NY Post: Knicks may have sealed postseason berth in classic fashion

From Marc Berman:

The famous Garden pinwheeled ceiling sprung a leak as rain pounded the roof Sunday night, causing a 14-minute delay.

And for an uncharacteristicly long segment of the second half, the Knicks defense sprung a leak, too. After going up by 18 points early in the third quarter, the Knicks couldn’t do a thing right as the Raptors put together a 40-15 run, taking a five-point lead midway through the fourth quarter.

But this is the new Knicks, in a new era. Before they could choke the game away, they rose up late and survived a brutal and ugly 102-96 decision over Toronto to break a nine-game losing streak against the Raptors.

“We found a way at the end,’’ Tom Thibodeau said. “I like we have the mental toughness to work our way through it and pull it out in the end. But I think we’re capable of playing better than we did today.”

More importantly, the Knicks probably sealed a spot in the play-in tournament. They moved six games in front of the Raptors, who are in 11th place. The top 10 teams will either qualify for the play-in or for a playoff berth.

I mean, a four game lead was already likely enough for the Knicks to remain in the top ten teams, but yes, this definitely almost definitively solidified them a spot in the top ten. So it was a big win. They also got to .500. They never quit under Thibs. It is great to see.

Less great? Pretty much everything else about this game. There was this segment where the Knicks came back to tie and take the lead in the fourth where it was great that it happened, but how it happened was just brick after brick by both teams until the Knicks eventually made enough to take (and keep) the win. It was an ugly, ugly game. It reminded me of the 1990s, but more like the Fratello Cavs.

But hey, the Fratello Cavs were routinely playoff teams, so it is all good!

Now they just need to kick the Lakers’ ass on Monday to get over .500 and, well, you know, kick the Lakers’ ass, which is always fun.

Also, the Pacers are coming on strong (they also beat the Grizzlies in a game very similar to the Knicks) and now that Caris Levert is healthy, they’re looking pretty frisky, and the Knicks desperately need to keep ahead of them. Making the top ten is big, but making the top eight is almost just as big, as it means needing to lose two games to miss the playoffs rather than needing to win two games to make the playoffs. I don’t think I need to explain to you why the former is much, much better than the latter, right?

2020-21 Game Thread: Knicks vs. The Weird Ass Raptors

The Knicks host the weird ass Toronto Raptors tonight with a very good chance to both get back to .500 and also let the Raptors know that, seriously, they can just give up already and just properly tank.

OG Anunoby (taken 15 picks after Frank Ntilikina) is resting tonight, Fred VanVleet is out, Deandre Bembry is suspended (the Knicks will luck out and will somehow have players from the same fight suspended against them in back to back games) and yet somehow Kyle Lowry is actually playing. The Raptors are fucking weird. Just tank already!

Let’s go get back to .500, Knicks!

NY Post: Knicks complete furious rally for impressive OT win over Grizzlies

From Peter Bolle:

If the Knicks plan to make a serious and upward move in the Eastern Conference standings, Friday night’s game began the favorable stretch for them to do so.

And their furious comeback in a 133-129 overtime victory over the Grizzlies at the Garden might just serve as the springboard.

Leading scorers Julius Randle and RJ Barrett were mostly invisible for three quarters, but the duo combined for 23 points in the fourth quarter and overtime as the Knicks overcame a late 13-point hole. Their frantic comeback enabled the Knicks to win the first of an 11-game stretch in which they will play nine times in front of their home fans.

Randle didn’t manage his first field goal until 3:16 remained in the third quarter, but he finished with 15 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds for his fifth triple-double of the season.

Barrett managed just five points through three quarters, but he netted 15 the rest of the way, including a game-tying drive late in regulation and a go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:15 remaining in overtime.

Alec Burks scored nine of his 19 points in the extra session, Immanuel Quickley finished with 20 points and Derrick Rose added 19 points off the bench for the Knicks (26-27), who had lost five of their previous six games to fall to the eighth playoff position in the Eastern Conference.

That was one hell of a win. That was the sort of statement win that we’ve been hoping to see from the Knicks for literally months now and they pulled it off with a remarkable comeback late in the fourth and then an excellent fourth quarter.

One of the most important things in the game to me was Immanuel Quickley having such a good time. He’s been in such a shooting slump lately and as a result, Thibs has been giving him very few minutes (just 13 minutes in the last Knicks game) and so seeing him play well and get 31 minutes was outstanding.

RJ, of course, was also extremely clutch in this one (while the Grizzlies choked like crazy on their free throws late in the game). Best win the Knicks have had since….hmmm….let’s say when they kicked the Celtics’ ass in Boston back on…January 17th?? Dang, it’s been a while. They also had a good win against Golden State a week after that Boston game, maybe that should be the pick. In any event, the important thing is that it was a hell of a win and the Knicks have a chance to get back to .500 on Sunday and truly put the Toronto Raptors out commission. The Pacers won, though, which means that they remain tied with the Knicks in the loss column (but the Bulls lost, dropping them two games behind the Knicks in the loss column). Remaining in at least 8th is huge. It’d be nice to get to the 6th seed (Berman had a good bit the other day where he explained the play-in tournament to Rose, who had no idea how it worked as he said he stopped paying attention to basketball during the Bubble since Detroit was out of it and Rose was, like, “Okay, so we’ll just get the sixth seed then”), but they need that seventh or eighth seed. No one wants to play back-to-back “win or go home” games.

As an aside, the Charlotte Hornets continue to play well after the losses of LaMelo Ball and Gordon Hayward, and the Bell thing makes sense, since Terry Rozier has been so good, but it’s shocking how much they are not missing Hayward. However, I was seeing how Jalen McDaniels starts for them at power forward. How in the world are you naming your two sons Jalen and Jaden? Come on, Will McDaniels! It’s not even like they’re twins and you’re looking for cutesy matching names!

