A sold-out and socially distanced crowd of 1,981 returned to The Garden for the first time in 352 days. But Stephen Curry also returned from a one-game absence and dropped 37 points as the Golden State Warriors continued their mastery over the New York Knicks, 114-106, on Tuesday night.
It was the seventh straight Golden State win at The Garden since 2014.
Curry outplayed Julius Randle in an All-Star showdown. The Warriors’ All-Star guard had 26 points in the second half, including the biggest shots and plays down the stretch.
Randle’s night started with his first All-Star selection and MVP chants, but it ended ugly with his first ejection of the season.
Despite a rough shooting night (8-of-21), Randle still had a near triple-double to lead the Knicks. He produced 25 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists before frustrations got the better of him in the final 17.5 seconds.
The Knicks stormed back from a double-digit deficit in the second half and even tied the game at 97-all.
But Curry came through in the clutch, scoring 10 points in the final 3:38 to put the game away.
Draymond Green was also a difference-maker for the visiting team. The do-it-all big man filled up the stats sheet — 7 points, 9 rebounds, 12 assists, 3 steals, and 2 assists — that more than made up for his ejection in their first meeting this season which Knicks won, 119-104, on the road.
It wasn’t only Randle who struggled offensively for the Knicks.
RJ Barrett had an atrocious 1-for-9 shooting and finished with only four points. He also missed a crucial free throw with 86 seconds left that could have closed the gap to just two. To his credit, he pulled down 10 rebounds.
The Knicks’ point guards tried to keep in step with Curry to no avail.
Derrick Rose snapped out of his slump and had 16 points and eight assists off the bench. Elfrid Payton also dished out a solid game, finishing with 20 points and limiting Curry to 11 in the first half.
The Knicks led by four, 59-55, at the break. But a third-quarter disaster doomed them and silenced the crowd, which let out their bottled-up emotions in the opening half.
Knicks rookies Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin offered contrasting performances, playing in front of the home fans for the first time.
Quickley played tentative and struggled offensively for the fourth straight game. He only scored three points on 1-for-5 shooting in 13 minutes.
On the other hand, Toppin was energized by his hometown crowd, which included his parents. The Brooklyn native was a perfect 3-for-3 from the field in 13 minutes. He had a highlight dunk and a huge three-pointer that cut the Warriors’ lead to two in the fourth quarter.
The Knicks blew another chance to get to .500, dropping to their second loss in the last three games. They remained at the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference with a 15-17 record.
The Knicks will have two more chances — Sacramento Kings on Thursday and Indiana Pacers on Saturday — to make up for their home fans.
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