In a game where Jalen Brunson was to exact his revenge on his former team, it would be Tim Hardaway Jr. reminding the Knicks of his capabilities. Hardaway Jr. scored 28 points, while Luka Doncic led the way with 30 points as the Mavs defeated the Knicks 121-100.
After jumping out to an early 15-point lead and holding a 7-point halftime lead, the Knicks appeared to have the upper hand. Holding Doncic to a mere 11 points on 27 percent shooting, the Knicks' defense stifled the Mavs offense in the first half as they allowed just 52 points on 33 percent from the floor. Randle carried the offense with 21 first-half points as the Mavs seemingly had no answer for his force in the paint.
The second half, specifically the third quarter, would be a completely different story. That 7-point lead turned into a 19-point deficit as Doncic and Hardaway Jr. combined for 36 points as the Knicks were outscored 41-15 in the quarter. The Mavs nearly doubled their shooting percentage going from 33 percent to 64 percent, while also making the same amount of threes (9) as they did in the entire first half.
On the other hand, the Knicks more than halved their shooting percentage from 55 percent in the first half to 26 percent in the third quarter. After an astounding first half from Randle, he could not get anything going as he played the entire quarter making one shot while turning it over twice.
At halftime, the Mavs adjusted to a more aggressive style of defense as they would double-team the ball handler on numerous occasions. The Knicks could not counter this decision as they had more turnovers (6) than made shots (5) in the quarter. Ball movement and spacing were challenging; as a result, this game was over after the quarter.
Doncic and Hardaway did not need to come back in the game, nor did Randle. Quickley played well in the fourth, putting up 14 points on 80 percent shooting, but it would be to no avail. The Mavs' second unit held off any Knicks run as they would send in their reserves around the seven-minute mark in the fourth.
Jalen Brunson struggled in his first game against his former team, as he only had 13 points while being a team-worst -26 plus/minus rating. It was a disappointing performance as so far in the season, Brunson has more than lived up to the contract he was given over the offseason. When asked how the reunion went, Brunson was blunt "I'll be honest: not fun."
The Knicks have lost four out of their last five games, with their only win coming against the Pistons. It does not get easier from here as on Sunday, the 15-8 Cleveland Cavaliers and Donovan Mitchell come to town. The Knicks will have to quickly put that disastrous third quarter behind them to stand a chance against a talented Cleveland team.