Knicks squeak out win against Nets to clinch top-four seed for playoffs


The Knicks didn’t look like a team looking to finally get home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs, but instead looked like a gassed team playing the end of back-to-back games after an eight-day road trip. .

But as they have done throughout this season, the Knicks clawed back from a significant first-half hole and dominated the eliminated Nets in the third quarter before hanging on for a 111-107 victory to fall short. worse than the No. 4 seed in the ranking. Eastern Conference playoffs.

“(Home court) means a lot. I’m excited to get started, to get things going,” Jalen Brunson said. “This is the next step for us and so we have a chance to protect it, so we should do it.

Jalen Brunson scored a team-high 30 points in the Knicks’ win over the Nets. Charles Wenzelberg

“But we want to be the best team we can be by the end of the year.”

Tom Thibodeau’s team (49-32) still has a chance to take second place in the East with a victory on Sunday against the Bulls and a defeat for the Bucks (also 49-32) in their last match.

The Knicks can also return to the No. 3 seed with a win Sunday in their regular-season finale, but a loss could push them to fourth place in a three-way tiebreaker scenario with the Bucks and Cavaliers (48). -33).

OG Anunoby scored all 15 of his points in the second half for the Knicks. Charles Wenzelberg

“Hey, look, we want to cross the finish line, so that’s the way we’re looking at it,” Thibodeau said.

“We want to improve. We want to play our best.

Brunson overcame a slow first half to score a team-high 30 points, including two game-clinching free throws with 4.1 seconds left after a strong push from Cam Thomas.

OG Anunoby found himself facing Thomas after crude chants of “OG,” and he scored all 15 of his points after halftime for the Knicks, who swept the four-game series against their Brooklyn-based rivals.

“I just asked what it was about. I thought it was over-pushing,” Anunoby said. “I never want to see a teammate get pushed around. That’s all, nothing more.

The Knicks, who outscored Brooklyn 30-13 in the third quarter after trailing by as many as 17 in the second, have improved to a staggering 19-3 in 22 games since acquiring Anunoby in late December as part of a deal that sent out RJ Barrett and Immanuel. Quickley to the Raptors.

Yet they missed their first five shots – four from Brunson – and spotted the Nets out of action with an 11-0 lead. A

Cam Thomas led all scorers with 41 points in Nets’ loss
at the Knicks on Friday. Charles Wenzelberg

fter scoring the next five points, the Knicks allowed themselves another double-digit spree for a 21-5 advantage in Brooklyn.

The Knicks were outscored 30-14 while shooting 25.0 percent (5 for 20) from the field in one.

Brunson finally scored his first points of the game after missing his first six shots with 4:15 left in the first half.

The Knicks still have a chance to move into second place in the Eastern Conference after Friday’s victory. Charles Wenzelberg

The Knicks put up 40 in the second, but Thomas finished the half with a game-high 22 of his 41 as the Nets held a 63-54 advantage at intermission.

Still, the Knicks turned up the intensity to open the third quarter.

They scored the first nine points in just two minutes on a bucket by Josh Hart, a traditional three-point play by Brunson and two dunks by Anunoby off turnovers to tie the score.

Mikal Bridges celebrates a basket against the Knicks on Friday. Charles Wenzelberg

Anunoby added two 3-pointers and finished the quarter with 15 while stopping Thomas at the other end, helping him stay scoreless in the period for an eight-point advantage heading into the final quarter.

Thomas responded with 10 points in the first six minutes of the fourth, and the Nets climbed within one at 99-98 on Trendon’s Watford drive with 2:50 left.

The Nets intentionally fouled Mitchell Robinson — a 56.2 percent free throw shooter this season — four times in the final minutes.

But he made 5 of 8 down the stretch, including a pair with 2:03 left, before Brunson hit two short jumpers and four free throws to close out the game.

“We really started the game in the mud,” Thibodeau said. “We had a busy schedule. But what I like is that we responded. We didn’t stay down. We fixed it. And we finally found a way to win, and that’s the main thing.

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