new york knicks
Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks inch closer to home-court advantage in the playoffs with a win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

Danny Small

The New York Knicks are back on track after losing two consecutive games to the best of the best in the Western Conference. They broke this little losing streak by knocking off Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and the Los Angeles Clippers.

Derrick Rose led the way for the Knicks with 25 points off the bench. Reggie Bullock and RJ Barrett chipped in with 24 and 18 points, respectively, on a combined 9-for-21 from beyond the arc.

Here are three highlights and three observations from New York’s 106-100 win over Los Angeles.

Highlight 1: Derrick Rose 1st Half

Highlight 2: RJ Barrett 3-Pointers

Highlight 3: Clutch Julius Randle

Observation 1: Derrick Rose Should Start

The Knicks need to stop beating around the bush when it comes to Rose and Elfrid Payton. It’s clear that Tom Thibodeau trusts Rose more because he’s playing more than Payton, but the head coach is still hesitant to make the change to the starting lineup.

The Clippers jumped out to an 8-0 lead right off the tip on Sunday. Fortunately, the Knicks were able to overcome that slow start, but they couldn’t do the same against the Suns or Nuggets last week.

Rose finished the game with 25 points, six rebounds, and eight assists. He dropped 19 of his points in the first half on 9-for-10 shooting to help the Knicks take control early.

Observation 2: Close Games

The Knicks have been fantastic in close games since the All-Star break and if you are wondering why, look no further than Randle. Although the All-Star forward struggled to hit shots for most of this game, he came through during crunch time. He hit big shot after big shot in the final minutes to help New York hold off the Clippers.

This is the biggest question for the Knicks when it comes to their ceiling for this year. If there is any hope of a deep playoff run, Randle will have to lead the way. Of course, Derrick Rose and RJ Barrett will have no problem taking the big shot, but Randle is the guy.

Observation 3: LA Sweep?

The Knicks will have a chance at sweeping the season series at STAPLES Center when they meet the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night. The Lakers are vulnerable right now. LeBron James is nursing a right ankle sprain and Anthony Davis is struggling to play with any consistency since his return to the lineup.

The Knicks are 3-2 on this current Western Conference road trip and they hold a slim one-game lead for the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference, but the Atlanta Hawks and Miami Heat are both knocking on the door.

There is some good news for the orange and blue though. They are now three games ahead of the seventh-place Boston Celtics. They can avoid the play-in tournament by winning two of their last four games.

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