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Rough day for Knicks: Gilgeous-Alexander hits game-winner, then Hart sheds doubt on Randle, Anunoby return

Oklahoma City Thunder v New York Knicks

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 31: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of the Oklahoma City Thunder shoots the ball during the game against the New York Knicks on March 31, 2024 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2024 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

Friday night was rough for the Knicks, who lost in overtime to the Spurs despite 61 points from Jalen Brunson.

Sunday was worse.

First, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander capped a 10-point Thunder comeback in the fourth quarter with a game-winner.

Jalen Brunson and Knicks fans were upset he did not get a whistle on a layup that put the Knicks up one with 4.1 seconds left — they felt it should have been an and-1. However, the Knicks lost this game because they kept shooting themselves in the foot late, including a string of missed free throws (several by Brunson).

After the game, Josh Hart made it sound like this is the group the Knicks will have in the playoffs, casting doubt on the possible return of Julius Randle (shoulder) and OG Anunoby (elbow). Mitchell Robinson returned and played 19 minutes off the bench Friday night, but his ankle clearly still bothered him, and he did not play Sunday. Here are his quotes, via Tim Bontemps of ESPN.

“I’m looking at it like this is the team we’re going to have,” Hart said... “I think that’s how we have to approach it, that those guys aren’t coming back and obviously we’ll be pleasantly surprised if they come back.

“I’m not in those medical conversations or anything like that, so I don’t know s*** from s***. But we’ve got to approach every game and the end of this season that those guys aren’t coming back, and if they do, be pleasantly surprised.”

Hart is not saying they will not return, and he nails the attitude Knicks players need to have. Still, the implication is concerning. Especially when Tom Thibodeau said this pregame about whether Anunoby will return this season.

“You deal with it day-to-day. When he’s strong enough, he gets out there.”

As great as Brunson has been this season — he should be an All-NBA lock — and as well as Isaiah Hartenstein has been in the paint and Donte DiVincenzo as a shooter, this team’s chance at a deep playoff run hinges on some of their best players returning.

There are nearly three weeks before the Knicks will lace it up for their first playoff game (whatever seed they land, they currently sit fourth in the East). Hopefully that’s enough time for Anunoby and Randle to get back, but it’s fair for Knicks fans to be concerned about them (and if they return, can they be near 100%).

Hopefully April treats the Knicks better than the final days of March.