Home SPORTS Upsets abound, including Knicks’ wild comeback over Heat

Upsets abound, including Knicks’ wild comeback over Heat

The NBA in-season tournament groups are rounding into form as some teams finish their four-game slate, giving the league what it wanted when it created this event: games that ostensibly matter.

Take, for example, the wildest game of Friday, in which the New York Knicks erased a 21-point third-quarter deficit to stun the Miami Heat 100-98, grab possession of the Eastern Conference’s wild-card spot and avenge their playoff loss last season.

The Knicks entered the day 1-1 in group play, needing a win to stay alive in a group with the undefeated Heat and Milwaukee Bucks. That hope seemed to fall apart after a competitive first half, with the Heat ripping off a 19-0 run to open the third quarter. A Miami win would have set up a clash against the Bucks for the group win, but then the Knicks started clawing back.

The stunner required separate runs of 11-0, 5-0 and 12-0, all in front of a raucous Madison Square Garden crowd. The final blow was delivered by Jalen Brunson, who made a mid-range jumper to put the Knicks up three with 84 seconds remaining. The Heat didn’t make a field goal for the rest of the game.

Brunson finished the game with a game-high 24 points on 10-of-16 shooting (1-of-4 from 3-point range) with three rebounds and three assists. After the game, he revealed the spark that ignited the comeback:

“Honestly, a fan looked at me in my eye over here and said ‘This is embarrassing,'” Brunson said.

Another big swing arrived in East Group C, where the 2-0 Boston Celtics needed only a win over the 2-1 Orlando Magic. Instead, they received a 113-96 loss.

Maybe that shouldn’t have been a surprise, as the Magic entered the game with a five-game win streak, as well as a three-game streak over the Celtics. Orlando flexed its strength up front, outscoring the Celtics 60-40 in the paint with a 48-31 rebounding advantage. Coming up biggest was Moritz Wagner, who came off the bench to score a season-high 27 points on 10-of-13 shooting.

The 3-1 Magic are now in a solid position to take their group. The Celtics and Nets are both 2-1 with games remaining against the Chicago Bulls and Toronto Raptors, respectively. If both win, the first tiebreaker, head-to-head records, will form a triangle due to the Celtics’ win over the Nets and the Nets’ win over the Magic, sending the group to the next tiebreaker, point differential. The Magic are currently tops there at +22.

Basically, the Magic will be rooting for the Celtics and Raptors to win, and for neither the Celtics nor the Nets to win by much if they both come out on top.

There were some big eliminations as well. The Denver Nuggets fell to 2-2 after a lop-sided 105-86 loss to the Houston Rockets. Nikola Jokic was his usual self, scoring 38 points on 14-of-31 shooting with 19 rebounds, eight assists and three steals. That wasn’t enough to offset the rest of the Nuggets, who shot a combined 28.6% from the field and 18.2% from deep.

Other teams to go down: the Oklahoma City Thunder, Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Clippers.

NBA in-season tournament Highlight of the Night

Tyrese Haliburton, the current front-runner for NBA in-season tournament MVP (yes, it actually exists), dropped Detroit Pistons star rookie Ausar Thompson so badly that we’ve decided to create a daily Highlight of the Night just to make sure you see it:

Friday’s NBA in-season tournament scores

Orlando Magic 113, Boston Celtics 96

Phoenix Suns 110, Memphis Grizzlies 89

New York Knicks 100, Miami Heat 98

Toronto Raptors 121, Chicago Bulls 108

Houston Rockets 105, Denver Nuggets 86

Indiana Pacers 136, Detroit Pistons 113

Milwaukee Bucks 131, Washington Wizards 128

Sacramento Kings 124, Minnesota Timberwolves 111

Golden State Warriors 118, San Antonio Spurs 112

New Orleans Pelicans 116, Los Angeles Clippers 106

NBA in-season tournament standings

In the in-season tournament, every team will face the other four teams in its randomly selected group once. The top team in each group and a wild card in each conference will advance to a single-elimination knockout stage, with quarterfinals played on Dec. 4 and 5 in team arenas and the final two rounds played in Las Vegas on Dec. 7 and 9.

All games, save for the championship game, will count toward regular-season records. Tiebreakers are, in order: head-to-head record, point differential, total points scored, 2022-23 regular-season record and a random drawing.

East Group A

1. Indiana Pacers: 4-0, +39 (advanced to knockout round)
2. Cleveland Cavaliers: 2-1, +6
3. Philadelphia 76ers: 2-2, +9 (eliminated)
4. Atlanta Hawks: 1-2, -9 (eliminated)
5. Detroit Pistons: 0-4, -45 (eliminated)

East Group B

1. Milwaukee Bucks: 3-0, +39
2. New York Knicks: 2-1, +18 (current wild card)
3. Miami Heat: 2-1, +11
4. Charlotte Hornets: 1-2, -30
5. Washington Wizards: 0-4, -38 (eliminated)

East Group C

1. Orlando Magic: 3-1, +22
2. Boston Celtics: 2-1, 0
3. Brooklyn Nets: 2-1, +8
5. Toronto Raptors: 1-2, -9 (eliminated)
4. Chicago Bulls: 0-3, -21 (eliminated)

West Group A

1. Los Angeles Lakers: 4-0, +74 (advanced to knockout round)
2. Phoenix Suns: 3-1, +34 (current wild card)
3. Utah Jazz: 2-2, -13 (eliminated)
4. Portland Trail Blazers: 1-3, -39 (eliminated)
5. Memphis Grizzlies: 0-3, -35 (eliminated)

West Group B

1. New Orleans Pelicans: 3-1, +33
2. Houston Rockets: 2-1, +16
3. Denver Nuggets: 2-2, -10 (eliminated)
4. Dallas Mavericks: 1-2, -14 (eliminated)
5. Los Angeles Clippers: 1-3, -25 (eliminated)

West Group C

1. Sacramento Kings: 3-0, +29
2. Golden State Warriors: 2-1, +5
3. Minnesota Timberwolves: 2-1, -3
4. Oklahoma City Thunder: 1-2, +27 (eliminated)
5. San Antonio Spurs: 0-4, -58 (eliminated)

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