Julius Randle scores 44 and leads the New York Knicks over the Atlanta Hawks, 123-112 Monday night. He scored 17 points in the first quarter as the Knicks battled an incessant Hawks team before pulling away in the final minutes of the game. Elfrid Payton and Derrick Rose held Trae Young to 23 points, as he only shot 6/19 from the field. New York won its third in a row and now sits along as the six seed in the Eastern Conference, as Atlanta falls five games below .500.
STAR OF THE GAME
NBA All Star Fan voting ends tomorrow at 11:59pm. Tonight, Julius Randle made his final campaign stop.
Randle went off for 44 points, one shy of his career high and the most by a Knick since Carmelo Anthony. It’s his third 30 point game this season, sinking a career high 7 three pointers on 12 attempts. He dished out 5 important assists, as he led the Knicks on a 15-2 run in the third quarter after the Hawks scored 7 unanswered points to begin the second half.
In his post game press conference Coach Tom Thibodeau said Randle’s game speaks for itself. He called him a leader, and said “…there’s great appreciation by his teammates, his coaches, the organization, and certainly our fans for what he’s bringing to our team.”
Randle even spent a few minutes at center tonight, as Mitchell Robinson continues to sit with his fractured right hand. Whatever they need, Julius has; and as Randle rolls, so do the Knicks.
The first quarter featured some of the most frustrating basketball you’ve seen all season. The Hawks and Trae Young continue to get to the line recurrently on calls that are at best questionable. Taj Gibson had 4 fouls in the first quarter alone and Elfrid Payton was hit with a technical foul as the Knicks’ tempers boiled. The Hawks ended up getting to the line 32 times, Young accounting for 12 of them.
The Knicks didn’t back down against the frequent whistles, as Nerlens Noel played the last quarter and a half with five fouls and was aggressive as ever on defense. He blocked two straight shots and continues to show some of the best interior defense in the league.
With all of that being said, my biggest concern is that Trae Young is going to keep getting egregious foul calls. And I, selfishly, am not looking forward to watching this. Young’s tendency to get to the line causes trepidation to defend him in the paint, allowing him to throw up a floater that will continue to improve. Young knows this himself, as Saturday night in a loss to the Pacers he didn’t take a single three pointer. He’s attempted 5.5 threes per game in February, down from 6.5 in January. By nature, Young lives and dies by the long ball, but he’ll be more than happy to get to the line where he’s shooting 88.6%.
The Knicks shot 50% from three tonight, 15.5% higher than their season average of 35%. In addition to Randle, Immanuel Quickley was 4-8 from three while RJ Barrett was 3-3. Barrett’s third triple was much needed; he had just checked into the fourth quarter for the first time in four games and immediately threw up an air ball. However, Barrett didn’t lose his confidence, as he sunk his next shot from the left corner on an across court heave from Randle.
It’s reassuring to see Barrett on the court in closing time; his minutes have been waning and his frustrations at points are visible. I also love to see his shooting improve. His mid range jumpers and drives become predictable. Tonight he scored a total of 21 points and kept Atlanta on their toes.
In his second season, Barrett is still the youngest player on the Knicks at only 20 years old.
Vs Orland Magic, Wednesday, February 17th at 4:00PM Pacific
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