Rookie Miles McBride had a clutch performance in the G League before the New York Knicks embarked on a make-or-break seven-game road trip.
McBride scattered 29 points, including two straight baskets that served as a cushion in Westchester Knicks’ 115-108 victory over Greensboro Swarm Tuesday night at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, CT.
It was the Knicks’ fifth straight win that kept them sixth in the Eastern Conference with an 11-8 record. Grand Rapid Golds, buoyed by Nik Staukas’ 44-point explosion in a 103-86 win against Wisconsin Herd, are breathing down their necks with a 12-9 record.
The top six teams of each conference qualify for the playoffs.
McBride saved the Knicks from a disastrous collapse after the Swarm nearly wiped out a 24-point deficit and cut it to 104-103 with 1:57 left. A Tyler Hall technical free throw preceded McBride’s heroics. The Knicks’ rookie hit a jumper and a layup to extend Westchester’s lead to 109-103 with 68 seconds remaining. He capped his heroics with a crucial steal that led to a Quinton Rose slam to seal the win in the final 15 seconds.
“It’s crunch time. Big-time players make big-time plays. I just had to turn it up a little bit,” McBride said of his clutch performance.
McBride shot 11 of 17 from the field and went 5 for 7 from behind the arc. He added seven assists, three rebounds, two steals, and one blocked shot for a full line.
Westchester outscored Greensboro by 15 with McBride on the floor. Luka Samanic, the Knicks two-way player, continued to miss time with a plantar fasciitis injury. Allen Crabbe added 19 points, while Quinton Rose and Dewan Hernandez scored 14 points apiece for Westchester.
McBride, the 36th overall pick in last year’s draft, averages 29.4 points on 50 percent shooting and a staggering 53.5 marksmanship from deep to go with 9.6 assists, 5.6 rebounds, and 2.8 steals. But he needs to curb his 4.4 turnovers. Tuesday night was a good start as he only coughed up two errors in 39 minutes.
The New York Knicks immediately recalled McBride to join them in their crucial road trip starting in Philadelphia Wednesday.
McBride has only played a total of three minutes in two games this month for the Knicks. But that could soon change if they continue to slide. Currently, the Knicks are 11 games below .500 and four games behind the Atlanta Hawks for the last play-in spot. Their final 21 games are the seventh toughest remaining schedule, according to Tankathon.
At some point, Tom Thibodeau will have to sit out his veterans to have a better gauge of their young players heading into a summer full of uncertainty.
If Thibodeau gives McBride a chance, the rookie point guard isn’t lacking in confidence. He’s got the G League experience to lean on.
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