Knicks: Julius Randle’s game-winner in Miami encapsulates redemption season

Julius Randle, New York Knicks

Around this time last year, New York Knicks All-Star forward Julius Randle was in a dark place. He was a few games away from getting shut down in a turbulent season.

But after every storm, there’s a rainbow at the end.

Friday night’s crazy ending in Miami was an encapsulation of Randle’s improbable redemption this season.

Randle stormed back from a costly turnover in the final 29 seconds and a near-fumble in the Knicks’ final play to redeem himself with a rainbow connection with 1.1 seconds left.

Bedlam ensued that even New York coach Tom Thibodeau was knocked down by a rampaging Randle amid the celebration.

Randle capped a 43-point night, perhaps his best game in Knicks uniform, to extend the Knicks’ winning streak to eight — beating their old rivals Heat, 122-120, with his career-high-tying eighth triple.

It was Randle’s second game-winner against the Heat since he did it for the Los Angeles Lakers in an unexpected overtime win nearly seven years ago. But this one carries more weight, given where he’s at in his career and where the Knicks (38-27) and Heat (33-31) are in the standings.

Randle called it “fate,” while Thibodeau described it as “unbelievable.”

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra agreed.

“If you did that play 100 times, 99 times out of that it’s going to end up in our favor,” Spoelstra said. “That’s just crazy unfortunate luck on our part and good fortune for them. [Randle] made a heckuva shot.”

But destiny is when preparation meets opportunity.

Randle worked hard and persevered for that shot that would go down as one of the defining moments of his Knicks chapter, if not his whole career.

New York fans were all ready to move on from him after his poor play and display of behavior last season. In the final moments of a Friday night game in March with playoff implications, Randle found himself again in a storm after Tyler Herro stole the ball from him and raced to the Heat’s basket for a layup that gave Miami a 120-119 lead with 23.1 seconds left.

But Randle found the rainbow at the end. And it was glorious.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

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