Julius Randle had 33 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds, and led an overtime surge that sent the New York Knicks past the Charlotte Hornets 118-109 on Saturday.
Reggie Bullock added 17 points for the Knicks, who improved to 40-31 and moved into a tie with the idle Atlanta Hawks for the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
The Miami Heat, at 39-31, are scheduled to play at Milwaukee on Saturday night, and could create a logjam with a victory heading into the Sunday, the last day of regular season play.
If Milwaukee beats Miami, the Knicks could clinch the fourth spot by beating the Boston Celtics on Sunday.
Knick coach Tom Thibodeau, along with his players, will be keeping an eye on how the Heat-Bucks game unfolds.
“For us the big thing is take care of home court, take care of the game that we have at hand. If we take care of the little things, the big thing will take care of itself,” Thibodeau said. “But I think it is important for everyone to understand the business, who’s in it, how every game impacts something. So I want them studying the league as well.”
The Knicks have won 15 of 19.
“Can’t speak for other teams, but whatever challenge or opponent there is for us, we’ll be ready for,” Randle said. “We’ll be excited. We’ll accept the challenge.”
Miles Bridges had 16 of his 30 points in the third quarter and Devonte Graham added 25 for the Hornets, who have lost four straight games.
“A spectacular performance by him. It was just special,” Hornets coach James Borrego said of Bridges’ outburst. "What a lift — just his energy and spirit of him. Then the production is much more than I could have expected or imagined.”
New York led by 17 points with 7:45 left in the third quarter before the Bridges rallied the Hornets back on his own, at one point outscoring the Knicks 10-1 and finishing the period with a windmill dunk to cut the deficit to 89-86.
Charlotte opened the final quarter with a 7-0 run, highlighted by Graham’s 3-pointer for a 93-89 lead.
New York scored seven straight points to go up 104-101 on Randle’s jumper. Charlotte’s Terry Rozier made a free throw with 2:09 left and had a layup with 37 seconds remaining that made it 104-all.
Randle put the Knicks ahead in overtime 106-104 with a pair of free throws and set up all of New York’s five baskets, including three during 9-0 run, connecting with Alec Burks’ layup with 1:31 left in the extra period that made it 112- 106.
Charlotte can lock the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference with a win at Washington on Sunday.
Hornets: Cody Zeller had a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds… Jalen McDaniel chipped in 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Knicks: Derrick Rose had 15 points in 25 minutes after missing his previous game with a sore ankle.
HOME COURT ADVANTAGE
The Hornets announced Saturday seating capacity at Spectrum Center will increase to as many as 12,000 fans, or 60%, for any possible play-in games and first-round games that the team could host in the NBA playoffs. Capacity for previous games was set at 25%.
BRIDGING THE GAP
Bridges was cleared from the NBA’s heath and safety protocols and returned to the Charlotte lineup after missing six games. The Hornets were 2-4 while Bridges was in the COVID-19 protocols.
Hornets: Charlotte concludes the regular season with a trip to Washington on Sunday.
Knicks: Welcome the Boston Celtics on Sunday for their last game of the regular season.
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