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Knicks Secure Playoff Berth with Win Over Hornets in East In-Season Tournament

The New York Knicks secured a spot in the quarterfinals of the NBA In-Season Tournament with a 115-91 victory over the Charlotte Hornets. Led by Julius Randle’s 25 points and 20 rebounds, the Knicks advanced to the knockout stage and will face the Milwaukee Bucks for a chance to reach the Final Four in Las Vegas.

Despite initially thinking they were headed to Vegas, the Knicks will travel to Milwaukee instead, where they will need a win over the Bucks to advance further in the tournament. The new tournament format has left players and teams alike still learning how the event works.

After the Bucks beat the Miami Heat to finish unbeaten in pool play, the Knicks secured the wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference due to their point differential in the preliminary round, despite missing the chance to win Group B.

PHOTOS: Knicks rout Hornets, assure themselves of advancing in the In-Season Tournament

New York will face the East’s No. 1 seed in their next match, with the Knicks and the Bucks already scheduled to meet four times this season. The prospect of an additional game against a top team like the Bucks has the Knicks preparing for the challenge ahead.

Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau emphasized the need for readiness, saying, “If they tell us we got to play this team five times, we play them five times and be ready. Whatever the schedule says, that’s what you have. Just be ready to play.”

The New York bench played a crucial role in the victory, with Immanuel Quickley scoring 23 points and Josh Hart adding 17, outscoring Charlotte’s bench 50-35.

Hart expressed discomfort with the idea that the Knicks had to run up the score on their opponent to advance out of group play, stating, “At a certain point you just start chasing points, doing all that. So it kind of messes with the integrity of the game a little bit.”

The Hornets, without star point guard LaMelo Ball due to a right ankle injury, struggled to score, tallying a season-low 91 points.

Following the game, Hornets coach Steve Clifford acknowledged the team’s good effort but highlighted the need to improve their purpose of play. He stated, “Our effort was really good tonight. Our purpose of play was not. That’s what we have to learn from.”

New York held a 53-44 lead at halftime, with Randle and Barrett combining for 28 points to push the Knicks ahead.

The Knicks will next play the Detroit Pistons, while the Hornets will remain in New York to face the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday night.

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