The New York Knicks showed why they are headed to the NBA playoffs for the first time in eight years on Sunday as Derrick Rose scored 25 points in a 106-100 win over the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Knicks used a combination of well-executed perimeter shooting and solid defense to break down Los Angeles and bust the game open in the second quarter before holding on in the fourth for their third win on a six-game road swing.
The Knicks also have two losses on the road trip which culminates Tuesday against the reigning NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers.
Rose came off the bench to deliver eight assists while Reggie Bullock scored 24 points and made five threes for the Knicks, who have five games left in the season and all against clubs headed to the postseason.
RJ Barrett added 18 points and Julius Randle chipped in 14 points and 14 rebounds as the Knicks went a perfect nine-for-nine from the free-throw line.
The Clippers came into the game as the league’s top three-point shooting team but New York had a plan for that, holding them to 12-of-35, or just 34 percent from long distance.
Clippers top scorer Kawhi Leonard was kept off his game, making just nine of 26 shots from the floor to finish with 29 points.
Paul George added 18 points and eight rebounds, while Reggie Jackson totalled 12 points. Nicolas Batum came off the bench to score 13 points, for Los Angeles, who committed 12 turnovers. They had been averaging 16 turnovers a game heading into Sunday’s contest.
The Clippers dropped to 45-23 on the season but held onto the third seed in the Western Conference and now finish the regular season with four games on the road.
The Knicks improved to 38-30 to hold onto the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference, just in front of the Atlanta Hawks and the Miami Heat.
The Knicks led by five points at the end of the third quarter but the Clippers clawed their way back to within three points in the fourth before New York stepped up their defense and took away the shooting lanes.
Elsewhere, Jimmy Butler tallied 22 of his 26 points in the second half as the Miami Heat strengthened their grip on the sixth seed in the East with a 130-124 win over the Boston Celtics.