Julius Randle posted a double-double on Tuesday night for the host New York Knicks, who solidified their hopes of a berth in the knockout round of the NBA in-season tournament with a wire-to-wire 115-91 win over the Charlotte Hornets.
The Knicks finished 3-1 in East Group B play with a point differential of plus-42 — the best point differential in the East as their game ended.
The Knicks began the night a game behind the Milwaukee Bucks, who beat the Miami Heat later Tuesday to finish 4-0 in group play, giving them the East Group B crown.
But New York is well-positioned to earn the wild card that’s awarded to the non-group winner with the best record or, in the event of a tie, the best point differential.
Randle had 25 points and 20 rebounds on Tuesday for the Knicks, who have won eight of their past 11 games. Immanuel Quickley scored 23 points and fellow reserve Josh Hart added 17 points. RJ Barrett finished with 16 points and Jalen Brunson added 12.
Mark Williams (12 points, 12 rebounds) recorded a double-double and Brandon Miller had 18 points for the Hornets, who finished 1-3 in Group B play with their sixth loss in eight games overall. Miles Bridges scored 13 points, while Terry Rozier and P.J. Washington had 11 points apiece.
Barrett and Randle each scored five points during a 10-0 run that gave the Knicks their first double-digit lead at 17-6 with 6:20 left in the first quarter. New York led by between seven and 16 points in the second before heading into halftime up 53-44.
The Hornets began the third on an 11-3 run but missed two shots with a chance to take the lead. The Knicks ended the quarter with a 24-11 surge and went ahead by double digits for good at 76-64 on Quickley’s 3-pointer with 1:24 left in the third.
The Knicks led by as many as 26 in the fourth, when starters Randle, Brunson and Mitchell Robinson as well as Quickley remained in the game until the final minutes.