Knicks blow 4th qtr lead, fall to Raptors in OT

Jalen Brunson, New York Knicks

The New York Knicks‘ three-game winning streak came to a heartbreaking end on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as the Toronto Raptors completed a come-from-behind win in overtime, 123-121, at Madison Square Garden.

RJ Barrett forced overtime with a coast-to-coast dunk with 0.6 seconds left in regulation. But Jalen Brunson, named NBA Eastern Conference Player of the Year before the game, could not finish off the Raptors as he missed a potential game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer.

The usually clutch Brunson also missed a crucial free throw with 18.8 seconds left in the regulation. Julius Randle also muffed one 20 seconds earlier.

Reigning Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes played his best game of the season, pumping in 15 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter and extra time to lift the Raptors.

Barrett countered with 32 points, his most since his return from a lacerated right index finger, and the overtime-sending dunk over Barnes.

But it was not enough as the Knicks lost steam.

“I like our defense. For the most part, I thought, [it was good]. The free throws hurt us but the rebounding, [too]. We outrebounded them, but we gave up timely ones late.”

Tom Thibodeau postgame via MSG Network

The Knicks shot 28 of 35 from the free-throw line, missing four in the final minute of the regulation and overtime. They also gave up 41 free throw attempts and the Raptors connected on 34 of them.

New York outrebounded Toronto, 54-42, but Pascal Siakam and Barnes grabbed two key offensive rebounds in the last 28 seconds of the regulation.

The Raptors overhauled a 93-83 deficit early in the fourth quarter and took their first lead in the second half on Barnes’ three-point play, 107-106, with 1:01 left.

It was a nip-and-tuck affair from there.

In the overtime, OG Anunoby drilled two three-pointers that sparked an 8-3 start for Toronto to wrest control of the game. A Barnes dunk gave the Raptors a 123-117 lead in the final minute.

The Knicks tried a last-ditch rally with Randle hustling for a potential three-point play. He missed the free throw, but Barrett grabbed the offensive rebound and drew a foul. He hit the two free throws with 32.2 seconds left. Then Toronto’s big man Precious Achiuwa missed in the next play, giving the Knicks one last chance to salvage the win.

But Brunson’s three-point attempt was too strong.

Brunson finished with 26 points, becoming the first Knicks guard to score at least 25 points in seven straight games since Walt Frazier in 1971. Randle pulled 15 rebounds, his fifth straight game with at least 15 boards, and flirted with a triple-double (21 points, 8 assists).

But their free throw misses down the stretch proved costly.

The Knicks are still sitting sixth in the East despite dropping to 25-20, but their lead over seventh-seed Miami Heat (24-20) has been sliced to a half-game.

Next for the Knicks is a rematch with the Washington Wizards, this time at the Garden, on Wednesday. They beat the Wizards, 112-108, in D.C. last Friday.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

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