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?