NBA champion-turned-ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins gave the New York Knicks their flowers after improving to a season-high six games above .500 with a solo grip on the sixth seed of the East.
Julius Randle had a historic Sunday afternoon in Detroit even as Jalen Brunson continued to blossom as an All-Star caliber guard to lead the Knicks’ season sweep of the young and depleted Pistons team for their third win in a row.
“Let’s take a moment to appreciate (Julius) Randle, (Jalen) Brunson and the Knicks for playing some damn good basketball… showing the basketball world that you can still compete and win games at a high level without having a “Superstar” on your team!!! Carry on…”Kendrick Perkins via Twitter
The Knicks may have missed on a bona fide superstar in Donovan Mitchell in their failed trade pursuit last summer, but they are grinding out wins behind the All-Star efforts of Randle and Brunson.
Randle finished with a season-high 42 points and 15 rebounds and became the first Knicks player to do so since Patrick Ewing in 1996. It was also Randle’s 10th straight and 26th overall double-double game this season, solidifying his All-Star case.
Randle recently made it to the top 10 frontcourt players in the All-Star voting and has a great shot of returning to the mid-season classic as a reserve.
Brunson added 27 points, five rebounds, and four assists in another solid outing. Since Jan. 1, Brunson is averaging 32.4 points, 5.7 assists, and 5.6 rebounds over a seven-game stretch. But despite his breakout season, Brunson has yet to crack the top 10 guards in All-Star balloting.
Randle and Brunson are the biggest reasons why the Knicks have been overachieving this season after a rocky 10-13 start. Over their last 21 games, the Knicks have won 15 to move two games behind the fifth-seed Cleveland Cavaliers (27-17).
The Knicks are winning with the 28-year-old Randle as their oldest player in the rotation. They are poised to return to the playoffs, and with their collection of draft assets still intact, they are in a great position to make a play for the next superstar to become available.
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