Julius Randle dominates the Mavericks to roll the Knicks


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DALLAS – Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle knew what his club could do with Julius Randle back in his hometown of Big D.

“He’s an All-Star who loves to come back and play here,” Carlisle said ahead of the game.

And how. Friday was Randle’s best game yet – and one of the Knicks’ most impressive wins this season.

It’s been an eventful week of home games for Randle, and he capped it with a spectacular 44-point outing that saw the Knicks claim a formidable 117-109 victory over the Mavericks in front of a pandemic crowd of 4000 fans at the American Airlines Center.

The Knicks won their fifth straight game, a season-high, to a three-game-high .500 at 30-27, and Randle missed his career high by one point. The Knicks, who are 3-1 against former star Kristaps Porzingis in the past two seasons, had not won five straight wins in seven years.

“I was actually a little tired a bit before, but I had the smoothie drinks, I had some energy,” Randle said. “I was locked in, focused. I always like to play at home before my friends and family. It’s always special to me. “

If the Knicks hadn’t traded Porzingis, who shot 8-for-20 for 23 points, they likely never would have signed Randle. But a group of blue-clad Knicks fans hung out after the last buzzer and clapped and shouted encouragement at Porzingis, who walked to the sidelines to greet, smile and point fingers.

Julius Randle, who scored 44 points, led to the basket against the Mavericks.

But Randle made many other Knicks fans forget the Latvian, outclassed by Randle. Knicks fans in the crowd chanted “MVP” as the Dallas native shot free throws in the dying seconds.

“The way he plays is rarely covered by singles,” said coach Tom Thibodeau. “He’s doing the right thing, winning games. It is our engine. He makes us leave. “

RJ Barrett added 24 points with a clutch fourth quarter. Knicks center Nerlens Noel, playing on a sore ankle, was tough, with 10 rebounds and three blocks. He also roughed up Porzingis and made two crucial free throws with 2:10 left.

Thibodeau praised Noel’s block on the edge of Dorian Finney-Smith who had the joy bench beaten in the fourth quarter.

“Blocked shot, a lot of games in a game are winning games that ignite and inspire the team,” said Thibodeau. “When you see a player like that, it turns your people on. “

Already this week, Randle had taken revenge on his first NBA team, the Lakers, by scoring 34 points, and had a victory against his second team, the Pelicans, with 32 points. Randle will face the Pelicans again on Sunday.

“The way they set the schedule, you knew he was going to do it,” Barrett said of Randle.

But he’s saved his best for last – looking even sharper and fresher on Friday, like he’s playing Game 1 of his season instead of Game 56 of his season.

It all started in Dallas during the pandemic 13 months ago, when Randle got into the best shape of his career.

“He prepared for this,” Thibodeau said. “You cannot ignore this. I know when I saw his first time this summer what kind of shape he was. I have had this type of player in my career and they always prepare during the offseason to be able to handle this workload. They get a lot of attention. “

Randle shot 16 for 29 – and 6 for 11 from 3 points. The left-hand All-Star freight train scored the Knicks’ first 10 points and started the game 4 on 4, attacking his 3 pointers and marching to the basket.

He racked up 15 points in the first quarter and had 21 at halftime as the Knicks led 56-52 in intermission. He was 9 for 12 on the court – and 3 for 7 of 3.

Randle had 35 points after three quarters, but when he rested, a Barrett frenzy early in the fourth quarter was critical.

Frank Ntilikina, pushed into action by the absence of Alec Burks (who is in COVID-19 protocols), also hit a big 3-point pointer.

Porzingis committed a technical foul and was frustrated by Noel’s physical play in the first half. Reggie Bullock also did a number on Luka Doncic, holding him to 22 points but with a career-high 19 assists.

It was the Knicks’ first game without Burks, who are indefinitely absent, and they haven’t skipped a beat.

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