Just In: Knicks eliminated from In-Season Tournament in blowout loss to Giannis…

MILWAUKEE — Julius Randle will have to find another reason to go to Las Vegas. Randle packed an additional set of clothes in anticipation of defeating the Milwaukee Bucks in the In-Season Tournament quarterfinal on Tuesday. After earning Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors in the opening week of December, Randle turned in his best game of the season.

Yet against a hot-shooting Bucks squad led by two members of the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team, Randle’s dominant night came in a 146-122 loss to the Bucks on Tuesday. The Knicks have been eliminated from the inaugural In-Season Tournament and now play the Boston Celtics in a consolation game on the road on Friday.

That’s Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard on Tuesday, followed by Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown three days later. New York is now 5-7 against teams that are in the playoff hunt and 7-0 against everyone else.

The Knicks have proven they can handle business against lesser opponents. They have yet to show, however, that they’re ready to take the next step, with former NBA legends questioning the Knicks’ roster makeup. Those legends don’t believe the Knicks have good enough players to be considered among the same ranks as the Bucks and Celtics. Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal and Kenny Smith said as much on TNT’s Inside the NBA broadcast. Smith said outright the Knicks don’t have a player better than Orlando Magic star Paolo Banchero, even though both Randle and Jalen Brunson are having better individual seasons.

He said the Knicks always have the second- or third-best player on the floor every game they play.

Barkley pointed to the Knicks’ lack of offseason action in a conference that cemented its power structure with trades for superstar players. The Bucks acquired Lillard over the summer, and the Celtics traded for both Jrue Holiday and Kristaps Porzingis. The Knicks’ only addition was Donte DiVincenzo, who comes off the bench. DiVincenzo entered Tuesday night on a heater from downtown, having made 11 of his 16 attempts from 3 in the two games leading into the tournament quarterfinal. He shot just 1 of 4 from downtown on Tuesday, and after closing the two previous fourth quarters, DiVincenzo watched the final six-plus minutes of regulation from the bench. Meanwhile, Antetokounmpo scored 35 points on 15-of-22 shooting from the field, Lillard hit five 3s on seven attempts, and the Knicks’ defensive attention on the pair of Bucks stars left the others wide-open.

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