Well that sucked. Bill Pidto kept telling everyone not to go to sleep. And we didn’t but the Knicks did; put to sleep by Phoenix in the 4th quarter, who gained full momentum on some plays at the end of the 3rd quarter, and then drubbed the Knicks with D and 3’s in the 4th.
It was the 2nd win by Phoenix over the Knicks this season — the first time, a week ago, Chris Paul circus shots at the end enabled the Suns to squeak out a win.
This time — the game wasn’t close at the end. The reasons:
1. Phoenix Gained Momentum Off Some Plays at End of 3rd
This was an intense, exciting game for 3 quarters.
Phoenix jumped out to a 21-8 lead in this game, but the Knicks came ripping back — going on a 16-2 run to take a 24-23 lead. The Knicks went on another run midway thru the 2nd quarter to surge ahead by 11, 54-43. It was around that time the Pidto tweeted for everyone not to go to bed. NY took a 63-56 lead into halftime.
— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) May 8, 2021
The Knicks maintained the lead throughout the 3rd quarter — they had an answer every time Phoenix tried to cut into the lead. It was 88-81 NY with 1 minute left in the 3rd.
- Frank Kaminsky hit a runner — no big deal — and then
- Cameron Payne hit a 3 to make it 88-86. Trouble.
- The Knicks worked the clock but Randle missed a jumper with 8 seconds left and Phoenix was off the other way — Devin Booker missed a drive and it should have been quarter over — NY with the 2-pt lead.
- But Torrey Craig snuck in for a tip in to tie the game.
- And then, with 1 second left — RJ Barrett inbounded carelessly and Cameron Payne stole the ball and in almost the same motion scored a layup.
Crushing. Devastating. The play of the game. Phoenix took the lead and momentum. Even coach Tom Thibodeau said so afterwards.
2. Crowder’s 3’s (and Bridges’ 3’s)
And then as the 4th quarter started the game just came back from commercial when Jae Crowder‘s corner 3 was hitting nothing but net for a 93-88 lead.
RJ Barrett immediately made amends with a strong drive and foul — made both free throws. And then Taj Gibson made a tip in to tie the game, 93-93.
- But then Jae Crowder AGAIN with a 3. (96-93 Phoenix).
- And then Cameron Payne with a jumper (98-93 Phoenix).
- And then Mikal Bridges with a 3 (101-93 Phoenix).
- And then Jae Crowder AGAIN with a 3 (104-96 Phoenix)
- And then Cameron Payne with ANOTHER 3 (107-96 Phoenix).
- And then Chris Paul got going.
You get the picture. And on the other end — Phoenix’s Defense terrific — not allowing the Knicks anything easy. NY couldn’t hit a shot it seemed (although Obi Toppin hit a nice corner 3).
Obi shooting with confidence pic.twitter.com/Ne3UbHxH8K
— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) May 8, 2021
The game got chippy midway thru the 4th when Taj Gibson threw an elbow at Chris Paul running up the court, and Chris Paul immediately blamed Tom Thibodeau for it, but things settled down.
After the game, Julius Randle had choice words for Crowder. “He’s just a frontrunner. He didn’t say a word in the first half. They were down and they tied the game up and he got a stop on me and wanted to say something. That’s just who he is. Everybody in the league knows it. But I’m not worried about him.”
In a game last year, this happened:
Cardinal sin: leaving your feet 😏 pic.twitter.com/iOzYaK9m8g
— SPACELY Media (@spacelymedia) May 8, 2021
3. Quickley and Burks Out
The Knicks could have used Immanuel Quickley and Alec Burks through all that. Both were out — they could have used their firepower. Phoenix keyed their defense on Reggie Bullock in the corner — he did not get open looks. The Knicks offense was Rose with Barrett and Randle but NY had no momentum and was stifled by the Phoenix D.
Frank Ntilikina played instead of Burks. He played well early although didn’t give the Knicks anything on offense, and Payton was brought back in with 5 minutes left in the 4th, NY down 112-98, to guard Chris Paul.
4. Knicks Lost Another Award — this Time Coach of Year
It was the 2nd time in two games where a Knick seemed to unequivocally lose an award — the previous game in Phoenix Nikola Jocik badly outplayed Julius Randle, and in this one, Phoenix blistered NY in the 4th to take their second of two matchups in the past two weeks — seemingly handing Coach of the Year Award to Phoenix coach Monty Williams over Tom Thibodeau.
5. Paul & Ayton Tough Combo
For the second time in two matchups, the Knicks held Devon Booker in check — Bullock did a great job defending him. Booker had 16 pts on 3-12 shooting.
But Phoenix’s Defense, their 3-pt shooting, their big (Deandre Ayton), and Chris Paul orchestrating, penetrating, scoring — beat the Knicks.
Ayton killed the Knicks inside for most of the night (26 pts on 10-14 shooting, 15 rebounds) and Chris Paul had 17 pts, 6 rebounds, 11 assists, and a game-high +21.
The Good News
The good news was that Boston lost, and Atlanta (who lost their last game) didn’t play so NY is still in 4th place with a 37-30 record, Atlanta is 37-31, Miami is 36-31, and Boston is in 7th (and would play the ‘bubble game’) with a 35-32 record.