Alec Burks of the New York Knicks celebrates a three=-point...

Alec Burks of the New York Knicks celebrates a three=-point shot late during the fourth quarter against the Chicago Bulls with teammates RJ Barrett #9 and Immanuel Quickley #5 at Madison Square Garden on March 28, 2022. Credit: Jim McIsaac

After playing the hero in the final minute Sunday, Alec Burks helped to carry the Knicks for much of the night Monday before going quiet in the fourth quarter. But in the final minute, he again provided a spark.

The Knicks, who had seen a 13-point lead disappear, were clinging to a one-point advantage. Immanuel Quickley drove down the right side of the lane and appeared to stumble as he made his way through traffic before rising and firing a pass to Burks in the left corner. Burks sank the three-pointer with 22.6 seconds left, then drew an offensive foul that nullified a basket by DeMar DeRozan as the Knicks secured a 109-104 win over the Chicago Bulls.

The win was the fourth straight and ninth in 13 games for the Knicks (34-42), who are 4 1⁄2 games behind the Hawks (38-37) for the final play-in spot in the Eastern Conference. Any combination of Hawks wins and Knicks losses totaling three will clinch it for Atlanta.

RJ Barrett had 28 points and Burks added 27, 24 in the first three quarters. Obi Toppin scored 17 points in 20:10 and Mitchell Robinson had 16 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks. DeRozan had 37 and Zach LaVine 27 for the Bulls (43-32).

It wasn’t all highlights. There was frustration — technical fouls for Barrett and Julius Randle. And there was more than just the frustration with the officials for Randle.

With 3:32 to play and the Knicks up by a point, coach Tom Thibodeau sent Randle back into the game. He had scored three points, shot 1-for-9 and picked up a technical foul before going to the bench with three minutes left in the third quarter. Randle, who sat out the next 11:28, didn’t make the difference in the game, but the Knicks saved Thibodeau from any second-guessing by hanging on.

After Burks hit a clutch last-minute three-pointer for the second straight game and drew the offensive foul on DeRozan, Randle hit two free throws with 17.8 seconds left to give the Knicks a 109-103 lead. He finished with five points and 13 rebounds.

“You can play well when you don’t shoot well,” Thibodeau said. “Like I think the 13 rebounds, that’s huge. You’re not shooting well, how can you help the team win? That’s where I want the focus. No one’s going to play great in every game. But you can help your team.”

Whether it was the lingering effects of playing a back-to-back after missing three games with a strained quadriceps tendon or simply an off-night, Randle seemed listless and frustrated for much of the game, including as the buzzer sounded and the rest of the team celebrated the win. The Garden crowd regularly booed him and chanted for his backup, Toppin.

Thibodeau stressed last week the need for everyone on the team to contribute and tune out the talk about who should play.

“I think the big thing is we’re playing all these young guys and they’re getting valuable experience,” he said. “You’re never eliminated until you’re eliminated. So I don’t want a quitting spirit on our team. I want to keep fighting. And so until we’re eliminated, we’re going to keep playing. We’ve got a number of guys that are growing and that’s what we’re trying to do. I don’t believe in that other stuff.”

Notes & quotes: Quentin Grimes was held out with a sore right knee. “It’s just day-to-day, soreness,” Thibodeau said. “Make sure it clears up.”

Thibodeau sounded uncertain about the possibility of Derrick Rose returning this season. Sidelined since Dec. 16 and having undergone two procedures on his ankle, Rose has been on the court and traveling with the team. “I don’t know,” Thibodeau said. “He’s been out a long time.”

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