Knicks: Julius Randle remains upbeat despite OT loss to Grizzlies

Julius Randle, New York Knicks
Oct 19, 2022; Memphis, Tennessee, USA; New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) shoots during the first half against the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Julius Randle’s rejuvenated play was one of the few bright spots for the New York Knicks in their tough 115-112 overtime loss to the Memphis Grizzlies in the season opener.

Randle picked up from where he left off in the preseason. The bull-strong forward did not force any action. Instead, he let the game come to him. He was highly efficient, leading the Knicks with 24 points on 56.3 percent shooting from the floor.

Julius Randle’s shot chart vs Memphis

Gone were the long twos in his shot diet. Seven of his made field goals were inside the paint while two came from behind the arc.

“A lot of positives. A lot of good things that we can build off and take from it. I feel like if [we play with] that type of energy and effort [and] we just clean up a few little details, we’ll win a lot of games.

Julius Randle I Knicks-Grizzlies postgame media availability

The Knicks battled back from a 19-point second-half deficit and briefly led in the fourth quarter before falling short in overtime. Randle was a massive part of that run as he got hot in the third quarter unloading half of his scoring total on a near-flawless shooting (5 of 6 field goals). He added 11 rebounds and six assists and was a plus-7 for the Knicks, who trailed majority of the way. He did all that with just 23.4 usage rate behind RJ Barrett’s 24.6.

But unfortunately, he did not finish the game and fouled out just 24 seconds into the overtime. Still, the Knicks fought hard behind the efforts of Jalen Brunson, Cam Reddish and Isaiah Hartenstein to give themselves a chance.

“We just competed and gave ourselves a chance to win. Cam (Reddish) hit a big shot to send us into overtime. We just got to keep building on that.”

Julius Randle I Knicks-Grizzlies postgame media availability

Brunson and Mitchell Robinson’s early foul trouble and Barrett’s shooting struggles kept the Knicks out of rhythm in the first half. But Randle kept them afloat in the third quarter before Reddish exploded in the fourth quarter and overtime.

But in the end, Ja Morant was just too much to handle and the Grizzlies won the 50-50 balls. With Robinson saddled with fouls, Memphis outrebounded New York by 10 overall and two in the offensive glass. The Grizzlies’ last offensive rebound led to Tyus Jones’ game-winning triple.

“I think a big thing for us was rebounding. They outrebounded us and that’s not typically who we are. When we started getting stops, rebounding and getting out to our shooters and making it tough for them, once we were able to do that, we were able to get transition and get some easy buckets.”

Julius Randle I Knicks-Grizzlies postgame media availability

Randle helped push the ball and moved without it, which gave him easier looks at the basket — a stuff he picked up from diving into EuroBasket tapes last summer. If this is the version of Randle the Knicks would have this season, there’s a good chance they could spring a surprise similar to what they did in 2021.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

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