February 21, 2021 | 10: 02pm | Updated February 21, 2021 | 11: 33pm
Fans within the extinguish will return to the Backyard in restricted numbers starting Tuesday, two nights after the Knicks barely avoided a catastrophic loss in opposition to the league’s worst crew in their final game in front of an empty arena.
The Knicks flushed a 21-level second-half lead, but they within the extinguish gave Tom Thibodeau the reward of a victory in his first game in opposition to the Timberwolves since he change into fired by Minnesota in 2019, eking out a 103-99 resolve Sunday to start a four-game homestand.
“We’re striving to change into a 48-minute crew. We’ve obtained a lengthy formula to head, and with any luck we learn from this,” Thibodeau talked about. “They made up flooring instant on us, but I manufacture just like the undeniable truth that we kept combating and we realized one scheme to resolve the game.
“Indirectly, that’s what’s important is to search out one scheme to resolve. Whatever we now hold to manufacture down the stretch to resolve the game, that’s what we’re seeking to focus in on.”
In his final contest sooner than All-Distinguished person reserves are named Tuesday, Julius Randle completed with 25 parts and 14 rebounds because the Knicks improved to 15-16 sooner than their game that night time in opposition to Golden Convey.
“Fully, one of the issues I talked about after, I change into if reality be told ecstatic with our crew,” Randle talked about. “Rather a pair of events whenever you occur to lose a lead like that and momentum shifts in such a immense formula the reverse formula, it’s easy to crumble and collapse and let the game chase. We perfect kept combating, kept combating and obtained stops and made performs down the stretch when we wished to. I’m ecstatic with our crew for that.
“Clearly now not the formula we wished to manufacture it within the cease, but we obtained it completed and that’s all that matters.”
Karl-Anthony Cities scored a game-high 27 parts, Ricky Rubio had 18 and rookie Anthony Edwards completed with 12 for the Timberwolves (7-24). The league’s worst crew fired coach Ryan Saunders — Thibodeau’s change — after the game, per ESPN.
Raptors assistant coach Chris Finch has already been hired as Minnesota’s unique head coach on multiyear contract, per a pair of reports.
The Jersey-bred Cities change into taking part in his seventh game after missing four weeks following a sure COVID check in January. His mom, Jacqueline, and six other family members died closing year from the virus.
“He’s an out of this world player. He’s long passed via plenty of adversity, and obviously you care about him as a person first and his family — his dad, sister,” Thibodeau talked about. “In the case of basketball, when he’s wholesome, he’s one of the attention-grabbing gamers within the league. So it’s been pretty of depressed when it comes to his injuries the past couple of years, but he’s an out of this world skill.”
The Knicks had three days off since Wednesday’s monstrous loss in Orlando on tale of of Saturday’s postponement in opposition to San Antonio after a pair of Spurs examined sure for COVID-19.
They led 86-65 tedious within the third quarter, but Minnesota opened the fourth on a 20-6 recede and closed internal two on a 3-pointer by Cities with barely 5 minutes remaining.
An internal bucket by Cities build the T’Wolves forward by one with 2: 48 to head, but Randle sank two free throws and Alec Burks (13 parts) added four more from the stripe within the closing seconds.
Taj Gibson, within the game for fouled-out starter Nerlens Noel, also made a key cease in opposition to Cities within the final minute to shut out the nail-biter for Thibodeau.
“I reflect we’re making an are trying to resolve every game. I’m more than happy we obtained this one for Coach Thibs, but we now hold to continue to protect it rolling,” talked about RJ Barrett, whose 21 parts incorporated a driving layup with 1: 59 remaining. “It’s mighty. We confronted adversity, they came back, and we stayed sturdy and had been ready to drag out the resolve.
“Now not the formula that you just wish it to head down, but more than ecstatic with the resolve.”