The Knicks still need some assistance to secure the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference standings, but they continue to do whatever they can to attain the best possible postseason positioning.
The Knicks still need some assistance to secure the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference, but they continue to do whatever they can to attain the best possible postseason positioning.
On Saturday afternoon, the Knicks took care of the first of their final two games, outlasting the Hornets, 118-109, in overtime at the Garden for their 40th win of the season. The victory temporarily moved them back into the No. 4 position in the East — ahead of the idle Hawks via the head-to-head tiebreaker. The Knicks also are a half-game ahead of Miami, pending the Heat’s visit to No. 3 Milwaukee on Saturday night.
The Knicks will conclude the regular season Sunday at the Garden against the Celtics, while the Hawks will host the NBA-worst Rockets and the Heat will visit Detroit. A three-way tie would give the Hawks the No. 4 slot as Southeast Division champions and drop the Knicks to No. 6 due to a lost tiebreaker against the Heat.
Julius Randle heard “MVP” chants while pacing the Knicks (40-31) with 33 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds, for his sixth triple-double of the season. Reggie Bullock buried five 3-pointers, including a key one in overtime, and finished with 17 points. Alec Burks added 14 points and center Nerlens Noel played another strong defensive game with five of the Knicks’ seven blocked shots and 11 rebounds.
Elfrid Payton remained in the starting lineup, but played only 12 minutes. Derrick Rose scored 15 points in 25 minutes off the bench after missing Thursday’s comeback win against the Spurs with a sprained ankle. It was unclear if Rose reinjured himself, but coach Tom Thibodeau went with a guard combination of Immanuel Quickley (13 points) and Burks down the stretch and in overtime, with both Rose and starter RJ Barrett on the bench.
Miles Bridges scored 30 points in his return from health and safety protocols and Devonte’ Graham added 25 for the Hornets (33-38).
The Knicks led by as many as 17 in the third quarter, but Bridges netted 16 in a 30-16 closeout run by Charlotte to slash the cushion to three, 89-86, entering the final 12 minutes.
Malik Monk’s drive early in the fourth nudged Charlotte ahead, and Graham followed with a 3-pointer for a 93-89 turnaround lead. The Knicks went back up, 102-101, on Randle’s trey with 5:19 to go.
The Knicks’ defense held the Hornets without a field goal (0-for-5 with three turnovers) for more than six minutes until Terry Rozier’s drive forged a 104-104 tie with 37.8 seconds remaining.
Burks appeared to get knocked over by Jalen McDaniels while grabbing a defensive rebound, but no foul was called and the Hornets were given the ball out of bounds.
Graham’s missed 3-point attempt resulted in overtime, and 3-pointers by Burks and Bullock sparked a 14-2 run to open the extra session.
This story originally appeared on: NyPost - Author:Peter Botte