Randle rediscovered the shooting form that propelled him to a career year last season and earned him a lucrative four-year extension. He hit a career-high eight three-pointers as the Knicks rallied from a 20-point deficit to beat the Sacramento Kings, 131-115, Monday at Golden 1 Center.
After blowing several huge leads in the previous weeks, the Knicks flipped the script behind Randle’s hot shooting night. The reigning Most Improved Player of the Year waxed hot in the second half with 33 points, including 17 during their furious third-quarter run.
The Kings jumped to a 20-point lead late in the second quarter as the Knicks fell off to a slow start in the second night of a back-to-back schedule. It didn’t help that Mitchell Robinson and Jericho Sims got into foul trouble early, and Robinson didn’t return with an illness.
After the break, the Knicks went berserk. They outscored the Kings, 44-24, in the third quarter. Their 83 second-half points were the most they scored after halftime since Dec. 28, 1969 at Phoenix.
“Julius was has a lot to do with that. But then all of us, we just had a crazy rhythm. It was really fun basketball,” RJ Barrett said.
Randle was red-hot in the second half, sinking 12 of 17 shots and 7 of 11 three-pointers. With his shots falling, he was also engaged defensively and hustling for loose balls.
“And so we got in that hole early, but we never quit, and that was the best thing which is kept fighting, fighting, fighting, and then we got a little bit of rhythm,” New York coach Tom Thibodeau said. “And then Julius kept going. He was pretty terrific at what he did. An all-around game for him.”
Randle shot 18 of 31 from the field and had a complete line for the night with 10 rebounds, two assists, one steal, and one blocked shot. He dominated Kings’ All-Star forward Domantas Sabonis, who only had 19 points before getting ejected in the second half.
“No second-guessing. I just trust the work that I put in,” Randle said.
But it wasn’t only Randle’s show.
RJ Barrett continued his 2022 surge with 29 points, eight rebounds, and six assists. It was Barrett’s sixth straight game with at least 20 points. Immanuel Quickley has also put his sophomore slump behind him with another strong effort. Quickley scored a season-high 27 points and added six rebounds and four assists. The backup guard has now scored 20-plus points in two nights in a row.
But they did not come out unscathed.
Cam Reddish, who was starting to feel comfortable with the Knicks, fell hard in the second half and did not return. The team has yet to give an update on his status.
But the good news is the Knicks pulled back 4.5 games from the Atlanta Hawks for the final play-in spot with 17 games left.
Next on deck for Randle and the suddenly resurgent Knicks are his hometown team, Dallas Mavericks, on Wednesday. The Knicks have won four straight games in Dallas. But the Mavericks have been hot lately, winning five straight, including Monday night’s 111-103 over Utah Jazz.
The Knicks are unfazed, especially when Randle’s shots are falling.
“Glass half full,” Randle said.
Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo