NEW ORLEANS — After point guard Immanuel Quickley buried a 3-pointer to give the Knicks a 10-point lead in the second quarter Wednesday, a visiting bluesman sitting baseline clapped extra hard in
NEW ORLEANS — After point guard Immanuel Quickley buried a 3-pointer to give the Knicks a 10-point lead in the second quarter Wednesday, a visiting bluesman sitting baseline clapped extra hard in the Big Easy Wednesday night.
Knicks owner James Dolan made his first pandemic road game appearance as one of the 3,700 spectators at Smoothie King Center. Dolan sat between his handpicked team president, Leon Rose, and senior VP William Wesley as he finally can cheer a winning team.
Julius Randle racked up 32 points and the Knicks stymied Zion Williamson late, so Dolan got to watch his team post its first four-game winning of this season, as they beat the Pelicans, 116-106.
Williamson, the NBA’s new superstar who rambled to the rim with devastating power, finished with 25 points, but scored just four in the final period. He shot 10-for-19, but didn’t hit a 3-pointer.
Alec Burks caught fire for the Knicks in the fourth quarter and finished with 21 points, drilling 4 of 7 3-pointers.
Randle won his matchup with Williamson, going 5-for-8 from 3-point land, while adding eight rebounds and five assists. RJ Barrett, Williamson’s Duke buddy, had his second straight off night and finished with just six points.
After being left out of the playoffs seven straight years, Dolan’s Knicks improved to 29-27 and are tied with the Heat for sixth place in the Eastern Conference. Next month, Dolan — who fist-bumped coach Tom Thibodeau and a few of the players as they were coming off the court after the win — will likely be sitting in his Garden suite watching the Knicks’ first postseason game since 2013.
“That was great,’’ Thibodeau said of Dolan attending the game. “It’s always great to have him around, I think the players, appreciate it. We had Dr. (Lisa) Callahan here as well, so excited to have her. So perhaps they’re our good luck charms. Also had Leon and Wes, had a full house.’’
In his first career game against the Knicks, Williamson looked amped, especially facing his Duke compadre, Barrett.
In the first half, Randle, the former Pelican, hit his first three 3-pointers against Williamson, but then went cold and finished the half 4-for-15.
The Knicks’ 11-point lead disintegrated to 53-52 at intermission. Barrett struggled, going 1-for-5 for just three points in the half.
Randle and Derrick Rose got hot in a 40-point third quarter, and the Knicks took a 93-89 lead into the fourth quarter.
Burks drilled a 3 with 10:25 left to push the lead to 99-90 and hit another 3 with 8:10 left as the Knicks jumped ahead 104-93. Burks’ final dagger came with 1:20 left when his 3-pointer bumped the lead to eight points.
Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy said before the game the Knicks were “playing as good as any team in the East’’ and called them “a throwback to the ’90s low-scoring Knicks’’ that his brother, Jeff, coached.
Nerlens Noel was announced as the Knicks’ starting center 30 minutes before the game, but was scratched moments before tip-off with a sore ankle. That left Taj Gibson as starting center, and the Knicks used 10-day contract signee Norvel Pelle as his backup.
Pelle had a decent eight-minute stretch, scoring his first two buckets as a Knick, an alley-oop jam and a putback, and blocking a Williamson drive, but he also committed goaltending on Williams. Pelle finished a plus-19 in 12:43.
This story originally appeared on: NyPost - Author:Marc Berman