In a game that was meaningless to the Knicks, playoff wise, and a game that meant a lot to New Orleans — the Pelicans pulled out a win in the final minutes of a hard-fought contest, 113-105, on a Friday night in New Orleans.
The Knicks were also without Julius Randle (sprained ankle) and Jalen Brunson, and were resting Mitchell Robinson.
“I liked the effort. I didn’t like our defense,” said Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau afterwards. “But I thought we did a very good job offensively creating open shots, and we missed some really good shots. We were in position all the way to the end, and didn’t do enough things to win it, but put ourselves in position to win it.”
New Orleans — 41-39 coming in — clinched the playoff ‘play in’ and still have a shot at getting into the top 6 in the West to avoid the play-in — they are .5 back of the 6th place Clippers. NY has clinched 5th in the East and can go no higher or lower.
1. Barrett Phenomenal Game But Horrible 3-Pt Shooting
RJ Barrett was the story of this game for the Knicks. First of all, he seems to have lost 10 pounds all of a sudden. He’s been out a few games with a sickness and must have lost pounds due to it — he looked much thinner and quicker; many Knick fans on Twitter noticed the same thing.
In the game — he was TORRID — quick and fast and powerful in driving to the basket for hoops time after time. He also passed well — a strong all-around game. Except for the 3 ball — he had a HORRIBLE night shooting the 3 — 0-9 from there.
.@RjBarrett6 with CONFIDENCE 😤
He has 23 PTS and counting… pic.twitter.com/5U15l8obGi
— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) April 8, 2023
Barrett finished with 28 points on 11-25 shooting (6-9 in free throws) — doing the math, he was 11-16 from 2-pt range. He had 7 rebounds, 6 assists and a block.
He looked Great. Except for the damn 3.
2. Close Game Throughout
NY had a 30-27 lead after 1 quarter; the game was tied 60-60 at the half, and it was 83-83 after 3 quarters. The Knicks were up 100-99 with 5:10 left.
Immanuel Quickley had a good game as the starting point — 24 pts on efficient 8-17 shooting (6-10 from 3) with 5 rebounds and 2 assists.
3 STRAIGHT threes for Immanuel Quickley ☔️ pic.twitter.com/SndRQCqWJG
— x – KNICKS ON MSG (@KnicksMSGN) April 8, 2023
Quentin Grimes had 14 points on 5-11 shooting (4-9 from 3) and Obi Toppin had 10 points on 4-9 shooting (1-4 from 3) in 27 minutes.
.@obitoppin1 too crafty with it 🍿 pic.twitter.com/MAnnDZoWlM
— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) April 8, 2023
Isaiah Hartenstein started at center but got into early foul trouble and only played 19 minutes.
Josh Hart had a poor shooting game — 1-8 for 8 pts but 6 rebounds and a +8.
Coach Tom Thibodeau gave long looks to Jericho Sims (29 minutes, 6 pts on 3-3 shooting with 8 rebounds), and Evan Fournier (15 minutes, 3-7 shooting (2-5 from 3) for 8 pts). Miles McBride played the point on the 2nd team — 18 minutes, 7 points.
New Orleans was led by Trey Murphy III — who as WorldWideWob put it, “his name is not only Trey, he is the third. that is just great parenting”. Murphy had 31 pts on 10-21 shooting (3-10 from 3) and Brandon Ingram had 18.
3. Pelicans Close It Out in Final Minutes
With NY up 100-99 with 5:10 left, Jonas Valanciunas made a dunk inside and CJ McCollum hit a 3 to give New Orleans a 5-point edge.
RJ Barrett countered with 3 consecutive drives making one and getting fouled on the two others (3-4 in free throws) for a 109-105 Pelican lead with 1:38 left.
But Barrett missed yet another 3 with a minute left that could’ve made it a 1-point game, and Larry Nance Jr hit a drive to ice it.
All Knick eyes turned to the Dallas-Chicago game after the Knick game was over — the Knicks own Dallas’s #1 pick in this June’s draft but it is top-10 protected and Dallas currently has the 10th worst record in the league — which means the Knicks would lose the pick this year — it transfers to next year — if Dallas ends up with a top 10 pick.
With 2 games left in the season, Dallas still had a chance to get into the Play In — but announced before the game they were essentially sitting all of their starters, except Luka Doncic who would only play the 1st quarter. Aka they were tanking.
That left Frank Ntilikina to become the Knicks Trojan horse. He started at point and had 7 points. Dallas led by double digits at the half and by 8 in the 4th quarter, but collapsed and — behind by 3 — shot up two horrid three’s at the buzzer in an attenpt to tie it.
Dallas essentially clinched the 10th worst record in the league — BUT there is still 21 percent chance that one of the teams ranked 11-14 will get a top 4 pick in the Draft Lottery — thereby pushing each team a notch back and Dallas would end up with the 11th pick — which would transfer to NY. We won’t know until May 16th’s Draft Lottery.
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