Randle points to Knicks team-mate Brunson as the key to his offensive renaissance

By Sports Desk January 02, 2023

New York Knicks All-Star Julius Randle believes his side are figuring things out defensively after smothering the Phoenix Suns 102-83 on Monday.

The Knicks began the season shaky on the defensive end, posting the seventh-worst defensive rating in the league during their 16 games in November, giving up 115.1 points per 100 possessions.

They were a different team in December, limiting teams to 108.2 points per 100 possessions for the third-best defense, and that included a five-game losing streak at the end of the month where they conceded at least 113 points in each defeat.

But after getting back on the right track with a 108-88 victory against the Houston Rockets on New Year's Eve, the Knicks held their second consecutive opponent under 90 points for the second time this season, illustrating how imposing they can be on that end of the floor when they are switched on.

Their back-to-back defensive masterclasses have boosted the Knicks to the eighth-ranked defense for the season, with every team ahead of them essentially already pencilled into the playoffs.

Against the Suns, Randle received MVP chants from the Madison Square Garden crowd as he led the way with a game-high 28 points (seven-of-18 shooting), a game-high 16 rebounds and an equal team-high six assists.

It was a great way to start January after he put up terrific figures of 28.3 points, 11.4 rebounds and 4.3 assists on 47.8 per cent shooting in December, rediscovering the form that made him an All-Star in the 2020-21 season.

Speaking to the media after the game, the man who has endured his fair share of criticism from Knicks fans said "it's good to be on the good side of The Garden", before breaking down what has been behind their strong form.

"Defensively, we had to get back to our ways," Randle said. "When we won eight in a row, the defensive end was big for us. We feel that rhythm and chemistry coming back on that end."

Randle also spoke about how the addition of point guard Jalen Brunson in the offseason has helped his game.

"Honestly, it’s a lot easier [to score this season]," he said. "I attributed a lot of that to Jalen [Brunson], obviously.

"Also [Immanuel Quickley], and our guards… I’m not having to work as hard to get buckets or score. So, the game is a lot easier on my body."

When asked if he has put any thought into a potential return to All-Star Weekend, Randle said he is hoping to get another chance to share that experience with his loved ones.

"Obviously, you work hard to put yourself in a position to do that," he said. "So it would be amazing [to play in the All-Star Game]. 

"I love it. Not necessarily for me, obviously it is great, but I love it to be able to experience it with my family because they’re the ones that really make the true sacrifice, and have led me to dedicate myself to the game the way I’ve been able to do in the summers, and night-in, night-out.

"So I love to be able to let them enjoy it and see the rewards of it and stuff like that, that’s why it’s important. But for me, whatever the team needs night-in and night-out – whatever it is – I just want to help the team."

Related items

  • Doncic: Mavericks will 'believe until the end' after avoiding Finals sweep Doncic: Mavericks will 'believe until the end' after avoiding Finals sweep

    Luka Doncic's Dallas Mavericks will "believe until the end" after they kept their NBA title hopes alive with a Game 4 victory over the Boston Celtics.

    The Celtics headed to Dallas on Friday with the chance to clinch a first NBA Championship since 2008, up 3-0 in the series and looking to get the job done on the road.

    However, Dallas dominated on their home court, cruising to a 122-84 blowout victory that means Boston will have to wait until at least Monday to seal a record-breaking 18th NBA title.

    No team has ever come from 3-0 down in an NBA playoff series, but Doncic says his Mavericks team will not let that deflate their hopes of pulling off a hugely unlikely comeback.

    "Like I said at the beginning of the series, it's first to four," Doncic told reporters. "We're going to believe until the end.

    "So we've just got to keep going. I have big belief in this team that we can do it."

    Doncic was facing criticism heading into Game 4 after fouling out in the latter stages of the previous contest, but he led the way with 29 points on Friday to help his team ease to victory.

    Kyrie Irving believes Doncic proved the doubters wrong with his Game 4 showing, saying: "I think he made a few people eat their words in a healthy way.

    "I think what you're seeing is him just taking accountability as best he can at this point in his life. He's a young person, still trying to figure it out. I give him that grace. 

    "I think it's just lessons being learned. When he is locked in like that, not paying attention to the refs, he's a huge, impactful player for us and a great leader for us. We want him to stay consistent on that and not be too hard on himself either."

  • Brown: Celtics must 'reassemble' after missing chance to clinch title in Game 4 Brown: Celtics must 'reassemble' after missing chance to clinch title in Game 4

    The Boston Celtics must "reassemble" after missing the chance to clinch the NBA Championship on Friday, says Jaylen Brown.

    The Celtics headed into Game 4 on the road at the Dallas Mavericks looking to complete the sweep and seal their first title since 2008.

    However, they were outplayed by their hosts, slumping to a 122-84 blowout loss to end their 10-match playoff winning run and leave them with work to do if they are to get over the finishing line.

    The Celtics now head home with the opportunity to get the job done on Monday, and Brown has called upon his team-mates to bounce back from Friday's 38-point defeat.

    "These are the moments that can make you or break you," Brown told reporters.

    "We have to reassemble. We have to look at it and learn from it, and then we've got to embrace it and attack it.

    "It's going to be hard to do what we're trying to do. We didn't expect anything to be easy, but it's no reason to lose our head."

    Dallas dominated from start to finish in Game 3, holding an 11-point lead just nine minutes into the contest and never looking back as they stamped out any hopes of a Boston comeback.

    Brown praised the Mavericks for their response to losing the first three games of the series, saying: "Give credit to Dallas.

    "I think they played hard physically, and then they dominated the glass. I think that was the key that put a lot of pressure on us.

    "And then we didn't make shots tonight, and I think that's where, you know, we allowed them to play free, once we get them multiple opportunities to make shots, and then also we didn't hit shots on the other end.

    "We're going to look at the film and see where we can get better, and then go from there."

  • NBA: Mavericks roll past Celtics to avoid sweep in NBA Finals NBA: Mavericks roll past Celtics to avoid sweep in NBA Finals

    Luka Dončić scored 25 of his 29 points in a dominant first half and the Dallas Mavericks rolled to a 122-84 rout of the Boston Celtics to avoid a sweep in Game 4 of the NBA Finals on Friday night.

    Kyrie Irving added 21 points and Tim Hardaway Jr. scored all 15 of his in the fourth quarter for the Mavericks, who forced the series back to Boston for Game 5 on Monday night.

    Dallas opened a 13-point lead after one quarter, were up 26 at halftime and led by as many as 38 in the third before both sides emptied their benches.

    Dereck Lively had 11 points and 12 rebounds for the Mavs, and connected on the first 3-pointer of his NBA career midway through the first quarter.

    The 38-point final margin was the third-biggest ever in an NBA Finals game, behind only Chicago beating Utah 96-54 in 1998 and the Celtics beating the Lakers 131-92 in 2008.

    Jayson Tatum scored 15 points and Sam Hauser had 14 for Boston, which had its franchise-record, 10-game postseason winning streak snapped.

    The Celtics shot 36.3 percent (29 for 80) from the field and were outrebounded 52-31.

    The 35 points in the first half represented their lowest-scoring total in a half in Joe Mazzulla’s two seasons as coach. The 26-point deficit at halftime was Boston’s largest ever in an NBA Finals game.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.