‘Let’s take it’ – The Mercury News


“We will take it.”

That was Josh Hart summing up the Knicks’ road trip for reporters Tuesday night, just after they dispatched the Blazers with a dominant fourth quarter.

After four games on the West Coast without Jalen Brunson (who technically played time in Sacramento), the Knicks (41-31) finished 2-2 and reclaimed fifth place in the East from the Nets.

“When you don’t have one of your best players, some teams just fall apart,” Hart said. “They come on a losing streak. So to end the trip, .500, let’s get it.”

With a rare three days off before the next game, hope is that Brunson’s sore foot will be good enough to play Saturday’s matinee at Madison Square Garden against the Nuggets.

So how did the Knicks, who tied for the most wins in a season since 2013, keep the ship afloat without Eastern Conference Player of the Month? It was a collaborative effort, but the main theme was to pick up the pace and score in transition. During the four-game road trip, the Knicks averaged 20.3 points in breaks – breaking their season average of 12.1 points in breaks per game.

Miles McBride was a surprising catalyst to two wins over the Lakers and Blazers, seizing his first extended opportunity in over a month. McBride’s 18 points at Portland was a career-high as he served as a backup point guard. Struggling with his outside shooting early in the season, the sophomore dunked 6 of his 9 shots in the two wins.

“I knew my work was going to show up. I’m going to continue to do that,” McBride said in his post-game on-court interview with the MSG Network. “At some point they will start to fall off.”

Hart was also part of a bench team that pulverized Portland, especially in the fourth quarter. He filled out the stat sheet in 37 minutes with 16 points, nine rebounds, eight assists and three steals.

In a way, the performance was justification for the Knicks and their trade deadline deal. Hart defeated Portland’s Cam Reddish, who scored just two points on 1-of-6 shooting in 19 minutes.

Reddish and Hart were traded last month and were thriving individually ahead of the match. Reddish, who was stationed on Tom Thibodeau’s bench while with the Knicks, told the Daily News that his New York DNPs were a result of “favoritism” and “politics”.

But he didn’t get revenge on Tuesday, instead absorbing a loss that included the Blazers being outscored by 27 points with Reddish on the court.

The Knicks, meanwhile, outscored the Blazers by 26 points when Hart played. Hart, 28, a member of the 2017 draft class, is gearing up for the first playoff series of his career.

“I’m in a new position here where I’m sitting here and we’re really playing for something,” Hart said. “I haven’t really been in that position in my career. I think that’s making me hungrier and the rest of the guys in the locker room.”

He will accept.


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