Against a shorthanded Washington Wizards squad, one might have thought the Knicks (even without four players themselves, including their leading scorer) could've entered halftime nursing a pretty large lead.
That didn't end up happening, as the Knicks went up by as much as 13 in the first half but only entered the halftime break up one, 64-63 (which was only made possible by a last-second dunk by Allonzo Trier).
Julius Randle led the Knicks with 21 points at the break, and RJ Barrett had 13 on 6-8 shooting.
Some notes on the first half:
1) The Knicks started off this game really strong, as mentioned above, going up by as many as 13 in the first half. But they kept letting their foot off the gas again, and again, and again, allowing the Wizards to make a comeback. It certainly didn't make the Knicks' lives easier that, in his first start in a while with Taj Gibson out, Mitchell Robinson got into early foul trouble and robbed New York of their one defensive anchor. The newly-signed Gary Payton II was also a nuisance for Washington, probably already trying to earn another contract.
2) Barrett basically brought the Knicks back by himself to end the half, dishing three assists and canning a 3-pointer to lead the Knicks into the break. Frank Ntilikina also didn't make an appearance until about the 2:30 mark of the second quarter, but once he subbed in there was a noticeable difference on both sides of the ball for New York.
3) Allonzo Trier got some pretty major minutes in the first half (nine) and made the most of them, sinking a three and ending the half in the most emphatic way possible:
4) Kevin Knox definitely made the most of the starting spot afforded to him by Marcus Morris' bum Achilles. Knox scored eight points in the first half and played decisive and aggressive, basically the best of what you could expect from him on offense.
5) Julius Randle was a behemoth in the first half, scoring 21 points on 7-12 shooting to lead both teams. He still had his warts with turnovers (three) and some bouts of tunnel vision, but his hustle was evident and he didn't really take bad shots. Payton and Barrett handling the ball with Randle and Robinson as pick-and-roll threats seems to work pretty damn well.
6) Barrett can really overpower smaller guards when he wants, which was never more evident than when he posted up Beal and Ish Smith on back to back possessions.