In a season where the Knicks continue to one-up themselves in ways to blow wins — NY told itself to “Hold my beer” and performed the most draw-dropping blown win of them all.
The Knicks held a 2-pt lead with 7 seconds left and Alec Burks on the free-throw line for one more free throw. But he missed it, the ball bounded around off 4 people, was picked up by Mikal Bridges, who rushed it up court, and in a frenetic finish, dished it to Cameron Johnson who threw up a 35-footer from top of the key, and banked it off the glass at the buzzer for a 3-pointer and Phoenix win.
In Phoenix on a Friday Night.
Friday Night Knicks.
Cam Johnson wins it at the death on a career-high night. pic.twitter.com/IEmBJLCAY5
— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) March 5, 2022
“We have to have the mental toughness to get through this,” said coach Tom Thibodeau afterwards. “We have to clean up our fouls. Some of them are tough; they can go either way. But we have to be disciplined and not whack down. And then they went to the line; they made theirs. We didn’t make ours.”
“And then at the end, we missed a free throw — the ball got batted around; hit 3 or 4 different people, they come up with it, and bank it in for the win. We have to come up with that ball.”
“When you face adversity, added Thibodeau, “being mentally tough is the most important thing to be — in any situation. We can’t hang out heads; can’t feel sorry for ourselves. We have to get out there and fight. This is what this is about right now — our fight, will, togetherness, our spirit — all of that. We have to make it happen.”
The Knicks have now lost 7 in a row; 11 of their last 12; and are 3-17 in their last 20. They are now 25-38 and 5.5 games behind a playoff spot with 19 games left; they have the 8th worst record in the NBA. Drafting a good point guard in the draft is looking more and more tempting.
1. Johnson Gets Last Laugh on Randle
The Knicks had built a 10-point lead and had all momentum late in the 3rd quarter, led by Julius Randle who was in All Star form.
— KNICKS ON MSG (@KnicksMSGN) March 5, 2022
But Randle got into an altercation with Cam Johnson — who pushed Randle from behind and Julius went a little too far — pushing back, but then going after Johnson again after the ref had got in between them. That last move got Randle a double tech, whereas Johnson got a single tech. Randle was gone from the game with 25 points.
The Knicks had a 10-point lead at the time, that they would push to a 14-point lead before end of the quarter. But Johnson then went off in the 4th — scoring 21 points and hitting six 3-pointers — he went 6 for 7 from 3 — including the game winner.
2. Barrett Led the Attack
RJ Barrett led the attack in the 4th for NY. Barrett had a horrible shooting night — 6-26 from the floor and 1-7 from 3 — but kept penetrating all night, keeping the Knicks on the attack, and getting teammates involved. Analyst and former NBA All Star Wally Szczerbiak said as much afterwards — that this night, unlike most nights — the Knicks looked like they knew what they were doing on offense with Barrett on the constant attack and penetrating to draw the defense. Barrett finished with 20 points and was 7-10 from the free throw line which is right on his average (shooting .692 on the season).
RJ TO MITCH ALL DAY‼️ pic.twitter.com/d5JFYPe7Da
— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) March 5, 2022
3. Robinson Dominates Ayton
The best news for the night for NY was the play of Mitchell Robinson, who severely outplayed All Star center Deandre Ayton. Robinson dominated all night on the glass and was energetic on both ends of the floor. He had 17 points, 15 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 4 steals in 37 minutes.
Ayton had 8 points and 3 rebounds, with 1 block in 34 minutes on 4-10 shooting.
Robinson was 8-8 from the floor — increasing his field goal percentage to .771 — which will break his own single-season record if he qualifies. A player must make 350 field goals on the season to qualify, which translates into 3.66 field goals made a game. Robinson is now averaging 3.6 field goals a game — a hair from qualifying. Rudy Gobert currently leads the NBA with a .713 Field Goal Percentage.
4. Burks Did Well But “Not a Point Guard”
Alec Burks helped carry the Knicks in the 4th quarter — making big shots and coming up with key steals and rebounds. He had 16 points (5-9 shooting; 4-6 from 3), 9 rebounds, and 6 assists. But he’s not a point guard — and that hurt in the closing seconds.
As Szczerbiak pointed out, when the Knicks got the ball with 7 seconds left — Burks — instead of sprinting up court to take time off the clock — paused to look over at the sidelines asking how many timeouts were left. This allowed Phoenix to foul him in the backcourt — valuable seconds were saved for them for their final shot.
A true point guard, Szczerbiak felt, would have known the timeout situation.
Evan Fournier shot well — making up for his stinker game against Philly last time out. Fournier had 16 points on 5-11 shooting (4-7 from 3). And Immanuel Quickley looked good again — 13 points (4-8 shooting; 3-5 from 3) in 27 minutes off the bench.
Cam Reddish played well in 23 minutes — 7 points on 3-6 shooting.
— KNICKS ON MSG (@KnicksMSGN) March 5, 2022