Julius Randle and RJ Barrett lead Knicks past Lakers 112-108 to snap losing streak
And the award for best duo goes to Julius Randle and RJ Barrett.
A day after their ugly performance on the same Los Angeles court, Randle and Barrett combined for 63 points as the Knicks snapped a three-game losing streak Sunday by beating the Lakers, 112-108, as the Academy Awards unfolded 15 minutes away in Hollywood.
Randle controlled the first half with 25 of his 33 points. Barrett took over in the second half and finished with 30 points.
Together, they carried the offensive load without the injured Jalen Brunson, as the Knicks avoided a late collapse after Josh Hart buried two clutch free throws with five seconds remaining. Hart’s shots gave the visitors a four-point lead — and halted an 8-0 run from the Lakers — which helped the Knicks (40-30) keep pace with the Nets (39-29) for fifth in the East. The Lakers (33-35), playing without LeBron James, couldn’t continue their three-game winning streak. Isaiah Hartenstein was another Knicks hero while grabbing 10 rebounds and closing the fourth quarter.
Randle outplayed Anthony Davis, who had just 17 points in 37 minutes.
A day earlier at Crypo.com Arena against the Clippers, Randle was an inefficient mess while missing 19 shots and throwing a tantrum. There were questions about whether he was exhausted from the increased workload and heavy minutes. He entered Sunday leading the NBA in total minutes.
But Randle shuns all opportunities to rest, and he continued his perfect attendance mark this season. Also, coach Tom Thibodeau wasn’t buying fatigue as an excuse.
“If Julius needs a day off from practice, he’ll get the day off. Whatever it is that he needs,” Thibodeau told reporters after Saturday’s loss to the Clippers. “But I’m also not buying that if a guy misses shots, he’s tired.”
Randle bounced back with vengeance by scoring 18 points in the first quarter. It gave him 644 points in first quarters this season, setting the record for most in franchise history since play-by-play was tracked in 1997-98. Carmelo Anthony had the previous record in 2013-14.
Brunson watched the game from the sideline with a walking boot, the fourth game he missed with a ‘sore foot.’ According to ESPN, Brunson is ‘unlikely’ to play Tuesday in Portland, which would give him nine days off before the next game Saturday at home against the Nuggets.
“He’s a great player for us,” RJ Barrett told reporters. “He’s our floor general. Definitely miss having him on the floor, but while he’s out, we’ve got to figure it out. We’ve got to figure out how to get these wins. Every game is intense now from start to finish. We’ve got to figure it out somehow, try to get easy ones.”
Without Brunson, Immanuel Quickley and Miles McBride played the point-guard minutes and combined for 23 points.