessions. And I think it takes some of the pressure off our offense. When it does that, we can get into a possession game and be able to make stops."
"We're not overcomplicating anything" Julius Randle said of the team's defensive game plan. "We're doing a good job of sticking to our coverages and just executing our coverages, being disciplined in that, not overcomplicating things and I think we're rebounding well."
In addition to a change in head coach and a focus on defense, certain Knicks have pointed to a players-only meeting held hours before Fizdale was fired which led to a change in the locker room's mindset.
"We talked to each other," Randle said of the meeting. "It's never personal. We just want to hold each other accountable because we just want to win. At the end of the day, winning is the only thing that matters."
"People took that conversation to heart," RJ Barrett added. "Coaches have been honest, as well. It's been good, collectively."
RANDLE CONTINUES TO IMPROVE
It took a while for him to seemingly find his footing with the Knicks, but Randle has emerged as exactly what the Knicks were hoping for when they signed him to a three-year, $63 million contract in the offseason. Over his last four games, Randle is averaging 29.5 points and 9.3 rebounds per game, including a dominant 30-point, 16-rebound performance against the Wizards on Saturday.
"I'm just more comfortable," Randle said. "Coach put me in great spots, teammates feed me the ball in great spots, and summer work I put in, work I put in in the offseason, work I'm still putting in during the season reaping the benefits of. Got to keep that focus and simplify the game and be as efficient as I can and take it a day at a time."
"He's been playing with such force, too," Miller said. "He's been a downhill guy, he's been able to create space off the dribble, he's finished really well, he's shot the ball well, he's getting fouled. So he's doing all the things that lead to a guy that's putting up numbers like he's doing."