Clutch Chris Paul sent another reminder to the league that he remains one of the most formidable fourth-quarter players in the game.
Seven late points on a series of tough jump shots lifted the Phoenix Suns to a 118-110 win over New York, snapping the Knicks' nine-game winning streak in the process.
It was a playoff-like atmosphere inside Madison Square Garden, with the surging Knicks taking the second-ranked team in the Western Conference all the way until the final buzzer.
Let's jump to some of the takeaways from a fun one at MSG.
CP3 vs. D-Rose
If someone told you a decade ago that you would be watching Chris Paul and Derrick Rose lead their teams down the stretch in 2021 at the Garden you likely would have laughed.
Fast forward to today and Paul and Rose continue to piece together impressive seasons for their respective teams, with each guard playing a major factor in the fourth quarter.
Rose led the Knicks in scoring with 22 points on the night, with 10 of those coming in the final period as the Suns struggled to stay in front of him on the perimeter. Adding six rebounds and six assists, the 32-year-old was by far the most dangerous Knick down the stretch.
KEEP. PUSHING. pic.twitter.com/g2PorZLPA5- NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) April 27, 2021
Rose would have been the story of the night if it wasn't for Paul, who was simply unstoppable in crunch time. Leading 111-107, Paul first knocked down a trademark mid-range jumper that was immediately answered by a Julius Randle corner triple, closing the gap to 113-110 with 1:09 to play.
On the next possession, Randle swarmed Paul defensively, forcing him to fumble the ball slightly before flinging it towards the basket from straightaway on a miraculous shot that hit nothing but net.
OH MY CP3, HOW!?@Suns on top late on NBA TV pic.twitter.com/eqhaaY0IxY- NBA (@NBA) April 27, 2021
Not done yet, Paul then landed the dagger, dribbling to his right before hitting the bottom on a contested triple from the top to finish the game and silence the home crowd.
Chris Paul puts the game away from deep at MSG! pic.twitter.com/x288QBb1nn- NBA (@NBA) April 27, 2021
It was some kind of performance from the Suns' guard, who finished with 20 points, five rebounds, six assists and two blocks.
Knicks explosive start
It was a hot start for the Knicks, who connected on six of their first seven shot attempts including three triples, two of which went down for Reggie Bullock.
When Elfrid Payton drove and dumped the ball back to the trailing Nerlens Noel, the Knicks had ran out a 15-5 lead forcing Phoenix to call timeout. Overall, New York would win the first quarter 36-29, the only period they won for the game.
Bullock did stay hot throughout, finishing with 17 points including four made long-range shots.
Booker and Bridges provide scoring punch
A big night for Booker was somewhat overshadowed by Paul's heroics, but it was an efficient 33-point night for the All-Star, who did most of his damage from within the arc.
Booker finished 14-for-26 from the field but just 1-for-4 from the outside, while Mikal Bridges picked up the slack from the 3-point line.
THE MAN CAN'T BE STOPPED. pic.twitter.com/oowJuzTCgg- Phoenix Suns (@Suns) April 27, 2021
The 24-year-old Bridges topped 20 points for the ninth time this season, finishing with 21 points including three made long-range attempts.
RT TO JOIN THE @mikal_bridges FAN CLUB pic.twitter.com/1rlsNH6S0M- Phoenix Suns (@Suns) April 27, 2021
Randle's rare quiet night
The above-mentioned corner three late in the fourth was a welcome sight for Knicks fans, with the basket producing the only points of the fourth for the All-Star forward.
On a tear for much of the season, Randle was well held quiet in this one, finishing with just 18 points and six rebounds on 6-for-17 from the field.
It's just the fourth time in 14 April appearances that the 26-year-old produced fewer than 20 points.
What it means
Despite the loss, the Knicks were helped by the Atlanta Hawks' loss to the Detroit Pistons. The Hawks and Knicks remain locked with the same 34-28 record, though the Hawks do have the tie-breaker advantage to sit in the four seed.
Phoenix also received a favourable result elsewhere, with the Utah Jazz falling to the Minnesota Timberwolves by one point. The Suns are now just 1.5 games back of the Jazz for the top seed in the Western Conference.
The Knicks and Suns will both have one night off. New York will then host the Chicago Bulls, while Phoenix head home to face the LA Clippers in a critical Western Conference matchup.
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