DALLAS — The New York Knicks surrendered to the mighty Luka Doncic.
It was either an epic meltdown or an epic comeback in regulation, depending on your point of view, as the Knicks blew a nine-point lead with 33.9 seconds left. Doncic, whose stat line read like something out of a video game, capped the drama with a putback with one second remaining.
It forced overtime, where the Knicks, predictably, went cold due to tired legs. Doncic finished with a career-high 60 points, 21 rebounds, and 10 assists (shudder, Knicks fans).
How severe was the collapse?
According to ESPN, in the last 20 seasons, NBA teams were 0-13,884 when trailing by at least nine points with 35 seconds or less remaining.
“We gave up and-1s and uncontested shots. We missed a couple of free throws. “It was a collection of things,” Tom Thibodeau explained. “So you give a team another shot at things. Then you foul and give up and-1s. It makes no sense.”
The 126-121 OT loss for the Knicks was devastating and heartbreaking, but it was also deserving of praise given the circumstances.
After all, New York’s Big-3 was down to Julius Randle.
Injuries to Jalen Brunson and RJ Barrett put the Knicks in an awkward position against Doncic on the road. However, with Randle continuing to shine in his hometown, and with career nights from Quentin Grimes and Immanuel Quickley, they led for the majority of the game and were on the verge of pulling off the upset.
Instead, the Knicks (18-17) were unable to close the gap and were defeated in the final 30 seconds of regulation. It also ended their five-game winning streak in Dallas, which had lasted since 2017.
“I’m pretty sure the probability of us winning the game with 20 seconds left is like 99-point-something,” Quickley said. “We just made too many mistakes, and they took advantage of it.”
Barrett was forced to leave the game after only one minute due to blood pouring from his index finger as a result of an inadvertent scratch suffered while Doncic swiped at the ball. Barrett was rushed to the locker room and was never seen again.
Brunson was ruled out before the game because of a hip contusion. Quickley was given a starting spot and 51 minutes, but he shot just 5-for-21 from the field, including 1-for-10 from beyond the arc. Grimes also stepped up with a career-high 33 points.
Randle, who had 29 points and 18 rebounds in 45 minutes, was the hero until the late collapse.
Randle, a Dallas native and resident, has thrived in his last five games at the American Airlines Center, averaging over 30 points per game. He had a double-double by halftime on Tuesday and buried what appeared to be the dagger — a layup that gave the Knicks a 110-101 lead.
The Mavericks (19-16) then ended regulation with a 14-4 run in 44 seconds. Randle, Brunson, and Barrett did not speak to the media following the game.
Meanwhile, the big Brunson return game never happened. The former Mavericks guard received a nice video tribute and a standing ovation in the second quarter, but he remained in street clothes due to a contused hip sustained two days prior.
Brunson missed his first game of the season. Brunson’s stated goal of playing in every game “as long as I can walk” gave hope that he’d at least try to start, but he didn’t participate in the morning shootaround and never warmed up before the game.
“You have faith in your medical team,” Thibodeau said. “Obviously, Jalen has a lot of influence, but you bring everyone together to make a good decision.”