Knicks put up gallant stand against Clippers

Moral victories don’t count.

But the New York Knicks deserved a point in their rebuilding, earning respect from one of the league’s elite teams.

Julius Randle and RJ Barrett played like true All-Stars while rookie Immanuel Quickley continued his stellar rise.

But when push came to shove, the Los Angeles Clippers’ bona fide All-Stars put the game away to hammer down a 129-115 victory Sunday at the Madison Square Garden.

Kawhi Leonard put the clamps on the red-hot Quickley in the final seven minutes and hit big buckets on the other end as the Clippers earned their 11th win in their last 10 games the hard way.

The Knicks gamely engaged the Clippers in a surprise show of firepower.

It proved to be their undoing.

Entering the game as the league’s no.1 in points allowed (102.7), the Knicks allowed the Clippers to breach the century mark in just three quarters.

Quickley kept them afloat as he put on another electrifying fourth-quarter performance. The rookie guard’s personal 8-0 run brought the Knicks within two, 105-103, with under eight minutes left.

That’s when Leonard said enough is enough.

Leonard, one of the game’s top defenders, limited Quickley to a single free throw the rest of the way. The Clippers quickly restored a double-digit lead, 114-103, with a 9-0 answer behind their All-Stars, Leonard and Paul George.

Leonard finished with 28 points on 15 shots while George added 17 as three more other Clippers scored in double-figure.

The Knicks tried to keep up behind the trio of Randle, Barrett, and Quickley.

Randle continued to push for an All-Star selection finishing with his 14th double-double of the season. He had 12 of his 27 points in the opening quarter, with the Knicks grabbing a 27-20 lead before they settled for a 31-29 count.

The rejuvenated Knicks’ power forward hit 9-of-18 shots, added 12 rebounds and five assists.

Meanwhile, Barrett delivered another strong shooting performance with 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting and took on the challenge to guard Leonard.

Quickley paid homage to his idol, Lou Williams when he entered the court. Then he proceeded to outplay arguably the best sixth man in the league history.

With his signature floaters and timely three-pointers, Quickley scored 25 points in 27 minutes off the bench. Williams had only nine in 23 minutes.

No other Knick punched in double-digit scoring as New York’s firepower failed to keep up with the Clippers’ elite offense.

The best three-point shooting team in the league, the visiting Clippers went 17-for-38 that kept the Knicks at bay.

The Knicks will have little time to recover when they travel to Chicago. An intriguing Monday night matchup against the Bulls and their rumored trade target Zach LaVine will keep their hands full.

But before playing on back to back, the Knicks deserved a pat on the back for hanging with one of the best.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Mentioned in this article:

More about: