Knicks defense struggles mightily in loss to Timberwolves

julius randle, knicks
Mar 20, 2023; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) controls the ball against Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kyle Anderson (5) during the fourth quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks had an all-time performance from All-Star Julius Randle but had an all-time disastrous performance on the defensive end, as the Knicks lost Monday 140-134.

The Knicks allowed Taurean Prince, who averaged 8.4 points per game for the Timberwolves entering Monday’s game, to have a career night, score a season-high 35 points, and shoot a perfect 8-8 from outside the arc.

Also, seven Minnesota players were in double figures (including all five starters), and the Wolves shot 61.4% from the field and 58.3% from the three-point range.

“They didn’t miss, but we didn’t make them miss,” Jalen Brunson said after the loss. “Offense wasn’t our problem today. Defensively, I was terrible. I gotta be better. Yeah, it starts with me; I just gotta be better on defense.”

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The Knicks were playing behind from start to finish:

The Knicks’ defensive struggles began from the opening tip to the final buzzer, as the Wolves started the game shooting 10-10 from the field, which would eventually lead to a 42-point first quarter and a 79-point half for Minnesota.

After trailing by as many as 16 during the third quarter, the Knicks were able to rally back thanks to Julius Randle’s absurd 26-point and 9-10 shooting (5-6 three-point) third quarter which saw him end the period with a career-high 52 points, en route to a 57-point game.

For a good portion of the fourth quarter, it looked as if the Knicks would walk away with this one, leading by as much as five in the game’s final minutes. However, the defensive struggles continued down the stretch, and they were unable to hold on to claim victory.

Randle became the first Knick since Carmelo Anthony in 2014 to have a 50-point game, but the team’s defensive struggles evaporated a large part of the significance around Randle’s performance.

“57, Whew. That’s tough,” Mitchell Robinson said after the loss. “Hey man, I’m proud of him. He put in the hours, put in the work, he showed what he can do.”

The Knicks will look to bounce back from the tough loss and tighten up the defense when they head to Miami to face the Heat on Wednesday.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @DylanBacker_