NEW YORK (AP) — Jalen Brunson and Quentin Grimes each scored 27 points, and the New York Knicks clinched a playoff berth with a 118-109 victory over the Washington Wizards on Sunday night.
Immanuel Quickley added 22 points and Obi Toppin had 21 for the Knicks, who won their fourth in a row and will be in the postseason for the second time in three years. They had missed the playoffs the previous seven seasons.
“Making the playoffs is a great accomplishment, but it’s one of several,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “It’s the next step along the way. Just keep checking the boxes.”
Mitchell Robinson contributed eight points and 11 rebounds for the Knicks, who have won both games since losing All-Star forward Julius Randle to a sprained left ankle.
“Every time someone goes out it’s a chance for someone else to get in and get the job done,” Thibodeau added. “That gives your team a lot of confidence. It gives us quality depth and makes us a tough team.”
Corey Kispert led Washington with a career-high 29 points. Johnny Davis had 16 and Taj Gibson added 14.
The Knicks trailed by as many as 10 points in the second quarter and 61-53 at halftime. The Wizards extended their lead to 64-55 before the Knicks went on a 14-4 run to reclaim a lead they never gave back.
“We just had to wake up a little bit,” Brunson said. “We needed a little wake-up call at halftime and Coach gave it to us and we responded. Better to learn from wins than from losses.”
New York extended its advantage to 86-79 at the end of the third quarter. Toppin opened the final quarter with a 3-pointer, giving the Knicks their first double-digit lead.
“Down the stretch you want to be playing your best basketball. You want individuals to be playing great to help the team play great,” Quickley said. “It was good to see Obi get some great minutes today and play well. It was good to see QG play well. We need everybody coming down the stretch.”
The Wizards never got closer than eight the rest of the way.
New York took its biggest lead at 114-94 on Brunson’s floater with 2:38 left in the game.
The Knicks were ahead 36-31 early in the second when the Wizards went on a 17-2 run and took a 48-38 lead on Deni Avdija’s 3-pointer with 7:41 left in the second quarter.
Jordan Goodwin and Kendrick Nunn each had 11 points for the Wizards.
Wizards: Washington was without its top three scorers: Bradley Beal (23.2), Kristaps Porzingis (23.2) and Kyle Kuzma (21.2). Porzingis missed his second straight game with a non-Covid illness, while Beal (sore left knee) and Kuzma (sprained right ankle) have been out for six and seven games, respectively. … In eight games against his former team, Porzingis has averaged 21.1 points, 9.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocks. … No one on the Wizards’ roster has played in all of the team’s games this season. Avdija has only missed one.
Knicks: RJ Barrett missed the game with a non-Covid illness. … Randle had started the first 77 games before his injury. Only Isaiah Hartenstein has played in every game for the Knicks. … Exactly 53 years ago, April 2, 1970, the late Willis Reed collected a Knicks playoff-record 36 rebounds in a win over the then-Washington Bullets in Game 5 of the Eastern Division semifinals.
Knicks: At Indiana on Wednesday.
New York Knicks’ Jalen Brunson (11) shoots over Washington Wizards’ Johnny Davis (1) and Deni Avdija (9) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, April 2, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)