Knicks down 6 to Suns at Halftime

Jonathan Macri

Notes from a first half that saw the Knicks start strong but end up down 6...

- RJ Barrett had a strong start, picking up two assists early and getting to the line with an aggressive move in transition, but much like the last time these teams played, couldn't hang with Devin Booker. RJ picked up two fouls in under five minutes and was relegated to the bench (although he did draw a nice offensive foul on Booker in between). Barrett's biggest defensive challenge will continue to be staying with quicker guards like Booker for as long as he sees time predominantly at the two.

- Marcus Morris picked up right where he left off, draining a triple on his first shot attempt of the game and picking up a three-shot foul against Dario Saric on his next. The Knicks missed him.

- Watching Julius Randle operate down low has been painful at times this year, but he is also one of the league's true magicians at adjusting in the air, below the hoop, through contact. His and-one halfway through the first was a thing of beauty.

- Frank Ntilikina didn't let his recent stint on the shelf interrupt the aggressive streak he's been on. He drove the lane early for a missed floater and followed that up with a missed three two possessions later. He did convert his third look, though - a driving layup off a nice high screen from Mitchell Robinson.

- On cue, Frank returned the favor with an alley-oop to Mitch soon thereafter. Their connection continues to be maybe the most aesthetically pleasing thing this team does:

- Other than that throw down, Robinson still didn't look quite like himself, but it was nice to see him diving for a few loose balls in the second quarter, the first of which the Knicks got back on a jump ball, with the second resulting in a time out.

- One rarity for the Knicks so far tonight: they're getting beat more by long midrangers than threes. With five minutes to go in the second, the Suns had hit 5-of-8 shots from between 13 and 19 feet.

- The Knicks went through an abysmal stretch midway through the second, when a five-point lead briefly turned into an 11-point deficit. They were getting out-hustled at both ends until the re-entrance of Knox and Mitch provided a spark.