After his team became the New York Knicks’ latest victim Sunday night, Indiana Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle said the Knicks were “as good as any team in the NBA.”
Next for the Knicks: An opportunity to see how they compare to the defending NBA champions — albeit without Stephen Curry.
The Knicks will look to extend the longest winning streak in the league Tuesday night when they host the Curry-less Golden State Warriors in the final meeting of the regular season between the teams.
Both clubs were off Monday after earning road wins Sunday, when the Knicks outlasted the Pacers 109-106 and the Warriors beat the Toronto Raptors 126-110.
The win was the seventh straight for the Knicks, their longest streak since a nine-game run from April 9-24, 2021. The victory over the Pacers marked just the second time in the streak New York has won by fewer than 10 points.
The winning streak appeared endangered when Aaron Nesmith’s dunk gave the Pacers a 104-98 lead with 1:56 left. But New York’s revitalized defense clamped down the rest of the way, limiting Indiana to just a pair of free throws while the hosts went 0-for-3 from the field with two turnovers.
Jalen Brunson began the comeback with a 3-pointer and a layup before Julius Randle closed it out by going 6-for-6 from the line in the final 45 seconds. His second free throw of the six-pack gave the Knicks the lead for good.
The Knicks, who entered Monday in a virtual tie with the Philadelphia 76ers for fifth place in the Eastern Conference, have allowed 106 points or fewer six times during their winning streak. They gave up 106 points or fewer just four times in the first 23 games of the season.
“I think first, it’s just the trust — just trusting each other, helping each other,” Randle said. “We’re in the right position. We’re the aggressor, not them, and it works.”
The Warriors found a recipe that worked Sunday in their fifth game this season without Curry. The two-time scoring champion and centerpiece of Golden State’s four recent NBA titles is expected to be out several weeks due to a left shoulder subluxation he suffered in a 125-119 loss to the Pacers last Wednesday. He had earlier missed three games between Nov. 4 and Dec. 7 due to a left ankle injury and load management.
Golden State trailed just twice — both times in the opening minute — Sunday against Toronto, when fourth-year guard Jordan Poole set a career-high with 43 points and Curry’s fellow championship mainstays Klay Thompson and Draymond Green scored 17 points apiece. Kevon Looney (11 points, 11 rebounds) added a double-double.
The win was the Warriors’ first without Curry since they beat the New Orleans Pelicans 128-107 in the 2021-22 regular-season finale in April. It also pulled Golden State within a half-game of the Minnesota Timberwolves in the race for the 10th seed in the West. The Timberwolves are slated to host the Dallas Mavericks Monday.
“It shows how good we can be,” Looney told reporters afterward. “It’s always going to be hard to win when you’re missing one of the best players in the league. He’s going to be gone for a while so we’ve got to get used to trying to win without him. Hopefully we’re in a good spot when he comes back.”
–Field Level Media