KNICKS 99 CLIPPERS 93 | MADISON SQUARE GARDEN
How it happened:
Despite the Clippers needing a victory at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night, the team decided to sit All-Star point guard Chris Paul due to a strained groin. Los Angeles was battling for home court advantage in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs against the Grizzlies but the defeat to New York will assure a trip to Memphis in Game 1.
Meanwhile, the Knicks starting lineup returned to full force as Tyson Chandler hit the floor after sitting out Sunday’s game in Atlanta and Amar’e Stoudemire made his first appearance at MSG since making his way back from the bulging disk injury.
New York took care of business in its home finale by defeating the Clippers 99-93 as six Knicks registered double figures in the home finale.
After the Knicks captured a 48-39 lead heading into the locker room at halftime, Randy Foye caught fire in the third quarter. Foye scored 15 points and hit 4-of-7 3-pointers in the period and his squad knocked New York’s advantage down to one with 4:27 remaining on the third quarter clock.
Chandler pounded a big dunk at the 2:40 mark and J.R. Smith connected on a fadeway jumper to close the third frame while the Knicks created a 74-66 cushion.
Steve Novak opened the final stanza with a pair of bombs from downtown while Smith found a streaking Landry Fields for an alley-oop at the 7:23 mark. These plays by the Knicks bench crew increased the lead to 90-72 and a victory seemed all but certain.
The Clippers quickly erased New York’s 18-point margin, reeling off a 14-1 run over a four-minute time span. Chandler checked back in the game to stifle Los Angeles’ offensive attack. Smith buried a fadeaway jumper with 31.7 seconds on the clock and a deflection from Iman Shumpert on Foye created a Clippers turnover to hold off the visiting team. Smith connected on two free throws on the offensive end to secure the win as he finished with a team-high 21 points.
Carmelo Anthony posted 17 points in 28 minutes, Novak dropped 14 points, and Stoudemire grabbed seven boards to improve the Knicks to 35-30 on the season.
“I have great confidence with the guys who come off the bench. I am a coach who wants to see who makes plays. J.R. [Smith] made the big shots to bring it home” – interim head coach Mike Woodson
Smith’s clutch buckets in the fourth quarter helped lift the team to its second consecutive win. The shooting guard finished 7-of-13 from the floor, three downtown buckets, and five assists in 30 minutes of action.
The Knicks finished 22-11 at home this season, which is the best winning percentage at MSG since 2000-01 when they were .731 for the year.
State of the Playoffs:
New York held its position at No. 7 with the victory and will not have a chance to move up to No. 6 after Orlando defeated Charlotte. The Sixers also won tonight, which means the Knicks must win on Thursday against the Bobcats in order to maintain the seventh seed and face the Heat in the first round. A loss and Philadelphia win would drop New York to No. 8 and a first round matchup against the Bulls.
News and Notes:
The Knicks officially announced that Glen Grunwald has been named executive vice president and general manager. Prior to the game against the Clippers, Grunwald addressed the media and you can watch the press conference here.
Following the final home game for the Knicks, the team jumped on a plane to Charlotte for the season finale against the league’s worst team on Thursday night.