LOS ANGELES – Derrick Rose scored 25 points off the bench, Reggie Bullock added 24 and the New York Knicks beat the Los Angeles Clippers 106-100 on Sunday to snap an eight-game skid at Staples Center.
Bullock made five 3-pointers against his former team and RJ Barrett had four on his way to 18 points. The Clippers are the NBA’s best 3-point shooting squad, but they were just 12 of 35.
“He’s sort of the unsung hero. Every night he’s guarding a tough opponent, he never stops working on the defensive end,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He’s got to continue to do that for us, it opens up so many things.”
Kawhi Leonard led the Clippers with 29 points. Paul George added 18 and Nicolas Batum had 13 as the playoff-bound team’s two-game winning streak ended in its home finale of the regular season.
The Knicks led by 10 early in the fourth, when they made three 3-pointers, and the Clippers dissolved in miscues and misses.
Leonard returned to the game with 5 1/2 minutes left, scoring five in a row to pull the Clippers to 96-90. He and George combined to score all of the Clippers' final 15 points. Leonard's 3-pointer cut the Knicks' lead to 104-100, but Taj Gibson made a pair of free throws to seal it.
Julius Randle finished with 14 points and 14 rebounds for the Knicks, who had plenty of supporters cheering despite the limited attendance. Randle's offense was down compared to the 24 or more points he had in his five previous games.
“They’re double-teaming him,” Thibodeau said. “Everybody tends to measure people on points or shots and not the all-around game, but the big thing is the perseverance, the way he rebounded the ball and the hustle plays. He played a great game without shooting the ball great."
New York is close to clinching a playoff berth, something the franchise hasn't done since 2012-13. Since then, the Knicks have endured seven seasons of at least 45 losses.
“That would be big, but at the same time Thibs always talks about going through the finish line,” Rose said. “We know we’re not finished with what we’re doing.”
Randle added, “Now we feel like we can beat anybody. We have confidence as a team. Anybody can step up, that’s the beauty of our team.”
Trailing 62-61, the Knicks outscored the Clippers 18-12 to close the third leading 79-74. New York’s run was fueled by four 3-pointers, including three by Bullock, to give the Knicks their largest lead to that point.
The Knicks missed their first seven shots of the game while the Clippers raced to a 10-point lead. But the Knicks recovered to tie it up before falling behind by nine in the second quarter.
“We did a good job on Randle in the first half to slow him down and Derrick picked it up for him,” Batum said. “Those two guys kept the Knicks in the game.”
Knicks: Won for first time at Staples since Nov. 20, 2010. ... Alec Burks (left knee contusion) and Immanueal Quickley (left ankle sprain) sat out.
Clippers: Split the season series after winning 129-115 on the road.
Rose clocked 32 minutes — most in his last six games and similar to that of a starter — but came off the bench.
“Whatever the team needs,” he said. “I’m the newcomer as I always say. It really don’t matter to me as long as we get the win.”
Knicks: Stay in Los Angeles to play the Lakers on Tuesday night.
Clippers: Face Toronto on Tuesday night in Tampa, Florida, in the opener of a four-game trip to close the regular season.
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