The New York Knicks haven’t won consecutive games in more than a month, but they won’t have to wait long to try to build on the momentum of one of their most resounding victories in that stretch.
The Knicks will look to make it two wins in as many nights Wednesday, when they will oppose the Indiana Pacers in Indianapolis.
New York snapped a three-game losing streak Tuesday night, when it didn’t trail in the final three quarters of a 121-109 win over the host San Antonio Spurs. The Pacers ended a four-game skid Monday night, when they beat the visiting Washington Wizards 116-110.
RJ Barrett drained seven 3-pointers and finished with 32 points to lead a thorough effort by another new-look edition of the Knicks. Coach Tom Thibodeau, who made Alec Burks the starting point guard and removed Kemba Walker from the rotation late last month, swapped starting centers — inserting Nerlens Noel into the lineup in place of Mitchell Robinson — on Tuesday.
Six players scored in double figures for the Knicks, including Robinson, who had a double-double (11 points, 14 rebounds).
“We needed that win bad,” Robinson said. “We’re desperate right now.”
The Knicks improved to 7-11 since a 5-1 start that ended with their most recent winning streak, a three-game run from Oct. 26 through Oct. 30.
Thibodeau said he hoped Tuesday’s victory would spark the Knicks, whose previous three defeats included a 112-110 loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Nov. 30 and a 119-115 setback to the Chicago Bulls two nights later. The Nets and Bulls entered Wednesday as the top two teams in the Eastern Conference.
“Things may not be going well and all of a sudden, you take a charge, get to a loose ball, you get a tip from behind, you get a block,” Thibodeau said. “That could ignite you and all of a sudden you get an easy score, a couple of easy buckets and now you find your rhythm and things change quickly in this league. They can go from being terrible to being real great and vice versa.”
The Pacers are eager to find out if their Monday win provides a similar spark. Indiana’s inability to establish consistency this season — its 1-6 start was followed by an 8-6 stretch that preceded the four-game losing streak — may be inching management closer to embarking upon a rebuild.
The Athletic reported Tuesday the Pacers are taking calls from teams interested in acquiring Domantas Sabonis, Caris LeVert and Myles Turner — Indiana’s second-, third- and fifth-leading scorers, respectively.
On Monday, though, the Pacers were focused on the relief of finally earning a win and not the long-term ramifications of their slow start.
“Those four losing games felt like 10,” said Pacers forward Oshae Brissett, who scored 12 points off the bench Monday night. “I don’t really remember the last time we won. It feels like it was so long (ago). But I’m happy that we were able to pull together and play together and play the way we were supposed to. We’ve just got to keep it going.”