The Knicks missed a potential game-winning shot at the buzzer against the Pelicans, signaling the end of the team’s 1-3 preseason outing.

The New York Knicks dropped their final preseason game to the New Orleans Pelicans, 117-116. Just as the Knicks seemingly always do, they pulled close late in the fourth quarter after trailing for most of the game, only to fall just short of a victory.

Facing a fourth-quarter deficit that peaked at 12 points, the Knicks kept the game within reach behind Julius Randle, who hit three three-pointers in the fourth quarter, and Allonzo Trier, who dropped 16 points in the fourth quarter alone.

Despite Trier’s timely buckets, he missed two open triples in a single possession aided by an offensive rebound with under 30 seconds to go. He made up for it by drilling two free throws with 12 seconds left to shorten the deficit to one.

On the ensuing inbound, Randle stole the inbound pass, barreled to the rim and was stripped by rookie guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker. Josh Hart came away with the ball and was fouled with 3.2 seconds remaining. He missed both free throws, which gave the Knicks a shot to steal the game.

Trier was the inbounder. He passed to Randle 30 feet from the basket. Randle paused, dribbled between his legs and barely got off a three in time with the defender right in his face. Nothing but the back of the rim, ending New York’s four-game preseason at a 1-3 record.

New Orleans dominance

Although the game came down to the final possession, the Knicks never had the lead. The game was only tied twice: the first 38 seconds of the game and a brief 22 seconds-long period at the beginning of the fourth quarter.

Jrue Holiday led the way with tough defense while recording 13 points and four assists. Alexander-Walker and Hart each put up 17 points on a combined 65% shooting from the field, and Brandon Ingram dropped 16 points, six rebounds, and three assists.

The Pelicans paired great ball movement on offense with an aggressive defensive scheme. Their constant double-teaming was fairly effective as they pushed the Knicks to pick up their dribbles and forced passes back outside plenty of times. Still, the Knicks were able to occasionally find cutters for easy buckets.

Despite New Orleans’ bevy of strong perimeter defenders, rookie R.J. Barrett was able to get to the basket whenever he wanted. He poured in 17 points in the first half and finished with 19 points on 9-of-12 shooting, six rebounds, and three assists.

Randle was New York’s leading scorer. He recorded 20 points, nine rebounds, and five assists while shooting 7-of-19 from the field.

Rotation notes

  • The Knicks’ point guard problem remains unsolved, as neither point guard who played tonight did anything impactful.
  • Dennis Smith Jr. started but again shot poorly. He shot 2-for-12 from the field and recorded nine points, nine rebounds (tied for team-high), six assists (team-high), and two steals. He again was hesitant to shoot the three but looked more explosive and alert than the game before.
  • Elfrid Payton forced a turnover on his first play of the game but otherwise wasn’t very effective, only recording six points, four assists, and three rebounds while racking up a team-high five turnovers.
  • Fizdale kept his word to keep Frank Ntilikina sidelined in order to further evaluate the other guards. Additionally, he kept Marcus Morris out of the game after starting the first three games. This was probably an effort to evaluate Kevin Knox and Damyean Dotson, the latter of whom played in his first game in the preseason since returning from offseason shoulder surgery.
  • Mitchell Robinson returned to the starting lineup. He was aggressive on the glass and recorded five offensive rebounds as well as four blocks.

The Knicks’ regular season starts with a road game against the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. EST.



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