The Los Angeles Clippers looked to close its home finale of the regular season out on a high note, but the New York Knicks had other plans.
Derrick Rose led all guards with 25 points off the bench, Reggie Bullock added 24 and the Knicks defeated the Clippers on the road 106-100 for the first time since 2010 on Sunday afternoon at Staples Center.
“Everybody has been doubting this team all along,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “We knew going on the trip we had been playing good basketball, but we were going to have to take it up as the season ends people are fighting for different things.”
New York snapped a two-game losing streak and maintained the No.4 spot in the Eastern Conference, now having a one game cushion over the No. 5 Hawks and No. 6 seed Heat.
Julius Randle finished with 14 points, 14 rebounds and five assists, RJ Barrett added 18, seven rebounds and four assists for the Knicks.
“I think in the beginning of the year we thought we could compete with anybody,” Randle said. “And now we feel like we can beat anybody.”
Kawhi Leonard led the Clippers with 29 points. Paul George had 18 and Nicolas Batum added 13.
Leonard converted only 9 of 26 shots and George was 8 of 20, making two three-pointers on nine total attempts.
Los Angeles came into the game as the top three-point shooting team in the league but was held to 12-of-35 overall from beyond the arc.
New York shot 40 percent from beyond the arc and converted 13-32 shots, with Bullock making a game-high five three-pointers.
“I just felt like my body was just tired, my body was just heavy,” George said, adding he was battling a cold.
“It was just one of those games, it was a tough game. Seems like we always just have a hard time getting up for these early ones. It’s the same thing, we just got to find a way to get going on these early twelve o’clock, twelve-thirty games.”
The Clippers led 10-0 in the first quarter to start the game, but the Knicks quickly responded and got in a rhythm of their own.
New York outscored L.A. 30-25 in the second and took a brief 56-54 lead into halftime.
Rose scored 19 points in the first half, making an efficient 9 of 10 shots.
“Derrick played extremely well,” Randle said.
Bullock made three 3-pointers in the third for the Knicks and they outscored the Clippers 18-12 to close the period with a 79-74 advantage.
“I thought as the game went on, they kind of wore us down and their physicality and their tempo wore us down going into the second half,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said.
Randle buried big shots in the closing minutes in the fourth even while being held below his season average of 24 points per game.
“You can definitely tell how much he’s been working, his game slowed down a lot, he’s using his teammates, he’s doing a good job over there,” Leonard said on Randle developing his game.
With 2:52 remaining, Randle went on to score New York’s next six points, draining three consecutive contested jump shots to give the Knicks a commanding 102-94 lead with 39.7 seconds remaining.
Leonard responded by making three free throws, followed by a three-pointer but Taj Gibson made two free throws of his own and the Knicks held on for a hard fought 106-100 victory.
“We’ve had our ups and downs,” Rose said. “We lost 2 before this game and we just tried to stay focused, stay hungry and play with urgency.”
The Clippers will next start a four-game road trip to close the regular season and face the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night in Tampa, Florida.
Tip-off is scheduled for 4:30 P.M.