Knicks blow 10-point fourth quarter lead in 113-112 loss to Thunder

The Knicks offense started slow and finished even slower, blowing a 10-point fourth-quarter lead, in a crushing 113-112 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday night at Madison Square Garden.

Jalen Brunson’s layup with 4.1 seconds remaining was the 11th lead change of the game and put New York up one, but Shai Gilgeous-Alexander would make it 12 when he knocked down a game-winning turnaround baseline jumper over Miles McBride with 1.8 seconds remaining.

Brunson’s contested baseline jumper at the buzzer drew iron to cap a dismal shooting quarter for the Knicks, 7-for-23 from the floor (3-for-10 from three) and 10-for-17 from the free-throw line, and seal a disappointing defeat. In the period, Brunson went 4-for-10 from the floor and missed three from the line, Donte DiVincenzo went 1-for-5 and missed a free throw, and McBride 1-for-3.

Meanwhile, the Thunder, who built an eight-point fourth-quarter lead of their own, shot 15-for-19 from the floor (5-for-8 from three) in the deciding quarter.

With their second-straight defeat, New York (44-30) remains in a virtual tie for the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference with the Cleveland Cavaliers, who also lost on Sunday. Oklahoma City clinched a playoff spot as they improved to 52-22 on the year and reclaimed the No. 1 seed in the West.

Here are the takeaways...

- The Knicks opened up the third quarter scoring the first eight points en route to a 14-5 run, knocking down four three-pointers in the process equaling their total from beyond the arc in the first half. New York opened the third quarter 11-for-14 from the floor with six threes to build a 10-point lead in just over six minutes of play.

They went just 3-for-7 the rest of the quarter but maintained an 85-75 lead entering the fourth thanks to 10 points coming from Brunson (4-for-7 from the floor) and eight from McBride (3-for-5).

Outside of the quarter, the Knicks shot 24-for-71 from the floor (33.8 percent). For the game, they finished 38-for-92 from the floor (41.3 percent), 13-for-43 from three (30.2 percent) and 23-for-34 from the line (67.6 percent).

- The problem for the Knicks with Julius Randle still out and missing OG Anunoby: When Brunson sits, the struggles become intense. And with Brunson on the bench to open the fourth quarter, the Thunder used a 7-0 spurt as part of a 13-3 run to tie the game in under three minutes of action, thanks to going 5-for-5 from the floor and two Knicks turnovers.

Brunson would enter with New York up one with just under eight minutes to play, but the Thunder offense was running hot and they soon grabbed an eight-point advantage. But the Knicks' All-Star would cap an 8-0 Knicks run with a three to tie the game with 3:33 to pay and hit a tough layup late to give the Knicks a short-lived lead.

Just how important is Brunson to the Knicks? Entering the game, he is a plus-141 in 745 minutes since Feb. 1. Without him on the floor, the Knicks are a minus-87 in 460 minutes, per SNY contributor David Vertsberger.

- The Knicks held their guests to just 17 points on 7-for-24 from the floor to take a five-point lead into the second quarter. But the low-scoring beginning – marked by tough defense notably from McBride – began to falter a touch, especially as the offensive struggles allowed for the Thunder to push the pace.

New York was up by as many as seven in the first half but entered the halftime break down four after shooting 17-for-48 from the floor (35.4 percent) and 4-for-21 from three (19 percent) in the game’s first 24 minutes. DiVincenzo (1-for-8), McBride (1-for-5) and Brunson (1-for-3) struggled especially from deep.

- Brunson led the Knicks with 30 points but on 11-for-25 shooting (4-for-11 from three and 4-for-8 from the line) with seven assists and two rebounds and, yet, he was a game-high plus-17 in 35 minutes.

DiVincenzo had 15 points on 4-for-18 (4-for-16 from deep) and was a minus-1 in 40 minutes. Josh Hart had 13 points on 4-for-9 shooting with 15 rebounds and six assists, but the last of his four turnovers late in the game hurt the Knicks. He was a plus-4 in 45 minutes. Precious Achiuwa had eight points, nine rebounds (four offensive) and two blocks in 22 minutes, but was a minus-13 for the game.

- Isaiah Hartenstein, who was once again the lone center as Mitchell Robinson was unavailable had two put-back slams early as he continues to have his best run of form in his career.

The 25-year-old, who didn’t have to work too hard to out-muscle the Thunder’s tall and lean Chet Holmgren, finished with 17 points (6-for-8 from the floor) with 12 rebounds (six offensive) and five assists and was a plus-7 in 29 minutes.

He also had the crucial offensive rebound on Brunson’s missed free throw to keep the possession alive setting up his go-ahead layup with 4.1 seconds remaining.

- Josh Giddey recorded a triple-double with 16 points (7-for-11 shooting), 13 rebounds and 12 assists and was a plus-11 in 31 minutes. It is his third triple-double at MSG in three games played there.

Forward Jalen Williams torched the Knicks for 33 points (14-for-18 shooting) with eight assists and four rebounds.

Gilgeous-Alexander had 19 points (7-for-16 shooting) and was a minus-15 in 35 minutes of play, but got the bucket that mattered.

- Brunson turned his right ankle with just over two minutes remaining in the second quarter when he stepped on Thunder guard Luguentz Dort’s foot while driving toward the basket. Tom Thibodeau called for time after Brunson did not make it back up court and the Thunder converted an easy bucket. The guard stayed in the game with just over 30 seconds to play in the half, Brunson stepped on Dort’s foot when the Oklahoma City player entered his landing area on a three-attempt.


What's next

The Knicks look to rebound on Tuesday night in Miami as they take on the Heat. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.