Tom Thibodeau benches New York Knicks' struggling starters -- 'We've gotta figure it out'

NEW YORK -- Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau benched his starters during Wednesday's 112-100 loss against the Milwaukee Bucks. He dismissed the notion that they need more time to build chemistry.
Thibodeau stated, "You know what they said: When it's 10 players, they say you need 20," Thibodeau said, "When you say 20 they say you need 30, and at 30 you say 40.

"And before it's too late, the season is over." That's a lot of bulls ---."

It is clear that New York's starting line-up is not working. This lineup, which includes RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson, Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier -- has played more than any other five-man unit of the NBA this season. It has been outscored by 14.4 per 100 possessions this season, and has a defensive rating at 119.3, which is more than seven percentage points lower than the NBA's worst-ranked defense.

All starters were at least minus-15 on Wednesday, with Robinson finishing with a plusminus of minus-20.

Thibodeau did not play Randle from the 2:01 mark in the third quarter. He then took out Obi Toppin. Thibodeau opted to ride the all-bench grouping consisting of Derrick Rose and Alec Burks.

Thibodeau stated that the decision to not play the starters was based on their inability to play well. He did not speak to the media afterwards. That's all. We've gotta figure it out. We're currently playing well on the road, but not at home, which is quite unusual. We need to get this straightened out.

Based on the game's outcome, Thibodeau's decision was a good one. From the end of the third quarter to the 5:06 mark in the fourth, the all-bench team went on a 29-7 run. This erased a 22 point Milwaukee lead and tied the game.

That group eventually ran out of gas. The Bucks made three consecutive 3-pointers to win the game late in the fourth.

Thibodeau explained that he was just "searching" for reasons to keep the reserve players on the court. "Once the intensity was built into the game, we got some stops and shared the ball, got some quick scores, and got a good rhythm going I felt the bench played well."

The performance of the Knicks bench group was still indicative of their play throughout the season, just as the starting group.

New York's second most used group is the all-bench team of Rose, Burks Quickley, Toppin, Toppin, and Gibson. They play 61 minutes each. It has outscored its competitors by 19.9 points per 100 possessions after Wednesday's match.

The Knicks lost Wednesday's game to the Knicks at Madison Square Garden. This is in comparison to the Knicks' 5-1 record away from home this season, which includes wins in Philadelphia, Milwaukee, and Chicago.

Rose scored 22 points from the bench to lead New York and said, "S ---, It really doesn't matter," when she was asked why the Knicks are struggling at home. I can't pinpoint it. It's difficult to process right now, as I mentioned. You know what I mean, four points are within reach. You have three to four minutes left and you're down to four points. You have to find a way. But I can't pinpoint the reason."