The New York Knicks almost completed an incredible comeback in Brooklyn on Monday night, as they clawed back from a 12-point deficit entering the fourth quarter against the Nets to make it a three-point game with the ball and just under six seconds to play.
They got to that point by playing what may very well be the best sequence of inbounds defense the league has seen in decades, as they forced two Nets timeouts and two jump balls on four consecutive Brooklyn inbound attempts to secure a shot at tying the game and forcing overtime. On that final play, Alec Burks inbounded the ball to Julius Randle, who had 33 points and 12 rebounds, including a few key buckets late during the Knicks rally.
Randle went up for a three after faking a handoff back to Burks, and Kyrie Irving reached a hand in and clearly got the ball as Randle went up. The All-Star forward came back down, dribbled, and tried to go back up, and Scott Foster, who as positioned behind Randle with an awkward angle, called a traveling violation on Randle.
After all that, the Knicks don't get a shot off on their final possession. Julius Randle gets called for a travel. Seemed like Kyrie Irving got a piece of the ball on the way up. pic.twitter.com/jobNZyqbRQ
— Mike Vorkunov (@MikeVorkunov) March 16, 2021
What should have been a jump ball turned into the Nets ball, as New York had used its challenge to overturn a foul call when they got their last tie-up on Joe Harris the play prior. It was an unfortunate and anti-climactic ending to what had otherwise been a thrilling fourth quarter, and after the game Randle was hot and had to be pushed away from Foster by Obi Toppin and other teammates.
When I go to war, I’m going with Julius Randle. pic.twitter.com/69ppgQ4cOT
— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) March 16, 2021
It was a clear missed call and Randle would have almost assuredly won a jump with Irving to give New York a chance at a bit of a scramble drill three to tie. You can tell how much this game meant to the Knicks, as they rose to the challenge against the Nets and to feel like their efforts late were thwarted not by great play from their opponents but a missed call makes it an extra bitter pill to swallow.