Knicks now face a real uphill task to make the playoffs.
There were nine games on the NBA schedule on Sunday, with the Miami Heat dealing the New York Knicks a huge playoff blow while the Indiana Pacers continue to slump.
Essentially, the Heat all-but ended the Knicks’ hopes of making the playoffs with their win at the AA Arena on Sunday afternoon, with LeBron James scoring 38 points to help his team survive a three-point barrage from J.R. Smith who had 32 on an NBA-record 22 3-point attempts.
Carmelo Anthony failed to take a single shot in the final period which suggested that his shoulder injury was bothering him again, and ultimately the Knicks paid the price after a sluggish period through the third and start of the fourth and were unable to recover.
Coupled with the Atlanta Hawks’ win over the Indiana Pacers, Mike Woodson’s men have fallen two games behind their rivals, but are three games back in the loss column.
In addition, they face Toronto, Chicago, Brooklyn and Toronto again to see the season out, while they will need Atlanta to slip up against teams such as Detroit and Boston to keep the race alive.
The disappointment for New York was felt by Indiana, as they suffered their fifth loss in six games to slip a game behind Miami in the race for the top seed, as Roy Hibbert was rested for the final 30 minutes in an embarrassing home loss.
While Atlanta appear to have regrouped and taken a firm grip of the eighth and final spot, the Pacers look anything but the team dominating their home court earlier this season and have engaged in a full collapse since beating Miami.
Over in the Western Conference, the San Antonio Spurs defeated the Memphis Grizzlies which saw the latter drop out of the playoff spots.
Tony Parker left the game in the first quarter due to back spasms, and while others stepped up to deal with his absence, the Spurs will be anxious for MRI news on the point-guard as ultimately they are more concerned about staying healthy for the post-season rather than the win.
Kawhi Leonard had a career-high 26 points while Manu Ginobili had a season-high 26 points too, but there will be a nervous wait to discover the extent of Parker’s injury.
Meanwhile, Kevin Durant surpassed Michael Jordan’s run of 40 consecutive games with at least 25 points, as he put up 38 against the Phoenix Suns.
However, it wasn’t enough against the playoff-chasing Suns who took a one-game lead for the West’s eighth spot, as Durant conceded that he “didn’t really care” about the streak considering his team lost.
New York Knicks 91-102 Miami Heat
Los Angeles Lakers 97-120 Los Angeles Clippers
Dallas Mavericks 93-91 Sacramento Kings
Atlanta Hawks 107-88 Indiana Pacers
Denver Nuggets 125-130 Houston Rockets
Memphis Grizzlies 92-112 San Antonio Spurs
Utah Jazz 102-130 Golden State Warriors
Oklahoma City Thunder 115-122 Phoenix Suns
New Orleans Pelicans 94-100 Portland Trail Blazers