OAKLAND, Calif. — If the New York Knicks scramble into a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference this season, they might look back on a wild sequence late in Sunday’s critical, 89-84 win over the Golden State Warriors as the boost that got them over the top.
Having lost all of an eight-point, fourth-quarter lead and mired in a late-game offensive funk, the Knicks found themselves in an 81-all tie when Golden State star point guard Stephen Curry went up for a 3-pointer with 2:11 to play.
Improbably, five seconds later, New York power forward Amar’e Stoudemire was converting two tiebreaking free throws that gave his team the lead for good.
Explaining what happened in between, Curry chose to use the word “weird.”
Curry, who hit a game-tying 3-pointer less than a minute earlier, tried again from 27 feet. The shot went off the mark but was deflected 25 feet from the hoop, where Curry and Knicks standout forward Carmelo Anthony desperately pursued it.
Curry won the race, but despite having a fresh 24-second clock with which to work, he took one step and fired up a uncharacteristically wild 21-footer that was well off the mark.
“He was on my arm,” Curry said of his decision to take the awkward shot. “I was trying to sell the call. It didn’t work, and it looks terrible. It was one of those weird plays.”
As it turns out, it could also be a potentially difference-making play, as it propelled New York (31-43) within one game of the idle Atlanta Hawks for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.
“A great team win for us,” Anthony said. “When we play like that as a team, we get results like this.”
Warriors center Jermaine O’Neal compounded Curry’s mistake by fouling Stoudemire going for the rebound of a shot that never hit the rim. Stoudemire’s free throws with 2:06 to play put the visitors in front.
“It was one of those grind-out games,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. “It was back and forth, and it was our defense that held tight at the end.”
The win allowed the Knicks to even their record at 2-2 on their ongoing, five-game trip. They visit the Utah Jazz on Monday night.
“To come in here and get this win means a lot for our ballclub,” Woodson said. “Now we have to validate this and go to Utah and try to get a win there before we head back home.”
Anthony had a basket and two free throws down the stretch to help New York hold on. Curry missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer with 30.9 seconds to go and then committed a turnover on Golden State’s final possession.
“We have lost some games to teams that we are better than,” a disappointed Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. “That is a more-than-capable New York team that has underachieved this year.”
Shooting guard Klay Thompson’s 3-pointer with 1:03 to go got the Warriors within 85-84, but Anthony dropped in his two free throws for a three-point edge with 45.4 seconds left.
Shooting guard J.R. Smith had 14 of his team-high 21 points in a game-changing, 34-12 second quarter for the Knicks, who won only once on their previous 11 trips to Oakland.
Anthony finished with 19 points on a 7-for-21 night. Stoudemire contributed a 15-point, 13-rebound double-double, and backup guard Tim Hardaway Jr. added 15 points in the win.
Curry had a game-high 32 points for the Warriors, who fell two games behind the Portland Trail Blazers in their battle for the fifth seed in the West. The All-Star hit 10 of his 21 shots, while his teammates combined to go just 18-for-58.
Thompson had 15 points, and small forward Andre Iguodala 12 for the Warriors, who played without frontcourt starters Andrew Bogut (pelvic contusion) and David Lee (strained right hamstring).
Coming off a 24-point loss at Phoenix, the Knicks demonstrated they were going to be a whole lot more competitive in Oakland by dominating the second quarter, flipping a 32-22 deficit into a 56-44 halftime lead.
After Warriors backup guard Jordan Crawford opened the second period with a runner to boost Golden State’s lead to 12, the Knicks countered with 12 straight of their own. Reserve guards Iman Shumpert and Pablo Prigioni accounted for half the points with a 3-pointer apiece.
The Warriors (45-28) gathered themselves go back up six with 5:18 left in the half, but New York surged again, finishing the second period on a 22-4 run to take a 12-point halftime lead. Smith had 12 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, in the flurry.
“When you think about giving up 34 points in the second quarter and 33 in the second half …,” Jackson said. “That second quarter cost us the game. Disappointing.”
NOTES: Even after an MRI revealed no significant damage, Warriors C Andrew Bogut (pelvic contusion) was ruled out of the club’s two-game Texas swing that tips off Tuesday in Dallas. … PF David Lee (strained right hamstring) missed the last two games of the Warriors’ just completed homestand. He will make the trip but remains questionable. … Golden State PG Stephen Curry had only one assist against the Knicks, snapping a streak of having recorded four or more assists in 81 consecutive games. … When the Warriors face the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday, they will be playing their first road game since March 16. … The Knicks’ game Monday at Utah represents the only time they will face a team that is not a playoff contender the rest of the regular season. … The Knicks are now 4-0 this season when PF Amar’e Stoudemire (15 points, 13 rebounds) records a double-double.
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