The New York Knicks desperately needed a victory after falling to the Denver Nuggets and Phoenix Suns in order last week. The LA Clippers offered them their next opportunity. Facing off against Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and a bevy of fantastic talents is always a challenge, but the Knicks found a way to defeat the Clippers and retain the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference.
This was an all-out battle, as the Knicks’ defense once again rose to the occasion, limiting the best three-point shooting team in the NBA to just 34.3% from downtown. Tom Thibodeau and his team played to their strengths, something they failed to do against Phoenix and Denver. Aggressive defense and consistency from point guard Derrick Rose and late shots from Julius Randle got the job done.
This was a statement win for the Knicks, who needed to show they can compete with some of the best teams in the NBA as they head toward a playoff berth.
Two massive takeaways from the Knicks’ win over Clippers:
1.) The Knicks can beat elite teams
Losing to both Denver and Phoenix put a major question on New Yorkâ€™s head. Ultimately, some analysts and fans were beginning to think they couldnâ€™t overcome some of these quality teams, but they proved otherwise against the Clippers, emerging victorious by a score of 106-100.
Randle shot 7-of-19 from the field and failed to hit a shot from beyond the arc. To supplement his deficiency in that category, Reggie Bullock posted 24 points and hit five three-pointers to help the Knicks to victory. However, Randle contributed in other ways, recording 14 total rebounds and five assists.
For a shorthanded team to beat the Clips on their home court was a statement, and approved everybody, including the doubters, witnessed that the Knicks are the real deal. Keep in mind, they were without Immanuel Quickley and Alec Burks.
2.) The Knicks can win when it matters most
Heading into Sundayâ€™s matchup, the Knicks were .5 games ahead of the Atlanta Hawks and Miami Heat, but when it mattered most, they rose to the occasion and overcame a stellar opponent. They will now take on the Los Angeles Lakers, who have been struggling this season without LeBron James and Anthony Davis due to injury. The Lakers have a very similar record to the Knicks, who have lost five of the last six games, with their most recent coming against the Portland Trailblazers.
A tough matchup against the Phoenix Suns prior to the Knicks on Tuesday will offer New York a competitive advantage. If they can walk away from this West Coast trip with two wins under their belt, they should feel satisfied. That would be enough to help them retain the 4th seed and catapult them into the playoffs without a play-in scenario.