Knicks Rout Hornets, Earn Wild-Card Spot In East To Advance In The In-Season Tournament

New York Knicks guard RJ Barrett (9) drives to the basket against Charlotte Hornets forward Gordon Hayward  during the first half of an NBA basketball game in New York, Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023. (AP Photo/Peter K. Afriyie)
New York Knicks guard RJ Barrett (9) drives to the basket against Charlotte Hornets forward Gordon Hayward during the first half of an NBA basketball game in New York, Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023. (AP Photo/Peter K. Afriyie)
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NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Knicks were already making plans for a trip to Las Vegas after learning they had advanced to the quarterfinals of the NBA In-Season Tournament.

Their destination is actually Milwaukee, where they would need a victory over the Bucks to reach the Final Four in Vegas.

Even the players are still learning how the NBA's new event works.

Julius Randle had 25 points and 20 rebounds, RJ Barrett scored 16 points and the Knicks advanced to the knockout stage with a 115-91 victory over the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday night.

“We all thought we were going to Vegas, I cannot lie,” reserve guard Immanuel Quickley said. “When we first won, we all were saying we were going to Vegas like we were going to Disney World when you go to the Super Bowl.”

The Knicks missed their chance to win Group B when the Bucks beat the Miami Heat to finish unbeaten in pool play. But the Knicks took the wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference by tiebreaker because of their point differential in the preliminary round.

New York will visit the East’s No. 1 seed next Tuesday.

The Knicks and Bucks were already scheduled to meet four times this season. An extra game is now on the calendar against an NBA Finals favorite with the chance to really go to Las Vegas.

“If they tell us we got to play this team five times, we play them five times and be ready,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “Whatever the schedule says, that’s what you have. Sometimes it’s in your favor, sometimes it’s not. Just be ready to play.”

Quickley scored 23 points and Josh Hart chipped in 17 as the New York bench outscored Charlotte’s 50-35.

Hart was not too fond of the idea that in order to advance out of group play the Knicks had to run up the score on their opponent.

“It was interesting. I don’t really like it,” he said. “We were focused at first just about winning. The last couple of minutes it feels weird. At a certain point you just start chasing points, doing all that. So it kind of messes with the integrity of the game a little bit.”

Brandon Miller, the No. 2 pick in the draft, scored 18 points and fellow first-rounder Mark Williams had 12 points and 12 rebounds for the Hornets, who were without star point guard LaMelo Ball, who was out with a right ankle injury that could sideline him for a number of games.

The 91 points scored by Charlotte was a season-low.

“Our effort was really good tonight. Our purpose of play was not,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford said. “That’s what we have to learn from.”

New York led by as many as 16 points late in the second quarter and had its lead trimmed down to 56-55 with 8:12 to play in the third quarter after the Hornets went on a 11-2 run, capped by five points from Miles Bridges.

It was the closest the Hornets would get, as they shot just 4 for 11 from the field and committed five turnovers en route to being outscored by the Knicks 24-11 the rest of the period to head into the fourth quarter with New York leading 80-66.

Randle and Barrett combined for 28 points to lead the Knicks to a 53-44 lead at halftime.

UP NEXT

Hornets: Remain in New York to play the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday night.

Knicks: Host the Detroit Pistons on Thursday night.