The Tragic Number is one.
With the Knicks’ 125-114 defeat to the Hornets on Wednesday, elimination from the playoffs could be sealed as early as Thursday if the Hawks beat the Cavaliers. Either way, one more Knicks defeat or Hawks victory and those Cancun trips can be booked with 100% certainty.
It’s been inevitable for a while but delayed by strong play recently from the Knicks, who had their four-game winning streak snapped Wednesday because the defense took a night off.
Miles Bridges surged in the fourth quarter and roasted the Knicks with 31 points, including a windmill dunk with three minutes remaining that totally deflated the home team. LaMelo Ball added 20 points and 15 assists.
For the Kicks, the embattled Julius Randle finished with 21 points, seven assists and five rebounds. He was booed during introductions but played well enough, largely in a secondary role while shooting 7-for-16. He was reserved emotionally and didn’t engage in his usual back-and-forths with the referees.
Evan Fournier led the team with 30 points. Alec Burks missed 11 of his 15 shots.
The Knicks (34-43) entered the night with a mathematical chance of catching the Hornets (40-37), who are ninth in the East.
But that pipe dream ended Wednesday.