It was a great battle of power-forward stud southpaws as Zion Williamson went toe to toe with Julius Randle.
But the game was decided by the Knicks’ backcourt of Derrick Rose and Reggie Bullock, propelling the Knicks to their sixth straight victory, 122-112 in overtime, over the Pelicans to move their record to a season-best 31-27 record.
The Knicks rallied from a six-point deficit in the final 1:30 — capped by Rose taking the inbounds driving down the lane and having the wherewithal to whip a pass to Bullock, who drained the game-tying 3-pointer from the left corner with 2.3 seconds left. The Pelicans could have fouled Rose, but might figured he was going for the easy 2.
“I thought about shooting it at first, but I saw Reggie in the corner,” Rose said in his postgame on-court interview. “I delivered it on the spot and Reg is a great shooter.”
Rose blocked Eric Bledsoe at the buzzer to force overtime. Rose scored the first bucket of overtime on a driving layup and Bullock hit a 3-pointer as the Knicks pulled away and Williamson disappeared.
Rose finished with 23 points and five assists in his best game since coming back from COVID-19. Bullock added 15 points (6-for-8 from the field) before fouling out in OT.
“There was no lack of clarity,” a miffed Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy said of the Rose-Bullock last play of regulation. “We made two mistakes on the play. We screwed up the play. When we do that, we deserve to lose…I don’t care if you’re a senior in high school, you should execute what to do with 7.8 seconds left.”
Besides not fouling, Van Gundy was referring to Lonzo Ball cheating off Bullock, leaving him open.
In his first NBA game at the Garden, Williamson notched 34 points as the Pelicans staged a second-half comeback from 13 points down at halftime and looked like they had the rematch win in the bag. But these Knicks never give up.
Williamson put on a show, hitting 13 of 23 baskets and a handful of driving slams. Williamson was looking to avenge a loss to the Knicks in New Orleans on Wednesday, where the Knicks got the ball out of his hands in the fourth quarter.
Randle, who went scoreless in the first quarter, came on to finish with 33 points but shot just 11 of 28. He had 10 assists but four turnovers. He’s scored 30-plus in four straight games and hit a late 3-pointer in overtime to give the Knicks an eight-point lead to seal the win.
RJ Barrett fouled out with 4:07 left after Williamson grabbed an offensive rebound and Barrett dragged him down. Williamson was hurt on the play, but still shot the free throws before briefly coming out of the game. Barrett, facing his former Duke buddy, scored 18 points, but committed six turnovers.
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