The Suns only needed certainly one of their Big 3 to bury the Knicks.
Devin Booker — playing without the help of injured teammates Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal — nailed a game-winning 3-pointer with 1.7 seconds remaining, turning away the newest gem from Jalen Brunson within the Knicks’ 116-113 loss Sunday at MSG.
Brunson tied the sport on the previous possession on a pull-up with 21.9 seconds left, giving the purpose guard 35 points.
The Suns then inbounded after a timeout and allowed Booker to carry the ball because the clock ticked.
Eventually, he passed it off, took it back on a handoff to get an advantageous switch and elevated over Julius Randle for a smooth splash.
Brunson’s final 30-foot heave on the buzzer bounced off the rim and the Knicks (9-7) lost for the second time in three games, failing to recreate the magic of the comeback two nights earlier against the Heat.
Booker finished with 28 points.
Before the thrilling finish, the Knicks had the sport of their hands.
All that they had to do was execute offensively, and as a substitute followed with a series of missed field goals, turnovers and missed foul shots.
Brunson, fresh off his clutch heroics within the Heat victory, again carried the house team while shooting 15-for-25.
Randle, meanwhile, rode the struggle bus before a robust third quarter, when the Knicks took their first lead of the sport on his layup. Randle, misfiring on his jumper, turned aggressive after halftime by pushing the ball into the paint and using his strength to complete. He scored 17 of his 28 points within the third quarter.
The Knicks seemingly caught a break — an enormous break — when Durant was ruled out due to a sore foot. The longer term Hall of Famer practiced Saturday and warmed up before the sport, signing autographs for fans, including Spike Lee.
But Durant, a peerless midrange scorer, went from “questionable” to “out” before tipoff, missing his second straight game with an injury to the identical foot that underwent surgery in 2019 to repair a torn Achilles. Barring a head-to-head within the NBA Finals (or one other midseason trade), it’ll be the second straight season the 35-year-old doesn’t play at MSG.
The Suns (11-6) were already missing Beal, the high-priced guard who has been sidelined all but three games with a strained back. They began Josh Okogie and Keita Bates-Diop, hardly the identical level as Durant and Beal.
It was definitely a relief to not take care of Durant, who, at nearly 7-feet tall, was a mismatch to any Knicks defender.
“That’s the challenge. His release is high,” Tom Thibodeau said before Durant was ruled out. “He’s a 7-footer, and that’s why the people around him also must attempt to make an impact. So it’s not only the guy that’s guarding him however the folks that are around him. Due to that size and vision, he could make plays over people.”
Despite Durant’s absence, the Suns led for the complete first half behind veteran Eric Gordon, who had 17 points on the break. He finished with 25 points and was 6-for-9 from 3-point range.
Undoubtedly more concerning to Thibodeau was his team’s performance on the glass. The Knicks, typically a stalwart rebounding team led by Mitchell Robinson, allowed Phoenix to grab 14 offensive boards in the primary half.
That helped push the Suns’ result in 15 within the second quarter. Randle and Brunson then led the comeback but fell short as Booker finished it dramatically.