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The Rundown v110621 – Focused Knicks Down the Bucks; Kings, Warriors and Wizards With Huge Wins

If abstinence from the touch of a woman is why the Knicks are doing so well, then after 24.5 years of marriage, I could be in the running with names like Red Auerbach and Phil Jackson.

New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau has tongue-in-cheekedly attributed his success as a head basketball coach to swearing off women, at least when it comes to marriage. “There’s not room for a woman in my life if I’m going to be a basketball coach,” Thibs has been quoted as saying.

Of course, that was a 25 year old Thibodeau, beginning his journey at Salem State.

Today, a mere 38 years later, he is coaching in arguably the biggest sports market with one of the most endeared teams in the NBA, the New York Knicks. 

New York’s jump out to a 5-1 start fueled the online and message board wars with Brooklyn Nets fans, though both teams sit at 6-3 after last night’s games where the Knicks blasted the Milwaukee Bucks by 15 points on the road, while James Harden fell asleep on a backcourt violation while Saddiq Bey slammed one home. 

That’s right, the Nets barely escaped the second worst team in the league while the Knicks belted the reigning champs.

While the whole marriage/time for a woman notion is almost four decades in the past and a mere talking point to most, there’s something admirable in the message about a commitment to a craft, and that’s something that Thibs has attempted to instill in all the teams he’s coached.

From being an assistant and then head coach at Salem State, to being an assistant coach in the NBA for Minnesota, San Antonio, Philadelphia, New York, and Houston. A stint as the Associate Head Coach with Boston, to his 10+ year head coaching gigs in Chicago, Minnesota, and now New York.

Though players revolted in Chicago and Minnesota, causing his dismissals in those cities, a couple have followed him, if you’ve paid attention. Derrick Rose and Taj Gibson have been on all three rosters that Thibodeau has coached, and they’re not having any players-only meetings in New York, where he was 41-31 in last year’s modified 72-game season schedule and made the playoffs, losing in the first round.

But Julius Randle was the NBA’s most improved in 2020-21, and has led the team in scoring four times through nine games with team highs of 35, 21, 30, and 32 last night in the win at Milwaukee. He has led the Knicks in rebounding five of those nine games, leaving last night;s honors to an emerging Nerlens Noel. Randle is currently tied for seventh in the NBA for rebounding with Phoenix’s Deandre Ayton and Portland’s Jusuf Nurkic at 11.3 per outing.

Randle is also tied for 21st in the league in assists with San Antonio’s Derrick White at 5.7 dimes a night – not bad for a big man.

R.J. Barrett has become a better player a year after Immanuel Quickley was trying to take the spotlight. Barrett put his shoulder to the wheel, and led the Knicks in scoring in their three games previous to last night, with totals of 35, 27, and 23, though two of those games were Knick losses.

And as for Rose? He’s never smelled any sweeter other than his MVP season, though the fact that he’s been seasoned under Thibodeau may have a big part in his resurgence. In the win last night, he had 23 points off the bench, adding to Randle’s 32 and Barrett’s 20 to down the Bucks in their own crib. The Bucks are now a horrid 1-4 at Fiserv Arena.

Stay focused. Go after your dreams. Keep moving toward your goals. After all, the suns rays do not burn until they are brought into a focus.

As another great coach – Vince Lombardi – once said, “The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.”

That – along with the fact that they didn’t have to pack an All-Star roster to be 6-3 with the Nets – is what makes the New York Knicks a better team. And a place players will want to flock to in free agency once more.

NOTE: To date, Thibodeau has never been married – making him, once again, a smarter man than I.


Brooklyn Nets   96 Kevin Durant – 29 points

James Harden, Kevin Durant – 10 rebounds

James Harden – 10 assists

Detroit Pistons   90 Cade Cunningham – 17 points

Kelly Olynyk – 10 rebounds

Cory Joseph – 5 assists

Nets at Raptors – Sunday
Pistons at Rockets – Wednesday


San Antonio Spurs   102 Dejounte Murray, Keldon Johnson – 20 points

Dejounte Murray – 11 rebounds

Dejounte Murray – 7 assists

Orlando Magic   89 Cole Anthony – 21 points

Wendell Carter – 10 rebounds

Cole Anthony – 6 assists

Spurs at Thunder – Sunday
Jazz at Magic – Sunday


Memphis Grizzlies   87 Jaren Jackson, Jr. – 13 points

Jaren Jackson, Jr. – 9 rebounds

Ja Morant, Kyle Anderson – 4 assists

Washington Wizards   115 Montrezl Harrell – 18 points

Montrezl Harrell – 8 rebounds

Bradley Beal – 7 assists

Bucks at Wizards – Sunday
Timberwolves at Grizzlies – Monday


New York Knicks   113 Julius Randle – 32 points

Nerlens Noel – 13 rebounds

Derrick Rose, Julius Randle – 4 assists

Milwaukee Bucks   98 Giannis Antetokuonmpo – 25 points

Bobby Portis – 8 rebounds

George Hill, Giannis Antetokuonmpo – 4 assists

Cavaliers at Knicks – Sunday
Bucks at Wizards – Sunday


Cleveland Cavaliers   102 Darius Garland – 21 points

Jarrett Allen – 15 rebounds

Ricky Rubio – 4 assists

Toronto Raptors   101 O.G. Anunoby – 23 points

Scottie Barnes – 9 rebounds

Fred VanVleet – 6 assists

Cavaliers at Knicks – Sunday
Raptors at Nets – Sunday


Los Angeles Clippers   104 Paul George – 21 points

Ivica Zubac – 14 rebounds

Paul George – 6 assists

Minnesota Timberwolves   84 Karl-Anthony Towns – 20 points

Karl-Anthony Towns – 8 rebounds

Jordan McLaughlin – 5 assists

Hornets at Clippers – Sunday
Timberwolves at Grizzlies – Monday


New Orleans Pelicans   85 Jonas Valanciunas – 20 points

Jonas Valanciunas – 15 rebounds

Jonas Valanciunas, Tomas Satoransky – 4 assists

Golden State Warriors   126 Jordan Poole – 26 points

Draymond Green – 8 rebounds

Andre Iguodala – 10 assists

Rockets at Warriors – Sunday
Pelicans at Mavericks – Monday


Indiana Pacers   106 T.J. McConnell – 19 points

Domantas Sabonis – 12 rebounds

Brad Wanamaker, Caris LeVert – 6 assists

Portland Trailblazers   110 C.J. McCollum – 27 points

Jusuf Nurkic – 9 rebounds

Damian Lillard – 11 assists

Lakers at Trailblazers – Tonight
Pacers at Kings – Sunday


Charlotte Hornets   110 Gordon Hayward – 25 points

Mason Plumlee – 6 rebounds

LaMelo Ball – 13 assists

Sacramento Kings   140 Buddy Hield – 26 points

Richaun Holmes – 20 rebounds

De’Aaron Fox – 9 assists

Pacers at Kings – Sunday
Hornets at Clippers – Sunday


Tracy Graven is the Senior NBA Analyst for
He has written the NBA, done NBA Radio, and appeared as a guest for the last 21+ years for HoopsWorld, Swish Magazine, HoopsHype, the Coach Scott Fields Show,, and is also tackling the NFL, NCAA, and will be pinch-hitting on some Major League Baseball coverage for BackSportsPage.
He’s spent 21 years in locker rooms in Orlando, Boise (CBA, G League), San Antonio, Phoenix, Denver, Oklahoma City, and Atlanta. 

A corporate trainer by day, he currently resides in SEC Country near Knoxville, Tennessee.
Reach him on Twitter at @RealTMoneyMedia  


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