It was essentially a formality, but the New York Knicks had reason to celebrate Monday when they clinched their first winning season in eight years.
Julius Randle scored 28 points and Derrick Rose had a season-high 25 to lead the Knicks to a 118-104 win over the Memphis Grizzlies. At 37-28, the Knicks are assured of finishing above .500 for the first time since 2012-13. That was the last season the Knicks made the playoffs, and they are poised to break that drought as well.
"You gotta bring the energy and the commitment to win, and so I thought our guys were excellent in terms of preparation," Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. "We built a lead in the third, struggled a little in the fourth, but found a way to win. Whatever we have to do to get the win, it's hard to win on the road."
🌹 @drose puts up a season-high 25 off the @nyknicks bench! pic.twitter.com/nSzykxQPAS
The Knicks have won 12 of 13 and maintained their hold on fourth place in the Eastern Conference. They lead the Atlanta Hawks by 1½ games with seven left to play in the regular season.
"It's super cool," Rose said. "Just to be on a winning team. We're doing something quite unique here, playing with a sense of urgency. After the first half, we're able to adjust. We're reading the game."
It will be a challenge for the Knicks to keep the fourth seed. They have the third-toughest schedule remaining, according to tankathon.com, while the Hawks have one of the easiest in the league. Randle is confident New York can hold on.
"It's really good," Randle said. The Knicks just "need to keep doing it to get better."
R.J. Barrett (9), Julius Randle (30), Derrick Rose (4) and the Knicks have won 12 of their last 13 games. (Photo: Nelson Chenault, USA TODAY Sports)
Here are four more things to know today in the NBA:
Steph lights it up again
Steph Curry caught fire again Monday with 41 points to lead the Golden State Warriors to a key 123-108 win over the New Orleans Pelicans. Curry shot 14-of-26 from the field, including 8-of-18 from 3-point range, to notch his ninth 40-point outing of the season and sixth in his last 15 games. He averaged 37.3 points in April and has continued his torrid pace in May with 71 points in his first two games. The Warriors also moved into eighth place in the Western Conference as they jockey for position in the new play-in tournament.
"It's just a matter of staying in the moment, enjoying what I get to do, having the utmost confidence in what I can do out on the floor and just enjoying the challenge because I know I've got to play well for us to be who we want to be this year," Curry said. "We're trying to make this season mean something down the stretch."
Another 40+ point outing for Steph!
41 PTS | 8 3PM | 8 AST pic.twitter.com/9urFYBIDia
Carmelo moves into top 10
Carmelo Anthony had 14 points Monday to move past Elvin Hayes for 10th place on the NBA's all-time scoring list. Early in the second quarter, Anthony knocked down a 3 from the right wing and drew the foul to pass Hayes' career total of 27,313. Anthony said he was aware of how close he was to passing Hayes and raised his arms in a quick celebration. He finished with 27,318 career points.
"Top 10 in anything of all time is a special thing," Anthony said. "I don't want to take this moment for granted. I understand how big this moment is. It don't seem real because I'm still in it, I'm still doing this."
Melo drops 14 PTS en route to moving into 10th on the all-time scoring list! 🙌 pic.twitter.com/DkKjMJJAl9
Another absence for Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers held on for a 93-89 win over the Denver Nuggets, but the defending champs had to do it without another key member of the starting lineup. Dennis Schröder will miss 10-14 days because of the league's health and safety protocols, coach Frank Vogel said Monday. It is Schröder's second COVID-related absence this season after missing four-game in February and comes with the Lakers trying to hold on to a top-six spot in the West with seven games left to avoid the play-in tournament.
Game of the night: Nets at Bucks
The race for the top seed in the Eastern Conference remains tight with under two weeks to go in the regular season. Milwaukee and Brooklyn face off Tuesday for the second straight game, with the winner clinching the tiebreaker between the two. The Bucks won 117-14 Sunday as Giannis Antetokounmpo poured in 49 points to overcome 42 from the Nets' Kevin Durant.
Follow Matt Eppers on Twitter @meppers_.
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