The New York Knicks had a tough matchup against the LA Clippers on Sunday evening, but they emerged victorious thanks to a few stand-out performances. Reggie Bullock and Derrick Rose combined for 49 points, and while All-Star Julius Randle only had 14, his influence came in multiple ways.
Randle posted 14 rebounds, controlling the boards and using his physicality to overpower Los Angeles. For a team that ranks 3rd in a tough Western Conference, the Knicks beat them shorthanded, without Immanuel Quickley and Alec Burks.
However, some might argue that Randleâ€™s influence wasnâ€™t up to par and if he continues that in the postseason, the Knicks might be in bad shape. Head coach Tom Thibodeau would have a different narrative for you, coming to Juliusâ€™s defense and the influence he has on a game by commanding double teams and significant defensive attention.
â€œTheyâ€™re double-teaming him, heâ€™s spraying the ball,â€™â€™ Thibodeau continued. â€œEveryone tends to measure people on points and shots and not the all-around game. The big thing is the perseverance, the way he rebounded the ball, the hustle plays he made. He played a great game without shooting the ball great. Then at the end of the game he made several big plays for us.
With Julius commanding so much attention, it opens up the floor for his teammates, specifically Bullock and RJ Barrett, who bounced back with 18 points and shot over 50% from three-point range. It is nice to have players around you that are capable of picking up the slack while teams are focusing on you.
â€œWhen you have that type of mental toughness, itâ€™s huge for your team. I thought he played a great game, though he didnâ€™t have a high number of points. But he had a great overall game. And thatâ€™s what he does for us. I told Julius after the game, the physicality he played with was huge for us.â€™â€™
Physicality, aggression, mentality. Those three factors play a massive part in Thibodeauâ€™s system, and Randle not only ran the floor and played high-level defense, but he also stepped up and took what the Clippers were giving him, which ultimately opened up shots for his teammates. At the end of the game, though, Randle iced LA, hitting a few big shots to give them a commanding lead and, ultimately, the victory.
Randle showed one thing, even though teams are focusing on him and trying to shut him down, he still has a significant impact and can still hit contested shots when it matters most.