Talen Horton-Tucker drained a clutch three-pointer in the closing seconds of overtime as the Los Angeles Lakers snatched a thrilling 101-99 victory over the New York Knicks on Tuesday.
Horton-Tucker’s 24-foot effort with 21.1 seconds remaining sealed a battling win for the Lakers and prevented the Knicks from clinching their first playoff appearance since 2013.
It was the dramatic final act of a pulsating clash at the Staples Center, which saw the Knicks’ former Lakers player Julius Randle dominate for long periods with a 31-point display.
Randle looked to have given the Knicks the edge with a superb three-pointer of his own from 25ft which put the visitors up 99-98 with just over a minute remaining.
But a crucial travelling call against Randle moments later surrendered possession to the Lakers, allowing Horton-Tucker to grab his game-winning late three-pointer.
The victory means the Lakers’ faint hopes of securing an automatic playoff place are still alive, with three games remaining. The Lakers, who were missing the injured LeBron James, are seventh in the Western Conference with 39 wins against 30 defeats. The top six teams advance automatically to the postseason.
Horton-Tucker finished with 13 points while Kyle Kuzma led the Lakers scoring with 23. Anthony Davis added 20 points while Andre Drummond had 16 points with 18 rebounds.
Randle meanwhile was backed by Derrick Rose, who had 27 points.
Elsewhere Tuesday, Andrew Wiggins poured in 38 points as the Golden State Warriors upset the second ranked Phoenix Suns 122-116 in San Francisco.
The Warriors, who downed the Western Conference leaders Utah on Monday, fought back from a 16-point first half deficit to grind out a gutsy win.
Steph Curry had 21 points for the Dubs while Kent Bazemore added 17. Devin Booker led the Phoenix scorers with 34 points while veteran Chris Paul added 24.
In other games, Caris LeVert scored 24 points as the Indiana Pacers staged a fourth quarter rally to frustrate the Philadelphia 76ers’ bid for the Eastern Conference top seed ranking.
The Sixers could have clinched top spot heading into the playoffs with a victory over the Pacers, who are ninth in the standings, but instead crashed to a 103-94 defeat in Indianapolis.
Philadelphia had led by 16 points late in the second quarter, but were gradually reeled in by a dogged Pacers performance during the second half.
Power forward Tobias Harris led the scoring with 27 points while Ben Simmons finished with 20 points eight rebounds and seven assists.
Philadelphia’s preparations had been disrupted by a late withdrawal by Joel Embiid, who was ruled out with an undisclosed non-Covid illness earlier Tuesday.
“We didn’t have any execution tonight, we really didnt,” Sixers coach Doc Rivers said. “We lost our focus. Just couldn’t make anything in the second half.”
In Boston, the Miami Heat provided more evidence that they are hitting form at the right time with a 129-121 win over the Celtics to book their playoff place.
Miami, beaten by the Lakers in last season’s NBA Finals, punched their ticket with a confident victory that saw Tyler Herro finish with 24 points and 11 rebounds.
Five other Miami players finished in double figures, with Bam Adebayo and Duncan Robinson adding 22 points each. Jimmy Butler, who left the game and did not return after being poked in the eye in the first half, had 13 points.
Elsewhere, the Brooklyn Nets warmed up for the postseason with a 115-107 defeat of the Chicago Bulls.
Kevin Durant finished with 21 points on a night when coach Steve Nash could afford to share the minutes amongst his roster.
Only one of the nine Nets players who had game time failed to reach double figures, with Landry Shamet finishing with only one point.
Zach LaVine scored 41 points for the Bulls, who are clinging onto the faint hope of securing a play-in place from the East.