Knicks suddenly on shakier ground in NBA playoff race

LOS ANGELES — Derrick Rose summed up the distress the Knicks have been feeling late Tuesday night time at Staples Center after they blew an opportunity to clinch their first playoff berth since 2013.

“It’s tough, extremely tough,” Rose mentioned after the Knicks’ 101-99 loss.

Rose was one of many goats – permitting the Lakers’ Wesley Matthews to field him out for an offensive-rebound put-back that despatched the thriller to extra time. Rose was additionally the defender when Talen Horton-Tucker drilled the game-winning 3-pointer in extra time.

“By the end of the night, tomorrow when you wake up, you’ve got to have amnesia,” Rose mentioned. “But it’s f–king hard right now. I can’t even lie. When you get so emotionally involved in playing hard, you get lost in the game. You want the outcome to be in your favor and it sucks man, it sucks.”

It was going to be a protracted flight. The Knicks have been to fly residence from La-La land Wednesday after an 11-day, 3-3 Western swing that was so strong however ended so bitterly with the Knicks, technically, falling again into sixth place.

The magic quantity to clinch a playoff spot (a top-six seed) remained at 1 with the Knicks again on the Garden Thursday internet hosting the Spurs, no straightforward foe.

In truth, the street to avoiding the play-in match suddenly doesn’t look as breezy. The Knicks (38-31) are in a three-way tie for fourth with Atlanta and Miami, however the Hawks win such a tiebreaker as division champs, and Miami swept the season collection from the Knicks.

Tom Thibodeau’s Knicks have been resilient and mentally robust all season, however this was a real punch to the mouth at Staples Center. They blew the 10-point fourth-quarter lead in regulation and a one-point benefit in the ultimate 20 seconds of extra time to halt historical past.

It’s not out of the realm for Boston to beat hapless Cleveland Wednesday night time, then the woeful Wolves. The road-weary Knicks might stumble in a fast turnaround vs. San Antonio and get upset by Charlotte.

That would arrange a Garden battle for the ages for the playoffs vs. the shorthanded Celtics on Sunday. If the Knicks crap out and fall into the play-in, they’d then be on shaky ground.

Knicks NBA playoffs 2021 Derrick Rose
Knicks guard Derrick Rose dribbles towards the Lakers on May 11, 2021.
NBAE by way of Getty Images

“It’s tough,” Randle mentioned of the Lakers loss. “But we control our own destiny. So get rest, get back home and finish the job.”

Indeed, however they’ll want streaky RJ Barrett to be Randle’s righthand man. He has performed in each recreation this season and he regarded each mentally and bodily fatigued in Los Angeles, with a horrific outing that value them the sport. Barrett’s inbounds go in Phoenix value them that recreation, too.

Thibodeau in all probability regrets placing the 20-year-old Barrett onto the ground on that final possession of extra time when all they obtained out of it was a 3-point buzzer prayer from Barrett. He completed 2 of 13 for eight factors – 0 of seven from 3-point land.

The Knicks are additionally relying massively on Rose, who shouldn’t be used to those starter’s minutes, though he’s coming off the bench. Rose performed 39 minutes vs. the Lakers.

Essentially, Payton begins the primary and second halves, then comes out after seven minutes and doesn’t return. Payton has back-to-back two-point outings on the journey. Can Rose face up to the toll?

The final three video games of the journey, the Knicks have been additionally lacking backcourt bench assist in Alec Burks (knee contusion) and Immanuel Quickley (sprained ankle).

Because of COVID-19, a sprained ankle and a bruised knee, Burks has missed 11 of 13 video games, so it’s exhausting to think about he’ll be sharp.

Quickley can also be a rookie who has by no means performed this many video games. Sadly, Quickley obtained injured late in the Denver recreation, nonetheless out on the court docket when the Knicks have been down 31 factors in the fourth quarter.

Randle shouldered the blame for the Lakers loss — “Put it on me” — however that was lip service. He was the final individual responsible as he outplayed Anthony Davis all night time with 31 factors. (Davis completed with 20).

After the ultimate buzzer, LeBron James, dressed in his tennis most interesting in teal high and shorts, hugged Randle.

The Knicks want a few of that LeBron luck to rub off on the franchise so this fairytale season doesn’t crash and burn.

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