Julius Randle’s disappearing act dooms Knicks in loss to Pelicans

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After Knicks‘ power forward Julius Randle tapped in a two point field goal with the clock expiring in the first half, he shouted an explicative toward the referee, drawing a technical foul that took place to start the second half.

The Knicks were outmatched entirely by the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday night, being out scored 102–91. Randle was out of sorts, complaining to the referees and missing shots at an incredible rate. He posted the worst +/- of the entire game at -26. He finished with just four points, and while he did pick up six assists in the process, the Knicks are never going to win games without his scoring production.

Randle has been a shell of his former All-Star-self, averaging an abysmal 31% from three point range and 19.1 points per game, down five compared to his 2020–21 campaign. The Knicks don’t stand a chance against more competitive teams without their star player elevating everyone around him, and now the club has strung together three consecutive losses — you better believe the front office will be looking for more talent at the deadline.

In recent days, New York has been linked to Dallas point guard Jalen Brunson after the acquisition of Cam Reddish. The reality is simple, Randle can’t handle the bright lights of New York and carry the team on his back.

However, it wasn’t just Julius who struggled against the Pelicans, the entire team looked tired and wayward. Mitchell Robinson had the best game out of the five starters, recording 17 points and 15 rebounds, including seven offensive. Every starter aside from Robinson posted a +/- of -20 or worse.

As a team, Tom Thibodeau‘s squad recorded a 23.7% rate from three point range and shot 37.7% from the field. To make matters even worse, they connected on just 66.7% of their free throws. Every starter for New Orleans posted double-digit points, including 18 from Jonas Valanciunas and 15 from Brandon Ingram.

Somehow, the Knicks need to find a way to reinvigorate their passion and flow, because they simply have no rhythm in their game. If the Knicks don’t make a big splash at the deadline, they may regress from last season and miss the playoffs when it’s all said and done.