It was always going to be a tough one without Jalen Brunson, Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson against a desperate New Orleans team on Thursday night. In the end, the Pelicans won a game they had to get and New York’s depth put up a strong fight in defeat.
RJ Barrett picked up the scoring slack as he led the Knicks with 28 points, but did shoot 0-9 from behind the three-point line which did cost New York late in the game. Immanuel Quickley had 24 points, five rebounds, two assists and continued his strong finish to the regular season.
Quentin Grimes and Obi Toppin combined for 24 points and Josh Hart provided a spark, but it wasn’t enough in the loss. Trey Murphy III led the Pelicans with 31 points and CJ McCollum had 23 points in the win. Hart helped to hold Brandon Ingram to just 18 points on 6-15 shooting from the field, but New Orleans overcame his struggles.
The Knicks split the season series with the Pelicans and now New Orleans stays in the hunt for the top six in the west and an automatic playoff spot. At the time of writing, the Pelicans are a half game back of the Warriors for the final automatic playoff spot.
New York could not have helped or hurt their playoff positioning tonight as the Knicks are locked into the five seed and will play the Cavaliers in the first round of the NBA playoffs.
These games are always extremely difficult to judge win or lose due to the circumstances listed above. Coach Tom Thibodeau will be happy with the effort and to see some players like Evan Fournier, Jericho Sims and Miles McBride get some good minutes under their belt. However, the fact that the Knicks had nothing to play for makes grading a performance like difficult to do. It is always tough to keep the standards high in a game like this with little at stake, but Knicks did a decent job of trying to meet them.
In the end, the overall performance matters more than the result and the played pretty well without their best guys and fans will take that going into the final regular season game against Indiana at the Garden on Sunday.
Tip off is scheduled for 1 p.m. at MSG and we will have coverage of the game as always. Then, it’s off to Cleveland!