Knicks Squeeze Out Win; Clinch 4th & Home Court. NY 96 Boston 92

Jesus Christ did the Knicks SQUEEZE this one out. Up 17 with 9:21 left the Knicks scored only 2 points in the next 6 minutes as the Celtics whittled their lead down to 2 points — 91-89 with 3:07 left.

But Julius Randle and then Reggie Bullock made big buckets and Nerlens Noel and the Knicks defense held the fort as the Knicks EDGED Boston 96-92 on a Sunday afternoon game. With it, the Knicks clinched the 4th best record in the Eastern Conference (41-31) and home court in the 1st round of the playoffs, against Atlanta.

1. Knicks Ran Up Big Lead Against Depleted Celtics

The Celtics had nothing to win or lose with the game. They were set coming in with the 7th best record. And so the entire Boston starting team was out due to minor ‘injuries’: Jayson Tatum, Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, Robert Williams III, and Tristan Thompson — all out.

Burks, Barrett & Bullock Put NY Up 15 at the Half

The Knicks were down by 1 after a quarter but took command at the end of the 2nd quarter. With the Knicks up 3 with 3 minutes left in the half, Alec Burks hit a 3 and RJ Barrett joined him with drives to the basket to build a 12-pt lead in minutes. When Reggie Bullock hit a 3 just before the half, the Knicks were up 15.

NY Up 12 After 3 Quarters

RJ Barrett scored 8 straight points at the start of the 3rd for the Knicks, and added a 3 and a drive later on to give NY a 12-pt lead at the end of 3.

NY Up 17 In the 4th

At the start of the 4th, Alec Burks made two 3’s sandwiching a Derrick Rose floater and followed by an Immanuel Quickley floater and NY had a 17-pt lead with 9:21 left. It was looking pretty good for the Knicks.

2. The Final 9 Minutes = The Waters Show

You have to play 48 minutes, coach Tom Thibodeau has said over and over this season. This game was a perfect example with the Knicks up by 17 and 9:21 left, when Tremont Waters took over. The diminutive 5’10” Waters:

  • Hit a step-back jumper, then
  • Drove the lane and fed Luke Kornet for a slam, then
  • Hit another step-back jumper, and later
  • Hit another step-back jumper to pull Boston to within 8 with 5:43 left.
  • When Waters drove baseline again and fed Carsen Edwards for a slam with 4:15 left it was NY 91 Boston 87.
  • Waters then hit a jumper with 2:13 left to make it 93-92 NY

Waters was a second round pick (#51) out of LSU in the 2019 draft. He can score.

3. Noel’s Block; Randle & Bullock Buckets Win It

Julius Randle then posted and swung the ball to old friend Reggie Bullock for a 2-pt jumper — Bullock had to avoid a defender and dribble in off the 3-pt line. It was nothing but net and a 3-pt Knick lead with 1:54 left — 95-92 NY.

Both teams then played tenacious defense the last 2 minutes — withย 42 seconds left, Nerlens Noel blocked Tremont Waters ‘s driving layup.

The Celtics retained possession and when Waters missed a 24-foot step back jumper with 32 seconds left, Boston was forced to foul.

Julius Randle made 1 of 2 free throws to make it 96-92. Waters missed a 3-pt jumper with 9 seconds left, Boston got the offensive rebound, and Jabari Parker missed a 3 with 3 seconds left for the old ballgame.


  • RJ Barrett had a big-time game: 22 pts on 7-12 shooting (2-4 from 3, 6-8 in free throws)
  • Alec Burks was Huge for the Knicks; he finished with 17 pts
  • Julius Randle had a poor shooting game but hit big buckets at the end — finishing with 20 pts on 4-17 shooting (2-5 from 3, 8-10 in free throws) but 7 rebounds, 7 assists, a steal, and a block
  • Reggie Bullock had 16 pts on 6-9 shooting (4-7 from 3)
  • Nerlens Noel had 2 points — but this was The Nerlens Noel game — he affected the game so much with his defense in the closing minutes and his 3 blocks, 3 steals, and 6 rebounds in 32 minutes.
  • Taj Gibson was a rock inside on defense as usual; he had 4 pts on 2-4 shooting in 18 minutes
  • Derrick Rose had 7 pts on 3-9 in 23 minutes.
  • Immanuel Quickley had only 2 points on 1-7 shooting in 14 minutes
  • Eldrid Payton didn’t score in 14 minutes. He was blocked twice at the rim on drives by former Knick Luke Kornet, and on another play found himself in the lane — but didn’t take an open jumper — instead passing it outside. Afterwards you could see him on the sidelines at the 3 beating himself up for the mistake and not even paying attention to the play. His confidence seems shot right now.

The Boxscore


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