LOS ANGELES — The Knicks misplaced a second straight recreation and misplaced their cool on Friday evening, however they gained a much-appreciated plug from Suns level guard Chris Paul after the sport in Phoenix.
The Knicks will want to live up to Paul’s postgame praise once they face Paul’s former workforce, the Clippers, on Sunday at Staples Center.
No shock, Paul was at the center of the Knicks’ collapse — and frustration — when Taj Gibson bodychecked him to the courtroom within the fourth quarter.
Gibson picked up a flagrant foul and incited the most important crowd to see an NBA recreation this season — an 8,063 throng at Talking Stick Arena. The Suns proceeded to blow the Knicks out of the constructing the remainder of the way in which in successful 128-105.
“This was such a good game for us,’’ Paul said. “Remember last time we played them in New York. That team right there, man, they play the right way. They play with the right energy. They make every game feel like a playoff game. They don’t take any possessions off. It’s good for us to have games against a team like that. They make you build that trust. They make you beat them.”
They had been form phrases from Paul, who made up with Gibson after the sport. The Knicks would love to live up to these phrases as they fight to break their two-game skid and end off their six-game Western swing in type with two video games in Los Angeles.
After going through the Clippers on Sunday, the Knicks get the defending champion Lakers on Tuesday at Staples Center.
“I’m not anxious about each of them,’’ Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau mentioned. “I’m simply anxious concerning the subsequent one. I like these video games for our workforce. I feel it exhibits us the place we’re and the issues we have to work on. That previous saying — iron sharpens iron. Hopefully we are able to enhance. It will assist us down the highway.’’
The Knicks need assistance in opposition to the NBA’s elite. Their document in opposition to the highest 4 groups within the Western Conference (Jazz, Suns, Clippers, Nuggets) and the three groups which might be forward of them within the Eastern Conference (76ers, Nets, Bucks) is 3-13. And a kind of wins, over Milwaukee, got here when Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jrue Holiday and Kris Middleton sat out.
The solely different excellent news from the evening within the desert was not shedding floor within the standings. The Knicks stayed a half-game forward of the Hawks for fourth place within the East. More importantly, the Knicks (37-20) remained two video games in entrance of the seventh-seeded Celtics, who misplaced to the Bulls.
With 5 video games left, the Knicks need no a part of the play-in event that will determine the ultimate two seeds of the playoffs.
“These video games are simply testing us,’’ Gibson mentioned. “Every recreation is a take a look at to get into the playoffs. We’re taking part in actually good groups now. It’s solely going to make us higher. I like our group. I like how resilient we’re. It’s solely going to make us higher.’’
The Knicks didn’t present that resiliency in Phoenix, once they misplaced a seven-point lead within the last minute of the third quarter and trailed by two coming into the fourth. The Knicks missed electrical rookie Immanuel Quickley, who was out with a sprained ankle, greater than may’ve been imagined.
The NBA’s largest crowd went bonkers over the sequence by which the Suns scored 4 factors within the last 1.8 seconds of the third quarter, following an inbounding blunder by RJ Barrett.
This was lastly a homecourt benefit at work for the primary time throughout this pandemic season.
“You noticed after that play, the followers went loopy and the gamers fed off that vitality and obtained extra juiced,’’ one participant agent sitting courtside mentioned.
Thing will be much less raucous at Staples Center, which solely began permitting followers in late April. The Suns at the moment are permitting 50-percent capability. Staples Center continues to be capped at 3,250.
But the Clippers will be a handful. They got here to the Garden on Jan. 31 and routed the Knicks 129-115 with all their weapons firing — Kawhi Leonard, who will be a free agent following the season, Paul George, and even ex-Knick Marcus Morris.
But the Knicks can’t lose their heads like they did in Phoenix. After the sport, Gibson admitted his play in opposition to Paul was “a silly foul on my finish.’’
Thibodeau, who additionally had phrases with Paul, mentioned it was “no large deal.’’ But a supply mentioned the Knicks coach began barking at Paul, initiating issues.
After the sport, Knicks president Leon Rose and senior VP William Wesley hugged Paul to be certain no onerous emotions existed. The chances are high slim, however Paul may choose out of his contract this summer time and change into a free agent.