2020-21 Game Thread: Knicks vs. Grizzlies

This is a big game for the Knicks. The Grizzlies aren’t an amazing team, but they’re definitely what I would count as a good team, and thus, this is a perfect opportunity for the Knicks to finally beat a good team. Not counting the Bucks game where the Bucks took a scheduled loss, the Knicks haven’t beaten a team who had a winning record when the Knicks played them in over two months. That just sounds like an absurd stat, right? It’s been over two months since the Knicks beat a team who had a winning record when they played (excepting the Bucks game, but, well, come on now).

So this Grizzlies team is ripe for the plucking. Plus, it has two other matchups we can root for, like RJ Barret trying to outdo Ja Morant, who was taken one pick ahead of him, and Immanuel Quickley hopefully outperforming Desmond Bane, who was taken five picks after Quickley and is hitting 44.6% (?!?!?!) of his threes this season.

That the Grizzlies are playing so well without Jaren Jackson is quite impressive. Grayson Allen has been having a hot streak.

Let’s go get back to within a game of .500, Knicks!

NY Post: Knicks losing patience after heartbreaking loss: ‘It’s annoying’

From Marc Berman:

These two old rivals could well meet again in the NBA’s one-game, play-in event. Maybe then the slumping Knicks could turn this recent heartbreak into a something joyful.

Another defensive slugfest turned bitter and sour at the end as the Celtics rallied from a seven-point fourth-quarter deficit and eked out a 101-99 victory over the Knicks at TD Garden on Wednesday.

The Knicks have lost five of six games and are now 2-8 in contests decided by three points or fewer this season. Losing nailbiters to top teams has been their recent modus operandi. Just ask the Nets, Sixers and Heat.

“It’s annoying losing these two-point games,’’ RJ Barrett said. “They’re frustrating and annoying.’’

A wide-open Marcus Smart hit the game-clinching 3-pointer with 35 seconds left to break the tie. Knicks shooting guard Reggie Bullock decided to double Jayson Tatum (25 points) on the play and leave Smart open. The Knicks paid the price.

“Anytime you commit to putting two on the ball, you’ve got to understand what you’re willing — you’re going to be vulnerable in another area,’’ Knicks coach Thibodeau said. “You don’t want to give up open shots. And so, they have two dynamic scores in Tatum and [Jaylen] Brown. So you go in with you’re game plan. You know that, particularly in the fourth quarter, you have to be committed to putting two on to them, so that’s part of it.’’

I dunno, man, I really don’t feel these losses as hard as it seem the rest of you do. Once again, a Knick hit a big shot to tie the game late in the game against a pretty good team (the Harden/Durant-less Nets don’t rise beyond “pretty good”) and then they just couldn’t pull it out in the end. Is it frustrating? Sure, but they weren’t blown out. Getting blown out is the worst. Close games are good.

They’re good enough not to get blown out. That’s a good thing.

They’re just not all that good enough overall, that’s the bigger issue. But 2-8 in close games is practically meaningless from a “What are they doing wrong?” perspective.

Thibs had an encouraging line when someone asked him if Quickley was shooting too many floaters, ““I actually like the shot profile. The floater is a big part of the game. I think he’s got one of the best ones in the league. There’s going to be ebbs and flows to the season. As long as he’s taking the right shot. His shot selection is very good.”

Maybe play him more than 13 minutes then, Thibs.

2020-21 Game Thread: Knicks @ A Team That Said, “Luke Kornet? Sure, He Could Improve Our Awful Team”

The Knicks head to Boston with the same record as the Celtics. If they win tonight, they’ll sit alone in 7th place, which would be swell.

A battle of two almost .500 clubs. Two teams enter. One leaves with a non-losing record. To paraphrase Elvis (himself covering the Everly Brothers), let it be the Knicks.

Let’s go get back to .500 and embarrass the Celtics in their own arena again, Knicks!

NY Post: Nets pay big James Harden price in close win over Knicks

From Brian Lewis:

The Nets lost James Harden — again. But they dug down deep enough to win the game, and a season sweep of the cross-river rival Knicks.

Already without Kevin Durant, the Nets saw Harden go down after just four minutes. But Kyrie Irving led a huge comeback, and Jeff Green capped off a 114-112 rally before a mixed crowd of 1,773 at Barclays Center.

The last man standing of Brooklyn’s Big Three, Irving had a game-high 40 points and seven assists. Jeff Green added a season-high 23 points, including the tiebreaking points in the final seconds. Julius Randle’s miss at the buzzer sealed it.

After going just 1-for-4 from the stripe in the first half, Green went 8-for-9 in the second — including the game-winning pair with 3.7 seconds left.

I get it. I really do. It seems like we’re way too late into the season to still have moral victories, and once James Harden went down, I don’t know if you’d term the Nets all that good of a team with “just” Kyrie available of the Big Three, but whatever, I still think it was impressive to see the Knicks continue to battle. That three by Burks was awesome.

You know Thibs will always make sure that the Knicks fight at the end of the game. That’s always nice to see.

And luckily, the Raptors are still, what, four and a half games back with just 21 to play and two teams between the eighth-placed Knicks and the tenth-placed Raptors (and the Raptors not even seeming like they’re necessarily trying to win at this point, as they seem almost more interested in adding a top lottery pick to their OG/Siakam/VanVleet/Boucher core. Their win tonight against the Wizards was almost like “Who didn’t want it less?”)? It’s looking very good for the Knicks. The key, though, is the 1 1/2 game lead they have over the Pacers for the #9 seed. You definitely want to be playing in the #7/8 game and not the #9/10 game. It’s literally the difference between only having to win one of two games to make the playoffs and having to win both games to make the playoffs. That’s huuuuuuuge.