From Marc Berman:
These Knicks never stop impressing with their fortitude and resiliency.
On their return to the Garden after a six-game, 11-day Western road trip, and with one of their top performers, Derrick Rose, out with a sprained ankle, the Knicks fell behind by 17 points to the Spurs during a third-quarter disaster Thursday.
But up to the plate stepped reserve swingman Alec Burks, who made his own return from a three-game absence with a knee bruise and COVID-19 to spark the Knicks to a raging 102-98 comeback victory.
Burks, who recently missed eight games with COVID-19, scored a season-high 30 points, and RJ Barrett got hot during the comeback, hitting six straight shots at one juncture to finish with 24 points after his eight-point dud in Los Angeles against the Lakers on Tuesday.
“It shows our grit and toughness,’’ Barrett said of the comeback. “We’re not going to back down.’’
That was an amazing performance by Burks, but what’s funny is that for a Pop-coached team, the Spurs really helped the Knicks a ton during that big run by constantly taking shortarmed outside shots. If you know you’re tiring in the second half of a second night of a back-to-back, you really should drive. Not only does it up the chances of you making the shot, but it also takes up clock. It was a surprisingly poor piece of decision-making by the Spurs.
Later in the game, when the Spurs came back on the Knicks after the Knicks took the lead, it was with drives. So it was very surprising.
The key thing, though, was that Burks was just outstanding. Barrett and Randle made some big shots, as well, but Burks was on fire. The Knicks desperately needed this one to keep their hopes of the #4 seed alive, as the Heat and the Hawks both won tonight.
The Knicks play the Hornets on Saturday afternoon and the Heat play the Bucks (who have a chance of getting the #2 seed) Saturday night. Those two games will likely determine whether the Knicks get the #4 seed or the #6 seed.
Big time win.