Talen Horton-Tucker on Tuesday drained a clutch three-pointer in the closing seconds of overtime as the Los Angeles Lakers snatched a thrilling 101-99 victory over the New York Knicks.
Horton-Tucker’s effort with 21.1 seconds remaining sealed the win for the Lakers and prevented the Knicks from clinching their first playoff appearance since 2013.
It was the dramatic final act of a pulsating clash at the Staples Center, which saw the Knicks’ Julius Randle, a former Lakers player, dominate for long periods with a 31-point performance.
Randle looked to have given the Knicks the edge with a superb three-pointer of his own, which put the visitors up 99-98 with a bit more than one minute remaining, but a crucial traveling call against Randle moments later surrendered possession to the Lakers, allowing Horton-Tucker to put up his game-winning late three-pointer.
The victory means that the Lakers’ faint hopes of securing an automatic playoff place are still alive.
The Lakers, who were missing the injured LeBron James, are seventh in the Western Conference with 39 wins and 30 defeats.
The top six teams advance automatically to the post-season.
Horton-Tucker finished with 13 points, while Kyle Kuzma led the Lakers with 23, Anthony Davis added 20 and Andre Drummond had 16 points with 18 rebounds.
Randle was backed by Derrick Rose, who had 27 points for the Knicks.
In San Francisco, Andrew Wiggins poured in 38 points as the Golden State Warriors upset the second-placed Phoenix Suns 122-116.
The Warriors fought back from a 16-point deficit in the first half to grind out a gutsy win.
Stephen Curry had 21 points for the Warriors, while Kent Bazemore added 17.
Devin Booker led the Suns with 34 points, while veteran Chris Paul added 24.
In other games, Caris LeVert scored 24 points as the Indiana Pacers staged a fourth-quarter rally to frustrate the Philadelphia 76ers’ bid for the top of the NBA Eastern Conference.
The Sixers could have clinched the top spot heading into the playoffs with a victory over the Pacers, who are ninth in the standings, but instead crashed to a 103-94 defeat in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Philadelphia had led by 16 points late in the second quarter, but were gradually reeled in by a dogged Pacers performance during the second half.
Power forward Tobias Harris led the scoring with 27 points, while Ben Simmons finished with 20 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.
Philadelphia’s preparations were disrupted by the late withdrawal of Joel Embiid, who was ruled out with an undisclosed non-COVID-19 illness earlier on Tuesday.
“We didn’t have any execution tonight — we really didn’t,” Sixers coach Doc Rivers said.
In Boston, the Miami Heat provided more evidence that they are hitting their stride at the right time, with a 129-121 win over the Celtics to book their playoff place.
Miami, beaten by the Lakers in last season’s NBA Finals, punched their ticket with a confident victory that saw Tyler Herro finish with 24 points and 11 rebounds.
Five other Miami players finished in double figures, with Bam Adebayo and Duncan Robinson adding 22 points each.
Jimmy Butler, who left the game and did not return after being poked in the eye in the first half, had 13 points.
In Chicago, the Brooklyn Nets warmed up for the post-season with a 115-107 defeat of the Bulls.
Kevin Durant finished with 21 points on a night when coach Steve Nash could afford to share the minutes among his roster.
Landry Shamet, who finished with one point, was the only Nets player with game time who failed to reach double figures.
Zach LaVine scored 41 points for the Bulls, who are clinging onto the faint hope of securing a play-in berth.
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