Derrick Rose has been in the NBA long enough to know how to crush an opponent when it makes a critical mistake.
With the Pelicans ahead by three points and the Knicks’ longest winning streak in seven years seemingly seconds away from ending, Rose drove down the lane. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Lonzo Ball step away from Reggie Bullock in an apparent attempt to block what would have been a meaningless layup.
"I don’t know what he was thinking," Rose said. "I’m a reaction player. Right when I saw him come out, I fired out the pass . . . I trusted him to make the shot."
Bullock sank a tying three-pointer with 2.3 seconds left in regulation, and the Knicks took control in overtime to secure a 122-112 win over New Orleans on Sunday at Madison Square Garden.
The Knicks (31-27) extended their winning streak to six games, the franchise’s longest since they went on an eight-game run in March 2014.
After the game, Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy ripped into his team for how it failed to defend at the end of regulation. In addition to Ball’s bad defensive decision, the Pelicans elected not to foul when the Knicks inbounded with 7.8 seconds left.
"Today is simple. Nobody had to make a play, make a shot, make a pass," Van Gundy said. "Nobody had to do anything. You just had to do what you were supposed to do. High school guys could have executed down the stretch. With 7.8 seconds, high school guys could have done what they’re supposed to do.
"We deserved to lose. When you do that, you deserve to lose."
Though the matchup between Zion Williamson and Julius Randle was the focus of the game coming in, it was Rose who helped the Knicks overcome a seven-point deficit with 2:50 left in regulation.
In addition to the heady assist, he made a free throw, layup and three-pointer in that span and blocked Eric Bledsoe’s jump shot at the end of regulation. He finished the game with 23 points and five assists in 35:13 off the bench.
"That’s Derrick. He’s always been that type of guy," Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said.
"No moment is too big for him. He has a lot of poise under pressure.
"Derrick is great at putting pressure on the rim like that. He made a great rim read. You want to make the right play, the winning play. That’s what I like about the way Derrick can work the game. He will recognize what is going on or needed and create situations like that."
Despite shooting only 11-for-28, Randle led the Knicks past his former team with 33 points, 10 assists, five rebounds and five steals. He became the first Knick to score at least 30 points in four straight games since Carmelo Anthony did so in 2014.
Randle is averaging 35.8 points, 8.3 rebounds and 6.5 assists in that four-game stretch.
Williamson, playing his first game at Madison Square Garden, had 34 points, nine rebounds and five assists in 41:41.
Bledsoe scored 22 points and Brandon Ingram added 19 for New Orleans (25-32), which had trailed by 15 points in the second quarter.
RJ Barrett scored 18 points, had six turnovers and fouled out early in the fourth quarter. Bullock added 15 points and was 3-for-5 from three-point range.
Of course, it was the three-pointer at the end of regulation that mattered the most.
"Derrick kicked it out and trusted me to be able to knock the shot down," Bullock said. "That’s what I did."