In their last regular season game at MSG this season, the Knicks defeated the Los Angeles Clippers, 99-93. J.R. Smith lead the Knicks with 21 points, five assists and four steals. Blake Griffin led Lob City with 29 points, 10 rebounds and six assists.
While both teams came into this game with incentive to win (Knicks were still alive for sixth seed and Clippers were playing for home court advantage in first round of playoffs), the game had the feel of an exhibition game at times. The Knicks held a 13-point lead in the 2nd quarter before the Clippers went on a 16-4 run to cut the lead to one. An 8-0 spurt to end the half gave the Knicks a 48-39 lead after the first two quarters.
The third quarter was the Randy Foye show, as the former Villanova Wildcat (starting in place of All-Star guard Chris Paul) scored 15 of his 28 points. It was during the third quarter that the Knicks learned the sixth seed would not be possible, as the Magic defeated the Bobcats to clinch that spot.
In the fourth quarter, with news that the sixth seed could not be had anymore, coach Mike Woodson played Steve Novak, J.R. Smith and Landry Fields for the entire quarter, Mike Bibby for 11 of the 12 minutes and split the center minutes between Amar’e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler and Dan Gadzuric.
Even with mostly a bench lineup, the Knicks opened up an 18 point lead with 7:25 left and seemed to be cruising. However, a 21-4 furious run by the Clippers cut the Knicks lead to just one with 52.3 seconds left. Fortunately, the Clippers wouldn’t score again and the Knicks would hold on for the 99-93 win.
It was an up and down game for Amar’e Stoudemire, who is still trying to find his flow before the playoffs begin. While he shot the ball well (4-of-9 from the floor) and had some nice moments attacking the basket, the defense continues to be an issue. He committed four fouls in his 29 minutes, getting beaten by Griffin at times and leaving his man open to switch and help on defense. He did have one extraordinary block on a dunk attempt by Randy Foye, but outside of that, his performance on defense left much to be desired.
With the Sixers win over the Bucks, the Knicks and Philadelphia remain tied record wise, with New York holding the tiebreaker. A Knicks win tomorrow night in Charlotte against the Bobcats gets the Knicks the seventh seed and the Miami Heat in the first round. A loss by both the Knicks and Sixers nets the same result: New York in seventh, Philadelphia in eight. The only way Knicks can be eighth seed and meet Bulls in first round is if they lose to Bobcats and Sixers win in Detroit.