Chants of “Defense!” echoed through Madison Square Garden on Monday when Chris Paul pulled out a crossover, spun and then flung up an 18-foot fadeaway over Julius Randle that silenced the Garden and ultimately snapped the New York Knicks’ nine-game winning streak.
The Phoenix Suns’ All-Star point guard scored seven points in the final 1:23 to hand the Knicks a 118-110 loss at the Garden.
This was the Knicks’ first loss since April 7 and it came at the hands of Paul, who delivered three consecutive daggers in the kind of Garden-silencing manner seen from superstar opponents in the past like Reggie Miller and Michael Jordan.
“Circus shots for sure,” Knicks guard Derrick Rose said.
The Knicks (34-28) led by as much as 15 in the first half as they were looking to extend their longest winning streak since winning 13 in a row in 2012-13. In a game that players from both teams said had playoff intensity, Phoenix (43-18) showed why it owns the second-best record in the NBA.
“We wanted this one, we wanted this one bad,” said Phoenix’s Devin Booker, who scored 33 points. “Obviously we knew about the streak that they had going on and we knew that this was going to be a dogfight.”
Mikal Bridges scored 16 of his 21 points in the second half to help erase the Knicks’ lead. Paul then sealed the game with his clutch performance. The point guard nailed a 20-foot step-back jumper with 1:23 left to give Phoenix a six-point lead.
Randle (18 points) buried a corner 3 to cut Phoenix’s lead to 113-110. Paul then did everything he could to shake Randle and knock down the fadeaway at the shot clock buzzer, quieting the crowd. Even though the Garden can only allow a limited number of fans in, Paul still felt the juice that comes with playing at the Garden.
“There is no better place to play than here,” said Paul, who had 20 points and six assists. “The energy here at the Garden… everybody was messing with the young guys before the game like this ain’t just a regular game.”
Paul made sure the Knicks didn’t make one final comeback, burying a contested 3-point shot with 14.5 seconds left.
“I mean, it’s insurance,” Booker said of Paul’s ability to hit three shots in a row against the Knicks’ defense. “He was guarded well on most of those possessions and it is just one of those things, you can’t do anything about it. That’s Chris Paul and he makes those plays and you just have to bow your head.”
The Knicks were already looking forward after the loss and not reflecting back on their longest winning streak in years. They play Chicago at home next before embarking on a difficult six-game road swing that ends with games at Denver, Phoenix, the Clippers and Lakers.
“It’s over,” Randle said of the winning streak. “Win the next one.”
Washington Wizards’ Russell Westbrook has 21 boards, 24 assists vs. Pacers, securing triple-double average for 4th time in career
WASHINGTON — Russell Westbrook became the only player with multiple 20-assist, 20-rebound games in NBA history — Wilt Chamberlain is the only other player with one — and the surging Washington Wizards moved closer to Indiana in the Eastern Conference playoff standings by beating the Pacers 154-141 on Monday night.
Westbrook had 14 points to go along with his career-high 21 rebounds and career-high-tying 24 assists, his league-leading 32nd triple-double of the season. He has 178 triple-doubles, three short of Oscar Robertson’s record, with seven games remaining for Washington.
Monday’s performance guarantees that Westbrook will average a triple-double in a season for the fourth time in his career; Robertson is the only other player to do this, and he did it once in 1961-62.
“Point guards don’t do what he does. He’s not normal, they’re not built that way,” said Wizards coach Scott Brooks. “There may be someone that probably shoots better. There might be someone that probably can do certain things better — but there’s nobody in the history of the game that can do what he does throughout the stat sheet.
“I used to always say he’s going to probably go down as the third-best point guard ever, but I think he’s passed one. He’s going to go down as probably the second-best, and (No. 1) is obviously Magic. He’s underappreciated. What he does, there are no point guards ever done it, nobody.”
Rui Hachimura scored 27 points and Bradley Beal had 26 as Washington scored a season-high 154 and moved within one-half game of Indiana for ninth place in the East. Teams that finish between seventh and 10th will enter the league’s new play-in tournament for the main playoff draw.
The Wizards earned the tiebreaker over the Pacers by winning the first two meetings. The teams meet one more time this season at Indiana on Saturday.
Washington finished the first half with a 20-8 run over the final 4:15 to take an 82-66 lead at the break. Westbrook had three of his 11 second-quarter assists during that stretch. It was Washington’s highest scoring first half of the season.
“Each night I try to figure out ways to be able to impact and pick up my team … it was one of those nights where certain things are rolling,” Westbrook said. “Guys are rolling, and my job is a bit of fun and as a point guard … you got to be able to make somebody around you better. And I feel like I take a lot of pride in the effort, the energy, and time, and watching film, and to be able to make others around me better. That’s that.”
Westbrook had 14 assists and 12 rebounds at the half while taking just three shots.
“He’s an MVP winner every night on the floor and off the floor, but if he was selfish he could shoot at a 20-20-20 game, but he was very comfortable only shooting three shots at halftime,” Brooks said. “Not a lot of star players in this league are comfortable only taking three shots at halftime.”
Westbrook’s layup with 10:23 left in the third clinched his triple-double. His 32 are the fourth most in any NBA season; he holds the record with 42.
ESPN Stats & Information and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Carmelo Anthony of Portland Trail Blazers moves into 10th place all time in NBA scoring
With 11:09 left in the second quarter against the Hawks in Atlanta, Anthony isolated on the right wing and pulled up from 3, plus the foul. After his trademark move of hitting the side of his head with three fingers, Anthony raised both arms in the air as a quick acknowledgement of the accomplishment.
It was his third 3 of the first half, giving him 12 points. Anthony entered Monday’s game against the Hawks nine points behind Hayes’ career total of 27,313.
“I think after it’s done, whenever it happens, I think I’ll be more in awe of it,” Anthony told ESPN by phone last week. “This is something I never, ever thought about. When you’re young you look up at that list and you’re like, ‘Damn, so-and-so has that many points? I’ll never be able to do that.'” I’m more just in awe of it.”
Moses Malone is next up on the all-time list at 27,409, a reachable number this season if Anthony maintains his current scoring pace.
Anthony’s journey to the top 10 comes with context, with him away from the NBA for a season after being cut by the Houston Rockets after just 10 games early in the 2018-19 season. Anthony continued working out and signed with the Trail Blazers in November 2019, starting all 58 games last season. He agreed to a bench role this season with Portland and entered Monday averaging 13.6 points as a sixth man.
A 10-time All-Star, Anthony is in his 18th NBA season. He won the scoring title with the New York Knicks in 2012-13, averaging 28.7 points. Anthony spent 10 consecutive seasons in the top 10 in scoring and finished as a runner-up for the scoring title twice in that stretch.
Anthony’s point distribution is 13,970 in eight seasons with the Denver Nuggets, 10,186 in seven seasons with the Knicks, 1261 in one season with the Oklahoma City Thunder, 134 with the Rockets and 1740 (entering Monday) in two seasons with the Blazers.
Tornado warning forces Portland Trail Blazers to evacuate their Atlanta hotel rooms
The warning was issued Monday morning, about seven hours after the Trail Blazers arrived at their hotel a couple of miles north of State Farm Arena in downtown Atlanta. The team had traveled in the early morning hours after a victory Sunday night at Boston.
Coach Terry Stotts said his players and staff were told to go to a lower-level parking garage, where they remained for about 30 minutes.
“I know tornadoes can do anything,” Stotts said. “You have to take the right precautions. The hotel staff was very organized and got everyone down there. We hung out there for about a half-hour, then we went back to our rooms.”
Severe storms moved across the South, spawning multiple tornadoes, damaging homes and uprooting trees from Mississippi to Kentucky. A tornado spotted in Atlanta forced thousands to seek shelter, and one man was killed west of the city when a falling tree brought down power lines onto his vehicle.
Asked if the severe weather disrupted any preparations for his team, Stotts said, “We didn’t get into our rooms until 3:30 in the morning. I’m sure there were some people sleeping and it disrupted their sleep. Hopefully they were able to make it up in the afternoon.”
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